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Town Hall Ventures to Focus on Building Companies Driving Higher Quality and More Affordable Care for Most Vulnerable Americans

Town Hall Ventures to Focus on Building Companies Driving Higher Quality and More Affordable Care for Most Vulnerable Americans

New Partnership Is Led by Andy Slavitt, Trevor Price and David Whelan

May 8, 2018 — (Minneapolis, MN, and New York, NY) – Today, three health care industry leaders announced the formation of Town Hall Ventures, a venture capital firm that will seek to invest in health care technology and service companies transforming care delivery to America’s most vulnerable populations. The firm is being built on a foundation of broad and deep expertise in building companies to improve care in Medicare, Medicaid, risk-based care, complex conditions and in addressing social determinants of health. These areas of focus touch almost 120 million Americans and approximately $1.2 trillion in annual health care spending.

Town Hall Ventures will be led by Andy Slavitt, the former Administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (“CMS”) and Group Executive Vice President of Optum; Trevor Price, Founder of Oxeon Holdings, a retained executive search and investment firm; and David Whelan, Managing General Partner of predecessor firm Oxeon Ventures and formerly General Partner & CFO of investment firm Accretive LLC.

The Town Hall Ventures team brings a commitment to public service, extensive business experience and a strong track record in founding, investing in, and leading highly successful companies that have made a national imprint on our health care systems. Additionally, Town Hall Ventures will benefit from a unique network of mentors, experts and community leaders to support Town Hall’s portfolio company entrepreneurs as they endeavor to transform care in communities across the country.

The firm has been formed around a rare combination of entrepreneurial, executive, policy, regulatory, financial and investment expertise. As a former administrator of CMS, Mr. Slavitt brings a unique lens to the policies and regulations impacting Medicare and Medicaid populations. He also has over a decade of first-hand experience leading the growth of Optum from its inception into a large multi-billion dollar enterprise. Mr. Price, who is remaining in his role as CEO of Oxeon Partners, has created the leadership teams for many of the defining companies innovating in Medicare and Medicaid, including Evolent Health (NYSE: EVH), Landmark Health, Oak Street Health, Cityblock Health, Aspire Health, VillageMD and Bright Health, as well as having led Oxeon investments in each of these companies. Mr. Whelan brings a significant reputation as a health care investor who has developed, launched and invested in a number of companies at Oxeon Ventures and previously as General Partner and CFO of Accretive LLC, an approx. $500M AUM private equity firm, as well as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group as a founder of the airline Virgin America. In addition to the three partners, the founding team includes: David Mishkin, Town Hall Ventures Investment Director with health care investment experience; Natalie Davis, Town Hall Ventures Director, and formerly Senior Advisor to CMS Administrator Slavitt; and Lauren Robb, Town Hall Ventures Investment Senior Associate, who was previously a Director at Optum- a health services, technology, and innovation company.

“As a nation we have significant health care infrastructure serving healthy populations while lower-income communities go underserved, leading to vastly poorer health outcomes,” said Slavitt. “We are at the beginning of a wave of innovation serving Medicare and Medicaid populations. Town Hall is being formed to help lead this massive and necessary shift. The answers are not always traditional; they involve investments in underlying systemic issues as well as innovative approaches that improve people’s health and well-being.”

Town Hall Ventures announced its first investments, including:

Cityblock Health, Inc., built in partnership with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to provide primary care, behavioral health, and human services to address unmet health and social needs in urban populations;

Somatus, Inc., an innovative company revolutionizing treatment and new models of care for chronic kidney patients;

Welbe Health, LLC a provider of integrated medical and social services to frail seniors who qualify for PACE.

Aetion, Inc., a provider of real-world analytics and evidence to help biopharma companies and payers better understand how drugs work in the real-world to enable value based care.

“Without Town Hall and the resources and expertise they bring to bear, our goal of transforming care for urban and low-income populations would be moving far slower. In a short time, they have helped us roll out services in our first community, hire a first-class leadership team, and prepare ourselves for the daunting set of challenges that often substantially slow market entry in new health care organizations. As a first-time entrepreneur, Town Hall surrounded me with a group of experienced leaders and operators across regulatory, management, fundraising, and technology unparalleled in health care,” said Iyah Romm, the CEO of Cityblock Health.

“Identifying talented entrepreneurs and helping them through the painstaking process of building a great company is something we are passionate about,” said Trevor Price. “We believe we will see more entrepreneurs whose missions are to serve the tens of millions of people whose lives can be improved by innovations that allow them to receive the absolute best quality of care, whether being treated at home and/or in other comfortable and low-cost settings.”

“Our objective is to be a catalyst and investing partner to spur substantial investment and entrepreneurial commitment to the rapidly emerging opportunity to support real health care solutions for Americans all over the country,” said David Whelan. “With Andy’s, Trevor’s and my personal involvement, we look forward to sparking a series of Town Hall companies over the next few years and supporting them to change health care for the better.”

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About Town Hall Ventures

Town Hall Ventures is a venture firm headquartered in New York and Minneapolis that invests in health care companies primarily serving vulnerable populations covered by Medicare and Medicaid. With deep experience building businesses, serving in major public and private sector roles, building premier executive teams, and investing across technology and health care, Town Hall partners with entrepreneurs to build transformational businesses from the idea stage to the growth stage.

About Andy Slavitt

Andy is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. Andy brings decades of private and public sector leadership in health care, business and technology. Over his career, Andy has led many of the most significant and successful initiatives in health care impacting millions of Americans and the shape of the health care system. Andy previously served as the Acting Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under President Obama. He spent a decade at Optum, an organization he helped lead from before its formal inception to the time where it exceeded $35 billion in revenue. In the 1990s, Andy was the founder and CEO of HealthAllies, a digital health company that served the un- and under-insured.

Andy is currently Board Chair of United States of Care, a national non-profit health advocacy organization he founded. Andy leads a number of national health care initiatives, including one on the future of health care, which he co-chairs at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Today he is a highly recognizable voice in health care, with a regular column in the USA Today and regular appearances on CNN, MSNBC and Fox. He is listed in the Politico 50 and was recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the 10 most influential people in health care.

