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The Future Normal
As companies consider the right improvements for the future, these five executives drive forward-thinking strategies that serve employees and patients alike
Anna Newsom, Providence
Matthew McElrath, Yuma Regional Medical Center
Todd Allen, The Queen’s Medical Center
Diane Jacoby, Blessing Health
Miguel Vigo IV, UC San Diego Health
in this issue
After years of chasing adventure on trails and back roads, consultant Tina Conte has discovered a niche in benefits ▶ P36
Karl Giuseffi specializes in not only identifying the right candidates for various roles in the healthcare industry but also ensuring they’re supported after they get hired P46
HR expert Elizabeth McClure has learned that having honest conversations with employees goes a long way P54
Michelle Dibadj reflects on moving from malpractice defense to early resolution work as senior director of claims and litigation at Ascension P60
At L7 Informatics, Vasu Rangadass aims to reduce drug manufacturing costs, streamline operations, and, above all, help patients and providers alike P70
Taimur Shah says the key to finding solutions for staffing challenges is to be proactive and creative
Throughout her career, Jacqueline Epright of Yale New Haven Health has tackled difficult situations, sorted through them, and planned the best path forward P82
Chief Growth and Relationship Officer Shelly Glenn leads by example in her service to others at AON and beyond P86
Don Perigny began his career in professional baseball before making the switch to procurement; throughout, he’s made sure he’s a team player ◀ P90
Tami Chen of Natera has helped guide rapid growth for a public company, tackling the challenges of maturing quickly by relying on partnership and open communication P96
Kurt Stitcher is working to not only improve structures and processes at Nihon Kohden but also ensure he’s a strong leader for his team ◀ P106
Andre Reid isn’t afraid to push his team to help them grow; he focuses on the people in his leadership of the Jackson Health Systems auditing and compliance functions P112
Jeff Petet ensures that Upstream Rehabilitation has the right technology in place to support its tremendous growth trajectory P120
Amidst a volatile time of layoffs and low morale, Workhuman’s Zoe Peterson-Ward offers insight to the power of employee recognition in a resilient workplace ▶ P128
On the Cover
This issue’s cover star, Anna Newsom, was photographed in Seattle by American Healthcare Leader photographer Cass Davis.
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As companies consider the right improvements for the future, these five executives drive forward-thinking strategies that serve employees and patients alike
Serve the Community
As chief legal officer at Providence, Anna Newsom works to fulfill the nonprofit organization’s mission of helping the most vulnerableBy Donald Liebenson Photos by Cass Davis
Anna Newsom compares the journey that brought her to Providence as chief legal officer (CLO) to a video game in which the hero picks up tools and weapons along the way that will help them succeed in their particular quest.
Newsom came to the nonprofit, faith-based healthcare organization after nearly a decade with Travelers Insurance. “You couldn’t find two more different industries than property and casualty
insurance and healthcare, yet there are a lot of approaches that cross over in terms of running a legal department,” she explains. “For example, how do you calibrate developing in-house legal capabilities that bring strategic value to the organization against one-off outside counsel retentions? Every CLO struggles with that.”
Another issue that has taken on a pronounced importance, especially since the pandemic and the so-called Great Resignation, Newsom says, is the engagement and retention of caregivers. “This is an
issue for any industry,” she notes. “Not only how you make sure you’re finding the right talent, but that you’re keeping the talent motivated to stay at a very specific type of organization.”
Newsom leads a team of roughly 60 people that supports the legal needs of a health system that comprises 120,000 caregivers, more than 50 hospitals, and roughly 1,100 clinics across seven states.
What the legal team brings to the table is “broad and deep expertise,” Newsom explains. “A lot of operational issues arise day-to-day at Providence, so the structure of our legal team that provides core operational support mirrors the system’s three divisions: North, South, and Central.” There is also a labor and employment team that deals with not only employer-related issues but also unions and contract negotiations. The litigation team addresses adversarial proceedings, investigations, and traditional litigation, as well.
“We also have a system or shared services team, which consists of attorneys who support a particular part of the business, or attorneys who specialize in transactional matters, regulatory issues, privacy, security, real estate, and tax, to name a few,” she says. “All that expertise is not necessarily tied to a given operational unit; most of our lawyers support the entire system on these issues.”
One of the key responsibilities of Newsom’s role is to determine how much of this expertise is outsourced and how much is developed in-house to grow internal and institutional capabilities.
“I rely on the experts on my team,” she says. “They have decades of healthcare law experience, and that is incredibly valuable to me in terms of the legal work we do and fulfilling our mission to serve the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community.”
Newsom emphasizes, however, that healthcare is just one part of the equation; Providence also focuses on the
“I’m definitely guided by the principle [that] great leaders develop other leaders.”
social determinants of health. “We have initiated community initiatives to help achieve housing equity and to address mental health,” she explains. “This focus goes back to the sisters who founded Providence, and the challenge for us is to adapt, transform, and innovate so that we are able to keep up with changes in the industry and stay true to our mission.”
Providence is extremely proactive in the area of compliance, employing a chief risk officer and a compliance unit. “The best way to be compliant in these different areas is by maintaining a close collaboration among legal, risk, and operations,” Newsom says. “If we are all working together and strategizing on how we approach these issues before they become bigger problems, that’s our best shot at getting ahead of compliance issues.”
Newsom describes her leadership style as “very informal.” “I’m definitely guided by the principle [that] great leaders develop other leaders,” she reflects. “I’m reliant on the team of leaders and managers who report to me. I look to their expertise for advice and guidance.”
Over the course of her career, Newsom has benefited from strong mentors, she says, who helped her with everything from specific legal issues to more general career advice. “When I was at Travelers, I had formal legal leadership roles but also nonlegal roles, so I was able to view legal services from the perspective of a business partner and a client. That made a dramatic difference on the kind of legal leader I am.”
Newsom first became interested in law when she immigrated to the United States at the age of sixteen.
“It was a relatively easy process,” she remembers, “but I did get my first experience with the American legal system. I also interned at the United Nations. That was a tremendous opportunity to see world leaders trying to work through our most foundational problems.”
“I also watched too many episodes of Law & Order when I was in law school, before I became an assistant district attorney in the Bronx,” she adds with a laugh. “In the end, I was just drawn to serving a community in need.” AHL
Put Trust behind everything you do.
medicine means humanizing communication
“In the end, I was just drawn to serving a community in need.”
Build toGive Back
After decades at large healthcare institutions, Matthew McElrath brings his talents to Yuma Regional Medical Center to improve rural healthcare in the areaBy Billy Yost
Matthew McElrath may be in the third major act of his career, but he hasn’t lost a shred of what made him great in the first place. The senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Yuma Regional Medical Center already has a résumé any HR professional would be proud to retire on.
In his sixteen years working for the Mayo Clinic, McElrath helped open its Phoenix hospital, staffing from scratch an organization located on 120 acres of ranching property in northern Phoenix. (When he first visited the
site, he literally had to maneuver over cow guards to get onto the property).
McElrath later took his talents to Los Angeles, spending over a decade as head of HR at Keck Medicine of USC. He aided the massive expansion of the organization as it tripled its workforce, became a magnet nursing hospital, and solidified its reputation as one of the premier academic medicinal institutions in the world.
After long tenures with two of the most well-known healthcare organizations in the world, what prompted his return to Arizona to work at a regional medical center that serves a primarily rural population?
“I think you have to look at the organization that’s being built here to answer that question,” McElrath explains. “There are so many unique challenges that Yuma is facing, but at the same time, there are so many things I’ve seen since coming here that are absolutely cutting edge. And that is being driven by incredible people.”
Yuma is making significant moves to evolve its practice. McElrath isn’t the only big gun being brought in from a larger organization; the company’s CFO, chief legal officer, chief experience officer, and a significant number of the executive team are all relatively new, with most coming from larger health systems.
“We’ve all compared notes, and I think everyone here really appreciates the size of this organization compared to the ones we came from and our ability to see the impact of our work on a daily basis,” he says.
One example: over the summer of 2022, Yuma was able to increase staff wages, especially for nurses, by more than 13 percent. The reason was two-fold. It would not only make Yuma a competitor in the larger talent market but also help retain the talent pool it had already developed.
“Part of the issue is getting some new talent through the front door, but if you don’t also close the back door, you’re constantly going to be playing catch-up,” McElrath explains. “Retention is often overlooked, but it’s such an important consideration.”
Yuma is also focusing in on employee wellness. Staff can get up to $1,000 reimbursed for everything from gym memberships to meditation classes to financial planning assistance. The program was launched in January 2023, and McElrath says the organization is proud to be able to help staff improve their health— physically, mentally, and financially.
McElrath also brings significant leadership skills to Yuma. While at Mayo, he published a paper centered around a leadership academy he helped build. At Keck, he helped build an organization called the Healthcare Leadership Academy that provided intensive year-long leadership experience for eight different cohorts of participants. The program even partnered with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
McElrath’s doctoral work centered around leadership, and the CHRO continues to provide coaching, strategy sessions, and mentorship in the field to this day.
“I enjoy working with folks that are in that rising generation,” McElrath says. “I see people coming up in middle management and taking on those next complex assignments. It’s a privilege to help coach them on how to tackle their first hundred days or first couple of years. I just love the work.”
McElrath’s colleagues admire his dedication to his work. “Matt’s able to inspire action that continuously moves the organization forward, because people know he has their best interests—and those of the organization—at heart,” says Mitch Bergen, client engagement lead for Talent Plus.
The CHRO’s leadership position at Yuma, he believes, is a way of giving back in his career. He’s seen the continuing challenges faced by smaller health systems, and he wants to ensure that communities still have access to the care they depend on.
“Especially post-pandemic, you continue to see the financial struggles that a lot of community hospitals have that are in smaller, more agricultural communities,” McElrath explains. “They simply do not have the resources that more urban hospitals have. But we have an incredible team here that is working to ensure
“Especially post-pandemic, you continue to see the financial struggles that a lot of community hospitals have that are in smaller, more agricultural communities.”
access to rural healthcare. I can’t say enough about how impressed I am at what this organization is building.”
It’s not easy. McElrath’s organization has faced chronic understaffing for years. But he is already seeing the impact that new blood has brought to the organization, and that’s exactly the point.
“I think so many of us got used to being lost in the shuffle of larger organizations,” McElrath notes. “Coming here, we’re able to act much more nimbly. Our accountability is to our community, and that’s where we feel the impact of our decisions. It motivates you to see the results of your work playing out so quickly. It’s really a breath of fresh air for all of us in our careers.”
Community healthcare will always face challenges in rural locations, including finding a way to forge ahead without having nearby health systems to use as a guidepost. But Yuma Regional Medical Center is a prime example of the kind of jump start that some new blood can bring to an organization. And this might just be McElrath’s best act yet. AHL
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Put the Patient First
At the Queen’s Medical Center, Dr. Todd Allen is a leading force for redesigning a patient-centric model for the Hawaiian hospital systemBy Noah Johnson
After a young Todd Allen broke his arm jumping off a hill, the drive to the orthopedics’ office seemed endless. But, when he got there, he was fascinated by how well staff could “calm patients down mentally and fix them physically.”
“It was such an amazing combination of skills and an amazing thing to do for work,” says Allen, who went on to earn his MD from the University of Utah School of Medicine.
That fascination planted a seed for him to one day become a fresh leading force for the Queen’s Medical Center and the Queen’s Health Systems, based in Honolulu, where he serves as senior vice president and chief quality officer. There, he’s responsible for regulatory reporting and certifications, quality, safety, infection prevention and control, system analytics, performance improvement, and engineering.
He’s also playing a part in solidifying the system’s pledge to put patients first, a commitment he says will mean a redesign of everything in the system.
“The system of healthcare in America was designed around the provider,” he says. “So, this pledge is to think about how you engage patients, their families, and the community in an entirely different way. It means the delivery model is different, it means the engagement model is different, and the outcomes we measure are different—they must be outcomes important for the patient. It’s a journey all healthcare in America is still on, and we’re still early on that journey at Queens.”
The overhaul is vital to improve the life expectancy of Native Hawaiians, which lags other groups in the state. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are also disproportionately affected by chronic conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. A 2019 study highlighted by the Associated Press noted that these ailments are impacted by several factors including socioeconomic status, individual behaviors, and access to healthcare services.
Allen says the life expectancy disparity traces back to 1859.
“Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, who founded the system, had witnessed over the course of
just a few decades the population of Native Hawaiians going from about six hundred thousand in the islands to about thirty thousand to fifty thousand. They were decimated by diseases people brought into Hawaii,” he says. “But, still in 2023, Native Hawaiians still live about eight years less than other ethnic groups.”
That’s why the system holds as its aspirational goals to decrease that gap in half over the next decade and to become a lifetime partner in health for the people of Hawaii.
Allen is working to obtain those goals with a focus on high reliability, pushing the system to a state with failure-free operations over time. That involves educating everyone in the system on what high reliability is, how to reach it, and what the science says about it. Additionally, he and his team are rolling out a culture of safety survey and instituting a daily standard operating model. Allen’s work on the system’s Clinical Program structure goes hand in hand with those efforts.
“Our mission used to be waiting until people were broken, then we’d fix them, not getting too involved in primary care or pediatric care,” he says. “Overall, we want to get out of the hospital-centric model and become present at all points in a person’s life.”
His perspective is informed by his previous work at Intermountain Healthcare based in Salt Lake
City, where he spent nearly twenty years focused on research, teaching, improvement science, and leadership. He directed efforts in process improvement in clinical medicine, systems research, and teaching in Intermountain’s Advanced Training Program. He was also the medical director of the Emergency Department Development Team, which supervised the work of the twenty-one emergency departments across the breadth of Intermountain Healthcare’s hospitals.
Allen credits much of his development to being in rooms with Intermountain’s senior leadership and decision-makers, who were passionate about delivering health that was both quality and affordable. Armed with a strong mission, he and his colleagues made great strides in redesigning data structures, engaging patients, and zoning in on social determinants of health.
He brought his expertise to Queens during the pandemic in October 2020. His first six months were the most difficult in his whole career.
“My family and I were all adjusting to a new place in Hawaii versus Utah,” he recalls. “It was a new system, a new culture, and new people in the context of COVID, so it was a challenge.”
He got through that time by getting to know his new home and his colleagues—and being transparent with them. “I let people know that I didn’t think I was there
“Medicine is cool because it brings in smart and curious people, and then if you can add empathy to that, you have a magical combination.”
