Looping Life into Work

Telehealth startup reshapes traditional systems

Lydia Conger was looking to make a leap in her career. Tired of working remotely, the sales executive wanted to be immersed in an environment that encouraged her to participate in a collaborative culture.

A family friend on the team at OpenLoop, a healthcare startup headquartered in downtown Des Moines, mentioned they were hiring. The opportunity to join a pioneering telehealth company piqued Conger’s interest.

OpenLoop was founded in January of 2020 by Iowans Dr. Jon Lensing and Christian Williams, based on a shared passion for reaching rural patients. They had an idea to leverage providers who had extra time in their schedule. Through technology, they could deliver more efficient care—regardless of patient or clinician location.

“From day one, our mission has been to improve community health outcomes and accelerate delivery of medical services,” Dr. Lensing says. “We’ve created a network of providers who are available to patients regardless of the patient’s location. These include physicians, nurse practitioners, mental and behavioral therapists, nurses and dietitians. You name it, we’ve got it.”

team collaborating

OpenLoop went from idea to employer quickly. Pandemic-spurred changes in regulation and an influx of investment capital accelerated the startup’s achievements. The cofounders aspire for OpenLoop to become ‘the Uber of healthcare.’ They’re hoping that the success of their company signals that Iowa is a great place to both launch a business and connect with a career path.

“Iowa is thought of as a flyover state, but I want to put Iowa on the map to be the next tech hub,” Dr. Lensing says. “The state has provided great economic incentives to continue our growth here.

Building a Culture While Building a Product

Since launch, OpenLoop has evolved into offering a full stack of telehealth solutions. Now with nearly 10,000 clinicians across the nation, the company provides access to virtual care experiences for more than 80,000 patients and counting. They’ve been staffing up along the way, and plan to hire hundreds more positions in the coming years.

Noah and Nick working in the office

OpenLoop’s downtown Des Moines workforce is 50 strong. Another 250+ team members are spread internationally and collaborate over video calls and online messaging. (An Instagram post highlights a group of Loopers meeting up with colleagues at Machu Picchu.)

The ability to contribute to a meaningful mission is attractive to applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds. Early on, recruiting was about building their brand. Now, OpenLoop’s VP of Growth says she fields daily LinkedIn messages from prospects clamoring to know about openings.

“I get a lot of people who tell me, ‘It doesn’t matter which department you’re hiring for, I just want to be a part of what OpenLoop is building,” Jess Greiner says. She started in marketing and HR functions as OpenLoop’s 10th employee. Greiner credits the co-founders’ commitment to creating the foundation for a trusting and vibrant culture. Oriented around a vision to “bring healing everywhere,” OpenLoop touts core values of autonomy, competence and belonging.

Ping-pong tables and unlimited PTO

OpenLoop is renovating additional floors of their 6th Avenue office to accommodate local expansion. Tour “The Loop,” and you’ll find the expected trappings of a Silicon Valley startup workspace in downtown Des Moines. (Yes, they have ping pong tables as well as neon signage, wall murals and lounge areas.) Amidst a mostly open floor plan are features like privacy pods for calls or one-on-ones, a snack zone, electric scooter fleet and fancy sparkling water machine.

More importantly, you’ll encounter a staff inspired by a sense of purpose. Among them is Lydia Conger, who made her leap to OpenLoop after confirming the brand’s office vibe matches its priorities. Extra perks, like the dog-friendly policy that lets her bring her pooch Frank along and unlimited PTO helped make the transition seamless.

team collaborating

“I think there is a certain vibrancy because [OpenLoop] is so young,” Conger says. “From a culture standpoint, it’s eager but not naïve. Everyone knows what they know and don’t know. It’s exciting to be a part of the camaraderie of learning and trying to piece everything together.”

OpenLoop’s promise to scale patient care while maintaining quality is what hypes Conger up for her ‘scoping’ calls with potential clients.

“It’s the excitement around truly consultative selling and giving them a product that means something that has a lot of value,” she says.

Her pup’s wagging tail seems to signal that he agrees. There’s something special about being part of OpenLoop’s startup success.

Published September 6, 2023

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