This week, the experts at the D.C. chapter of the business mentoring group SCORE offer a prescription for helping a health-related small business thrive in a changing market. – Dan Beyers

The entrepreneur

More than 24 years ago, Jean Drummond hung up her white medical coat and set her sights on federal government contracting in the health industry. As a strategy to expand her company, she became 8(a) certified through the U.S. Small Business Administration. She graduated from the SBA 8(a) program and grew HCD International to a sustainable government contractor.

“It has been an incredibly arduous process, but also quite rewarding,” she said.

Committed to a vision of ensuring quality health care for all people, no matter the type of health insurance or ability to pay, Jean was determined to gain a greater understanding of the federal health policies that guide the delivery of care between the patient, provider and payer. Jean confronted the issues of how to bridge the gap, and how to build a profitable company when our policy makers are in the midst of much change and uncertainty. Today HCD International has an extensive health policy practice that creates and implements innovative community outreach strategies to improve the quality of care for vulnerable populations. The services include health policy analysis, data analytics, technical writing, health IT, and social marketing and outreach. She has successfully collaborated with major health care providers and successfully won contracts with federal, state and private sector agencies.

The challenge

Given the dramatic and frequent changes, and uncertainty in the health care market, how does a small company respond? Jean began by conducting market research to support her strategy. Health care costs were astronomical and continuing to escalate. Health care outcomes remained poor. Many people are uninsured and underinsured, creating a critically off-balance system. The Affordable Care Act was the response to the challenge. Although it was not perfect, it did pave the way for innovative systems reform. But many challenges relative to implementation remain. Jean’s quest was to find the right opportunity for HCDI.