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Authority Magazine: Creating change, life lessons and 5 ways to improve the U.S. healthcare system

Featured in Medium.com (a division of Authority Magazine), November 2020

As part of their leaders in healthcare series, Authority Magazine discusses origin stories, unique company values, and life lessons with Virtual Care company AristaMD’s CEO Brooke LeVasseur. 

This interview also delves into into challenges faced and key changes to be made to improve the US healthcare system. 

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

At AristaMD, we take great pride in our best-in-class technology platform, directing a lot of resources towards this effort. However, one of our most successful initiatives was born completely out of a mix of happenstance and necessity.

Prior to raising our Series B round of funding, we were operating with limited resources, and providers were finding our V1 app solution to be time consuming and clunky. In response to that, we launched a white-glove nurse offering in which we provided nursing staff that could act as an extension of a clinic and take up all the heavy manual lifting that previously the clinics were supposed to support. This simple, low-tech offering was a complete game changer and overnight resulted in exponential growth in adoption of our solution. In healthcare, listening to the customer is so important versus building tech in a vacuum!

Today we now offer a variety of solutions, employing full technical integrations as well as continuing to support numerous clients with our nurse extension program. I love our team’s creative, tool-agnostic approach to solving client problems.

 

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Several years ago, I was rushing to meet with a large group at one of our clients, including the former CEO and COO. I arrived with five minutes to spare and hopped out of the car, only to notice that I had two different shoes on. I was dying inside with embarrassment, and for five minutes I sat in my car, considering canceling the meeting. After much agonizing, I finally waltzed into the office and declared to the assembled team that yes, I was wearing two totally different shoes. We all had a good laugh and moved on without anyone really batting an eyelash.

Through small mistakes like this one and other much larger gaffes, I have learned that being authentic, open to sharing flaws, asking for help, and being transparent with your team and customers are really important leadership skills.

 

These 5 key changes need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system:

  1. Empowering Primary Care Physicians (PCPs): They should be at the center of care, and we need to empower them with the tools to support them taking on risk. A continued shift towards value-based care is crucial for our ability to drive lasting, positive change in the US healthcare system.

  2. Utilizing the right tools at the right time: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of telehealth and virtual tools. There is a role for using AI for front door triage, using video for low acuity PCP visits, tapping into eConsults for more complex issues where a specialist needs to weigh in, and using patient-to-doc messaging for follow-up. These tools can be used to match patients to the right resources in the right place.

  3. Consumerization: Don’t forget patients are people. Health care companies must innovate in ways that help providers deliver a better consumer experience with a focus on speed, convenience and quality.

  4. Empathy: We can’t be successful in partnering with providers and ultimately having a positive impact on patients if we can’t put ourselves in their shoes and connect at a core, emotional level, with their experience.

  5. Diversity in providers and in healthcare leadership: We have too many health care executives who look nothing like the millions of people who need health care innovation the most. We need more diverse voices and backgrounds to develop products and solutions that can actually impact populations with severely underserved needs.

 

What concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?

We need to carefully align incentives that will drive lasting behavior change. Reimbursement will forever be a barrier to adopting new models. We have to design the overall system to drive use of tools, models and behaviors that align with the outcomes we want.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be a cork on the water.” 

My dad taught me this saying after I got my first job out of college and today that metaphor has never felt more relevant. It means that you should allow any turbulence and rough water to bolster you up. I always try to use any chaos around me to push me above it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

At AristaMD we think all day long about how we can empower physicians to operate at the top of their license, and this concept can be applied to anyone. We need to find supportive mechanisms, habits and systems that can drive each of us to achieve our individual potential so that we are not wasting valuable talent, experience and resources and can collectively drive rapid progress.

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