“What do you do?” Over the years, I have answered that question hundreds of times. With over 20-years in healthcare (I think I need to stop counting!), the answer has changed: “I assess the causes of maternal and child mortality”, “I consult with companies regarding benefits strategies”, “I sell health insurance”, or “I help people get second opinions.” In each company, I have always been in some type of external role, representing healthcare solutions to companies and individuals to solve industry “problems”.
However, since May 2016, my answer to that question has been: “I help restore humanity to healthcare.” “What does that mean?” is the common response. It inevitably starts a conversation about people’s experience with the healthcare system. As a mother of two daughters with some minor health concerns to monitor, to watching one of my closest friends undergo treatment for an inoperable cancerous brain tumor, to being the health advocate for an aunt who lost her brave battle to lung cancer, my personal experiences over the last few years have dramatically shifted my perception of an industry that I’ve built my career in. When you are put in the most vulnerable and compromising position of watching someone put their lives into the hands of another human being, it is humbling. I have been to dozens of other patients’ doctor visits. I’ve sat through multiple chemotherapy treatments. I’ve watched how the system treats not only the patient, but also those of us surrounding the patient. With all of my “industry” knowledge and access to the “best” medical minds, I still felt there was little I could do to impact the way that people actually receive care. What matters most when you have no control of your medical condition is receiving treatment from people with empathy, dignity and respect.
I was fortunate to meet Iora Health’s CEO and co-founder, Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, many years ago when Iora was just starting. While I was immediately taken by the mission and vision, it was hard to appreciate how a completely new healthcare model could make a lasting difference. After being my family and friends’ patient advocate, I believe that most of the healthcare industry focuses on creating band aids rather than solving major systemic issues. As part of the Iora Health interview process, I visited our practices and experienced firsthand how Iora teams treat patients – and their health advocates – with a kindness and empathy unlike anything I’d ever seen. One gentleman while walking out of the practice with his daughter said to me, “I am down to one medication from five because of Iora’s help.” I left feeling strongly that this model should be the standard in healthcare, not the exception. Because of that feeling, I accepted the offer to lead the Business Development team in order to help make this a reality for as many people as possible.
Leading Business Development for Iora Health is a unique role. I am once again in an external role presenting a solution, but this time it’s for a massive healthcare issue: the desperate need for high-impact, relationship-based care. Now the end of that conversation that starts with “what do you do?”, ends with: “how can I receive my care through Iora?” It is privilege to be part of a team that makes a positive and lasting impact on people’s daily lives.