Dr. Todd AllenLynne Harty Dr. Todd Allen SVP and Chief Quality Officer
Dr. Todd Allen
to upend their world,” he says. “Queen’s history is filled with really remarkable work, and my job was to bring a pair of fresh eyes, different experience, and to improve upon that history while honoring it intently.”
As a leader, he focuses on the frontline workers to bring out their best and constantly communicating his strategy with them. When asked what’s special about his team, he says simply: “They care.”
“Medicine is cool because it brings in smart and curious people,” he adds, “and then if you can add empathy to that, you have a magical combination.” AHLTodd Allen Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Oﬃcer The Queen’s Health System
Health Catalyst congratulates Todd Allen and The Queen’s Health System for their high-reliability journey and commitment to making massive, measurable healthcare improvements.
“Overall, we want to get out of the hospital-centric model and become present at all points in a person’s life.”
Reach to Rural
Diane Jacoby spent a quarter century in big city hospital law, but today she’s the legal vanguard in a rural healthcare systemBy Russ Klettke
It’s no secret that healthcare in rural America is under duress. Not only are some diseases more prevalent in agricultural regions—the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2022 that rural Americans are more likely to die prematurely from heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke—but lower insurance reimbursement rates and lower patient populations mean that rural hospitals are financially stressed as well.
As an attorney, Diane Jacoby is well-versed in the difference between urban and rural healthcare.
Almost every job she’s had, in private practice and as in-house counsel, was in healthcare law. But after nearly twenty-four years of working in the Ingalls Health System, now a part of UChicago Medicine— where she attained the position of vice president and general counsel—she headed south through the Illinois cornfields to eventually take on the position of vice president and chief legal officer at Blessing Health, based in Quincy, Illinois.
Jacoby went into the job with eyes wide open. Perhaps because she’s a lawyer who always had a true, longstanding commitment to healthcare.
Jacoby was a hospital candy striper in junior high school and briefly studied nursing before setting her
sights on a law career. The clinical details of nursing didn’t quite fit her, but early on she identified a path that was right for her. “I saw they had lawyers in hospitals,” she recalls.
Indeed, they do. In terms of patient care, it can involve providing legal guidance relative to informed consent, medical records, and patient privacy. Compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations also have to be maintained.
Proactive recognition of risks, both legal and financial, can go a long way to mitigate malpractice claims, employment disputes, and contract negotiations. And while litigation is generally handled by outside counsel, the in-house attorney is always deeply involved in such matters.
Jacoby created Blessing Health’s first internal legal department. “Blessing used local counsel for most of its history,” she says. “But outside attorneys have multiple clients and competing demands. The in-house attorney can be available relatively quickly for anything that comes up. The best outside counsel is the one who will understand both the business needs and financialTeresa Huner
“The survival of Blessing is vital to this region’s access to healthcare with the breadth and quality of healthcare needed.”
constraints of the hospital and who will be a partner with me and my team.”
The part about being “available relatively quickly” is itself a heavy lift. Blessing Health primarily operates in mid-central Illinois, but also reaches into neighboring Missouri and Iowa, with small-scale community hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, and in-home care and hospice services.
Blessing serves 437,000 people spread across 25 counties. It holds a number of accreditations and certifications for quality care, including national Magnet status for nursing excellence, chest pain, stroke center recognition, and trauma center designation.
The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) designated Blessing Health as a “sole community hospital.” Jacoby notes that “the survival of Blessing is vital to this region’s access to healthcare with the breadth and quality of healthcare needed.”
Considering the several acute problems facing all rural community hospitals, the need for Blessing Health has only increased in recent years. “Community hospitals are overwhelmed with people in mental health crisis, including overdoses and severe, longterm untreated mental illnesses. In rural America, the fentanyl crisis is devastating and a significant stressor on rural hospitals. And when those hospitals close, people in crisis have nowhere to go.”
In fact, Blessing had to close one of its own facilities in 2022 in Keokuk, Iowa. Jacoby says it was stressed with challenges including old buildings and falling admissions that, when coupled with declining payor reimbursement rates, contributed to decreasing finances. The closing came with its own set of legal requirements, including a WARN Act notice to affected workers and government health units.
But despite such grim headwinds, Jacoby remains a version of the candy striper that drew her to healthcare law in the first place.
She continues to assist in keeping the “sole community hospital” designation with CMS, and she works with an in-house team to ensure continued participation in the federal 340B drug pricing program, which helps the hospital offset out-of-pocket costs that otherwise make medications expensive.
“Legal can contribute tremendously to all of these efforts by eliminating costly, time-consuming barriers,” she says. And with Jacoby on the team, Blessing Health is at the forefront of overcoming these barriers and improving the rural healthcare system. AHL
ArentFox Schiﬀ is proud to work with Blessing Health and congratulates Diane Jacoby for this well-deserved recognition of her work and principled leadership.
Expand yourSkill Set
After overcoming numerous obstacles to get where he is today, Miguel Vigo IV is working to strengthen the revenue cycle team at UC San Diego HealthBy Billy Yost
Many people would die of embarrassment if they were judged by their college freshman days. Then there’s Miguel Vigo IV. Now chief revenue cycle officer at University of California (UC) San Diego Health, Vigo was just weeks into his first year of college when the Twin Towers fell. And that was it. Vigo immediately left college and enlisted in the US Army.
“I didn’t grow up with much, but my father, Miguel Vigo III, raised me to be a stand-up person, a man of my word, and a patriot,” says Vigo, who was the first person in his family to attend college. “Through my family and friends, and with God’s protection, I made it through.”
Vigo grew up poor in Chicago, experiencing real traumas as a result of gang violence. After winding up in a hospital as a child, he connected on a personal level with a hospital financial counselor, whose kindness and support ultimately shaped his career path.
“I didn’t grow up with much, but my father, Miguel Vigo III, raised me to be a stand-up person, a man of my word, and a patriot.”
Miguel Vigo IV
It’s not growing up on Chicago streets that defines Vigo. Not five years in the Army. Nor returning to college as what seemed like the oldest freshman on campus. What defines Vigo today is he pride he exudes when he talks about his UC San Diego Health team and his gratitude and love for his family.
“One of the things that attracted me to this role was the fact that this is a large academic institution where the culture supports new systems of care, new research, and new treatments that have a direct impact on people’s lives,” he explains. “We are on the forefront of discovery and teach what we learn to the next generation of doctors, nurses, and clinicians.”
Vigo himself is a lifelong learner, having added an MBA to his résumé in 2019. When he joined UC San Diego Health in 2022, it felt like home. Vigo wanted to continue to apply and expand his skill set—something that was inevitable in a role that involves the complex task of collecting revenue. “I’ve never shied away from a challenge,” he says.
In order to understand the impact Vigo wants to have on UC San Diego Health, it’s important to understand how he sees revenue cycle. It’s not just an arm of the broader financial body but also an intricate function within its own ecosystem.
“In healthcare, revenue cycle can be unpredictable because there is no guarantee of payment for services provided,” Vigo explains. “There’s myriad complicated obstacles and considerations. The combination of helping patients who may be critically ill and navigating insurance companies is incredibly complex.”
Vigo emphasizes that revenue cycle in healthcare can vary drastically from organization to organization based on scope of the revenue cycle team(s), and the integrated and combined strengths of the finance and operations teams. In some organizations, revenue cycle teams are given little consideration and not provided the assets, investments, or human capital to optimize the role.
“What I see is that UC San Diego Health understands just how much value the revenue cycle functions can provide to help sustain and strengthen the bottom line as well as the patient experience,” he says. “There are so many differences here that I saw immediately, and it just speaks to why they’re so good at what they do. They help us help the organization.”
Vigo believes UC San Diego Health is a model because decisions are made based on data and education. His team is consistently working to meet evidence-based quality metrics, aided by significant data analytics.
Huron would like to congratulate Miguel Vigo!
Miguel exempliﬁes the best of what it means to be a leader in the healthcare industry. His commitment to organizational excellence and to the well-being of employees serves as an inspiration to others. Congratulations on your achievements and thank you for making a difference in the lives of employees and patients.
refuse to be an A-minus organization.” Miguel Vigo IV
“We refuse to be an A-minus organization,” Vigo says. “We always want to see how we can do better. We want to be data-driven and ahead of the curve.”
Revenue cycle teams leverage data from electronic medical records as well as derive data from multiple sources to provide dashboards that communicate realtime financial health and support to each department and service line.
While he’s relatively new in his role, Vigo already has a soft spot for his people. He’s hoping to bring a focus on the importance of mental health for his team, and he’s willing to lead by example.
He’s also an advocate for the power of physical activity, noting that he’s “the weird guy in the corner of the gym” engaged in high-intensity combat training workouts. Along with pushing his team, he likes pushing his own body to its max.
There’s still an awful lot of spirit and fight in Vigo. No hardship, trauma, or setback could keep him down for long. He’s an example of how true resolve can uplift the individual and the team. AHL
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Every step executives take on their career journeys is pivotal to achieving their current successes. Along the way, individuals accumulate technical skills, foster relationships, and develop the leadership acumen that have turned them into pioneers of the industry.
36. Tina Conte Consultant
42. Dr. Ray Gensinger Tegria
46. Karl Giuseffi Talent Plus
50. Tom Fistek CONMED Corporation
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Finding Her Home
After years of chasing adventure on trails and back roads, consultant Tina Conte has discovered a niche in benefitsBy Zach Baliva
Self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie Tina Conte says that her days as a daredevil are over.
In June 2021, she was visiting a friend in Colorado when they decided to take all-terrain vehicles to explore the area’s gold mines. Conte was taking a sharp turn when her ATV fishtailed and threw her off the side of a cliff. The vehicle revved up and propelled itself flush across her right leg while she was dangling upside down. After nine surgeries and thirteen months of physical therapy, the adventurer with a passion for adrenaline unofficially retired from her favorite hobbies. Now, she sticks to seeking thrills in her fulltime role as a benefits consultant.
Conte is comfortable operating as a rebel and renegade. The New Jersey native and daughter of Italian immigrants studied at William Paterson University. While her fellow graduates mostly headed to Manhattan, she bucked trends by moving to Philadelphia and then back to the Garden State. Soon, the young professional landed a job as a global account executive at a large, international reinsurance company.
It was a role that would test Conte’s ability to go against the grain and challenge cultural norms. Leaders routinely sent her to foreign countries to conduct their business and participate in meetings. She recalls interacting with intimidating CEOs and other C-suite leaders in the first years of her career.
“I was new in my job but still had very important responsibilities with people who ran massive, big-dollar
companies,” Conte says. “I never had time to be afraid, because business moves fast and it was all I knew.”
After five years, Conte was ready for a new experience. She moved to the domestic side of her industry in a financial services company that furnishes insurance and employee benefits. There, she worked mostly with 403(b) retirement plans and accounts for employees in public institutions. Conte found herself helping financial advisors identify and execute cross-sales opportunities.
During this journey, Conte was still looking for her niche. She found it inside a global brokerage in the world of consulting. “I love the challenge of listening to what clients do and don’t say, and then discovering what their real needs in the benefits space are,” she says.
Like the rugged back roads Conte used to drive, her career has taken some surprising twists and turns. After three years as the head of benefits for the North American arm of an $11 billion company with 40,000 employees, she is back in consulting once again.
Back where she is at her best, Conte is working on her employer’s most complex accounts. It’s fast paced, unpredictable, and exciting. “No two days are the same in the world of benefits,” she says. “I love this kind of engagement, and I thrive in this challenging environment.” Conte never knows what’s going to come her way. She may solve a COBRA issue one day and help a client buy a new company in Asia-Pacific the next.
The veteran benefits and business expert always has her eye on emerging trends. Today, she’s eagerly
“No two days are the same in the world of benefits. I love this kind of engagement, and I thrive in this challenging environment.”
watching whether Amazon will step into drug sales and how the worldwide giant may disrupt existing pharmacy benefit managers.
At the same time, Conte is interested in how regulations may impact these activities. Lawmakers have proposed regulations to address licensure requirements for manufacturers and other companies in the drug supply chain. New storage procedures, screenings, bonds, and reporting practices may make manufacturing and distribution more complex as the government seeks to apply additional safety measures and oversight.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tina for the last decade,” says Dominic Viglione, vice president of account management at Cigna HealthCare. “It’s clear she is a natural leader in the health benefits space and is a true advocate for improving the health and wellbeing of the organizations she serves. We’ve worked together to create healthy workforces armed with the vitality to help each company achieve their business goals.”
Today’s clients have numerous issues to steer through. Employers, Conte says, are more aware of the value of healthcare in the post-COVID-19 world. Her international exposure and status as a first-generation American help her navigate the changing landscape as domestic companies merge and expand outside their existing borders.
For others looking to find a rewarding and fulfilling career in benefits, Conte’s advice is simple. “Find a mentor and challenge yourself, and you can go far,” she says. While the fearless risk-taker may have off-roading and other action-packed recreation in her past, she sees more action and adventure in her future as an expert in the excitement and chaos of benefits consulting. AHL
“Find a mentor and challenge yourself, and you can go far.”
HEALTHIER PEOPLE MEANS HEALTHIER GROWTH
The best business leaders understand that it’s their people who make success possible. Tina Conte’s experience and accomplishments have created a culture of health that makes it possible for people to bring their healthiest, best selves to work – helping them be more productive and organizations more successful.
The Doctor Who Loves Data
Dr. Ray Gensinger went to medical school to help sick people get better. But early on, he recognized how information technology could amplify his ability to care for entire hospital populations.By Russ Klettke
An interesting observation by Dr. Ray Gensinger is that there is sometimes an overreliance on technology in medicine.
“In our ability to aggregate and transmit data to patients and providers through electronic health records [EHRs], we’ve made it more difficult for clinicians to spend time just talking with patients or peers,” the senior vice president and chief medical officer at Tegria says. In other words, providing medical information via email is a poor substitution for a conversation between the doctor and patient about such things as cholesterol levels or iron deficiencies. Doctor-to-doctor consultations similarly suffer.
However, Gensinger is a true believer in what technology has and will do to hugely improve medicine and health outcomes. He believes great advances in human health will continue to unfold in meaningful, life-extending ways. Additionally, he believes the efficiencies that can be gained will return valuable time to allow those lost conversations to return. But he advocates for conscious and careful uses of data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other twenty-first century tools that are sure to come.
Gensinger’s enthusiasm for technology goes way back. When he was in high school in the early eighties, he owned an Apple II computer. As a medical student about a decade later—before a consumer-friendly version of the internet even existed—he naturally gravitated to using an early version of computer spreadsheets on his laptop to organize clinical notes. This was the era when
pharmacists had to decipher doctors’ handwritten prescriptions since EHRs did not exist.
