A Different Kind of Health Caring (Part 1)
An Interview with the Founder of StrategicHealthSolutions
We sat down with Peg Stessman, StrategicHealthSolutions (Strategic) CEO and Founder, to hear her take on what she sees as the biggest threat to our nation’s health care system today — the sustainability of our Medicaid and Medicare programs. See part 1 of this interview, below. Check back later this month for part 2.
Strategic: How did health care sustainability become part of Strategic’s mission?
Peg: It was a passion of mine from the beginning. I’m a nurse by training, which means I’m also a patient advocate. One of the first things they teach you in nursing school is that your job is to advocate on behalf of the patient, the vulnerable, the sick, the injured, those that don’t have a voice for themselves. Your job is to make sure that you help them navigate through the health care system and that the patient gets what they need to the degree the system and the resources are available.
When I created Strategic, all of that was already in my DNA, if you will. It was already so much a part of who I am. To have a company that could be a part of helping patients on a broader scale just seemed like the next natural thing to do. I call it “wearing the white hat,” and there’s something great about wearing a white hat. You’re doing something that you can go home and talk to your family about that gives you great joy and pride.
Strategic: You went from a nurse serving patients to a CEO leading a team servicing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). How do you identify the talent needed for our team?
Peg: Really, our role is about looking at our “tools.” You need a team of highly skilled individuals and those skills aren’t necessarily all the same skills. As an employee of Strategic, when you come on board, we ask that you pick a tool from a box of plastic tools. It’s a symbolic representation of what your actual skillset is.
So, we have nurses that do medical review; we have doctors who help create policy, do medical review or serve as expert witnesses; we have graphic artists that develop education materials; we have analysts that comb through miles of data to find anomalies that help us then identify waste, fraud, and abuse; and we have attorneys that are also evaluating policy and helping to determine where the vulnerabilities are. Each person at the company has a unique skill set that we use to preserve health care dollars.
I think every business owner would say, “Our people make us unique.” We have three different office locations and within each of those offices there is a unique culture and blend of individuals, but I think it’s our biggest asset.
Strategic: Do you think of Strategic as a mission-based company?
Peg: Absolutely. Folks that come to us wanting to work here, as well as those who already work here, really identify with our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) — to redefine health care as a sustainable resource for future generations. It’s a passion that attracts people to our company and is helping shape our culture.
I can’t tell you how many people say, “I’m coming to this company because I want to play a role. I want to work for some place that has a mission beyond shareholder profits and quarterly financial statements.”
Strategic: Taking on the challenge of creating sustainability within our nation’s health care system is definitely “audacious.” Why now?
Peg: For some crazy reason, health care spending is not getting enough attention and it needs to be pushed to the forefront. When you look at Medicare, it accounts for 14 percent of the federal budget. How do we ignore something that consumes that volume of the federal budget? Admitting that the current trajectory is unacceptable is the first step. We must then redefine it as something that can be sustainable. Health care is something that is essential to every one of us. It’s something we cannot do without.
Ultimately, what our company can do is invite all parties involved in the health care ecosystem to be part of the solution. Patients, doctors, insurers, government — we shouldn’t be on opposing sides, but currently we are. To solve this problem, we must find our commonalities, not just voice our differences. I don’t want to take any more money from a provider than is needed, but I also don’t want to let another dime be billed that isn’t appropriate. I don’t want a consumer to spend a penny more than they should. We set a goal some time ago to position this company as a thought leader in this conversation, and that’s what we are doing.
Ready to join StrategicHealthSolutions to help solve our nation’s biggest health care challenge?