Q&A With Carolyn Pritchard Co-Founder of Bridge Medical Communications
A partnership built on a passion for patient care, co-founders and STEM entrepreneurs, Lorie Spence and Carolyn Pritchard built CONNECT Communications, a division of Bridge Medical Communications, to fill a gap in the healthcare system.
With their combined expertise of over 40 years in the healthcare industry and their personal experience navigating the system for family members, Lorie and Carolyn quickly realized the disparity between “patient outcome”—often spoken about among healthcare professionals—and the reality of the patient experience.
We’re honored to have the opportunity to interview co-founder Carolyn Pritchard. Carolyn has extensive experience working with healthcare professionals and patients alike and is driven by a passion for patient care. With a clinical background and experience as a nurse, along with 15 years in the medical communications industry, including years at AstraZeneca where she gained a deep understanding of the commercialization of medicine and medical communications, Carolyn brings a unique perspective to the healthcare industry and specifically the patient care journey.
Read more about Carolyn’s inspiring story below.
Can you tell us, in your own words, about your inspiring story? How did you get where you are today?
My journey began during high school when the prospect of choosing a career direction loomed ahead. The 80s marked a period of economic uncertainty, and my mother’s wisdom led me to consider healthcare as a stable path, specifically nursing.
As I started my career in healthcare, I was working in an environment heavily influenced by unions. While I found it rewarding to impact people’s lives, I also noticed the limitations that came with that structure. Then, in the late 90s, the tech industry was booming, and I saw my peers thriving and enjoying the fruits of their labor. The appeal of working in private business was hard to ignore.
To strike a balance between my passion for healthcare and my desire for professional growth, I decided to transition to the pharmaceutical industry, working for a public company. This move allowed me to align my dedication to healthcare with my aspiration for personal development. Every step I took was a deliberate effort to match my core beliefs with a pursuit of excellence, eventually leading me to where I am today.
This journey led me to co-found Bridge Medical Communications and Connect with Lorie. Our mission was clear: we aim to provide patients with the knowledge, resources, and skills they need to take control of their disease management and play an active role in their care.
What’s a website you can’t imagine your day without and why?
I would say I only have one main website I cannot live without: LinkedIn! As an entrepreneur, I am consistently on the lookout for promising opportunities. LinkedIn serves as my go-to platform for staying updated on industry trends. My personalized feed provides invaluable insights into the activities of industry partners, developments highlighted at conferences, and even the latest data approvals from Health Canada. Moreover, I gain valuable perspectives on the messaging strategies adopted by pharmaceutical companies. Observing where my network places emphasis not only informs my approach but also serves as a source of inspiration for infusing daily business development tasks.
I hold a deep appreciation for LinkedIn in terms of seeking knowledge and staying informed. This resource is instrumental in refining my understanding of emerging trends, breakthroughs, and insights within the industry. This invaluable resource provides a steady stream of industry-specific information, ensuring that our company remains at the forefront of knowledge and expertise.
What are your top 3 mobile apps that help you stay organized and on top of your game?
First and foremost, LinkedIn takes the lead in my digital toolkit. As a co-founder in the entrepreneurial world, staying connected, informed, and engaged within my professional network is paramount. LinkedIn helps me achieve this by providing a platform to not only nurture valuable connections but also stay attuned to industry trends, market dynamics, and the latest insights shared by my network. It’s a vital source of inspiration and knowledge.
My second favorite app for staying organized is the Air Canada app. Given the extensive business travel and planning I undertake, this app is my trusted companion. It streamlines every aspect of my travel, from itinerary management to real-time updates, ensuring that my journeys are seamless. This, in turn, allows me to focus my energy where it matters most —on my business.
Lastly, my pedometer app is an unsung hero in my daily routine. With a goal of achieving 10,000 steps daily, it helps me maintain my commitment to wellness. It’s not just about movement; it’s about reinforcing my core value of well-being. By tracking my steps, I ensure that physical activity remains an integral part of my day, promoting both my health and productivity.
How do you use social media in your business?
I feel in today’s digital landscape, building a robust personal brand and consistently sharing the highlights of our company are essential steps toward establishing a strong online presence. LinkedIn in my opinion provides an excellent platform to showcase our expertise, connect with industry peers, and promote the accomplishments and innovations that define our business. Together, these efforts not only strengthen our professional network but also contribute significantly to our company’s growth and visibility in the industry.
LinkedIn serves as our primary platform for connecting with peers, clients, and industry experts, helping us stay informed about industry trends. Additionally, our Facebook page CONNECTing — Canadian Patient Perspectives in Health complements this by providing a platform where we share healthcare knowledge and information, reducing gaps in healthcare. We actively engage with our customers on both platforms, addressing inquiries and gathering feedback to enhance our products and services while ensuring a positive customer experience
What social media platform is the best for business growth and why?