In his postdoctoral studies in the mid-90s, Gensinger delved into the emerging field of medical informatics. “I liked how it put healthcare onto a common platform,” he remembers, adding how this was also a time when something as simple as voice recognition software began to enable dictating notes instead of writing them by hand.
He was then hired as a general internist but allocated about 20 percent of his time to developing the informatics program (he spent the other 80 percent practicing medicine). Within a few years, that flipped to 80 percent in IT, 20 percent as a clinician.
Gensinger eventually became the chief information officer at Hospital Sisters Health System, a Springfield, Illinois-based institution serving fourteen communities with fifteen hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin. He held that position for more than eight years before recently moving on to Tegria, a healthcare services company that uses technologies to optimize patient care and improve operational efficiencies.
This was not a path dictated by what came easiest to him. Gensinger looks at his career arc as a continuous build in how many people he could help.
“I asked myself, ‘Why have I gone into healthcare in the first place?’” he reflects. “I had the skills to make a difference as a doctor, and I’ve probably seen somewhere around twenty-five thousand patients in my life. But by moving into hospital technology, my sphere of influence expanded to hundreds of thousands of people. In my
new position at Tegria, we can favorably impact many millions of people.”
In his previous position as well as his new job, Gensinger takes a pragmatic approach to selecting and introducing new technologies. “In healthcare, one of the biggest challenges is change,” he says. “It works best when we deliver learning in bite-size pieces.”
What is clear from experience in the past several years is that technology enabled for smartphones is what hospital staff want. “Wireless and mobility have won the day,” Gensinger says. “I love my laptop but even I go to my phone much of the time.”
Any leader in a hospital IT system must handle questions of integration when a new platform comes along. Gensinger says that some niche standalone programs might be worth having, but platforms that can work with existing software have a clear advantage. Given the complexity of hospitals in a modern era, one can only imagine the choices that must be made in this regard.
Gensinger acknowledges that personal privacy issues are a foremost concern but believes that with proper regulations, individual patient, data can be protected. Experiential analytics, like combining AI and machine learning, will be more valuable because it comes from diverse, population-representative data, overcoming past deficiencies in medical research that drew from nonrepresentative demographic groups.
It’s ultimately an exciting amount of good news for all hospital systems on the horizon, particularly given the wealth of data that these institutions generate. “Healthcare organizations are just beginning to recognize what they’re sitting on,” Gensinger says. “Healthcare data will create a whole new economy.” AHL
Health Catalyst is a leading provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organizations, committed to being the catalyst for massive, measurable, datainformed healthcare improvement.
Health Catalyst congratulates the Hospital Sisters Health System for their commitment to massive, measurable healthcare improvements.
“Healthcare organizations are just beginning to recognize what they’re sitting on. Healthcare data will create a whole new economy.”
Finding the Perfect Person for the Job
Karl Giuseffi specializes in not only identifying the right candidates for various roles in the healthcare industry but also ensuring they’re supported after they get hiredBy Noah Johnson
Karl Giuseffi’s entire family is involved in healthcare. His dad is a general surgeon, his mom is a biochemist, his eldest brother is an orthopedic surgeon, his other brother is a dentist, and several other relatives are also doctors. “As you can imagine, [healthcare] was a conversation around the dinner table all the time,” he says, chuckling.
Watching his family’s commitment to saving lives, improving them, and putting patients first made a mark on Giuseffi. Those values continue to influence the way he views his work at Talent Plus, where he’s executive vice president of research and innovation. Though he doesn’t work in an operating room like his dad or in a lab like his mom, he
impacts the industry by helping people like them thrive in the right roles.
“Today, I try to make sure organizations find individuals that are committed to a quality of care that I’d expect for my own family and to make sure they’re set up for success,” he says.
He works closely with executive leaders to streamline data-driven insights that
inform strategy and guide decisionmaking, organizational leadership, and culture. He and his team find talent for their clients by using job-specific assessments that identify the talents and qualities an individual needs to “exemplify near-perfect performance.”
“It all boils down to: ‘Are these people, that are going to be tap-dancing to work, loving what they do and loving the impact they create?’” he says. “We make sure organizations move to that sort of quality of care first, so they’re selecting and investing in individuals [who can] bring about the kind of impact they’re looking for.”
After an individual is identified and hired, Giuseffi helps organizations understand that their commitment to an employee must continue if they want to see long-term results. To support those efforts, he and his team developed a leadership “readiness” scale: an assessment of an employee’s performance that examines how they’re engaging in their role over time as well as their growth and leadership capabilities. It’s offered insights to organizations and helped them bolster succession planning efforts, identify future leaders sooner, and create strategies to develop them.
“It’s a tool designed to analyze and synthesize the entire spectrum and capabilities of talents that someone has, highlighting those things to leaders who may not have a line of sight to it today. It helps them double down, develop the
person, and continue to grow them,” he explains.
The innovative scale offers hope in an industry experiencing a nationwide shortage of healthcare professionals. While Giuseffi recognizes the impact the shortages have been having on the ground, he also has another concern: individuals are leaving the industry due
to a lack of development resources and commitment from their organizations.
“In many ways, I wonder if it’s that organizations have taken for granted the calling that people have to healthcare, that sense of purpose, that mission,” he says. “But an organization has to pour that same energy back into a person and
“It all boils down to: ‘Are these people, that are going to be tap-dancing to work, loving what they do and loving the impact they create?’”Karl Giuseffi EVP of Research & Innovation Talent Plus
develop them. A plant needs to be nourished in order to thrive.”
Giuseffi’s work is informed by his expertise in neuroscience and human behavior. He received a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in both American politics and biology, with an emphasis in advanced qualitative modeling, and served as a biopolitics and behavioral lab manager at his alma mater. He also worked as a lead researcher at the University of South Dakota. When he joined Talent Plus in 2015, he learned about the power questions can have and how they could be used to “act as a functional MRI of a person” in order to better understand them.
From those experiences he learned a simple truth: people are a lot like icebergs.
“There’s everything you can see that’s above water, but most of an iceberg’s depth is all underneath; you can’t see it and it comprises so much more,” Giuseffi says. “In the neuroscience world, we’re always trying to explain or better understand human behavior,
decision-making, and trying to reveal what’s underneath. It’s really just a matter of what technology you’re using to do it. Is it going to be an MRI or a set of questions?”
Despite the challenges of the industry, Giuseffi is excited about the future of healthcare. He’s seeing organizations utilize technology in profound ways to better serve patients and he’s encouraged by the emphasis that’s been placed on preventative care.
When asked about advice he would give to healthcare leaders seeking to develop talent in their organizations, he says: “Do it immediately.”
“Stop waiting,” he adds. “You can’t act soon enough and even if you don’t think there’s a need for it right now, I promise tomorrow you will. That question of how we’re transferring knowledge when someone is retiring takes years to develop. So, if you’re not finding that talent, you’re not going to be developing it in the right way—and your competitors are paying attention to that.” AHL
“An organization has to pour that same energy back into a person and develop them. A plant needs to be nourished in order to thrive.”
A Human Swiss Army Knife
At CONMED, Tom Fistek is not just a versatile lawyer; he’s a leader who can relate to people at every level of the organizationBy Noah Johnson
om Fistek has always been able to handle whatever is thrown at him. Throughout his career—from his time as an engineer at Ford to navigating the complexities of intellectual property law at CONMED Corporation, where he’s the chief IP counsel—he’s leveraged both his adaptability and passion for problem-solving to succeed.
“I’m kind of a Swiss Army knife,” he says. “Whatever the objective is, I’ll take the time to figure out a solution. That’s been the common theme throughout my career.”
After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in mechanical engineering, Fistek began his career as a quality engineer at Ford. The plant where he worked, which built large panel vans, was a training ground for communicating with individuals at every level of an organization.
“Understanding the dynamics in the manufacturing plant helped me learn to relate to people better. I use that skill frequently in my practice,” he says. “As a young engineer, developing trust with the workers in the plant and the engineering team was critical to my success. I learned to tailor my communications to my audience in order to build that trust.”
While he thought it was interesting to see the vans getting built and learn about the dynamics of a plant, Fistek knew he ultimately wanted a career in law. In college, he interned at a law firm, helping with litigation, document review, and research—experiences that stuck with him and eventually inspired him to go to Cleveland State University to get his JD.
Fistek’s first job after law school was at Renner, Otto, Boiselle & Sklar, where he got experience as a
law clerk before becoming an associate, working on patent preparation and prosecution, patent clearance and investigation, litigation, and trademarks. He loved the strategic mindset that the variety of work required but he wanted to work more closely with the business.
After nine years at the firm, Fistek went in-house at Parker Hannifin as senior counsel IP supporting the climate and industrial controls group and the instrumentation group. He enjoyed learning about and understanding the company’s vision while helping it accomplish its goals. The key to a smooth transition in-house, Fistek says, was asking a lot of questions, listening, and observing his colleagues—habits he continues to use in his current role.
“Keeping that mentality has helped me along the way because you have to understand the technology and the business model in order to know what IP to protect and the strategy for protecting it,” he explains.
He went on to serve as an assistant general counsel of IP, adding the company’s aerospace group, corporate trademarks, and LATAM group to his responsibilities. In that role, he continued to work with business and engineering leaders to develop strategic IP portfolios while managing third-party IP risks. That role not only made him a more versatile attorney, Fistek says, it also helped him build on the communication skills he developed earlier in his career.
“It is important to build trust with the people I’m working with,” he says. “To be able to speak in a way that everyone can understand, I’ve learned to adapt my communications to the audience, from the C-suite to the engineers, because each audience has
different objectives and needs. Being able to explain things in a way everyone can understand has been pretty important.”
That’s what he continues to do today at CONMED as a member of the company’s legal leadership team. He manages its patent and trademark portfolios and develops and implements complex IP strategies for cutting-edge medical device technologies. In addition, Fistek leads company efforts on several fronts, including patent harvesting, preparation and prosecution, and trademark clearance.
“It’s fascinating to see how the devices we make help people,” he says. “In the industrial space it’s more business to business, but these products directly impact how medical care is provided, and that has a direct impact on people’s livelihoods.”
Over the last year, in addition to helping the company complete two acquisitions, he’s picked up international work and been given more opportunities to stretch himself as an attorney.
“I have to figure out how to support the whole business now and it’s not just the IP side of things,” Fistek notes. “It’s generalist type work, and my adaptability has allowed me to quickly learn the medical device space in order to handle these new areas of law.”
Moving forward, he wants to build out CONMED’s IP function and make sure the company is using IP effectively and continue to expand his capabilities.
“That’s part of the reason why I came here,” he says. “I want to make sure IP continues to be a focus so that we’re developing and acquiring IP that’s meaningful to the company while continuing to stretch myself as an attorney.” AHL
“Understanding the dynamics in the manufacturing plant helped me learn to relate to people better. I use that skill frequently in my practice.”
After many years working in HR, Elizabeth McClure has learned that having honest conversations with employees goes a long wayBy Noah Johnson
It’s a well-documented fact that people don’t like change. In fact, some research suggests that resistance to change is more common than acceptance of it. In her eighteen-year HR career, Elizabeth McClure has seen plenty of changes in benefits amid new leadership and changing policies, and part of her job is making sure that employees understand those changes.
“One of the things I’ve learned along the way is that communication is key so people can get the full picture and understanding of something new that’s coming,” she says. “Some people still might not like certain outcomes, but it definitely still helps for them to have that background and lets them know that we’re there to equip them with the most information and resources as we can.”
As the associate director of total rewards at Corium, a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company, McClure has taken a communication-forward approach to the initiatives she leads for the company’s wellness and benefits function. Last year, she was in charge of implementing a new program that dove into different pillars of wellness each quarter. In addition to developing the name, focus of intent, and benefits initiatives for the program, she focused her energy on educating employees about available benefits.
“The first part of that initiative was really just trying to set the framework
for employees to understand what’s out there and along the way; we introduced things like a Lifestyle Spending Account, a meditation subscription app for all employees, and enhancements to our time-off policy,” she says. “A lot of people don’t realize what their resources are and what’s available to them.”
That’s not just McClure’s opinion, but a documented fact: in 2019, the Forbes Human Resources Council reported that only half of employees understand their benefits. With this in mind, McClure has implemented new programming and initiatives by maintaining an open-door policy with employees, always making herself available to support them and answer their questions.
Her work is informed by her training in psychology and business—interests that ultimately drew her to HR. After graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in both those areas, McClure’s first job was providing therapeutic support for children with special needs. While she found that role fulfilling, she realized that HR was where she wanted to make an impact.
In her first few years in the field, McClure provided HR generalist support at a civil engineering firm, and later at a position focused on benefits at a business intelligence applications company. It wasn’t until her position in benefits at athenahealth in 2011 that she realized the healthcare industry aligned perfectly
“Communication is key so people can get the full picture and understanding of something new that’s coming.”Anita Verheul Bio-Alliance Executive Vice President Anita_Verheul@ajg.com Sara S. LaVallee, CEBS Bio-Alliance Senior Vice President Sara_LaVallee@ajg.com
with her passion and interests, where she worked her way up from an associate to senior manager of benefits, ultimately leading the team. After working there for nearly a decade, she stepped into her current role at Corium.
“After seeing the greater good that comes from this industry, I have no desire to leave it at this point,” she says.
Over the years, however, she’s gained a wealth of experience from working at companies that were constantly changing and evolving. She’s helped to bring companies public and private while helping to organize mass hires, layoffs, and several mergers and acquisitions. Through her exposure to these matters, she was often put in situations where it was sink or swim—challenges that molded her into the adaptable leader she is today.
“I always chose to swim,” she says. “It’s one of those things I’ve experienced at smaller start-up companies, where they don’t necessarily care if you have experience or background in x, y, or z. They just want you to do it and figure it out. So that’s kind of the mindset I’ve kept with me in my career in terms of not being afraid or intimidated by new things.”
Another part of McClure’s work at Corium involves telling employees about initiatives that are still in development. “I found that it helps to get messaging out in stages,” she says. “At one point in one of my companies, I always felt like, ‘Let’s not communicate everything until we know all the details.’”
She’s learned, however, that it’s OK to say that you don’t have all the information yet. “Just having that line of communication where you say ‘Here’s what we know so far, here’s where we’re at’ is so helpful in having those touchpoints with people. It makes them know that you’re human too, that you don’t have all the answers, and that you’re working with the company to get to that point.”
