A Slice on Jon Lensing, Co-Founder and CEO of OpenLoop
Jon Lensing grew up watching his father take care of many patients, being the only OBGYN in their small, rural farm town. When it was time for Lensing to go to college, it was no surprise he decided to follow the medical route and become a doctor just like his father. During his final year of medical school, Lensing wanted to address a different problem in the healthcare system… the disparities within medicine. “My other co-founder, who was also my classmate, we saw a lot of patients driving four or five hours one way just to get the care they needed. We knew there had to be a better way to get patient care.” As if there weren’t already enough obstacles in the healthcare industry, Lensing noticed a pattern with these patients who had to drive hours and hours: they would be even sicker and needed more surgeries by the time they arrived at the doctor’s office, leading to bigger health and financial burdens for them.
On a mission to make healthcare more accessible for all, Lensing and his co-founders founded OpenLoop, a platform for clinicians and telehealth companies to deliver patient care. Lensing, a midwest native, stayed close to his hometown while founding OpenLoop. Though, like most startups, it came with some pivots. OpenLoop initially started out as what Lensing calls, “an Uber service for physicians”, so when hospitals needed clinicians but didn’t have the staff, OpenLoop would match hospitals with clinicians every week. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lensing had to take a step back and pivot because it wasn’t safe to have doctors going from hospital to hospital. Luckily, the telehealth market started to boom, so they shifted their focus, and became a telehealth company. “We power other telehealth companies through our full-stack clinical operations, we have all the clinicians, plus the regulatory, compliance, legal infrastructure necessary for clinical groups to see patients. That way we can just focus on the patient side of things.”
Due to the virtual nature of telehealth, it allowed for OpenLoop to expand its geographic focus. Although the company was born out of a personal experience while living in a small town, Lensing is excited about the way the pivot has created more opportunities for the company. “Many of our telehealth partners operate in 50+ states, so we’re seeing patients in all of these states. We’re able to deliver care virtually to anyone who has a wifi connection or a cell phone connection. It drastically improved the rate of delivery of healthcare.”
Like most, Lensing’s journey is not exempt from risks and obstacles. While looking back on his journey, he noted deciding to start the company has been his biggest risk, especially since he was in his last year of medical school. He remembers having to convince himself to take the risk and fully commit because he knew the high-risk reality of startups. “I could have gone on to practice clinical medicine or plastic surgery for residency, which comes with a very lucrative salary… I was so dead set on going on the medical route for so long that it was a huge pivot to step away from the career path I projected for myself… It was an eye-opening process.” Though it was risky, Lensing doesn’t regret a thing. The traditional practicing physician sees around 20 people a day, and Lensing is helping physicians see thousands of patients a day.
Now, having taken the leap, Lensing shares his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Learning from his mistakes and experience, he advises them to “just do it”. He notes there will always be things to weigh, and pros and cons to write, but just getting started is key. The second part of just doing it is to make decisions quickly, and trust yourself with your instincts.
Due to the “risk versus reward” in startups, Lensing notes that startups favor those that take risks so sometimes waiting for all of the information at all times may cause you to miss an opportunity.
With all of the pivots and risks taken, Lensing is excited to look ahead to the future with OpenLoop. For him, the goals for the company are easy: continue to look after patients while aiming to be the “dominant engine” powering patient visits. Lensing plans to always find resources to better and educate himself in order to be the best leader he can be for OpenLoop. “I need to make sure that I’m constantly in tune with my team so they feel they have a sense of belonging here and can come to me with any problem they might have. That translates down into re-qualifying myself and my job every single day.” Lensing will continue to prioritize the company’s needs before his and will do everything in his power to ensure he’s the best person to lead OpenLoop. He even acknowledges that at some point in the future, he may no longer be best suited to lead and if/when that time comes, he will make that transition to do what’s best for OpenLoop.
Jon Lensing has dedicated his career to helping patients. He received his M.D. from the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucielle A. Carver College of Medicine. During his time in medical school Lensing was the Vice President of Research at SwineTech Inc. and worked as a research fellow at the University of Iowa Health Care. Lensing is now Co-Founder and CEO of OpenLoop. Connect with Lensing on LinkedIn.