Andy graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

About Trevor Price

Trevor Price is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. Trevor is also the Founder & CEO of Oxeon Partners, a retained executive search and investment firm in the health care technology and services industry. Trevor will continue in this role along with being a General Partner at Town Hall Ventures. During his time leading Oxeon, Trevor’s role as a trusted human capital partner to the CEOs and Venture/Private Equity investors behind many of the high growth innovative health care companies has been critical to their success and is of unique value to Town Hall Ventures. Trevor also led Oxeon’s investments in these companies and will continue to do this but now within the Town Hall Ventures mandate. He was previously a Partner and Senior Vice President at Daversa Health and has been an entrepreneur, starting and growing a variety of technology and service companies.

Trevor is an Adjunct Professor of Health Care Entrepreneurship at the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business. Outside of his “day job”, he co-hosts A Healthy Dose, a podcast where he discusses the latest hot-topic issues with leaders across the health care industry. Trevor sits on the Board of Directors of Docent Health, Risalto Health and Prep For Prep, an organization supporting high-potential youths of color in New York City.

Trevor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and currently lives in New York City.

About David Whelan

David Whelan is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. David is Managing General Partner at Oxeon Ventures, a predecessor firm to Town Hall, where he has overseen the company’s previous investment portfolio and leads the firm’s venture start-up studio. Under David’s oversight, the ventures studio designs, provides initial capital for, incubates, and builds de novo or purpose-built-from-scratch health care companies. Before Oxeon, David served as CFO and General Partner of Accretive LLC, a private investment firm specializing in building disruptive startup companies. David was also Vice President of Corporate Development with the Virgin Group, where he led development of Virgin America.

Previously, David was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in London and Sydney. He serves on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park Trust, an independent nonprofit dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Hudson River Park.

David holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from Bond University in Queensland, Australia. He currently lives in New York City.

 Contact: ​Chris Fleming, (202) 631-0929 , chris@stgresults.com

Giving Back and Gaining Perspective
Olivia Akin, Senior Associate, Oxeon Partners and Margaret Rollins, Associate, Oxeon Partners

Giving

Spirit of Generosity is an Oxeon core value. At least once a month, team members work with organizations like New York Common Pantry, University Settlement, Friends of the Hudson River Park and other local non-profit human service organizations. But most days, we practice this value by living vicariously through our clients – Health IT and Services organizations committed to improving community and population health. (Really! It’s not just jargon.) Nonetheless, we all crave the opportunity to give back and get involved in a more tangible way. To meet the people we are helping. To hear their stories. To gain perspective.

This past October, eleven Oxoenites – across business lines, offices, and levels of seniority – embarked on Oxeon’s inaugural international corporate volunteer trip. We traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, where we spent a week partnering with a local social enterprise, Maximo Nivel, to support their ongoing medical campaigns.

Not unlike the US healthcare system, the healthcare system in Guatemala is shaped by a mix of political, economic, and social factors. The Peace Accords of 1996, which ended Guatemala’s 36-year Civil War, outlined a vision for universal health care. The Accords focused on increasing access and quality of care – particularly preventive health care – to the rural and indigenous populations. At the time, 46% of the population, primarily indigenous communities, had no access to health services. The following year, the government created a new framework to expand access to care, the Programa de Extension, which essentially outsourced healthcare services to non-profits, NGOs, and faith-based organizations. By 1999, these organizations were providing basic primary care to 3.5M people or about 32% of the population, largely in indigenous communities. (Source: USAID)

“Access” was an imperfect solution. Following rising dissatisfaction in the quality of care provided by non-profits and questions over how contracts were awarded, new legislation was passed in 2013, prohibiting outsourcing of health services to these organizations. At the time, the government announced no plan of how these services would be replaced, and unsurprisingly, a few years later the USAID Health System Assessment in Guatemala concluded widespread “inequity in health outcomes, disease burdens, service access, and health spending,” with the starkest differences falling along urban and rural, and ladino (non-indigenous) and indigenous lines. (Source: USAID)

When the idea for an international service trip first emerged, we understood the risks – real and perceived. The term “voluntourism” came to mind often in discussing what not to do. We were acutely aware of the negative impact people with “best intentions” – those who come hoping to help and instead leave things in worse shape – can have. We were determined to do better.

Before our first day of volunteering, we sat down with Norma, an indigenous Guatemalan woman, who helped contextualize our time in Guatemala. Norma works with Project Starfish, a social enterprise that empowers girls and young women to prioritize their education. She gave us a crash course on the decades long Guatemalan Civil War and aftermath, the political and economic disparities between the rural and urban and the indigenous and ladino populations, and the impact of gender in a society built upon machismo culture.

She put up with our questions (and admiration!) about how she took her education into her own hands, how she is raising her teenage son, but most importantly, how to make sure we weren’t doing harm to the community or falling into the pitfall of voluntourism. Norma did not sugar coat what she saw nor the role voluntourists have played in Antigua’s community. Her guiding piece of advice she left us with was to “Look at what they do have, not what they don’t have.” This asset-based mentality and approach resonated.

Our days were split in two parts. We spent mornings driving to different communities surrounding Antigua setting up a health “clinic” in the home of a generous community member. We provided community members with basics like anti-parasite medications and toothbrushes (which doubled as an exciting new toy at the afterschool program we supported). We also worked alongside a local physician, Dr. Raphael, and a doctor from the US, Dr. George, to provide primary care visits to thirty or so community members each day. In the afternoon, we’d return to Antigua proper to Casa Maria, a nursing home for “orphaned” elderly, those who no longer had family that was able or willing to care for them. We helped in constructing a new kitchen and dining room for Casa Maria’s eighty residents.

During our first morning on the medical campaign, we went to a neighborhood just blocks from the local hospital. And yet, most of the patients we saw hadn’t been to a doctor in years. One individual came in with excruciating pain in his abdomen. Dr. George quickly identified the source of the pain. He had kidney stones; the treatment was a simple, straightforward surgery at the hospital. Instead, Dr. George wrote a prescription for ibuprofen, to be taken three times a day for five days. When we asked why, he explained that the cost of any sort of medical procedure in the hospital was so high, that the man would never be able to afford it.

It would be easy to look at the statistics, to hear this story, and see the things that the Guatemalan healthcare system lacked, the systemic issues and how they played out on the individual level. And it’s true, there are countless areas of improvement in terms of access, quality, and cost. But, now’s the time where we remind you of Norma’s sage advice: “Look at what they do have, not what they don’t have.”

On our last day in Guatemala, we visited a community about an hour away from Antigua, both the most rural and poorest town we’d been to. We were greeted by a line of more than thirty people – all waiting to see the doctors. We set up in a small two-room home, with dirt floors and tarp roofs.