At Corium, she’s an empathetic leader who likes to lead by example. Understanding the strengths and interests of those she works with, in addition to how they best receive feedback, is key.
“Being able to connect on a personal level is so important,” she says. “Having open and honest conversations helps set the tone for a positive and respectful work relationship.” AHL
Your organizational wellbeing is our top priority.
National, and even global, forces have an unmistakable impact on an executive’s work. Whether it’s a legislative change or an industry-disrupting technological breakthrough, executives must constantly adapt their business strategies to keep their company thriving.
60. Michelle Dibadj Ascension
66. Bradley Lambert AGC Biologics
70. Vasu Rangadass
74. Taimur Shah WilsonHCG
78. Kevin Lastorino Hospital for Special Surgery
Patients and Patience
Michelle Dibadj reflects on moving from malpractice defense to early resolution work as senior director of claims and litigation at AscensionBy Billy Yost
When it comes to gaining experience in the courtroom, Michelle Dibadj knows just how rare an occasion it can be.
“When I think about our next generation of attorneys, there are just fewer and fewer cases going to trial,” the senior director of claims and litigation at Ascension explains. “There are fewer opportunities for law firm associates to develop into trial attorneys, so what steps can we take to help prepare young defense attorneys?”
As one of the country’s largest nonprofit Catholic health systems, Ascension understands its obligation to advocate for good medicine, compassionate care, and justice in healthcare. “It’s not just on the law firms and their succession plans,” Dibadj says. “I believe healthcare organizations and insurance carriers need to take part in producing the next generation of trial attorneys.”
Ascension recently developed its Second Generation program, which is currently being piloted. The program focuses on cases where the associate has the opportunity to learn more and be mentored more as well as the opportunity to perhaps try the case too. Associates from firms are able to gain valuable experience by shadowing more senior attorneys and performing tasks under the guidance of mentors. Along with mentoring, there are also education components that cover popular topics, like defending damages.
“Our trial attorneys aren’t going to be working forever, so we need to think about who will be trying our cases in the future,” Dibadj says. “I’ve had great mentors along the way, especially at Ascension, and I’m glad we’re able to provide that same experience for our future trial attorneys.”
Dibadj has been advocating for health care providers since before she even considered law school. Her father was a pediatrician who practiced in Illinois for more than forty years and her mother, originally an x-ray technician, went on to work at his office. “My dad was an involved
provider in a lawsuit, and just watching the emotional toll on him inspired me to attend law school in order to defend good medicine and fight frivolous lawsuits,” she says.
The senior director originally followed her parents into healthcare, earning her nursing degree, but the law ultimately won out. Prior to joining Ascension in 2010, Dibadj practiced as a medical liability defense attorney representing healthcare providers and hospitals in Missouri and Illinois. She joined Ascension in 2010, first as a claims manager and litigation counsel, then was promoted twice.
After practicing for many years as a medical liability defense attorney, Dibadj admits she initially struggled with the mindset shift to represent a mission-focused healthcare ministry. An example of this is Ascension’s CORE (Communicate Openly. Resolve Early.) program. “Ascension really lives its mission and vision, and that includes being transparent with our patients and our families after an unanticipated adverse event,” she explains. This program involves reviewing the care provided and communicating those findings with patients and their families and resolving cases early, if appropriate.
In concert with Ascension’s CORE program, Dibadj says Ascension’s Provider Associate Care Team (PACT) program, a peer-to-peer initiative, helps health providers cope with a significant emotional impact following an unanticipated adverse event. “PACT recognizes the needs of providers and allows emotional support for them to engage in healing,” she says. “It’s part of our culture of safety, and I hope other healthcare organizations are offering peer to peer support.”
As a former nurse, medical liability defense attorney, a working mother, and someone who understands the time demands of healthcare workers, Dibadj is intimately familiar with the difficulty of attaining anything close to a work/life balance. “As a working mother, trying to balance
“ Our trial attorneys aren’t going to be working forever, so we need to think about who will be trying our cases in the future.”
working at a law firm with billable hours and taking care of my child was tough.”
The lawyer says her mentor at her first law firm instilled in her the daily drive to focus and work hard in the office in order to make her time outside the office as family focused as possible. After transitioning to fully remote work at home, she no longer had a long commute. Although cutting out the commute was a good thing, Dibadj says it also introduced the challenge of separating work and life. She’s managed the balance by understanding that things will happen at their own pace. It’s an amazingly refreshing take, given just how primed many of us can be to achieve the next milestone in our careers.
“It took me ten years to be promoted to a director, and granted, I had a young child, but I was still doing things to make myself ready for the opportunity when it came,” the attorney explains. “Your career doesn’t have to be this steady stair-step of climbing. Know where you want to go and what steps you can take to get there.”
She continues, “But also, try and understand that sometimes it’s not the right moment. It will come, but sometimes it’s best to focus on personal growth and making yourself ready for that next opportunity. Just because it doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen in the future.”
While it may have taken Dibadj a decade to become a director, the programs she has contributed to during her tenure for patients, health providers, and attorneys are much better off as a result of her tireless commitment. AHL
“Just because it doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen in the future.”
Bradley Lambert is using his unique set of skills to harness technology at the rapidly expanding AGC Biologics By Zach Baliva
Bradley Lambert enjoyed his former life on the road as a technical business consultant. He traveled up and down the West Coast helping clients set up, configure, and troubleshoot Oracle and other database systems. But there was one part of the job that he didn’t like: the cost. He knew that most of his clients were paying more than $3,500 per day for his services and not even using their systems correctly.
Aiming to find a way to build real partnerships and offer more value, he spent an evening alone in his hotel room putting together a proposal to show clients how to better use software to drive results. His simple presentation the next day led to a job offer. Suddenly, Lambert was in the biotech industry.
It was just another in a series of twists and turns in Lambert’s academic and professional career. The native midwesterner earned degrees in statistics and actuarial science mathematics from the University of Michigan, where he was also a varsity member of four Big Ten swimming and diving championship teams and two USA Diving Senior National Championship teams. Lambert took a job as a diving coach and started master’s level course work in computer science at Clemson University before pausing his formal studies there to earn Oracle database training and certifications.
Once Lambert found his home in high-tech pharma, he never left. “I didn’t have to move. Companies moved to me,” he says.
The company that first hired him merged with Biogen, which became
Genentech, which became Roche. By 2020, Lambert had been with the organization for nearly eighteen years in progressive roles that involved managing complex IT and business system implementation projects, assisting business unit leaders in identifying future process automation needs, providing full IT support to drug distribution centers, optimizing multimillion-dollar product portfolios, and eventually managing large pharma tech biologic sites around the globe.
During his last few years at Roche, Lambert was instrumental in merging information technology and operational technology. “The integration and convergence of these two areas is critical. It’s happening in various industries but is
“All of a sudden, AGC was a major player, but one that was still in start-up mode without strong processes in place. That is both a challenge and an opportunity.”
“Our aim is to simplify everything, harness technology, and automate manual processes to get products to patients better and faster than ever before.”
happening very rapidly in biotech and there are big implications,” he says.
AGC Biologics, where Lambert now serves as vice president of global information technology, is a contract development and manufacturing company (CDMO) that builds end-to-end partnerships to help clients develop and commercialize life-saving treatments by tapping into AGC facilities in the US, Europe, and Asia. In the summer of 2022, when its leaders were looking to bring in someone who understands IT, knows the business, and comprehends its unique challenges, they hired Lambert. He’s leveraging his unique combination of IT, organizational development, business strategy, and leadership skills to introduce robust governance and increased levels of transparency as AGC matures and steps into a new era.
When Lambert arrived on the scene, the company had just grown from about five hundred to three thousand people. “All of a sudden, AGC was a major player, but one that was still in start-up mode without strong processes in place,” he says. “That is both a challenge and an opportunity.” Lambert knew he could set up the infrastructure and bring the appropriate prioritization and visibility into AGC’s work to help the company make informed business decisions.
He’s done that through standardization and digitalization and by applying a Pharma 4.0 framework to the world of pharmaceutical manufacturing. “Our aim is to simplify everything, harness technology, and automate manual processes to get products to patients better and faster than ever before,” Lambert says. Since AGC is a relatively young CDMO with no real technical debt, his team can also fix existing IT problems at the same time to leapfrog ahead of the curve as they implement best practices.
Lambert’s first few months at AGC were all about organizing and communicating. He created a five-year road map and worked to ensure all stakeholders understood their part in the plan. Now, he’s rolling out stage two: stabilization. That
requires his teams to have their IT processes defined so they can best deliver solutions and support internal and external customers.
The next step involves scaling up services as AGC continues to grow. Lambert is standardizing global processes, streamlining production with an electronic batch record system, getting manual processes off of paper, implementing enterprise resource planning software, and getting one single lab management system in place for teams of scientists working in seven labs across three continents.
“Bradley is an innovative technologist who completely understands the power of a systems approach to digitalize and optimize business operations in life sciences,” says Vasu Rangadass, president and CEO of L7 Informatics. “This approach will eliminate siloed solutions, save the industry valuable time, and provide data and intelligence to companies.”
When it comes to leading teams, Lambert is known for his approachability. He wants each person to know their responsibilities and does all he can to help them push the limits and achieve great things. Back when he was a diving coach, he helped each athlete find the best way to spin and twist through the air and enter the water. His current role is surprisingly similar: he’s still introducing variables and making incremental process improvements to find the right repeatable process. However, in this case, Lambert and his team are hoping to help AGC score a perfect ten. AHL
StratusG is a Seattle-based biotechnology consulting firm with nearly three decades of experience. Specializing in IT strategy, commercialization (creators of BioTechForce a quick start out of the box solution to support a biotech company’s commercial journey), IT lifecycle and validation, quality systems, and GxP Solutions.
Less Is More
At L7 Informatics, Vasu Rangadass aims to reduce drug manufacturing costs, streamline operations, and, above all, help patients and providers alikeBy Billy Yost
asu Rangadass has an incredible track record of building cutting-edge tech companies, taking them public, and then doing it all over again. The president and CEO of L7 Informatics has been the first employee for a business so many times that it doesn’t seem novel anymore.
Rangadass, who holds both a master’s degree and PhD in computer science, is the architect of i2 Technologies, a software company specializing in supply chain management, as well as
Net.Orange (now NantHealth), a tech company with a healthcare focus.
The entrepreneur has doubled down on healthcare and life sciences with his latest creation, L7 Informatics, which takes a patient-first approach in its mission to reduce the operational cost of researching, developing, and manufacturing pharmaceuticals.
“I want to build systems that streamline, automate, and optimize operations to reduce the cost of goods sold so that we don’t have to spend half a million—or
sometimes over a million—dollars in the creation of these new therapies and treatments,” Rangadass says. “Part of reducing operations cost for companies is to reduce the number of IT systems and human resources that are maintaining them.”
Achieving that goal comes down to reducing point solutions: tools or services aimed at solving singular solutions for organizations. Rangadass believes that organizations need to think more holistically and systematically about their
“ Our goal is really to focus on the patient by bringing drugs to market faster and reducing the cost of the drugs being manufactured.”
entire organizations, not just seeking out quick fixes for problems that may operate more as costly Band-Aids than actual solutions.
As an example, he points out how budgets are organized in a traditional business: a department is given a budget and in turn, it provides budgets to subdepartments. Each subdepartment builds or buys their own systems—creating additional barriers of operational and information silos.
“If you have two hundred subdepartments, you’ve suddenly got two hundred different IT systems,” he explains. “This is old, precomputer organizational design thinking. That division-of-labor-style thinking doesn’t really apply when you’re talking about machines that can perform very large complex tasks extremely quickly.”
Instead, the aim should be to create a holistic computing system that connect data between different departments. To do that, Rangadass says, organizations must embrace unified platforms. He sees it as his job to educate the market on why a unified systems approach makes more sense, and will be far more effective, than continually compiling a haphazard collection of point solutions.
Rangadass knows a thing or two about building systems. His talent for creating new approaches to solving problems spans multiple organizations, patents, and schools of thought. But one thing has remained constant: success.
That’s why the CEO is so committed to helping revolutionize the life sciences and healthcare industries. He knows it desperately needs expertise like his to reduce costs and create a better world for patients and providers.
“I think there is a lot of opportunity to create wide-scale change across pharma, across payers, across providers, and to integrate the patient at home into a larger ecosystem
of integrated solutions,” he says. “Our goal is really to focus on the patient by bringing drugs to market faster and reducing the cost of the drugs being manufactured. It’s continuous improvement, and it’s about focusing on the return on investment that we want to bring by optimizing workflows and eliminating those single-point solutions.”
True digital transformation isn’t confined to a single department or entity, Rangadass notes. Instead, it affects the entire business system. If that doesn’t happen, bottlenecks appear in short order and in very unpredictable ways.
Digital transformation starts by educating the organization and its customers about the importance of change. It’s not just about a new IT system, but a series of processes in a unified platform that can be implemented in a way that enables measurable results and continuous improvement.
L7 provides a toolset to support the digitization of processes, the means of measuring the desired outcomes, and the tools to modify or improve the process when needed. The organization also combines the lessons from all his successes and failures over the years.
Rangadass’s PhD taught him the mechanics of data, artifical intelligence, and machine learning. In supply chain management, he learned about thinking horizontally and across larger system landscapes. In building businesses, he dove into the complexity of the healthcare system and what it takes to improve patient outlooks and quality of life.
And now there is L7. “Our vision and goal is to take these precision medicine principles and make life easier and healthier, ultimately taking several billion dollars of waste out of our healthcare ecosystem in the process,” Rangadass says. “I believe we can. That’s what makes it exciting.” AHL
Solutions to Staff Shortages
Taimur Shah says the key to finding solutions for staffing challenges is to be proactive and creativeBy Noah Johnson
Taimur Shah’s earliest memories are of him visiting his mother in the hospital after she was diagnosed with cancer. That experience put healthcare at the forefront of his life, a value that’s stuck with him ever since.
Today, Shah leads a healthcare practice as vice president of global healthcare solutions at WilsonHCG, an award-winning global leader in total talent solutions. There, he helps to create strategic growth in the healthcare industry in medical device markets and hospitals by ensuring organizations in the sector have access to top talent.
As the head of global healthcare solutions, he has a deep passion for service excellence that is fueled by his belief that our health and the health of those we love are the most important things in our lives.
“It’s not about filling open roles. I’m passionate about finding people who are empathetic, love what they do, and who will do right by this very critical industry,” he says.