For me, LinkedIn stands out as the optimal social media platform for propelling the growth of our business. Its specialization in professional networking aligns perfectly with our mission to bridge gaps in healthcare. We leverage LinkedIn’s extensive network to forge crucial partnerships and alliances.
LinkedIn is also a vital knowledge hub for our industry. It offers real-time access to the latest healthcare trends and insights shared by our network, enabling us to make informed decisions and maintain the relevance of our healthcare solutions. Our active engagement on LinkedIn positions us as thought leaders in healthcare, solidifying our credibility and attracting those seeking our unique solutions.
LinkedIn’s utility extends to talent acquisition, brand-building, and customer engagement. It streamlines our recruitment process, helps us establish a robust online presence, and allows us to engage with healthcare consumers on a professional level. In summary, LinkedIn’s professionalism, industry relevance, and networking opportunities make it the preeminent social media platform for advancing our healthcare-focused business and achieving our mission.
Can you share some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from your successes and failures in business?
Absolutely, one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned from both successes and setbacks in business is the importance of making decisions with a clear focus on what’s best for the business, devoid of emotional influences. In my role overseeing HR and employees, this lesson has been particularly challenging yet crucial. Business decisions, ultimately, must prioritize the success and profitability of the company.
For instance, I’ve encountered situations where I had a strong affinity for working with a particular client, but it became apparent that the alignment between their needs and our company’s ideal client profile was lacking. In such cases, the hard but necessary decision was to part ways, recognizing that the best interests of the business should always take precedence.
While larger corporations may have boards of directors to oversee this aspect, as an entrepreneur, it falls upon us to navigate these decisions. Balancing the emotional connection with the practical needs of the business has been a significant learning curve, but it’s a lesson I hold dear and continually apply in my entrepreneurial journey
What are the three most important habits to be a successful entrepreneur?
As a co-founder, I’ve learned that certain habits are absolutely paramount for success in the entrepreneurial world. The first among these is consistency. It’s the unshakable commitment to our goals and the relentless pursuit of our vision, day in and day out. It’s about showing up consistently, putting in the hard work, and maintaining unwavering focus on our objectives. Consistency builds trust with our customers, partners, and team members, and it’s often the driving force behind our long-term growth and success.
Discipline is another critical habit that I’ve found indispensable. It’s the ability to exercise control over our impulses and stay on course, even when faced with distractions or obstacles. Successful entrepreneurs like us exhibit discipline in managing our time, resources, and priorities effectively. It’s about setting clear goals, developing a structured work ethic, and adhering to a strategic plan. Discipline ensures that we stay accountable to ourselves and our business, fostering steady progress and productivity.
Adaptability, perhaps one of our core values, is equally essential. It involves the willingness to pivot, iterate, and innovate as needed. We understand that business rarely goes precisely according to plan, and that’s where adaptability shines. It’s about embracing change, learning from our failures, and adjusting our strategies to seize new opportunities. Adaptability is closely tied to resilience, as it allows us to bounce back from setbacks and continue moving forward.
Moreover, collaboration is a cornerstone of our journey as co-founders. We’ve learned that no entrepreneur can thrive in isolation. Building a network of collaborators, mentors, and advisors has been essential for gaining diverse perspectives, accessing resources, and expanding our business. Collaboration fosters creativity, opens doors to new ventures, and provides a vital support system when we face challenges. As co-founders, we’ve come to appreciate that these habits collectively form the foundation of our entrepreneurial success
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day in my role as a co-founder is marked by its diversity, and that’s what keeps me excited about my work. My days are multifaceted, often beginning with collaborative sessions alongside my partner, Lorie, as we strategize and develop client solutions tailored to various products and disease states within our purview. This strategic planning is at the heart of our business, and it’s a dynamic aspect that continually challenges and inspires me.
The day also involves reviewing campaigns aimed at promoting our business, ensuring they align with our objectives and resonate with our audience. Client meetings are a regular occurrence, allowing us to connect, understand their unique needs, and provide the support they require. Additionally, I often find myself attending conferences, keeping me up-to-date with the latest industry trends and innovations.
What routines do you follow each day?
My daily routines are integral to maintaining the collaborative and productive environment that’s vital in our co-founder dynamic. It starts with regular check-ins with Lorie, my co-founder, multiple times each week. These discussions serve as the cornerstone of our partnership, enabling us to align our vision, address pressing issues, and ensure our business strategies are consistently on track.
Additionally, at the start of each week, I devote time to calendar management and priority planning. This ensures that our schedules are synchronized, and we’re fully prepared for the week’s essential tasks and meetings.