An elderly woman, we’ll call her Rosa, came in that day because she had a skin rash. It was her first time seeing a doctor in a few years. Before inquiring what brought Rosa there that day, Dr. Raphael did a full work up. He took her blood pressure and listened to her lungs (both good); he asked about her diet (primarily white bread and coffee); he asked about how she was sleeping (not well) and more broadly how she was feeling (she was anxious). In addition to treating Rosa’s rash, Dr. Raphael prescribed omeprazole to treat her acid reflux, recommended that she adjust the angle of her bed to prevent the vertigo that kept her up at night, and suggested an herbal tea that was readily available in her town to help calm her anxiety.

In total, Dr. Raphael’s thorough interaction with Rosa lasted about twenty minutes. During this time, he joked with her and got to know her, he diagnosed multiple issues that were affecting her wellbeing, and he took the time to ensure she understood her diagnosis and treatment plan. Of course, this was not the ideal situation; one would have hoped that Rosa had access to a better diet or more frequent health services. But no one could deny that Dr. Raphael delivered high quality care to Rosa that day. He provided thoughtful solutions, used the resources available to him, and genuinely and compassionately engaged with Rosa to improve her health. Watching this interaction, it was clear that Dr. Raphael was delivering patient-centric, holistic care to Rosa and that Rosa would be leaving the visit with a realistic and personalized action plan for how she could live a healthier life.

The Guatemalan and US healthcare systems are apples and oranges; to compare the two of them would be a disservice to both. However, there is universal value to Norma’s philosophy, to focus on what we do have instead of just what we lack, whether considering the healthcare system in Antigua locally, systemically in Guatemala, or in the US at large.

The challenge of being an entrepreneur, or someone looking to fix the healthcare system, is that you’re constantly looking for what’s broken and what needs to be fixed. As a Healthcare Growth Services firm we experience this a lot. In addition to practicing one of our core values, our time in Guatemala taught us that it’s important to pick your head up once in a while, remember what works, and celebrate what we do have. Just as we saw Dr. Raphael and all of the individuals we worked with at Maximo Nivel embody this mantra, we also witness this every day in the companies we partner with, the individuals driving those companies, and the work they’re doing to improve our healthcare system.

Olivia is a Senior Associate at Oxeon Partners and has worked to build out the leadership teams for a number of Oxeon’s portfolio clients, including Health Leads, Aspire Health, Privia Health, Ieso Digital Health, and Evolent Health, among others. Internally, Olivia has contributed to Oxeon’s marketing efforts, including redesigning and launching their website and co-producing FWIW for over 2 years. Margaret serves as an Associate at Oxeon Partners and has worked closely with Oxeon’s high-growth healthcare technology, services, and investor clients, including Air Methods, athenahealth, Clover Health, Crossover Health, and the Heritage Group. In addition to her search work, Margaret is a member of Oxeon’s Building our Business team and supports improving operational efficiencies across business lines as well as Oxeon’s Client Success Team. Olivia and Margaret traveled with the Oxeon team to Guatemala in October 2016 and both are based in New York, NY.

2017: The Year We Become Healthcare Consumers
Emily Lamont, Director, Oxeon Holdings and Srishti Mirchandani, Director, Oxeon Ventures

Healthcare

Whereas patients receive care, consumers make choices. Try as we may to act like consumers, the healthcare system makes this incredibly difficult. Whether we’re ready or not, the Trump administration is about to make us all healthcare consumers FAST.

Policy direction and fiscal pressure are going to accelerate demand for healthcare consumer tools.

We have made strides to augment healthcare choice, increase transparency, engage patients, and collect individual health information. The past decade of legislative history has laid the foundation for a revolution in how we deliver and consume healthcare, paving the way for healthcare consumerism. Healthcare reforms led by the Obama Administration have spurred unstoppable momentum to construct the infrastructure necessary for informed choice. While the ACA has been the catalyst, even its repeal will not stop the drive forward to healthcare consumerism. If anything, the intended GOP policies may be an accelerant for consumerism on top of the momentum Obama helped put in place. With healthcare costs continuing to rise and more cost responsibility shifting to the individual, patient demand for information and tools may reach a tipping point.

Consumerism has long been a buzzword in healthcare…and ONLY a buzzword. Following healthcare reform and the ACA, a surge of innovation, dollars, and energy flowed into the antiquated industry. Within years, the healthcare industry had coined a new term: the healthcare consumer. This term intended to capture the idea of a proactive purchaser of healthcare: an educated consumer who buys healthcare on the basis of price, quality, and personal preferences. This buzzword was bold and represented a fundamental shift in how we approached and innovated around healthcare. Yet in 2017, it still represents a mind-shift more so than the modus operandi.

There have long been barriers to making healthcare consumerism a reality. The structural barriers to acting as a healthcare consumer often feel insurmountable. There remains a lack of objective measures and information needed to evaluate choices. There remain information barriers to accessing and understanding one’s own health, choices, price, and quality metrics. To date, accessing this information has been cumbersome at best, and non-existent at worst. As a result, any sense of choice has felt shallow.

CHOICE IS THE FOUNDATION OF CONSUMERISM

Without real choices, it does not matter whether we can evaluate the characteristics of a doctor, drug, or surgery. The ACA set into motion a small explosion that has ignited the fire for innovators who have embraced new models, providing patients with a greater selection of care. Depending on the preferences and characteristics of the patient, new models of care are constantly being invented and tested. Primary care has expanded beyond the doctor’s office to telehealth from your kitchen table, retail clinics at the local pharmacy, and urgent care clinics on your street corner. Meanwhile, the definition of primary care has expanded greatly to include concierge medicine, behavioral health, integrated facilities and risk-based models. Read: more choices!

In addition to choice over providers and care setting, millions of patients now have increased choice regarding insurance coverage. Now more than ever, patients can choose insurance on the basis of price, quality, and other objective metrics. Medicare patients can choose between private Medicare Advantage plans with clear quality ratings alongside price. Medicaid patients can increasingly choose among Managed Care and traditional Fee-for-Service plans. Employees are steadily being offered more choices by their employers via private benefit exchanges (such as Liazon, now a part of Towers Watson) that allow employees to select the plan right for them. Additionally, individuals and small businesses utilize the new public exchanges to shop for health insurance.