But how do you do that amid a national shortage of healthcare workers that was worsened by the pandemic? Industry market analytics firm Mercer estimates that by 2025, the US will have a shortage of about 446,000 home health aides; 95,000 nursing assistants; 98,700 medical and lab technologists and technicians; and more than 29,000 nurse practitioners. At the beginning of the year, a Qualtrics survey of nearly 3,000 healthcare employees across 27 countries found that only 61 percent of respondents planned to stay in their job.
As industry leaders tackle critical staffing challenges, Shah and his organization prioritize the objective: “the right talent versus the talent available right now.”
“Sometimes the talent available right now doesn’t translate into the best talent,” he says.
“It’s not about filling open roles. I’m passionate about finding people who are empathetic, love what they do, and who will do right by this very critical industry.”Taimur Shah VP of Global Healthcare Solutions WilsonHCG
“We’re comfortable having conversations with our clients in the healthcare space and saying, ‘We understand the urgency for hospital staff, but we can either focus on rushed talent today, who may or may not be a fit for the job, or we can go to the market with a proper recruitment strategy and find the best talent that’ll translate into the best experience and care for your patients in the long-term.’”
Shah and his team have been equally as supportive on the strategic workforce planning front, offering clients recommendations backed by real-time talent market intelligence to uplift their services. Sometimes that means providing strategic recommendations, such as supplementing long-term needs through acquisitions of other hospital groups to fill service gaps.
Other times, it is creating affiliations with vocational institutions and encouraging hospital leaders to speak directly with potential employees at job fairs (in person and virtual) and with graduates on campus. In either case,
much of the team’s assistance has centered around getting leaders to understand the importance of proactivity. For Shah, proactivity is key to effectively navigating the staffing crisis.
“We need to understand that this is an ongoing crisis. The mass exodus of healthcare professionals during the pandemic only worsened shortages in an industry that was already experiencing critical skills shortages,” he says. “So, we need to look at how we can build sustainable, long-term talent solutions to get healthcare organizations up to speed with the demand in the market. It’s never going to be steady, but we need to match the pace of the exodus, the growing need, and the growth within the healthcare space in general.”
Educating hiring managers, who are the brand ambassadors for hospitals, is another important part of the equation in attracting the right talent.
Shah affirms all of these efforts are made possible by WilsonHCG’s collaborative environment and unique approach to talent acquisition, which he says, “generates a circle of knowledge and helps each team member understand their role in the recruitment process.” When they hold workshop sessions, everyone is included, and no idea is a bad idea. This collaborative approach has helped drive outcomes and camaraderie among team members.
“You learn from each other, become better at problem-solving, [and] you get an idea of the bigger picture from different perspectives and individual experiences,” he says. “My team focuses on communication, decision-making, active listening, engagement, and this creates a form of accountability as a collective. Members of the healthcare team are subject-matter experts in the healthcare space, but when I work with other people at WilsonHCG, their vast experience across other markets and sectors helps the team form better solutions for our clients as well.” AHL
“We need to understand that this is an ongoing crisis. The mass exodus of healthcare professionals during the pandemic only worsened shortages in an industry that was already experiencing critical skills shortages.”
Harnessing Innovation In-House
Deputy General Counsel Kevin Lastorino leverages his love of the deal to help the Hospital for Special Surgery create new revenue streams via medtech breakthroughs By Will Grant
Can you top this second act? Kevin Lastorino, a bona fide deal junkie and longtime private practice heavy hitter in the healthcare world, wasn’t supposed to be in this space at all. He graduated dental school at the top of his class.
There was just one small problem.
“I realized, almost immediately, that I can’t do this forever,” Lastorino, deputy general counsel at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), remembers. “I was seventeen when I decided I wanted to be a dentist, but I knew there was something else out there that was calling to me.”
That “something else” would eventually involve merging massive healthcare organizations, constructing complicated deals in one of the most regulated environments in existence, and for the last six years, positioning HSS as not just an award-winning surgery practice operating on the frontlines of innovation, but one able to harness its own ideas and advancements for itself.
The 230-bed hospital may have a small (though growing) physical footprint, but with a 13th consecutive top ranking by the US News & World Report for orthopedics, HSS is used to making an outsized impact on the medical community. Lastorino was sought out to give HSS’ Innovation Institute the chance to bring its inventions, collaborations, and incredible internal intellectual property the chance to blossom in-house. As well as to create new revenue streams for an industry that is always being asked to do more with less.
“The Innovation Institute is a chance to open a new dialog with our medical staff, our researchers, and other scientists about how we can better identify opportunities to commercialize new technology,” Lastorino explains. “The key in all of this is to protect the integrity of our research.”
The results, even in a short period of time, have been astounding. A partnership with musculoskeletal healthcare company Zimmer Biomet saw the creation of the mymobility app, a first-of-its-kind remote care management platform that integrates with Apple watches to provide care teams with mobility reporting of patients. The app acts as a “virtual care team” for
“I want to see these initiatives making money for the institution and these products in the market making people’s lives better.”
celebrates our client and friend Kevin Lastorino for his ongoing contributions to the success of HSS
The world’s leading health care organizations choose Proskauer as a strategic partner to drive their business forward.
We bring clients unrivalled experience and a keen understanding of the industry’s dynamics.
Our 800+ lawyers serve clients from 12 offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
those preparing for and recovering from orthopedic procedures, allowing them to do so from home.
The Zimmer Biomet relationship extends far beyond a single project. HSS announced the creation of the HSS/ Zimmer Biomet Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence in Robotic Joint Replacement in July 2022.
The goal is to develop new decision support tools to provide data-driven recommendations for robotic-assisted joint surgery. Lastorino says it’s a way of imparting knowledge from extraordinary experts, all the way down to where the first cut should be. Data collected will aid patient recovery down the line, providing a real-time feedback loop for continual learning.
Then, there is the LimaCorporate partnership, one that has resulted in the construction of a 3D printing facility on HSS’ campus. “It’s the first-ever provider-based 3D design and printing center for complex joint reconstruction surgery,” Lastorino explains. “This is the next step of an already strong partnership, and we have reduced patient wait times to a period of weeks, not months. We’re able to build and print titanium custom implants for patients right on-site.”
In collaboration with UK-based VR Electronics, HSS is pioneering immersive XR training technology with the help of VR Electronics’s TESLASUIT. The technology, originally created for gaming, is now being turned to healthcare. The full-body suit contains sensors that cover 95 percent of the muscle mass of the human body and will be able to improve assessments for diagnostics, performance training, and next-generation rehabilitation.
“This is a young company, and we’re envisioning a time when you don’t have to wear an entire suit, maybe just a leg sleeve that measures kinetics,” Lastorino
says. The partnership makes even more sense when combined with HSS’ Motion Analysis Laboratory, one of only a few accredited institutions for both adults and children in the country.
This is just a smattering of Lastorino’s work thus far, but each one of these examples is a cataclysmic leap forward in multiple fields. That’s what matters to the deputy general counsel.
“In twenty years, I want to look back and see some kind of legacy,” Lastorino admits. “I want to see these initiatives making money for the institution and these products in the market making people’s lives better. I want to see our 3D printing center become the standard instead of the pioneer. I’m so proud of this institution and I’m proud to work here. These people are incredible. I just want to support that.”
Lastorino has done larger monetary deals in the past. He’s helped organizations buy and sell healthcare operations exponentially larger than HSS’ footprint, but this truly might be the most important work the DGC has ever done. A loss for dentistry was a windfall for the broader healthcare space because he will keep looking for new ways to make HSS’s innovation a gain for everyone. AHL
Proskauer’s healthcare practice brings a keen understanding of industry dynamics with our team of specialized healthcare regulatory and transactional lawyers and professionals. We offer a full range of services for clients—strategizing with service providers and health plans, operators, investors, and lenders, among others, in matters ranging from complex transactions and regulatory compliance to commercial litigation and defense of government investigations. We are a trusted advisor, partnering on the most important, complex, and sensitive challenges facing healthcare organizations today, across all subsectors within the industry, including healthcare services, biotechnology, telemedicine, IT, and life sciences.
Some executives feel the importance of their work because they have experienced its impact firsthand. Shaped by their mission to help others or by their personal experiences with healthcare, many executives are drawn to the industry from a sense of empathy and a desire to make a difference for others.
82. Jacqueline Epright Yale New Haven Health
86. Shelly Glenn American Oncology Network
90. Don Perigny Werfen
Throughout her career, Jacqueline Epright has tackled difficult situations, sorted through them, and planned the best path forwardBy Frank DiMaria
acqueline Epright has a talent for joining an organization and fixing the problems that block success. “I’m very good at sorting through the chaos and identifying a strategic path forward,” she says. Educated as a CPA, Epright is the vice president and chief supply chain officer at Yale New Haven Health, the fifth-largest healthcare system in the nation.
After earning a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Connecticut, Epright joined Arthur Anderson as an auditor. She began her career in healthcare when she signed on with an Arthur Anderson client, one of the largest homecare divisions in Connecticut, where the clinical leaders offered her some valuable advice.
“They didn’t mince their words. They said, ‘If you really want to help us, stop just reporting what we give you. Sit down and talk to us. Share your knowledge about what is financially advantageous, and then we can work together and ask, can we actually do it from an operational standpoint?’” Epright says.
She heeded their advice and under her financial leadership the division turned a profit. “We went from a $9 million loss to a $1 million profit in two years,” she recalls.
Flushed with the confidence that comes from driving a dramatic financial turnaround, Epright was eager to leave finance and impact operations at a major healthcare company. Instead of just reporting out on financial results, she wanted to be part of the team that created those results. “You budget, report out on actual results, run an analysis, then you start all over again the next month,” she says.
Searching for operations experience, she moved to Gaylord Hospital, where she developed business strategy, but still felt unfulfilled. “What I was missing was running operations in healthcare,” she says. “So, I took on running therapy and physician practices to learn about operations and the other side of the house.”
With some operations experience under her belt, Epright joined Yale New Haven Health in 2013 and became a founding member of the health system’s internal consulting group. “I leveraged the three-legged stool: finance, operations, and strategy,” she reflects. The intention was to tap into internal expertise rather than hiring from outside. The group was successful and the work fulfilling, but when the chief supply chain officer position became available, she jumped at it. “Supply chain was having a change in leadership, and it needed a change in focus.”
Always willing to tackle a complex situation and turn it around, Epright moved to operations and teamed up with an operations leader that had significant operational experience at Yale New Haven Health. She pulled from her financial and strategy strengths while leveraging her leader’s operational wisdom.
Currently, Epright reports to a senior vice president of clinical operations and has fifteen direct reports herself. She manages the system’s core system supply chain operations, like sourcing and contracting, logistics, customer service, receiving, distribution, and inventory management. In addition, she oversees supply chain data management, analytics, formulary, the value analysis team, and a project management office tasked with achieving annual financial savings of $45 million.
As a sourcing leader, Epright’s supply chain is involved in multiple facets of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. When requesting a proposal for a service or contract, her team considers vendors based on their DEI qualifications, looking for those that are minority- and women-owned and those that hire subcontractors that employ DEI vendors.
“Our goal is to increase our spend in DEI designated vendors by 5 percent,” she says. “As a not-for-profit with strong local ties, it is important for us to work with vendors that reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. Vendor diversity has social and economic advantages for our communities as well as for the health system.”
The VP considers herself an agile, situational leader, tailoring her leadership style to the situation and the group she’s leading. When she first arrived in supply chain, she needed to make immediate decisions about operations as well as cultural refinements, so she assumed the role of a task-oriented leader. “What are we going to do? Let’s make a decision and keep going,” Epright says. But once settled, she became more of a visionary leader, mapping new directions for the system. “To succeed, you need to grow.”
Powering Human Care
She effects change through accountability, transparency, and staff development. “We had to level-set who we were as a department and what’s our vision, what’s our mission, and how we were going to hold each other accountable. Change was hard for a lot of people, but the rewards we see in our results today speak volumes,” Epright explains.
Five years ago, her team members thought as individuals; today, they put the department’s needs ahead of their own. Epright lives by the adage, “You’re only as good as the team that works for you.” Growing young managers by encouraging them to stretch outside their comfort zone, gain experience, and identify their personal strengths and barriers to apply to their teams is key. “I tell them my best day is when you don’t need me anymore,” she says. AHL
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“We went from a $9 million loss to a $1 million profit in two years.”
Service On and Off the Clock
Chief Growth and Relationship Officer Shelly Glenn leads by example in her service to others at American Oncology Network and beyondBy Billy Yost
hatever the role, Shelly Glenn has always found a way to be of service to those battling cancer. Though she didn’t move expressly into executive roles supporting cancer treatment and care until the 2010s, Glenn experienced what many grapple with at one time or another at a very young age—she watched someone she knew battle and ultimately succumb to lymphoma.
It’s an experience that the current chief growth and relationship officer at the American Oncology Network (AON) keeps close. “You always have to have the end goal in mind,” Glenn explains. “What can we do to ensure that the people we treat and their support systems have the best experience possible? We want to make sure they feel respected and heard and that they’re receiving the best, and
sometimes the only, care possible for their diagnosis.”
The Four Fronts
At AON, Glenn’s wide purview falls into four main areas: referral-base management, practice engagement, physician recruitment, and business development. She heads referral-base management, which includes empowering physicians to
refer patients within their communities to the network’s physicians and services. Her physician liaison team goes out into the field to educate and inform primary care physicians, gastroenterologists, surgeons, and other specialists about AON’s premier services and physicians.
She also leads a practice engagement team whose goal is to ensure that physicians within AON’s practice utilize the network’s services, including its oral oncology pharmacy as well as AON’s pathology and central lab. The in-house specialty pharmacy allows AON to control its costs for both patients and payers while minimizing turnaround times for prescription delivery.
Physician recruitment is also a high priority for the executive. As AON continues to grow exponentially, the network continues to source oncologists to grow its footprint and ensure that patients, no matter their location, have access to the best care they can provide.
Glenn spends the bulk of her time in business development, specifically in bringing new practices under the AON banner. In 2018, there was just a total of three practices that were part of the network. Today, there are thirty practices across seventeen states, including seventy-six offices, more than one hundred oncologists, and eightysix advanced practice practitioners. In five years, AON has ballooned to an organization of nearly two thousand.
“As we continue to grow, we’ve also expanded our existing practices where we’ve added offices and helped build new cancer centers in underserved areas,” Glenn explains. “We recognize that along with building new locations, there’s always a need to enhance existing
“Find a way to give back by researching local organizations that focus on a specific interest you have, and you will be amazed at the doors that can open for you.”
areas to meet the evolving needs of our patients, our staff, and our physicians.”