Furthermore, I engage in one-on-one sessions with team members, typically at the beginning of the week. These meetings allow us to set clear expectations, discuss individual goals for the week, and provide the necessary support to ensure everyone is aligned with our collective objectives.
These routines are fundamental to our success as co-founders, as they facilitate effective communication, strategic planning, and goal alignment among our team members and within the business.
How do you prioritize self-care and well-being while managing the demands of your business?
Prioritizing self-care and well-being is deeply ingrained in both our company’s values and my personal ethos. I firmly believe that a healthy, balanced individual is better equipped to meet the demands of a thriving business. To that end, I’ve established routines that harmonize self-care with the demands of entrepreneurship.
Daily exercise, for instance, is non-negotiable for me. I’m an avid user of the Peloton, and the beauty of this fitness tool is its accessibility. I can engage with it anytime, anywhere, which ensures that exercise remains a consistent part of my routine. I find it both invigorating and a touch competitive, motivating me to strive for my personal best. My passion for this even led me to venture to London, England, for a Peloton live event, which was an exhilarating experience.
Additionally, I make it a point to connect with the outdoors by embarking on a morning walk before diving into the day’s business activities. This practice not only invigorates me physically but also offers moments of tranquility that set a positive tone for the day.
Drawing upon my experience in the Canadian militia where I was working part-time in the summer as a medic for three years and I’ve honed valuable disciplines that transcend into my entrepreneurial endeavors. The military instilled in me a sense of structure and commitment that I carry forward in managing the demands of the business.
How do you boost your self-esteem in moments of doubt?
When moments of doubt creep in, I’ve found that regular exercise serves as a powerful tool to bolster my self-esteem and maintain a positive mindset. Exercise, particularly strength training, instills a sense of empowerment and confidence in me. This feeling of physical strength translates into a mental fortitude that helps me navigate challenges.
Interestingly, this personal practice aligns with our company’s mission through CONNECT, where we aim to empower patients and foster healthy habits. I firmly believe that the empowerment I gain from exercise resonates with our business ethos, as it’s a testament to the transformative impact of self-empowerment and building positive, health-oriented routines.
What advice would you give to a new business owner?
If I were to offer advice to a new business owner, I’d emphasize the importance of defining and adhering to a clear set of values. In my own entrepreneurial journey, I’ve found that having a well-defined set of values not only shapes the culture and identity of the business but also serves as a guiding compass for decision-making and actions. It’s about ensuring that your business’s core principles align with your vision and mission.
As an example, I can share the values that drive us at Bridge Communication. Our vision revolves around empowering healthcare professionals to optimize patient outcomes through innovative communication tools, creativity, and strategic collaboration. We are deeply committed to making a positive impact in the healthcare industry through information, education, and engagement. This mission guides our every move and decision, shaping our interactions with clients and our approach to business.
So, my advice to new business owners is to take the time to define your values, make sure they resonate with your vision, and let them guide you in building a business that not only thrives but also stays true to its core principles. It’s a compass that will help you navigate the complex terrain of entrepreneurship with clarity and purpose.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment and why?
In both my personal and professional life, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing significant accomplishments. On a personal note, I recently got married! Maintaining a strong and loving relationship is indeed an accomplishment that I hold dear.
From a professional perspective, a noteworthy achievement is the longstanding partnerships we’ve nurtured with clients over the course of more than a decade. While I won’t mention specific clients, the fact that we’ve consistently provided value and contributed to their success for such an extended period is a testament to the quality of our work and the trust we’ve built.
These accomplishments, both personal and professional, hold a special place in my heart. They remind me of the importance of dedication, commitment, and the enduring value of meaningful relationships in both spheres of life.
What initiatives or actions do you believe are crucial for fostering a more supportive and inclusive business environment for women?
First and foremost, we’re committed to creating an environment that eradicates barriers and empowers our team members. This means providing equal opportunities for career growth, recognizing and rewarding talent irrespective of gender, and actively encouraging women to pursue leadership roles within the company.
Additionally, we’ve implemented policies that promote work-life balance, recognizing that this is especially critical for women who often juggle multiple responsibilities. Flexible work arrangements, comprehensive family leave policies, and remote work options are some of the measures we’ve put in place.
Moreover, we actively seek out diverse perspectives and voices in decision-making processes. We value the richness that diversity brings to our organization and believe that fostering a culture of inclusion is not only the right thing to do but also a strategic advantage.
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Melissa Stewart is the founder of SheOwnsIt.com. She is a Purveyor of Possibility, Entrepreneur Advocate and Coffee Addict. She believes that behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?