Despite enthusiastic early predictions that exchanges were the future, individuals and employers have only slowly warmed to the idea. In both the public and private exchanges, choice has led individuals to think through their options more carefully and to better understand their plan coverage. As insurance choices continue to change, the American population is becoming increasingly aware and informed about their health insurance – a positive turn, even if this engagement is being driven by fear of losing coverage. If the subsidies are repealed, we expect individuals to face increasingly difficult decisions about how to afford healthcare. If the individual mandate is repealed, we expect the individual to also face increasingly difficult decisions about whether to purchase health insurance. To make sense of these choices and their tradeoffs, healthcare consumers need more information.

“As much money and life as you could want!
The two things most human beings would choose above all
– the trouble is humans do have a knack
of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”

— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Without trusted information and points of comparison, it does not matter whether or not we have choices.

The first pillar for a healthcare consumer is to be able to identify value – long an elusive metric in healthcare. Before patients can purchase healthcare on the basis of value, discussed here as a function of price and quality of care, we need to agree on a common set of objective measures to assess quality. Since 2009, the widespread adoption of EHRs has made outcomes data more accessible and comparable. With passage of the HITECH Act, technology innovators surged into the space to help physicians manage and understand the data. Meaningful Use played a key role in accelerating the use of EHRs, and thus the data necessary to better identify quality. The ACA then tied this data to provider reimbursement for quality outcomes, through initiatives such as PQRS and Medicare Star Ratings.

As of January 2017, the final phase of Meaningful Use has kicked off, further expanding the creation and aggregation of data to assess quality. Provider reimbursement incentivizes greater usage of electronic prescriptions, computerized provider order entry, and the electronic exchange of information (alongside other objectives). As the more complete data set comes to bear with historical data for comparison, the opportunities to better assess quality will accelerate.

A respected leader in healthcare quality, Intermountain Healthcare provides an excellent case study for the steps involved in getting from EHR implementation to widely accepted quality outcomes. A leader in quality, Intermountain Healthcare’s technology path speaks to the greater process the U.S. healthcare system is undertaking. In the 1970s, Intermountain created one of the first EHR systems. The EHR system soon thereafter began to result in objectively higher outcomes of care. However, it took decades to fully understand the power of data analytics to improve patient health. Success hinged on the development of trustworthy data, cultural adoption, and a common language of metrics.

Intermountain has long been recognized for a reputation of evidence-based medicine cemented by its unique penchant for building internal data and analytics assets and programs to support this. For Intermountain, the adoption of technology has played an important role in achieving clinical quality at lower costs than the national average. For example, they have a technology-enabled service offering to support clinicians in reducing clinical variation and improving outcomes. More information to come, but Oxeon is proud to be co-founding a company with Intermountain to commercialize this evidence-based medicine platform. It is tools and systems such as these that will help providers utilize quality metrics. As providers agree on objective standards of quality, patients can begin to understand the language of quality as well; meanwhile, innovators are stepping into help patients interpret the language.

The second pillar for a healthcare consumer is patient engagement, which has been encouraged by the shift to value based care. Prior to the ACA, the payment system financially incentivized providers to focus on volume. The ACA inspired a seismic shift, propelling the healthcare system from FFS towards value-based care. For providers, the value-based approach rewards quality outcomes over volume. For patients, the value-based approach is intended to deliver better results at a more reasonable cost.

As we say goodbye to FFS, the notion of a passive patient is disappearing. Healthcare systems are proactively engaging patients in their health. In turn, patients are furiously googling, desperately trying to understand their healthcare options and know which questions to ask. When a patient is engaged in their healthcare, the result is better health outcomes.

While the link between quality and payment grows, providers and payors are increasingly focused on high-value care. In the process, patient engagement and the patient experience have emerged as key elements of quality, and in turn, value. Across innovative health systems, the hiring wave of Chief Experience Officers speaks to this new focus.

Better understanding the personal needs of a patient outside the traditional realm of healthcare is proving an effective way to keep patients out of the hospital. Be it Landmark Health’s focus on the whole person and their environment, providing comprehensive care to patients in their home. Or, Docent Health’s new approach to patient experience from the beginning to the end of a patient’s interaction with a healthcare system. Docent Health pioneered a new approach to the patient experience, building a customized patient journey through the health system. For example, the Docent platform recommends birthing plans and prenatal classes to expectant parents while keeping family members updated via text and other tools. This form of patient engagement was unimaginable ten years ago, though it remains the exception not the rule.

The third pillar for a healthcare consumer is allowing patients to better and more fully interact with their personal healthcare information. Patients are more engaged than ever in managing their health, but the inability to access and understand their own healthcare information remains a barrier. In the coming years, Meaningful Use provisions will be powered forward by the bipartisan MACRA; together, they will lay the foundation for patient self-knowledge.

In 2017, health care regulations continue to encourage greater patient access and control of their data. The goal is for EHRs to allow patients to not only view their data, but also to interact with it – even download and send it to other providers – and to use their personal data to guide individual healthcare choices. While this process has taken longer than expected, it’s importance as a pillar of healthcare consumerism cannot be underestimated.

Moreover, the development of EHR’s has enabled providers to deliver more personalized care based on the preferences and unique characteristics of individuals. As data and tools help our records to become more accurate, we will develop a more complete and reliable set of data for understanding ourselves and our health needs. Clinical data is only a piece in the puzzle of our personal health, because today the data points are largely from our sick days. We’ve shifted into an era where patients want to integrate this data into their overall health picture. Companies like Neurotrack are helping patients to better understand their personal health information even before symptoms occur, empowering patients to utilize the information and proactively manage their health. This combination of traditional health data alongside newer forms of information will energize the new wave of a true healthcare consumer.

GOP POLICIES FORCING PATIENTS TO BECOME CONSUMERS…

Whether or not we’re ready, expected GOP policies on healthcare reform will (even more) rapidly force patients to become healthcare consumers. Over the past decade, healthcare reform has pushed forward policy, technological progress, and private sector investment that equip the patient to be a better healthcare consumer. Patient choices, value transparency, patient engagement, and individual health data have increased over this evolution. However, there are still large gaps in enabling individuals with the accurate, user-friendly, and effective tools that support them in their role as consumers.

We believe that this gap, and therefore the opportunity to fill these gaps with tools and support, persist. In fact, the touted Republican healthcare policies can be an accelerant to the patient changing into a consumer, and the patient needs smart tools that enable the best healthcare choices for their resources and preferences. For instance, the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs) is a frequently cited healthcare policy change on the horizon. Optimal use of HSAs requires more than understanding its tax advantages, it also requires educated use of the dollars saved within it.

