Matthew Allen, CEO & Co-Founder, DifferentKind
While many take the entrepreneurial plunge with a primal goal of generating revenue from their business, some care deeply about more than earning a profit. They are driven by a philanthropic desire to improve their communities, society, or the world as a whole. The idea to transform lives for the collective good is the driving force that gets them out of bed in the morning. Such inspiring change-makers look for creative ways to solve problems while changing the lives of millions of people for the better. An evident example of such an influential business leader in healthcare is Dr. Matthew Allen, the CEO and co-founder of DifferentKind, a data and coaching platform focused on improving patient-reported outcomes and experiences. Starting out in public health, Matthew knew from the very beginning that he wanted to impact and serve people who ultimately might not have the resources to access dental care. He worked for a nationally recognized community health center in the Denver area as a dental director for several years. He is the first US-based dentist member of MINT, the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, and has championed the person-centered communication style as a sought-after consultant, author, speaker, and policy advocate. The avid entrepreneur describes himself as an intentional leader. “I really wanted to help and empower people and I think that I’ve been able to do that throughout my career in various ways, both individually helping people as a clinician and now building software and tools that help people build better systems,” asserts Matthew. So, driven by the strong desire to make the dental profession a place that feels a little bit more human, he laid the foundation of DifferentKind along with his business partner, Dr. Carolyn Brown.
Helping People Transform Their Dental Experiences
DifferentKind was started with the idea that the patient voice could take a more central role in the dental setting, along with the vision to transform the experience, not only for the patient but for dental professionals as well as payers. The company believes that effective communication is a key aspect of improving patient outcomes and satisfaction in oral healthcare. Thus, it incorporates collaborative, patient-centered counseling approaches like motivational interviewing and shared decision-making to help practices and dentists to provide evidence-based treatment options that are informed by a patient’s values and preferences. It has developed a system leveraging the latest and greatest in technology, both as it relates to collecting data from patients in a modern, consumer-centric fashion as well as using generative AI to provide tech-enabled coaching for dental providers and groups. “Data sitting in a dashboard might not drive a clinician to improve, so we take that data and make it meaningful and actionable for dental professionals,” opines Matthew. “I like to think of our role as clinicians as guides more than as anything else. What we have built at DifferentKind allows the professionals to hear what matters most from the patient in order be a more effective and efficient guide,” he adds.
Promoting Person-Centered Care in Dentistry
Staying true to its name, DifferentKind has attained a unique edge in the industry by really listening to what patients want. While patient-centric care is often associated with the biomedical aspects of patients and their medical history, the health of a patient is determined by much more than just what is written in a two-page medical history. He strives to enable clinicians to have meaningful relationships with patients by encouraging real engagement with the patient during a visit, driving improved treatment adherence and ultimately, better outcomes. What further makes Different Kind stand out from the rest is that it is built by dentists, for dentists and their patients. “We know what it’s like to feel the time pressure of dental-specific appointments as a provider. We’ve listened to what thousands of patients want over the years. We know the evidence, and have worked to build a solution that meets the unique and specific challenges of dental care compared to other medical visits,” affirms Matthew.
Navigating Challenges along the Way
As a co-founder of DifferentKind, it’s been an exciting journey for Matthew from clinician to leader of a software company. But like any successful venture, their journey to prominence was not without challenges. One of the major challenges for Matthew was building a company that is headquartered in a rural location. However, Chaffee County, Colorado is developing a reputation as a budding startup ecosystem. The support of the community has motivated DifferentKind to create jobs in their community and show that it’s not necessary to be located in a major metropolitan area to build a successful digital health company. “We’re a rural company, we’re a mixed-gender founding team with really strong female leadership, we’re a public benefit corporation and intend to complete the B Corp certification process in the near future. We’ve tried to take our values and bake them into our company structure. We think that understanding who we are and what makes us unique has helped us build a strong foundation from which to grow,” shares Matthew. “Our product is unique in oral health, but I’m working hard to ensure that our company culture is second-to-none as well. We want to take care of our people, we want to take care of the environment, we want to promote public health. We want to build something sustainable and beautiful.” Based on the success that Matthew and DifferentKind have already demonstrated, they are well on their way to making these lofty goals a reality.