Mar 30, 2023
This week and in episode 400 of Relentless Health Value, at the encouragement of the Relentless Health Value team, I’m gonna do two shows entitled “My Manifesto,” Part 1 and Part 2. In other words, why did I start Relentless Health Value and what’s the goal around here?
I started contemplating this mission to define the mission thinking about how healthcare will ultimately be transformed and my role (if any) in all of this—or, more accurately, your role as a listener of this show and, often enough, someone who has the ability to take action. You there, listening right now, you are the alchemist who will transform the words that you hear here into something tangible. And that is how this show makes a difference. It is through the Relentless Health Value Tribe, and you, whether you realize it or not, are a very special person.
But before I continue along this complimentary vein, let me back up for just one sec and talk about how I realized how special you are to begin with.
It’s a funny thing because I get asked all the time who listens to this show, sometimes with a “Who listens to this show?” vibe. I mean, we talk about complicated topics; and when I say we talk about complicated topics, I mean we hurl ourselves right in the middle of them. Acronyms and 400-level perplexities abound.
I used to say who listens to this show when asked—and this is absolutely true—I used to say that more than 40% of you are senior-level executives with decision-making authority, which might mean you are a doctor or a nurse or other clinician and a leader of some kind, either formally or informally. You could work at a provider organization, a payer, a digital health company (big or small). Maybe you make policy, you’re a researcher, private equity … You’re an EBC (employee benefit consultant) or work in benefits at an employer. Maybe you do something in the population health space. You could be a legislator looking for insight. A journalist. Right? We get around.
But while the audience of this programme is big (very big by some standards), I run across healthcare industry peeps often enough in decision-making roles who listened to half a show one time and decided it wasn’t for them. It took me a long time to put my finger on who listens and who does not, and this was also the moment that I started thinking about our listeners as a tribe.
The people who listen 99% of the time are listening to figure out how to do the right thing for patients or members. They want to know how what they do fits into the larger picture, this larger healthcare ecosystem. And they want to know this for actionable reasons.
I mean, frankly, this is a lot of the reason why I started this show to begin with: because I found myself in a similar situation (still am, truth be told). I started to understand that doing something in healthcare is like a game of pachinko. The action, which might feel like it logically should result in X good thing for patients, bounces around in this black box that is the healthcare ecosystem and may pop out the other side in ways that are the opposite of what was originally intended.
I want to have positive impact, right? All of us do, or you wouldn’t be listening right now.
And that is the common thread that holds us all together—besides, of course, being smart, capable, curious, and incredibly charming individuals. And I say all this with evidence: Every single person I have met who listens to this show on the regular meets all of these criteria.
You are great people, and it is a distinct honor and a privilege to spend time with you every week. I am proud, really proud of what this group of individuals has accomplished. We have moved needles, and we have pushed agendas.
Now, I know you people. You are going to be doing one of two things right now. Twenty percent of you are gonna be smiling and thinking about the program you started or the work that you did and the accolades that followed. Or maybe you’re just simply aware of what you’ve done because you have data, or patients or members or family members thanked you and you saw that look in their eyes and you knew how much what you did meant for them. Or you work for a company that is laser focused on some kind of disruption, and it’s small enough that you can clearly see your impact.
But there’s a lot of you (the majority of you, frankly) I get on the phone with, and you’re less sure if you’ve actually had any impact. You are frustrated—and a little depressed maybe—because you see all this madness and ways patients are harmed all around you. You see maybe decisions that you realize have a deleterious (ie, bad) impact on patients or members. You are now eyes on, and now you feel largely powerless.
I will tell you the same thing that I tell every member of the Relentless Health Value Tribe who says this. I don’t doubt it might be more difficult to see the impact you are having if you work for a larger company or if you work for one of these incumbents, especially when you have a recognition that there might be other departments or other individuals doing things that you may not be fully aligned with. But do not doubt that you have impact and that that impact is meaningful.
I was talking to Larry Bauer, and he told me with a lot of conviction (and he’s one that would know) that you, Relentless Health Value listeners, you are the innovators. You are the ones who spot problems, and you tinker around with available resources and you figure out how to make it just even a little bit better for patients or members.
Think about it this way and just hang with me through this: CEOs do not actually drive what happens in their organizations. The big bosses set up the incentive structures and are the tip of the spear (or whatever that metaphor is) for sure. But an organization’s behavior is decided by 10,000 probably tiny little decisions each and every day … 100,000 decisions by the employees of that organization. It’s the sum of all those micro choices, those micro moments, that determine the impact that that organization has on those it serves.
I saw a meme the other day: “When people travel to the past, they worry about radically changing the present by doing something small. Few people think that they can radically change the future by doing something small in the present.”
Who your boss is doesn’t matter is my point. If you are touching things in the middle of that pachinko game, you have power.
Right? We are all decision makers here, and we are not synonymous with the companies that we work for. We are not the Borg. Would it be nicer and faster if there wasn’t an ongoing financialization of the healthcare industry? If boards of hospitals and private equity and C-suites all would put their “mission before margin” hats on for a change?