Traditional GOP priorities of free-market principles push the healthcare dollar even more firmly into patient hands. We know that blueprint proposals such as Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” and precedent House repeal bills suggest more free-market principles and individual agency over healthcare choices. However, there will continue to be uncertainty and distracting speculation around the exact policies to be enacted under the new administration until they are passed.

In any version of forthcoming healthcare policy, individuals need products, services, and a mindset from other stakeholders that helps them become informed and effective healthcare consumers. These new developments should not only provide clear and reliable information about healthcare cost and quality, but they also can shape an individual’s preferences and priorities. All other healthcare stakeholders must then be ready to capture the healthcare consumer’s attention and dollar.

AS ENTREPRENEURS, WE ARE BETTING ON THE PATIENT-AS-CONSUMER…

In the next few years, we see real opportunity at the intersection of patient engagement and healthcare consumerism. Even if the conditions under which the individual is selecting and purchasing healthcare have changed, we are doubling down our commitment to empowering the individual. In uncertain times with increased financial risks, patients will be required to pay attention more than ever. And, Oxeon is committed to building companies and supporting products that will help the patient-as-consumer navigate the crazy maze.

We are excited about a patient financial experience approach that does just that: enabling health systems to have the information needed to truly treat the patient as a consumer of healthcare, personally engaging them to directly understand their healthcare expenses.

We are passionate about a partnership with Breastcancer.org to empower breast cancer patients by providing quality guidance, timely information, and necessary tools tailored to everyone’s personal health journey.

Similarly, we’re co-founding and betting on Risalto Health, a technology and analytics company that engages and supports patients throughout their musculoskeletal pain. Risalto provides patients with the consumer choices right for them, guiding them to high quality providers and high value treatment paths while avoiding unnecessary or wasteful treatment.

While the foundation and early building blocks for healthcare consumerism are in place, there remains significant work to provide patients with the tools to be effective consumers. The direction of the past decade combined with GOP priorities makes the case stronger than ever to enable the patient-as-consumer. To us, this is more than a trend; this is a movement. The movement has interested parties from both sides of the aisle, and we believe more and better tools are needed to bring all pockets of the country onboard.

Emily is Director of Growth Strategy at Oxeon and was a founding team member of the Venture Studio. After receiving her MBA from Stanford, Emily returned to Oxeon to manage Oxeon investments and drives a range of strategic initiatives across Oxeon’s healthcare growth services. Srishti is a Director at Oxeon Ventures, joining the team after receiving her MBA from Columbia. She is focused primarily on building new businesses through the Venture Studio, working on the concept ideation, business plan development, and standing up new businesses created de novo or in partnership with other healthcare organizations. Emily and Srishti are based in New York, NY.

A Healthy Dose
Trevor Price, Founder & CEO, Oxeon Partners

A Healthy Dose

I talk to people all day long. Every day. Without exception. By Friday afternoon, I want to withdraw from the world of Oxeon and talk to no one other than my wife and three kids. That withdrawal slowly lifts over the weekend and by Sunday night, I’m ready to start talking to people again.

What is interesting, coming from the guy who turns anti-social all weekend, is that from Monday through Friday, I don’t resent my work at all. I love all the conversations and find the people – and their perspective – beyond fascinating. In many (but not ALL!) of these conversations, I find myself learning, growing and being exposed to things I had never thought about. I truly enjoy hearing people’s stories.

Through these conversations, I’ve learned that it’s not your average executive who wants to try to tackle healthcare. These people have something special. They bring a unique look on life and a commitment to do something bigger than themselves. Again, not ALL of them. But most of them share something that is very, very different – and worth listening to.

I feel so fortunate to be having these conversations and really just wanted to share what I experience all day. As such, I decided to collaborate to start “A Healthy Dose,” the podcast series we have launched with my good friend Steve Kraus, healthcare partner at Bessemer Ventures. A Healthy Dose will share the people, the experiences, and the insights that Steve and I are exposed to on such a regular basis.

And what a segue that proves to be. Why Steve? Well, there are many reasons but the first is that he is just a fundamentally great guy. I remember my son Charlie, who decided after years (he is 12) of being focused on sports, to audition for The Music Man, the middle school musical. Steve, who also has a son named Charlie (I’m 99.99% sure he convinced his wife to select the name in honor of our Charlie) talked to my son about how much he loved playing sports and acting and singing as a kid and that he could do both and do them well. As I was never a great athlete, but by comparison my acting and singing made me look like I was #1 pitcher in the Red Sox rotation, I had little experience to share with my son Charlie. Steve’s support meant a ton to Charlie and I both.

Steve loves his job and the companies that he works with. He also really cares about the companies that he gets to know and doesn’t invest in. I know because he often advocates for them, even from the outside of a deal looking in. Steve and I have worked together on search projects, investments, product work and even creating companies from scratch; we’ve shared many experiences and our areas of interest and strengths complement each other.

We also love to laugh, and even more than that…we love to bust on each other.

So with that, we decided to bring the great stories that we are exposed to into a bi-weekly podcast format and share them with people interested in healthcare transformation, entrepreneurship and investing.

We hope to have a steady stream of guests who will share their stories of how they ended up in healthcare. Both Steve and I are political junkies so I would expect that our conversations will get into healthcare policy and the politics of healthcare. We will definitely get into the stories that led to the creation of the most interesting healthcare companies, and get rare insight from the incredible people who conceive and build them. I hope that we’ll be able to effectively share our learnings about different elements of creating companies, building products or selling into health systems or different types of go to market strategies. I know we are going to try to make the podcasts both interesting and enjoyable.

It goes without saying, Steve and I are eternally grateful for our podcast team (James, Amy and Tiffany at Oxeon and Bessemer) and to Neil Diamond for allowing us to license the classic Forever in Blue Jeans. Clearly, both Steve and I love the tune; suckers for Neil Diamond. But the lyrics speak to us as we both are involved in for-profit efforts in healthcare; driving growth and investment returns for healthcare companies as a service provider, an investor or as the founding entrepreneur. For many of the people who typically focus on these areas, Money Talks. But in healthcare, there is something more important. The people. The mission to make people healthier. The relationships. Doing something bigger than ourselves. So while money may talk, it doesn’t speak to those things.

Money talks
But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans

Thanks for listening and let us know if you have ideas for podcast topics and/or guests.

