Learn how Savvy Cooperative, a healthcare-focused research services firm, scaled its recruiting systems to engage more than 10,000 users across 55+ countries.
Savvy Cooperative is a research services firm that was born from the frustrations of its founders, Ronnie Sharpe and Jen Horonjeff. Tired of healthcare companies designing products and services without patient input, they set out with a mission to empower patients to leverage their experiences to drive positive change in the healthcare industry.
Just a few years later, the company had become known as one of the leading marketplaces for qualitative patient insights. They had grown a community of tens of thousands of patients and helped healthcare giants like AstraZeneca, Bayer, and the American Medical Association create better, patient-centric healthcare experiences, while ensuring patients were fairly compensated for their contributions.
However, as Savvy Cooperative’s business grew, so did its operational challenges.
Delivering the company’s project-based services, which involved recruiting diverse patient populations, verifying backgrounds, coordinating research sessions, and compensating participants, became increasingly complex and demanding as the company expanded.
While their team had adopted various software tools to help manage these services, a significant portion of the operations still required time-consuming manual tasks. Activities such as recruiting patients, processing patients' applications, coordinating projects, and paying participants evolved into a juggling act between different software tools, copying and pasting email templates, and manipulating static spreadsheets.
Meanwhile, communication to patients regarding their project status or referral efforts was not optimized or automatic, which hampered patients’ experiences and Savvy's community-oriented growth strategy.
“I didn’t expect other employees to do what I was doing—it was unsustainable.”
Ronnie, the company’s COO, bore the brunt of these operational burdens. At one point, he and a colleague were managing 30 simultaneous client projects. Recognizing this approach was not feasible in the long run, he began the search for a scalable solution to streamline the business’s operations and accommodate their business’ growth.
The team’s search led them to Salesforce, a renowned enterprise CRM solution that businesses have been customizing for over two decades.
After discussions with Salesforce representatives, they were assured a custom implementation would suit their needs. They negotiated a 3-year contract and began working with the recommended consultants to handle the custom development.
However, after months of collaboration with the consultants, two issues became apparent. First, neither Salesforce nor its app ecosystem could fully support Savvy's unique needs from a technical perspective. And secondly, it was clear to Ronnie that the consultants still didn’t grasp Savvy's business.
This turned out to be a costly misstep, with their custom implementation costing the company both time and money without ever reaching production.
Despite the setback, Ronnie was determined to find a path forward to grow the business.
Ronnie’s exploration led him to connect with Rarely Decaf’s team. After initial conversations, we were intrigued by their business, operations and vision. We agreed that an off-the-shelf solution wouldn't meet their goals. However, we presented a different approach to solving their growth challenges: to work with us as a partner to conceptualize, design, and develop their vision using modern, visual programming tools, sidestepping the constraints of building on outdated, rigid platforms and the expenses associated with traditional software development.
As we gained a comprehensive understanding of Savvy's operations, we scoped an initial application with their team’s feedback that focused on improving how the company recruited for projects. The platform would be designed to integrate seamlessly into Savvy’s operations and encompass a patient CRM, a verification and project management system, a content management system, and a patient portal.
“Wes and the Rarely Decaf team understood our business and goals early on.”
After aligning on the scope of a "minimum lovable platform", our team swiftly got to work. And within just two months, we had stood up a beta of the “Ask Patients Platform” (the APP). From there, our teams collaborated on testing, refining, and customizing the platform to meet Savvy's exact needs, laying the groundwork for a production launch.
Launching the Ask Patients Platform (APP) in production marked a pivotal moment for Savvy Cooperative, and it proved successful in savings team members dozens of hours on project management a week, enhancing patient experiences, and fueling the company's community-oriented growth strategy.
As our partnership with Savvy Cooperative evolved, we introduced new features to optimize their operations and enhance their platform's capabilities. Some notable developments from our collaboration include:
Bespoke project management views, providing a birds-eye overview of their projects’ progress.
Specialized tools designed to streamline daily operations around tasks such as managing global payments, patient communications, and the collection of compliance documents.
Robust security enhancements and data migration systems, ensuring the secure and efficient user of Savvy Cooperative's data
This success paved the way for a long-term partnership. As we continued working together, we became a extension into their team, establishing shared channels on Slack, holding regular meetings on product strategy, and working transparently on product development.
“The visibility and transparency of how they work gives me the confidence I can focus on other areas of the business.”
"Before Rarely Decaf, I’d worry about the scalability of our business. With them, we’ve been able to scale our work, and I’ve personally freed up time to support other areas of the business.”
A year into our partnership, Savvy Cooperative's daily operations have been transformed—now streamlined and enriched with automation through a proprietary platform developed with our team.
Looking ahead, Savvy's leadership is exploring opportunities for their next groundbreaking product. And as that happens, Rarely Decaf will continue to provide unwavering support, ensuring that our work aligns with their mission to to make healthcare experiences more patient-centric.