The Joy of Giving Back
Glenn’s day job seems like it could fill a handful of calendars, but she ensures she carves out time to dedicate to her work with nonprofits in the community and industry, a passion she holds dear.
Glenn is an advisory board member for the Millennium Alliance, a board member of the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation, a founding member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Women of Red, and an executive council member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is especially close to Glenn’s heart. “We’re able to send a family on a trip where the mother or father is terminally ill but still able to travel,” she explains. “By doing so, we provide an unforgettable memory for their children and an experience that we hope they can hold onto forever. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s so important and rewarding.”
Glenn also devotes her time to causes where she knows the money will be reinvested locally, like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If she’s raising
the Patient Engagement Platform
money for a cause, she wants to see the positive impact it has within her home state. The executive’s devotion to nonprofits is also a key entry point for anyone who might be making their way back to the workforce after time away.
“I’m often asked, ‘How do I get my foot in the door?’” Glenn explains. “Especially in healthcare and oncology, if you volunteer with a nonprofit, people who support these organizations are going to get to know you. We meet regularly, and I get to know these people. You’re giving back to a community that needs it, and you’re building relationships in the space. Find a way to give back by researching local organizations that focus on a specific interest you have, and you will be amazed at the doors that can open for you.” AHL
We at PatientPoint are proud to partner with Shelly Glenn and American Oncology Network LLC (AON) and want to celebrate her contributions toward increasing cancer awareness and education as well as strengthening patient advocacy. As part of our Oncology Advisory Board, she offers insights from her vast experience into important topics such as network growth, practice engagement, and physician recruitment that help us innovate meaningful solutions.
Education and technology that improves outcomes.
Made to Be an MVP
Don Perigny began his career in professional baseball before making the switch to procurement; throughout, he’s made sure he’s a team playerBy Donald Liebenson
aseball’s loss of Don Perigny eventually became procurement’s gain.
It’s a “long story,” he says, but this covers the bases: Following his third year in college, Perigny was signed in August 1990 by the Chicago White Sox. After three seasons moving up in the minor leagues, he was MLB Rule 5 traded to the Florida Marlins. Playing at the AAA level, he was told he was on track to make it to “the show” (that’s the major leagues, for those who haven’t seen Bull Durham).
Then came the 1994-95 players’ strike, which lasted 232 days and caused the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Perigny refused multiple offers by the club to cross the picket line and play with the Marlins along with other recruited replacement players.
“I thought, ‘I worked too hard to take any shortcuts now,’” he recalls. “Five weeks into season, they let me go. At that moment, it stopped being a game and became a business. I returned home and never looked back.”
Fortunately, a different kind of team was very interested in him. In the off seasons, Perigny had been working at a scanning electron microscope company. When he was released by the Marlins in 1995, the company’s owner reached out to him and said, “I heard how you were let go. You have integrity. You’re the type of person I want working for me. I’ll pay
for you to finish school. When something better comes along, you go.”
Within a year, Perigny was in charge of his department. The company’s vice president then told him about an opening in purchasing. Though Perigny said he knew nothing about purchasing, he was told, “You’ll figure it out. You start Monday.” Within a year, he was running that department.
Perigny was an MVP wherever he worked. “I can be happy doing anything,” he says. “I’m an optimist. My father was a lunatic about working with purpose. He used to tell me that two things can happen when you go on vacation: either they miss you or they don’t. So go on vacation, but when you return to work, make sure you’re ready to go.”
Twenty years ago, he came to Werfen, a worldwide leader in hemostasis testing, with worldwide annual sales exceeding $2 billion. Perigny is the director of supply chain. “There is nothing about my job or the people with whom I work that I don’t like,” he says. “One thousand people in the building and there are no impossible people. How do you create a culture like that where people work together as well as we do?”
That’s something of a softball question for Perigny. His years in minor league baseball, he says, grounded him in a team mentality. “You learn how to
work and get along with people when you’re stuck on a bus with them,” he jokes. “You gain an understanding of different personalities.”
From former mentors and managers, he retained these pieces of advice: “Pay attention to the little things. Be prepared. Fix the little issues before they become big problems. Take care of the suppliers that take care of you.”
Perigny’s own team consists of twenty-two people working in a variety of areas, including procurement, supplier engineering, and materials coordination. The watchwords of his leadership style, he says, are communication, teamwork, and ownership. “We’re going to succeed or fail as a team,” he says. “Owning your own piece is key.”
Presently, Werfen ships 200 to 220 hemostasis instruments per month, which represents a sizable share of their business. Another significant piece of business is in acute care diagnostics, including point-of-care blood testing instruments. “We became quite instrumental in the COVID fight worldwide,” he says.
During the height of the pandemic, Perigny states with pride, “We proved we were up to the challenge. We have such an amazing supply chain. We refused to fail at supplying hospitals and laboratories with everything they needed. We changed and adapted to the times. This is what we do, and we’re pretty good at it.”
The primary challenge of his role, he says, is being proactive. “We can’t react too slow to issues,
“There is nothing about my job or the people with whom I work that I don’t like. One thousand people in the building and there are no impossible people.”
or we’ll be at the back of the line for supply. Everything affects us: weather, de-commits from manufacturers, labor shortages, wood . . . everything.”
Moving forward, he says, nurturing supplier relationships always continue to come first. “This is what allowed us to succeed during the pandemic and will carry us into the future.”
Perigny has his own baseball cards as a memento of his years as a player. “I don’t get to put on a baseball uniform anymore,” he says. “But I have no regrets. I’m celebrating my thirtieth wedding anniversary this year, and I have three wonderful sons, ages twenty-six, twenty-four, and twenty. I have the best job in the world, and I fight to be the best in my field, just like I did on the baseball diamond. Life is great for me.” AHL
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Healthcare is a constantly evolving industry that demands executives to plan ahead. Often, this means business leaders need to address department- or companywide issues to remain focused on driving innovation and devising strategies to maintain a high level of care.
A Culture of Partnership and Communication
Tami Chen has helped guide Natera’s rapid growth as a public company, tackling the challenges of maturing quickly by relying on partnership and open communication
ince she joined Natera in 2015, Tami
Chen has been a part of the molecular diagnostics company’s rapid growth. She’s helped guide its private-to-public transition and rapid expansion as the company grew from a few hundred employees when she joined to nearly three thousand today. And, since the beginning, the vice president of corporate legal and assistant corporate secretary has been drawn to Natera’s mission-driven culture.By Peter Fabris
Natera is a leader in cell-free DNA testing technology. The company aims to change disease management through DNA testing and is dedicated to oncology, women’s health, and organ health. The research to develop the technology has proven its worth in clinical settings, and Natera sees additional opportunities to apply it to other indications in these markets.
“Not only does the work we do have a positive real-world impact—we touch
patients at critical points in their lives— but I believe that type of mission attracts all the smart, ambitious, and driven people that I get to work with every day,” Chen notes.
While it’s been an exciting time to work for Natera, such sharp growth comes with its challenges. Early in her tenure with the company, Chen's time was spent on issues such as promoting sound corporate governance policies, which continues to be part of her
responsibilities. But, as Natera has become a larger company, areas like investor relations; environmental, social, and corporate governance; and building a legal operations function have demanded a sharper focus.
Chen notes that the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued new rules at a brisk pace, illustrating an increasing focus on transparency to protect investors. For example, there has been a push to improve investor visibility into the trading activity of company insiders. At Natera, these rulemakings typically cascade into board and management education, discussion and collaboration among stakeholders, and, often, new or updated company policies or practices.
Despite the necessity of advocating for policy and procedure, Natera’s legal department strives to partner with, rather than govern, its business peers, Chen says. The company’s culture has been one of longstanding open communication between legal and business, with early and frequent involvement resulting in a mutual understanding of business goals and strategies balanced against potential legal risk.
Legal representatives regularly attend business meetings, setting the stage for helpful collaboration. “This helps to nurture relationships across the business, which in turn builds trust and understanding. It’s important that we are brought into the room earlier so that we can help guide business decisions,” Chen explains.
In this environment, Chen and other Natera’s attorneys can point out areas of potential concern as new business ideas take shape. “Lawyers are trained to spot issues. Even in the early exploratory stages of an idea just beginning to take shape, I may be able to ask a clarifying question that reveals an unintended consequence in another area of the business,” she explains.
As Natera has grown, so has the legal department. In order to support the company’s growth at scale, it has become critical to boost the efficiency of legal operations while maintaining the high quality of the work product. This is another area of focus for Chen, and the legal department has now formalized a function that focuses on that issue. Its aim is to leverage technology and tools, along with culture change management, to optimize the department’s functioning.
“When the company was smaller, it was okay if information on matters lived on an individual’s desktop,” Chen says. Now, however, the legal department needs robust tools—and behavior change—to keep track of many moving pieces. For instance, implementing systems to track and manage legal spend, alongside tools to track arrangements with various outside counsel, have helped to streamline workflows and identify potential areas of inefficiency. This is an iterative process, requiring staff to periodically assess the effectiveness
“I don’t tend to make a request of my reports without giving context.”
“ I really don’t think there is any such thing as a dumb question, especially when you are learning. To be inquisitive is to be interested.”
of legacy software and IT platforms and compare it with new options. While legal has made strides in boosting efficiency, there is more to do. “We are looking for ways to consolidate systems,” she adds.
When managing such changes in Natera’s fastpaced environment, Chen believes she benefits from the company’s culture of open communications and transparency. It’s also been key to managing the recent rapid growth and change.
“I don’t tend to make a request of my reports without giving context,” she says. “I like to give as much context as I am able to so that they have all the information they need to not only complete the task, but also deal with similar issues in the future. More importantly, it gives them ownership of the task, which in turn, contributes to deeper engagement and, hopefully, overall satisfaction.”
The company’s C-suite leaders operate in a similar fashion, which promotes empowerment and employee engagement, Chen attests. She is completely in sync with this culture, and encourages her reports to be inquisitive. “I really don’t think there is any such thing as a dumb question, especially when you are learning,” she says. “To be inquisitive is to be interested.” AHL
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More than a CFO
Kareen Dorsett was drawn to actuarial science as a child, but at Florida Blue Medicare, she’s also a leader, a mentor, and a community advocateBy Joseph Stark
While she would eventually choose a career where uncertainty is the only certain thing, Kareen Dorsett was very sure of herself as a teen. She grew up in Jamaica, discovered an early aptitude for math, and has had an interest in actuarial science since tenth grade. That’s when her father introduced her to Daisy Coke, the first Jamaican actuary to practice in her native country.
Dorsett recalls her father describing his hero, whom she seeks to emulate to this day. “My dad spoke about her like she was a legend, a pioneer in the actuarial profession, not just for Jamaica but the entire Caribbean,” she recalls. “I have an appreciation for how Coke made a difference as a professional woman and that’s what I would like to do. I feel drawn to her now more than ever because I realize that I get to be that example for a new generation of young people.”
Today, Dorsett is vice president and chief financial officer at Florida Blue Medicare, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association based in Jacksonville. Being inspired by Coke lit an eternal fire in Dorsett, and she’s brought this passion to Florida Blue, where she earned her credentials as an actuary and rose through the ranks to achieve her current role.
As a leader who believes in the power of advocating for those on her various teams, Dorsett approaches the company’s mission of helping people and communities achieve better health by ensuring that her team is fully engaged. She does regular one-on-ones with team members to remind them that they are seen. During their conversations, she asks simple yet important questions: “What’s going well? What can we improve upon? How can I support you?” This year, they were asked to write out their goals, competencies they wished to develop, and ways their managers could help them along the way.
“That’s how I get to know what each person on the team needs,” Dorsett says. “Because everyone’s an individual, there aren’t one-sizefits-all solutions. You can put a blanket action plan together and say ‘Hey, we’re going to do this’, but it might not address the needs of all thirty people.”
Her colleagues outside Florida Blue have noted her knack for keeping employees engaged. “Kareen is a strong leader with deep domain expertise which allows her to work across functions and bring people together across the enterprise,” says Deirdre Baggot, partner in health and life sciences at Oliver Wyman.
“Kareen is a pleasure to work with because she takes a broader strategic view when reviewing financial performance,” adds Alexis Levy, managing director at HealthScape Advisors. “Her commitment to understanding the impact that recommendations will have on her people and teams is unparalleled.”
Dorsett is also an advocate who pours herself into Florida Blue’s community-centered initiatives. One of these initiatives includes an effort to increase supplier diversity, after a 2020 analysis found that Florida Blue’s parent company spent less than 10 percent of its supplier budget with diverse suppliers. Less than 1 percent of the budget was spent with Black-owned businesses.
“We didn’t feel like those results were representative of the communities we serve, so we set a goal to increase our diverse supplier spend to 20 percent by 2025,” she says. “I’m proud to share that last year we increased our diverse supplier spend to 11.5 percent, and we have a path to achieve our goal to be best in class among industry peers.” That path has included hosting an exhibition to introduce the company to diverse suppliers and sustaining those relationships through procurement practices.
Dorsett and her team are also tackling the issue of rising healthcare costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that in 2020, the country saw a 9.7 percent growth in total national healthcare spending, bringing it up to $4.1 trillion.
While some of the increase may be attributed to the impacts of COVID, other data suggests that healthcare costs were on the rise even before the pandemic took the world by storm. In October 2022, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported
that the average family premium has increased 20 percent since 2017 and 43 percent since 2012.
To help improve the affordability of healthcare for Florida Blue’s members, Dorsett says, the company introduced some key partnerships. It teamed up with New Century Health on a joint initiative to address specialty provider costs while providing quality care. In addition, Florida Blue joined forces with Healthmap Solutions for a program that aims to better manage costs for the treatment of members with chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease.
“Our job as a company is ensuring members are getting the right access to care and the right support so their health comes first,” she says.
Outside of work, Dorsett serves on the board for the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, an organization that provides advocacy, research, and training in support of at-risk girls. She is also a champion for the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus, which was founded in 1995 at Jacksonville University to provide a children’s music program in the area. With two of her own sons in band at their elementary school and one in chorus, she understands the value of music education. In fact, last year, she competed in a dance competition to raise $37,000 for the program, winning first place.
“I was very honored to use my time and my voice to bring awareness and financial support to a local program that provides scholarships for our youth so that they can travel the world and advance their education in Jacksonville,” she notes.
When she considers what’s next for her, she thinks about her husband and kids first. She wants to continue being the mom who can drop sweaters off at school on cold days and makes time for their concerts and events.