To subscribe to the podcast visit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/a-healthy-dose/id1197975925?mt=2

Trevor, the Founder and CEO of Oxeon Holdings, is committed to helping mission-driven healthcare leaders and executives build successful companies. In his A.D.D-fueled existence as an entrepreneur, Trevor has started or turned-around 10 companies. It was only in this most recent chapter of his career, in starting Oxeon, that he fully discovered and realized the power of a Mission and Values driven organization. It is no coincidence that this chapter is the most enjoyable one to date. Trevor is based in New York, NY.

When the White House Calls (a.k.a., Just Another Tuesday at Oxeon)
Alissa Lash, Co-President, Search, Oxeon Partners

The White House Calls Oxeon Partners

With every big bet, there comes that moment of truth. Is this going to work? Will it pay off? As Oxeon Partners passed its 4th birthday last November, we prepared to make one of these big bets: hang a shingle in Washington, DC and see if the company could fulfill the elusive promise of scale.

I joined Trevor and the Oxeon team back in February of 2015, hell-bent on assisting in this process of growing the business. In order to do so, we had to tackle several important issues, beyond the brick and mortar challenge of standing up a new office in a new location. Could we successfully transition to a broader leadership team beyond our founder-led history? Could we transplant our unique culture to a new location? Could we prove out the hypothesis that a local presence would give us better access to, and increased credibility in, that new market? And finally, could we document what we learned in the process – using our business as a lab of sorts, to lift insights and experiences that could then be shared with our clients in similar positions?

In addition to the questions we could anticipate, this experience has delivered lots of “firsts”. Some important – the first new employee we intentionally hired into an expansion office, and some less so – the first 100K Amtrak rewards points credited to an Oxeonite! Probably the most exciting “first” however, was a curious meeting I had at DC’s most famous address last month.

In the course of our many networking calls for a biotech company COO search we’re running, my colleague Annah (the aforementioned DC employee #1) had a conversation with a gentleman called Tom, who happens to be the Deputy Director for Science and Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (yes – his title is very consistent with his department’s raison d’etre). As my early-tenure and fearless team is inclined to do, she just called him up one day and asked for a chat. Why not?

For those of you not familiar with the culture of DC, it’s very much a small town. Everyone knows everyone. There are only two types of people: those who participate in the business of the city (politics, government) and those who observe. The two groups don’t often mix. It’s also important to note that in the insider crew, there are certain key people around whom everything orbits. Tom is one of these people. EVERYONE knows him. Or knows someone who knows him. And thanks to Annah, now we know him, too.

In the course of Tom and Annah’s initial conversation, Tom became very animated about Oxeon’s business model, and asked to speak to me to bounce a few ideas around. One thing led to another, and I found myself with an invitation to the White House. Tom wanted to talk about how the Administration could do a better job attracting talent for shorter-term project work that didn’t fall neatly into scope for Appointees or the stability-craving careerists who make up the (stereotyped) group of government bureaucrats. A “third way” as it were, for sourcing government talent.

I arrived at the (heavily secured) entrance to the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB) a few minutes early. I snapped a few selfies, mostly just to try to impress my kids, and then fumbled the entry process spectacularly, needing several attempts to sync my passport and meeting badge. The Secret Service guys could barely contain their laughter. I’ve never felt more like a tourist in my own city. On that note, during my visit I did learn that we bought Alaska for $7M – $3M less than the budget for the OEOB renovation. Another story for another time.

Tom and I sat down for an hour-long discussion in his cozy, cluttered office. In an attempt not to look amateurish, I tried to keep my eyes from wandering, but I couldn’t help but note the dozens of pictures of Tom with Presidents—both sitting and former—as well as many other famous government officials, only some of whom I recognized. This is the way it goes in DC. This is our version of star sightings. Who you know is the currency of power.

We proceeded to discuss many things. He asked me to explain Oxeon’s search process, and our means of sourcing talent. He asked if we’d be open to “tours of duty” within the White House, to help train his team to be more proactive in recruiting talent. He also asked how they could create those same tours of duty opportunities for outside hires – quick turn, deep impact projects that were not born out of crisis. Yes!

He asked my take on industry-specific hiring, and how to be more focused in acquiring specific skills. And he asked what I thought about the value proposition of working in the White House—or in DC more broadly—for recent graduates, mid-career and longer tenured individuals. We talked a bit about other firms like ours (those who serve specific industries) and how Oxeon and the White House recruiting team might potentially work together in the coming year.

My takeaway: for all of my wide-eyed wonder at being invited to the White House, I was actually the one sharing best practices and imparting knowledge. I was the expert, and our firm was being held up as a shining example of success in attracting and hiring talent. The Administration was asking us how do we do this better? How do we operate more like you – building strong partnerships in the private sector and successfully attracting stars to our team?

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I felt really proud that our new team was making in-roads in our new city. And I felt pretty sure I couldn’t have asked for a better brand-building experience in the local market. There’s still a ton of work to be done for sure. But I’m buoyed by our progress thus far.

PS. If you’re wondering about your invitation to our DC office launch party, it’s in the mail, as they say. We’ll throw something together after the (slightly more important) “party” is decided on in November. Stay tuned.

Alissa is Co-President of Oxeon’s executive search business. She joined the team after spending the last 20 years in the health care services business, working as a consultant and sales/marketing lead in firms such as McKinsey, the Advisory Board Company and Evolent Health. Alissa has completed CEO, CFO and COO searches, and is focused on leading the search team, building an office in DC, and expanding Oxeon’s network into innovative and integrated provider systems across the country. Alissa is based in Washington, DC.

Mission Works
Trevor Price, Founder & CEO, Oxeon Holdings and Jacob Sack, Director, Oxeon Partners

Mission Works

If we’re not careful, our “recruiting shtick” for Landmark Health can roll off the tongue too easily. Too mindlessly. Too nonchalantly. A conversation with executives in the market usually goes something like this: “Yes…Landmark provides care for incredibly vulnerable patients, those with 6 or more co-morbidities…the frailest and most sick…compassion is most important…” And inevitably, later the conversation turns to “yes…they’re backed by a leading private equity firm… typically executive compensation is base, bonus, and equity… they have one of the best CEOs we know in the industry.” Then, there is an extended, pregnant pause as executives on the other end of the line process what they have just heard. This “double-bottom line” realization is a big deal.

Mission-driven health care companies are a big deal.