Yeah, that would be ideal.
Would it be nice if the disrupters among us had more market penetration? Sure … the good ones, absolutely.
And probably the best path forward is to get ourselves over to a company that’s building a new model to make the current one obsolete, to quote Buckminster Fuller.
But it’s not like it’s an either/or. In addition to having a long-term vision, maybe we can do something in the meantime here. I’d rather that some patients and members get treated some amount of better right now as well as envisioning a new model to make the current one obsolete. We each might be pressing forward, I don’t know, 0.01% at a time; but let’s just consider that 0.01% in this country is 35,000 people plus their families and ~$300 million when it comes to healthcare in the US. Multiply that impact by everybody listening right now—there are thousands of you.
So please do not dismiss the impact that you have, no matter who you work for: thinking critically, considering the larger picture, recognizing the impact that your organization has in big ways and in small ways and then making big and small choices and decisions that are aligned with your values and your integrity. Sometimes people will talk to me about what they want their legacy to be, and this is kinda it.
So, how to deepen that possible impact that any of us might have?
It is always the highlight of my day when I hear that one of you has found somebody else in the RHV Tribe and the two of you (or three of you or four of you) have struck a deal to do something. You’ve collaborated in some way.
The larger organizations everybody might work for … maybe they’re on board or half on board, but again, we are not our companies. I love it when I hear that a physician organization hooked up with somebody at a payer and figured out how to do a pilot or collaborate on something, not going through the official Contact Us forms or whatever but by finding somebody on the same mission in that other organization and then everybody working up the chain in their own organizations from the inside. So many different individuals who work for so many different parts of the healthcare ecosystem listen, and there are lots of synergies to explore, especially if we stop thinking at the organizational level and start thinking about what we individually want to achieve. It’s possible to help each other, to find the overlapping bit of the Venn diagram where interests align and something can get done. And I’ll talk about that more in Part 2.
Here’s from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. He wrote:
“If you want to bring a fundamental change … you need to create a community … where … new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”
This, maybe in sum, is the ultimate goal of Relentless Health Value: to provide that loose-knit community so that those in the Relentless Health Value Tribe who want to can find like-minded people across the industry to work with, the ones who are also just as well informed and understand how this ecosystem knits together—meaning you can more easily work with them to find points of mutual interest that are net positive for patients. There was a point in my podcast career where I thought having a really broad audience of listeners from all across the industry was kind of a problem because it makes it really hard to answer the question, “Who listens to your show?” But now I realize it’s a huge accelerant to our potential impact.
As I was recording this, I realized I probably should do one thing here; and that is at some juncture, I will probably make an RHV Tribe directory or something. So, go over to our Web site and sign up for the weekly email, which you can do on the Web site, because whenever I get around to doing that, I will start with everybody on the mailing list (because I have your email address). I’ll send out a notice or something and ask if you’d like to be part of that directory.
This is Part 1 of my manifesto. Next week (hopefully, if I can get my act together) or, if not, the week after that, I will bring you Part 2.
In the meantime, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being who you are and doing what you do. It is going to be Relentless Health Value listeners who turn this oil tanker of a healthcare industry around. I guarantee it.
For more information, go to aventriahealth.com.
Each week on Relentless Health Value, Stacey uses her voice and thought leadership to provide insights for healthcare industry decision makers trying to do the right thing. Each show features expert guests who break down the twists and tricks in the medical field to help improve outcomes and lower costs across the care continuum. Relentless Health Value is a top 100 podcast on iTunes in the medicine category and reaches tens of thousands of engaged listeners across the healthcare industry.
In addition to hosting Relentless Health Value, Stacey is co-president of QC-Health, a benefit corporation finding cost-effective ways to improve the health of Americans. She is also co-president of Aventria Health Group, a consultancy working with clients who endeavor to form collaborations with payers, providers, Pharma, employer organizations, or patient advocacy groups.
00:47 What is your role as the listener of this show?
01:27 How did Stacey realize how special our listeners are?
01:56 Who are our listeners?
03:15 Why did Stacey start the Relentless Health Value podcast?
04:10 What have the listeners of the Relentless Health Value podcast and its guests accomplished?
05:13 What is Stacey’s advice to listeners that feel powerless?
06:22 “It’s the sum of all those micro choices … that determine the impact that that organization has on those it serves.”
09:22 “There are lots of synergies to explore.”
10:51 Sign up for our weekly email here.
For more information, go to aventriahealth.com.
Our host, Stacey Richter, discusses why she started our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast
Recent past interviews:
Click a guest’s name for their latest RHV episode!
Dr Jacob Asher, Paul Holmes, Anna Hyde, Dea Belazi (Encore! EP293), Brennan Bilberry, Dr Vikas Saini and Judith Garber, David Muhlestein, Nikhil Krishnan (Encore! EP355), Emily Kagan Trenchard, Dr Scott Conard