And as far as work goes, Dorsett is looking forward to helping Florida Blue head toward financial success and be a changemaker that Daisy Coke would be proud of. AHL
“Because everyone’s an individual, there aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions.”
At Oliver Wyman, our innovative thinking and strategic advice help clients in the payer, provider, digital health, and life sciences sectors realize their most ambitious organizational and operational visions by bridging the gap between their business today and their vision for the future.
We work to ensure industry transformation through generating meaningful client impact, delivering strategic insights, and creating a healthcare system that meets the needs of communities and companies.
At Cleveland Clinic, Sarah Hatchett helps the health system grow its IT function as the healthcare system expands in LondonBy Joseph Stark
C leveland Clinic has been making strides to grow its health system of twenty-two hospitals around the world with over seventy thousand employees. Recently, the health system announced the opening Cleveland Clinic Moorgate Outpatient Centre, a new outpatient building in London that will offer outpatient and general practice appointments, as well as diagnostics, for patients starting in fall 2023.
The 13,000-square-foot facility is minutes from the Moorgate Underground station and adds to a robust Cleveland Clinic London, which offers leading specialists and the latest technology for the most complex patient cases.
“We are excited to be expanding our London footprint with a third location, in the heart of the City of London,” Dr. Tommaso Falcone, interim CEO
of Cleveland Clinic London, said in a press release. “This will extend our unique model of care to more patients, with fast access to consultants, [general practitioners], and diagnostic services in a state-of-the-art facility.”
The new location comes as the latest addition to Cleveland Clinic’s global and national expansion. In September 2021, it opened Cleveland Clinic Portland Place Outpatient Centre, a six-floor,
28,000-square-foot building with seventeen consulting rooms and the first Cleveland Clinic London location to accept patients. Then in March 2022 came Cleveland Clinic London, which has seen around 75,000 patient visits with 28,815 unique patient appointments as of March 2023.
In addition to those expansions, Cleveland Clinic also broke ground in 2021 for Mentor Hospital in Ohio, with plans to open sometime in 2023. The state-of-the-art hospital touts a modular design that will allow for flexibility to meet current and future healthcare needs. It will feature four operating rooms, nineteen emergency beds, and thirty-four inpatient rooms.
That growth has kept Associate Chief Information Officer Sarah Hatchett and her team busy. In her role, she manages Cleveland Clinic’s growth portfolio, focusing on mergers and acquisitions, operational IT matters, and more. Hatchett brings leadership expertise from New York City Health and Hospitals and Sutter Health in Sacramento, California.
At Cleveland Clinic, Hatchett and her team have been integral in how the health system views acquisition systems, working to put people in the middle of IT integration as they centralize IT functions.
Hatchett is a servant leader who always wants to help her small but mighty team thrive. She does that by always keeping the “why” at the center of everything she does. Burnout is commonplace in the healthcare industry, so she understands that this approach is vital to boosting morale among her team while driving results and strategy. This mentality also creates cohesion and helps prioritize the work her team does.
A challenge she faces in her role is becoming a “chief relationship officer.” For Hatchett, that means building new relationships to establish trust and credibility among the stakeholders and partners she works with. She navigates that by supporting Cleveland Clinic’s leaders, its mission, and her colleagues however she can. AHL
Paving the Way
Kurt Stitcher is working to not only improve structures and processes at Nihon Kohden but also ensure he’s a strong leader for his teamBy Noah Johnson
Kurt Stitcher’s dual titles at Nihon Kohden America (NKA)—general counsel and vice president of compliance—don’t fully capture the work he does at the medical device company. In fact, since he joined NKA in 2021, he’s spent the majority of his time on executive-level matters that aren’t usually within the purview of either of those roles.
With over two decades of experience in global law and consulting firms, and more years as a federal prosecutor and as an in-house legal and compliance leader, Stitcher has drawn on his wide range of experience to help the company improve its operational and corporate governance structures and processes in order to drive maturity and growth.
But, despite Stitcher’s many successes, his main focus is putting others in positions to succeed.
“My leadership philosophy is that a leader’s success should be judged not by his or her achievements, but by the achievements of those whom he or she leads,” he says. “Yes, I hope what I’m doing makes a difference, but I am a part of a culture, a team. I work with others, I rely on others, I achieve things through others, and I try to help them achieve things through me and my department.”
That leadership mentality underlies the many initiatives that Stitcher has driven at NKA. “It’s a pioneer in its field, and the amazing quality of the products it sells, the unparalleled customer experience, and a patient-first philosophy dovetail nicely with my own philosophies and personal missions,” he says. “I view my job as making a difference in the company’s ability to carry out its vision and its mission, and that will be my lasting legacy to Nihon Kohden and all those whose lives it touches.”
One of Stitcher’s first initiatives was to turn the CEO’s executive team into an executive committee, and to draft a charter to outline its responsibilities. As secretary to the committee, Stitcher developed an action items register, a corporate governance corrective
“My leadership philosophy is that a leader’s success should be judged not by his or her achievements, but by the achievements of those whom he or she leads.”
and preventive actions plan, and several task forces specifically designed to tackle some of the biggest business challenges facing NKA. Instead of simply discussing issues among an executive team, he explains, the key is to hold an individual executive accountable for driving each issue to resolution with a group of “stakeholders,” such as through a formal task force.
“This has been a labor of love, and the effort is already bearing fruit,” he says. “If I win Powerball and leave tomorrow, that structure and that discipline for running an issue down and recommending a resolution would be a lasting legacy for the company.”
Stitcher has also worked to build up the company’ legal and ethics and compliance departments. On the legal side, he has conceived and led multiple continuous improvement projects to better serve the company, including by drafting standard contract templates, upgrading the functionality of its contract management system, and positioning the department as an independent voice at the company—all while collaborating with other departments to provide legal support. On the ethics and compliance front, he’s making similar strides, building the department from scratch with new policies, processes, education, and the like.
In enhancing both of these functions, Stitcher says a major challenge has been winning over the hearts and minds of some of his colleagues.
“Because the company hasn’t had a true legal or ethics and compliance function, because it’s a sales-driven organization, and because some folks just like to do things the old-fashioned way, a professional in my role must not only drive organizational change management, but must win over those who are, individually, resistant to change or who view legal and compliance with some degree of suspicion,” he explains. “Whatever past experiences such folks may have had, however, I approach them openly and honestly, seeking to understand their pressures and imperatives, and working with them collaboratively, and with a spirit of humility and service, to get to the right result.”
For his team, Stitcher aims to be the mentor he never had. He came up in the dog-eat-dog world
of global law firms. That experience instilled in him a strong obligation to pave the way for others by sharing what he’s learned along the way. He has created formal professional development and mentorship programs over the years and has worked informally to help individuals reach their personal goals.
“If one of my attorneys wants to be a GC one day, I plan out with him or her how we’re going to climb that hill and put them in that chair, whether as my successor or even elsewhere,” he says. “I’ve also mentored younger professionals outside of the company where I work, not only because I enjoy
sharing my ‘trials and tribulations’ advice with others but because I would hope that other professionals would do the same for my children.”
As a father of four, he’s hoping to leave a lasting legacy for his children—one of respect, empathy, humility, and teamwork. AHL
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are those of Kurt Stitcher and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nihon Kohden America.
“If one of my attorneys wants to be a GC one day, I plan out with him or her how we’re going to climb that hill and put them in that chair, whether as my successor or even elsewhere.”Kurt Stitcher General Counsel and VP of Compliance Nihon Kohden America
INTRODUCING THE NIHON KOHDEN RISK PREDICTION SYSTEM: POWERED BY
SEPSIS RISK INDEX
RESPIRATORY RISK INDEX
HYPOTENSION RISK INDEX
HEMORRHAGE RISK INDEX
MORTALITY RISK INDEX
ICU TRANSFER RISK INDEX
"Sometimes we look back at the data that we had about patients that deteriorated, and we can see that we should have known it was coming ”-Randall
of CoMET & Co-inventorof HeRO
WE ARE NK
Nihon Kohden America, LLC, a U S market leader in precision medical products and services, is happy to introduce its Risk Prediction System powered by CoMET, a tool that provides early indication of future risk for clinical events, including, but not limited to: sepsis, hemorrhage, cardiogenic shock, respiratory failure, hemodynamic instability, and emergent intubation up to 12 hours prior to clinical deterioration.
Executives know there is an increasing need to help individuals manage their own health anywhere and anytime.
To do that, healthcare leaders are developing products and services and offering resources catered to different communities’ needs—all aimed at motivating them to stay engaged with their health and empowering them to be their best, at home or at work.
Andre Reid isn’t afraid to push his team to help them grow; he focuses on the people in his leadership of the Jackson Health System auditing and compliance functionsBy Billy Yost
Andre Reid, senior vice president of compliance and internal audit and chief audit executive at Jackson Health System, has always been competitive. A former student athlete, he was invited to walk on to Florida State University’s basketball team.
These days, he’s transitioned to road cycling, and is team captain of Jackson Health System Miracle Riders. The team participates in the annual Dolphins Challenge Cancer ride with a focus on raising money for cancer research. “I just love competition,” Reid explains. “It’s about tenacity. In cycling, you have to be consistent and persistent, and always keep challenging yourself.”
He’s applied these lessons to his twelve-year tenure at Jackson, during which he’s risen through three different roles to the C-suite. Over the years, he’s reported to the Miami Dade Public Health Board of Trustees, overseen the internal audit and compliance departments, and led large capital program control oversight and cybersecurity-related proactive audit engagements.
Reid, formerly the vice president internal audit and chief audit executive, took on his current combined leadership role after the vice president compliance and chief compliance officer retired. The job was redefined to merge both the compliance and audit functions, which provides the opportunity to bring a more proactive, strategic approach to both functions.
“I spent my first ninety days just making my rounds,” Reid explains. “I made sure to meet with everyone on the compliance team, leadership, and my peers in similar roles at other health systems.”
That was a year ago. Currently, he’s working to implement standardization and structure in the delivery of service/projects and partnering with human resources to facilitate a change management training for the compliance team to help people talk about the idea of change and see the value in it.
“At the end of the day, you need to remember that organizations are run by people. Without the people, nothing moves forward.”
“Everybody gets a little bit nervous when you start talking about change,” Reid admits. But from senior leadership and the board member perspective, “I think they’ve seen some of the proactive value-add deliverables we’ve provided on the audit side to be more effective, efficient, and innovative. We’ve got the opportunity to do that on a bigger scale combining oversight of both the audit and compliance functions.”
Reid has never been one for cookiecutter implementations or ideas. He’s attended numerous leadership conferences, including Dale Carnegie Professional Development Courses, and says the book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein greatly informed his own leadership.
“The book talks about the idea that you sometimes have to push folks in uncomfortable situations in order to help them grow,” Reid explains. “It’s so true, and that resonated deeply with me. I do it with my team. They’re probably tired of hearing me encouraging them to grow.”
They’ve certainly grown, though. In the industry, the average audit department has approximately 70 percent of its staff certified in its respective fields. Reid’s team is nearing 100 percent. Reid’s former executive assistant is now an auditor on his team. His current executive assistant will be obtaining her bachelor’s degree this summer.
The SVP doesn’t just happen to be around a lot of people interested in pursuing their professional development. He is a catalyst, an agent of growth, or, simply, a supreme nudger.
Reid is working on multiple projects that demonstrate the growth and evolution of his departments as well as
their ability to add value. Several focus on controlled substance reconciliation (ensuring that the actual physical inventory of controlled substances matches the expected amount of inventory), while others aim to enhance collaboration between audit and compliance or work towards 100 percent population analytics to help mitigate sampling risk.
Reid is proud his internal auditing team is doing work that no other similar organization is pursuing, especially when it comes to controlled substance reconciliation analytics, cybersecurity assurance related work, and capital program proactive control oversight.
He’s also finding new ways to lead by serving on the financial committee board for Community Health of South Florida. Reid was identified by leadership at Jackson Health as an ideal candidate for the position and hopes it will open the door to more opportunities in board leadership.
“Even if you’re not working on the front lines, it feels good to help an organization behind the scenes,” the SVP explains. “I always keep in mind that you can learn so much from every individual, and so I continue to soak up as much as I can from all my colleagues and members of the board.”
More generally, Reid says, helping his people find their purpose is what really directs his own leadership. He understands the value of empathy and sees his job as one where supporting his people is paramount.
“From a technical standpoint, you need to see the big picture for the organization,” he explains. “But at the end of the day, you need to remember that organizations are run by people. Without the people, nothing moves forward.” AHL
To make confident decisions about the future, middle market leaders need a different kind of advisor. One who starts by understanding where you want to go and then brings the ideas and insights of an experienced global team to help get you there.
Thinking about your business is a big part of ours.
OneDigital’s Dan Maass helps employers find their competitive edge through strategic benefits solutions with inclusive optionsBy Zachary Brown
Dan Maass was never interested in emulating what others were doing in the health and benefits space; he set out to break the mold.
After consulting with employers at a well-known West Coast broker, he partnered with an industry expert to start his own company, i2i benefits, in 2012. Maass built i2i benefits to be different. The full-service company focused on high-touch consulting and transparency so clients and their employees could see costs, understand fees, and comprehend a complex industry. After eight years, i2i benefits merged with OneDigital to provide consulting to companies of all sizes in insurance, financial services, and human resources.
Combining those three elements posed both challenges and opportunities. “What’s happening in today’s market can be hard to navigate, but it also means that employers can rely on our advisory team for more,” Maass says. “We are known for employee benefits but are also in HR consulting, retirement services, pharmacy consulting, property and casualty, and wealth management.” With those services in place, OneDigital helps employers address the employee experience from the moment a candidate sits for an interview until they exit into retirement and beyond.
An eclectic background makes Maass perfect to serve as one of OneDigital’s principal leaders. He started his career with the COBRA administration team at a midsized regional broker in the Bay Area, then began supporting companies with twenty to fifty employees. Next, Maass found himself building a book of business and working with large clients
“A complete benefits program helps employers compete for talent as they think about not only recruitment but also ongoing employee satisfaction.”
throughout Silicon Valley. As he partnered with tech and biotech companies, Maass learned how to cater custom-made benefits programs that helped each company achieve its unique goals.
His wide-ranging experience makes Maass unique in the market, while his background as a business owner adds to his expertise and credibility. “I know what it means to make payroll and think about business growth as you construct a benefits program. That perspective informs all I do for our clients at OneDigital,” he says. Maass works with clients to find innovative ways to help them manage benefits and
control costs to guide strategy while remaining competitive.