Landmark Health is driven by a clearly articulated company mission statement. In discussing their mission, Adam Boehler, CEO, shared “we are resolute in our delivery of high quality, comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals, wherever they reside and whenever they need it.” At Grand Rounds, there is a very palpable mission, but it’s more broad. Owen Tripp, CEO and Co-Founder of Grand Rounds, expressed a desire to “create a world where all patients can access expert medical advice to improve their lives.” Oxeon’s mission is to Make People Healthier, and everyone here embodies it on a daily basis.

While Grand Rounds is less explicit in its mission statement, don’t confuse a lack of packaging for lack of rigor. Before every meeting, the company shares a story about a patient, reinforcing why Grand Rounds exists. Sometimes it is an employee who conveys the experience. Sometimes an executive. Sometimes the company brings one of its patients to the meeting to explain how Grand Rounds helped them. In every meeting, the company mission is powerfully reaffirmed.

In a recent conversation, Owen shared:

“You have to ruthlessly uphold the mission, especially when the dollars get bigger, and you start enjoying more commercial success. When certain executives make decisions that may be viewed as practical and expedient in other companies, those same decisions may compromise mission at ours. Employees are watching. They watch to see if your personnel actions back up your words; if your sales decisions back up your words. It’s not enough to just launch with a great mission – you have to actively live and abide by it in all facets of the organization, every day and in every decision.”

By all indications, from the way the company conducts its business and to the demonstrable success they’ve enjoyed, the mission at Grand Rounds is fundamentally understood by every single person who goes to work there. An employee once hung up on Owen to answer a patient call. Now it’s common practice to cut internal meetings or conversations short to prioritize patients.

We asked Owen how the mission at Grand Rounds is embraced by the venture and private equity investors who sit on his Board of Directors. Our assumption was that most likely the mission at their institutional investment firms are divergent from the one present at Grand Rounds. Owen replied that “they are incredibly supportive of our Mission and the decisions we make… but I wonder whether that is because we have experienced great results from those decisions. I sometimes think whether it would be different if our results were different… less patience for mission-driven decision making. I find myself knowing that our results are BECAUSE of these decisions – they are inextricably linked and so I believe our investors will continue to be fully aligned with our mission and still fulfill their investment objectives.”

Mission Works. Why? Mission helps attract great people to your company and gives them a reason to care beyond the company’s financial performance. While mission attracts great people, it also gives them a decision-making framework that inspires them. It gives them something to go home feeling great about each night. (Side note: When Trevor’s kids were younger, they thought he was a doctor. He would go home, and they would ask – as little kids do – what Dad did that day. He would say “We made people healthier.” Ahhhhh, Dad’s a doctor! If you know Trevor, thank goodness that’s not the case…) Mission brings an entire organization together towards a common goal that is greater than any one individual, leading to an “engaged” workforce. This has been proven to lead to great companies that perform exceptionally well.

But a Mission has to be authentic. It can’t be mandated from the top, and it can’t exist to sell business. A well-conceived mission resonates because it works. And too often “bottom line” conversations are binary, leading to a distinction of whether the company is for-profit or non-profit. It’s the wrong question and a meaningless distinction. A company’s tax status doesn’t drive its potential impact. Rather, it is the mission, leaders, business plan, creativity, and culture that matter. In fact, not only does Mission matter, but a mission-orientation gives a company an opportunity to be truly disruptive – a chance to achieve that “double bottom line,” or in more relevant healthcare jargon, the “triple aim.”

As you saw (if not, watch this!), purpose and meaning are clear drivers for Adam at Landmark Health and are motivating factors for the entirety of their team. Landmark Health exists to provide better, in-home care to the most vulnerable of patients. It’s the reason a Nurse Practitioner responds to a 3 am house call; it’s the reason the technology and innovation teams travel to remote areas to test new telehealth products. It’s why client satisfaction and clinical outcomes are the most important criteria by which the executive team measures success. Net savings is a positive byproduct of this work, but more compelling is that Landmark is providing a fundamentally different—and more effective—clinical experience for patients.

At Oxeon, our mission to Make People Healthier was consciously conceived to be all-encompassing. That starts with us as individuals and as team members. This consciousness helps us identify, align and be part of our clients’ end goals rather than just fulfilling a discrete part of their needs. On Day One of our new employee training, as we orient our people around how to think beyond being a service provider, investor or entrepreneur, we examine our mission statement and how it serves to align the work we do. In a recent employee engagement survey, 100% of Oxeon employees indicated that they completely understood our mission and values, and strongly agreed that our company lives by them in all of our decision-making.

As we expand and incorporate new business lines and add new senior leadership, we’re working as hard as ever to keep our mission, our values, and our people at the center of what we do. We were recently given an opportunity to be deeply involved in a project that could have a substantial impact on patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The opportunity may negatively impact our operating income but profits did not factor into our decision to get involved. In fact, we consciously acknowledged the potential for loss and eagerly signed up to go forward in the name of our mission. While you are reading this article, 25% of our company is in a village in Guatemala delivering healthcare and building a clinic, all to Make People Healthier.

Mission enables us to do the “right thing,” even when it does not appear to be the “profitable thing.” These decisions empower us. Our employee engagement continues to grow, as we see in every quarterly culture survey. Applying our mission to every single person inside the company, to our clients and services, and to our investments and their objectives, is consistently aligning and empowering.

We call lots of health care leaders every year, and even if they’re not interested in the role or the idea we’re discussing, Oxeon’s mission resonates. Landmark Health’s mission resonates. Grand Rounds’ mission resonates. And it’s not just a catchy message up on the office wall. As companies like Landmark Health and Grand Rounds continue providing better care more cost-effectively, we all will continue to realize the power of Mission-driven companies, and most importantly patients will benefit from their care.

Trevor, the Founder and CEO of Oxeon Holdings, and Jacob, Director at Oxeon Partners, are committed to helping mission-driven healthcare leaders and executives build successful companies. Trevor, in his A.D.D-fueled existence as an entrepreneur, has started or turned-around 10 companies. It was only in this most recent chapter of his career, in starting Oxeon, that he fully discovered and realized the power of a Mission and Values driven organization. It is no coincidence that this chapter is the most enjoyable one to date. Jacob comes to Oxeon after working on the portfolio team at a national social venture philanthropy, and prior at a policy and research organization, committed to understanding what works to improve the lives of the most vulnerable kids and families. Trevor and Jacob are based in New York, NY.