Today’s employers need to reach their Gen Z candidates, their baby boomers on the verge of retirement, and everyone in between in order to stay competitive in the talent market. Maass refers to medical plans as table stakes. In fact, 50 percent of employees who planned to quit their job in 2022 said that they were seeking better benefits and compensation, and 67 percent of job seekers said that benefits were more important now than before the pandemic. With the volatility of the workforce, it’s vital for employers to have market-leading holistic benefitsDan Maass Principal, Senior Client Executive OneDigital
programs with robust medical plans, mental health benefits, and family-forming benefits.
Additionally, employers can break the mold with a relentless focus on inclusion, considering every facet of the person with gender-affirming benefits, infertility benefits, caregiving benefits, and other modern services. “Employees want to find and align with companies that are attentive to the social issues they care about, and a complete benefits program helps employers compete for talent as they think about not only recruitment but also ongoing employee satisfaction,” Maass says.
While many of these components come with a cost, there are creative ways for employers to keep costs from rising. Employers can take advantage of decreased expenses and improved cash flow through self-funded plans. Others can harness the power of technology to analyze healthcare data to continue controlling spend, make plan decisions, and target population health management.
These essential steps proactively address ongoing inflation, rising interest rates, and a looming economic crisis. While some employers are responding with layoffs and hiring freezes, Maass says companies could still see per
employee per month benefits spend increase as employees and their dependents who lost coverage on their spouse’s plan enroll in coverage. Maass partners with leaders to avoid late-stage surprises by looking at costs and combining benchmarking, predictive modeling, claims, and utilization data to look at the future of health plan spend.
Current events and post-pandemic effects have led to the evolution of OneDigital’s solutions and practices with clients and each other. In-person open enrollment sessions and one-on-one employee meetings continue to be available, but today, almost all of it has moved online. At first, Maass, who built his career by forming strong face-to-face relationships, was worried. Now, he and his clients benefit from the flexibility driven by the rapid pace of disruption.
“I have to be thoughtful to make sure I’m really in tune with whatever audience I’m in front of, and that means I have to know their business even better,” he says, adding that the virtual environment also adapts to the changing needs of their workforce. For Maass, it’s all about keeping clients engaged, asking targeted questions to elicit the right responses, and delivering maximized results while meeting employee expectations. AHL
“I know what it means to make payroll and think about business growth as you construct a benefits program.”
Unlimited Growth Potential
ensures that Upstream Rehabilitation has the right technology in place to support its tremendous growth trajectoryBy Natalie Kochanov
Jeff Petet was confident in his choice of career from the start.
“I always had a love for technology and never doubted that it was what I would pursue in college,” Petet explains. Things were no different when he accepted his first role in the IT world. “It didn’t feel like work to me because I was getting paid to do what I loved. And that was helping people accomplish what was needed with technology.”
Petet may have advanced to more senior roles and to higher levels of expertise, but his mindset is the same as ever. In his present capacity as vice president of IT at outpatient physical therapy provider Upstream Rehabilitation, he focuses on the ways in which technology can help accomplish business goals—in this case, by facilitating the organization’s current growth and setting the stage for further expansion in the future.
Even before graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a major in computer science and minor in mathematics, Petet began making his mark at Arcade Beauty, a global leader in scent sampling. “I was IT employee number one,” he says. “I started as systems administrator, but while there, I learned manufacturing, commercial printing, and real-time job costing
“When I joined in 2014, we had about 175 locations and 1,200 associates in the company.
Today, we’re at over 1,200 locations and 8,000 associates. ”
analysis by interfacing technology with the manufacturing equipment.”
After spending more than a decade at Arcade, during which he built the IT team from the ground up, Petet entered the disability insurance space as a senior software developer at Unum. Seven years and two promotions later, he left Unum to become director of IT at Upstream brand BenchMark Rehabilitation Partners. Applying the experience he had picked up over the course of his previous positions, he stabilized BenchMark’s ongoing EMR system implementation and resolved an assortment of support issues at the brand’s IT service desk.
By 2018, Petet had been promoted to VP and had moved from BenchMark to Upstream proper. Since then, there has been a common theme across many of his projects. “A lot of M&A activity,” he clarifies. “One big merger, then a lot of acquisitions.”
The big merger occurred in 2018— and Petet played a critical part in its execution. “I oversaw the IT merger of Upstream and Drayer Physical Therapy Institute. It took us almost two years to merge the IT systems and processes, and then just as we were finishing that, the pandemic hit,” he elaborates.
Following an extended focus on pandemic recovery, Upstream acquired Results Physiotherapy in August 2021. This latest acquisition, which again saw Petet leading a significant IT integration effort, is emblematic of Upstream’s overall growth.
“When I joined in 2014, we had about 175 locations and 1,200 associates in the company. Today, we’re at over 1,200 locations and 8,000 associates,” Petet says. “In the past year, I partnered with our EMR vendor to change the architecture of our EMR system to allow for unlimited growth.”
Beyond modifying Upstream’s EMR system for scalability, Petet introduced self-service analytics that make it possible for non-IT data analysts to handle their own analytics and reporting— which in turn enables the business to access that data more efficiently. Furthermore, he has placed increasing emphasis on automation and information security to support his broader IT vision for the growing organization.
Petet partners directly with his executive peers to maintain strategic alignment between the IT team and the business at large. “We meet with the senior executives every four weeks to update them on what we’ve accomplished, what’s coming up next, and what items are on the backlog,” he says. “That’s where we collectively prioritize with the various business units what we work on internally.”
With Upstream on a steady upward trajectory, there is certainly no shortage of projects for Petet and his team.
“In 2022, we migrated over nine hundred clinics to RingCentral’s unified communications service and created an internal mapping tool to ensure our patients get routed to the best location and clinician for them,” he says. “We’re currently working with the business on our data strategy and a digital front door strategy, and throughout 2023, we’ll continue to push for automation where possible and look to enhance our reporting and analytics to get faster and faster insights for the business.”
Petet plans to chart an equally ambitious course for himself by pursuing new technology certifications. His path forward speaks to his dedication to lifelong learning—and to the idea that personal growth, career growth, and business growth can all go hand in hand. AHL
Not every partner utilizes each and every component of our business due to scale or size. However, the vast majority of our business partners engage in 3 out of 5 of our categories. These categories are corporate furnishings, technology services, o ce products, facilities supplies and marketing procurement distribution. It is important to note that each component has been developed to complement one another.
In summary, we exist to help customers enhance our customers bottom-line proﬁtability, increase e ciency and focus on their core competency. Our 81 year history proves that, if we are engaged by our customers, that promise will be met and/or exceeded. We do what is best for our customers, not what is easiest for us.
Walking the Well-Being Talk
To drive transformation, Richard McDonald and his benefits team reflect the well-being culture they want to see at the Coca-Cola CompanyBy Noah Johnson
“I f you’re going to do something, do it right.” This mantra, ingrained in him by his father growing up, resonates with Richard McDonald now more than ever as global head of benefits at the Coca-Cola Company.
Since McDonald joined the beverage company in 2021, he’s worked to redesign the company’s well-being strategy and move the organization from a programfocused well-being approach toward a
broader culture of health strategy for employees. Coming out of this work, McDonald saw the need to reexamine his own lifestyle.
“For me, I had always had a sole focus on work to the detriment of my own health,” he says. “The kind of in-depth well-being analysis we’ve done at the Coca-Cola Company has made me focus more on my overall health and well-being, with a positive effect on my
physical and mental health. If we’re the global benefits function responsible for well-being at the Coca-Cola Company, we need to lean into and live what we’d like to see the rest of the organization do.”
That walk-the-talk attitude helped McDonald and his team initiate the roll out of the Coca-Cola Company’s well-being strategy in 2022. They started encouraging broader well-being conversations with employees and leaders,
“If we’re the global benefits function responsible for well-being at the Coca-Cola Company, we need to lean into and live what we’d like to see the rest of the organization do.”
launched a well-being portal to bring various company resources together for employees and managers, and initiated focused review of existing mental health resources available to employees and their families.
In addition to driving the overall well-being strategy, McDonald plays his part by motivating his team members to prioritize their health. He encourages them to take breaks, vacations, and walks during meetings.
According to a 2021 American Psychology Association survey on work and well-being, these steps make a big difference to employees. About 87 percent of surveyed employees thought actions from their boss would help their mental health, including encouraging the use of paid time off, breaks during the workday, and having access to mental health resources.
“Having worked with Rich as an advisor for over a decade, I can honestly say Rich is one of the most complete employee benefits professionals I have encountered over my thirty-five-year career,” says Gregory Norton, practice leader for the Marsh McLennan Agency Absence, Disability, and Life Practice. “He manages the expense of his programs aggressively for the benefit of his company and employees, but he also understands the powerful impact a progressive and well-designed benefits program can have on his company’s culture and health of the workforce.”
Even with the strides the company has made in the past year, McDonald realizes that its work shouldn’t stop there. Going forward, the financial well-being of CocaCola employees will continue to be a key focus area of the overall well-being strategy. A PwC survey of more than three thousand workers across several industries makes that clear. About 34 percent of employees reported that financial stress in the past year have had a major impact on their mental health.
That’s why McDonald says the company’s approach to well-being is holistic. To build on the team’s efforts to date, it is currently focused on work streams to address employee mental and financial health, as well as new ways of working. In 2024, the focus will be to continue to build on the work over the last two years, while adding in a broad review of physical health, another important piece of the well-being equation.
While the team measures progress against the well-being strategy quarter-to-quarter and year-over-year, in 2025, it will take a detailed review of the impact of the well-being strategy over the prior three-year period. This review will help the team understand how it needs to adjust the strategy and approach to continue to the overall desired culture of health, and to meet the evolving health and well-being needs of the employees of the Coca-Company. AHL
Where Every Voice Is Heard
During times of layoffs and low morale, Workhuman’s Zoe Peterson-Ward offers insight to the power of employee recognition in a resilient workplaceBy Billy Yost
As an individual performer, Zoe Peterson-Ward was unstoppable. The future executive fell in love with consulting early on in her career, imbued with grit and the drive of a highly independent person determined to make her own way. She worked herself to the bone to be a consulting pro with all the answers for her clients.
When she started leading teams of her own, Peterson-Ward had the same insight for how her people should operate and how they should succeed.
“I was sucking all of the oxygen out of a room,” Peterson-Ward reflects. “I was spending so much time directing people and telling them what and how do things that I was really missing the opportunity to bring more people in the boat.”
Peterson-Ward, now chief customer officer (CCO) at Workhuman, has come full circle. She is not the leader she was, overly focused on putting the pedal to the metal. She acknowledges that’s not what leadership calls for; therefore, it isn’t how she guides her team at Workhuman.
“I did all the gritty work, and I’ve done some wild things in my career,” Peterson-Ward says earnestly. “But I’ve been graced with the opportunity to be here at a time in my career where I feel
like it’s time to give back. I want to make sure that I’m investing in the next generation of Workhuman leaders.”
The Recognition Difference
While Peterson-Ward began with a mindset that was driven by the work, she has blossomed in an organization dedicated to fostering more inclusiveness, pride, and recognition for employees all over the globe.
Workhuman continues to publish findings about just how cost-effective taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate employees can be, and how much more satisfaction it can bring to people in their own work.
Just seven days after the CCO’s interview with American Healthcare Leader in March 2023, Workhuman published findings from a joint study with Gallup, From Praise to Profits: The Business Case for Recognition at Work, that found—among other statistics—if a business of ten thousand employees doubled the number of employees who received praise or recognition for their work in the last week, it could expect a 9 percent increase in productivity. And not only that, but a staggering 22 percent decrease in both safety incidents and absenteeism.
Gallup estimated recognition programs would add $92 million in gained productivity, $2.8 million saved due to workplace safety incidents, and $3.2 million saved in unscheduled absences. This based on Bureau of Labor Statistics results calculated for an organization with ten thousand employees.
Workhuman recognition plans have already been utilized at Merck for five years, where the company has found that new hires who were recognized in their first year of service were five times less likely to leave within that year. More broadly, the recognition programs yielded 1.3 times less turnover overall for employees that were receiving recognition monthly.
“We help organizations understand how recognition programs impact key metrics like turnover and productivity,” Peterson-Ward explains. “We can help our customers calculate the actual return on investment they can receive if implemented correctly.”
Despite repeated and continuing statistics proving the viability and importance of recognition, only one in five leaders contacted for the Gallup study listed employee recognition as a major strategic priority.
Being More Human
Peterson-Ward’s focus on coaching versus instructing wasn’t born at Workhuman. During her eleven years at Salesforce, she says she was
“I’ve been graced with the opportunity to be here at a time in my career where I feel like it’s time to give back. I want to make sure that I’m investing in the next generation of Workhuman leaders.”Zoe Peterson-Ward Chief Customer Officer Workhuman Lauren
“I learned that I shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room. That wasn’t my job. My job was to create an environment where everybody had a voice. The power of the team is always stronger than what an individual is going to do on their own. ”
given a gift in the form of the organizational importance placed on professional development.
“Over time, I really began to realize that my approach as a people leader was not the best,” Peterson-Ward says. “I learned that I shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room. That wasn’t my job. My job was to create an environment where everybody had a voice. The power of the team is always stronger than what an individual is going to do on their own.”
That’s what makes the CCO such a perfect fit for Workhuman. She now sees herself as a coach more than anything. By motivating her people to take accountability for their own work, Peterson-Ward is letting her people succeed their way and building buy-in along the way.
Instead of telling people how they are doing, Peterson-Ward says she asks open-ended questions that can lead to more growth than any ultimatum or dressing down ever could. And it’s how you build future leaders who can think critically and empathetically.
Now More than Ever
The CCO says that as the economy continues to move toward a recession, as tech companies continue to announce
layoffs, and the landscape becomes more challenging for employers and employees alike, it’s exactly the time to invest in employee recognition programs.
“We’re at a very interesting point in time right now with two very important realities that are happening across corporate America,” Peterson-Ward explains. “Many organizations are making decisions to cut back and save money in the short term, with work being redistributed across an already overburdened workforce.
“Secondly, many employees are still working remotely, and if you’re not doing anything to keep those individuals engaged and connected, you’re losing performance, morale, and, eventually, people altogether,” she continues.
The numbers continue to prove it. The statistics all line up. And yet there continues to be a disconnect about just how much employee recognition programs can positively impact an organization, especially in tough times.
“In moments of volatility, it’s vital that organizations are retaining the top talent needed to weather the storm,” PetersonWard says. “Those that have invested in building a culture where employees regularly feel seen and appreciated are creating that resiliency.” AHL
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