Paul Roscoe, CEO of Docent Health weighs in on Healthcare’s shift from transactions to interactions

“I think health systems are starting to transform the way they think about patients, to think about them more as consumers and start providing services to them as they might experience in other industries. These services could include online access and making easier appointments or referrals. Healthcare systems need more real-time feedback on whether they are doing a great job with the patient and the patient experience. Part of the technology we’re building helps them focus on that and helps understand the patient sentiment throughout the journey.” – Paul Roscoe, CEO, Docent Health

Read the article here >>>

What Counts as Healthcare?

Sarah serves as a Senior Associate and has been largely focused on building leadership teams for high-growth Healthcare IT and Services clients including Health Leads, Accolade, Health Catalyst, Grand Rounds, The Chartis Group and Kit Check. She is currently on a tour of duty within Docent Health, the healthcare technology and services company that was built within Oxeon’s Venture Studio, backed by Bessemer, NEA and Maverick, where she serves as the Head of People & Talent. Sarah is deeply passionate about healthcare innovations focused on health equity and increasing access to value-based care.

As I thought about how I would craft this quarter’s FWIW article on social determinants of health, CMS totally derailed my plan. I was going to start by hooking you with a lofty paragraph about my personal experience working as a clinical social worker in an under-resourced hospital in the Bronx. But then, CMS had to outshine me by announcing their $157 million innovation model focused on social determinants of health.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to tell you my lofty story anyway.

In 2011, I opened a yellow envelope that held my destiny – my internship destiny, that is. I soon found out that I would spend the next year of my clinical social work program at a hospital in the Bronx, rotating through nearly every unit in the hospital that spanned the lifecycle, from the neo-intensive care unit to hospice. During my year at this internship I learned two important things: 1) despite my expansive student loan debt, I had chosen one of the least lucrative fields imaginable, 2) (most importantly), there is a strong correlation – so striking, that it is visible to the untrained eye – between socio-economic status and quality of healthcare. Through my personal experience as an intern, as well as the research I soon dove into during grad school, I discovered that this under-resourced, inefficient, and uncoordinated hospital in the Bronx was the exact system positioned to serve the patients that needed resources, efficiency and coordination the most. For the first time, I caught a glimpse of the strong relationship between quality of healthcare and social standing.

You can only imagine my excitement when Oxeon began working with Health Leads – the leading organization moving to bring social determinants of health to the forefront. To put it mildly, I was giddy. Over the past year, we have partnered with Health Leads on their President, Chief Clinical Officer and Managing Principal, Strategic Partnerships & Innovation roles, and have been honored (to say the least) to support their innovative and relentless mission.

Research on social determinants of health (the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age; shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources) is growing, and given its alignment with the incentives of value-based care, we are seeing health systems and healthcare leaders across the country begin to prioritize the integration of social and basic needs into their care settings. Scratch that – we are actually seeing health systems and healthcare leaders struggle as they try to figure out how to integrate social and basic needs into their care settings.

We’ve all known that social determinants are important in the context of healthcare, but for the first time ever, they are taking the main stage in the dialogue around the quality and cost conundrum. CMS’s $157 million, five-year investment in the first-ever innovation model focused on social determinants will focus on “building alignment between clinical and community-based services at the local level” and reducing healthcare costs by “providing intensive community service navigation” to meet patient needs. The connection between social needs and clinical outcomes has never been so clear.

In the healthcare IT and services space, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to solve the problems of a patient once they get into the healthcare system. There is a growing emphasis on starting this problem-solving process one-step earlier; before they enter the healthcare system. This begs the questions – where does healthcare start? And, what is the healthcare system responsible for solving?

Rebecca Onie, CEO of Health Leads, an organization that equips healthcare institutions with the knowledge, insights, and tools – screenings, workflows, training, analytics, customizable technology – to mobilize healthcare staff to work side-by-side with patients to access existing community resources, has spent her career thinking about these questions. As a leader in the social determinants of health movement, I sat down with Rebecca to get her insights into the social influences within healthcare, and how she and her team have thought through the process of minimizing inequalities and leveling the playing field for all patients. Rebecca commented,

The question around ‘what counts as healthcare’ is a big one. But the bigger question is, why have we chosen to draw the boundaries of healthcare where we have?, and how do we redefine those boundaries to make patients truly healthy? How do we redefine them to become boundaries that stand the test of time? People get overwhelmed by the idea of broadening our current construct of healthcare because it seems too overwhelming – we simply can’t carry the burden of being responsible for everything. But, the choice isn’t between our narrow definition of healthcare today and solving the war on poverty, it’s about finding the right sweet spot for the role healthcare institutions can play. The boundaries are simply too tight right now – why do we count diabetes and obesity under the healthcare umbrella, but not the challenge of having a refrigerator to store your insulin? Why do we know everything about our patients’ clinical comorbidities, but very little about their social comorbidities? We need to collectively find reasonable ways to assume more responsibility for these critical drivers of health.

So”, I asked Rebecca – “what does this CMS announcement actually mean for the market?” She responded,

Being concerned about social and basic needs is no longer optional. It’s now widely recognized that just 10% of health outcomes are attributed to medical care, while 70% are tied to social and environmental factors and the behaviors influenced by them. The announcement from CMS is a huge market signal – they are acknowledging the connection between social needs and care delivery in a real way. Social needs are a key driver of quality and costs. The healthcare sector needs to be thinking about how we bring expertise around this to our teams. This is not about expertise in poor people – let’s be clear – this is about expertise in data, in quality improvement measures, in bringing real rigor and thoughtfulness around how we integrate addressing social needs into our workflows to drive impact on outcomes and cost.

As we redefine Oxeon as a healthcare growth services firm, our job is to not just track where healthcare is right now, but truly track where healthcare is going. Unfortunately, social determinants of health isn’t going anywhere, folks. It’s here to stay, and it’s here for us to solve.

As I think back on my wild and crazy year at that hospital in the Bronx, I imagine what would have been different if each of those patients I worked with were supported with basic and social needs – what if the elderly man that was deemed “non-adherent” to his medication because he couldn’t get a ride to a pharmacy, was connected to a transportation service? What if the twelve-year-old boy with chronic and severe asthma who lived in an area referred to as “Asthma Alley” instead lived in an environment with clean air? What if the woman who came to the outpatient AIDS clinic didn’t have to choose between paying her rent and paying for her HIV medication?

I can only imagine that it would have been really, really different.