Make decisions and don’t look back. In our early days of GoHealth, we had to choose our IT system for electronic health records. Partnering with different health systems across the country who may use different systems, this was a difficult decision as we knew the lack of an accommodating an EMR platform could dissuade a partner from choosing us. We knew that it wouldn’t be cost effective to scale the company across various health system partners to be on multiple platforms from both an IT support standpoint as well as a training and hiring perspective so we selected just one to build our EMR. It’s a decision we’ve stuck with ever since.
As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Boyd Faust, Chief Strategy Officer, GoHealth Urgent Care.
Boyd Faust is Chief Strategy Officer of GoHealth Urgent Care. Boyd has over 25 years’ experience in healthcare. Before joining GoHealth, Boyd was CFO for Titan Health Corporation (acquired by United Surgical Partners), a national surgery center development and management company focused on joint ventures with leading health systems. Previously, Boyd has served as COO of National Surgical Care, COO of Alliance Care, SVP of a 1B dollars multi-hospital integrated healthcare system and Senior Manager in Ernst & Young’s Healthcare Consulting Group. Boyd holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Thank you so much for your time! None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
In the 90s, I was consulting with a health system in South Carolina while at Ernst & Young, closely working with the CEO on strategic initiatives, when he and the board asked me to join their executive team. While I thought the move to the provider setting would enhance my skills, the experience proved much more than that, as the CEO personally invested his time to create opportunities for me to see healthcare through a different lens. From negotiating with providers and competitors on collaborations, to growing the health system’s presence in serving seniors outside of the hospital campus, to creating opportunities to serve in leadership roles on community organizations such as the YMCA board — the opportunities were numerous. I received much more than I had imagined and to this day, still reflect on this experience and what it taught me about how to successfully partner with all aspects of healthcare to ultimately provide the best that we can to our customers. (He even introduced me to past President George H.W. Bush, but that’s another story!)
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Our purpose behind GoHealth Urgent Care when we started it remains the same as it is today: to improve access to and affordability of healthcare. When we were seeking investors and partners, we actually modeled and pitched our company as the Starbucks of healthcare — offering quality, cost-effective healthcare in an attractive environment where customers can count on an optimal personal experience that would be consistent no matter which location they went to. To that end, we hired the architects for Starbucks stores and have made every one of our now 150 plus locations look and feel the same. We also have measured the experience since day one by using the Net Promoter Score, an industry standard (used by Southwest Airlines, AVIS, Costco, etc.) for customer experience.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
I believe that it’s incredibly important to be honest with your teams and partners — sharing both the positives and the negatives so that everyone is making decisions based on all available information. GoHealth Urgent Care had been in operation for about a year and was operated by our initial seed money. We were actively working to solidify a capital partner to fund the company, and our initial funds were dwindling. As then CFO, I could see that our initial funds were going to run out before our long-term funding was solidified. We gathered as a leadership team and I proposed that all of us forgo compensation until we received funding. All agreed to do such, and the team was paid the two months backpay when the funding came through.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
No, we had already come so far, and we knew that either the funding would come through or we would have to find another creative way to fulfill our vision. For me, the motivation to push forward came from:
- The people counting on me: Team members, their families, (not to mention my own), and the potential health system partners (i.e., our future growth) who supported our vision
- Pride…you want to be successful so you do everything you can to make your idea work
For me, what sustains my drive is my belief in the value of what I am doing day in and day out When we first started the company, our founding team believed that creating more access to urgent care was the right thing to do and brought real value to the patient, the payors and the employers who pay most of the bill. This belief must be genuine, and if it is, then passionate and driven people will want to join you, investors will want to fund you and, in the case of my current role, health system/partners will want to partner with you.
When the future seems uncertain, what is the best way to keep your health system partners engaged, focused and supportive of your business?
- We have been there before, and I remind our partners with examples, that we have dealt with uncertainty and challenging times before and made it through
- Inclusion, this is a GoHealth foundational value — I remain focused on transparency, collaboration and clarity along the way — and do this as often as possible
- Mutual benefits and consideration — I reiterate to our partners that it is important to come out the other side with mutual wins and considerations, and work with them to ensure that happens
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Economic downturns are often the best times to work on improving a company. On a practical front, people usually have more capacity and partners/customers are often more open to ideas from nontraditional sources outside of their company. For GoHealth Urgent Care, our leaders have:
- Organized into sub-teams to focus on improvements such as:
- Our clinical operating model to see what we can do to be more efficient
- Our growth models for adding market share that involve our existing partners (payors and providers) as well as new partners such as employers
- Reached out to competitors to understand how they see the current landscape. I am often surprised by the ideas that these discussions generate
- Accelerated those initiatives that have been languishing on the back burner due to the “crowded field” of initiatives during the good times
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Communicate often and clearly. This includes all parties, such as your customers, partners, employers, vendors and of course your team. In your communications, it’s important to share the stark reality but also offer hope; balance of optimism and pessimism.
2) Have a plan based on what you know, but update it often. You can’t be blind to the current changes. You’ll need to adjust your plans as more pieces become clearer.
For example, at GoHealth we invested heavily into the testing business when COVID-19 started, partnering with Abbott Labs to offer testing across our markets.
3) Know your cash position
For example, with GoHealth, we work with our partners, insurance companies, and our patients to ensure that we’re collecting timely and proper payments. If this process isn’t successful, the company wouldn’t survive.
4) Be flexible and willing to pivot.
COVID-19 has forever changed our business. We first shifted to testing of patients, at the start of the pandemic, and have since started expanding the types of testing. We are continually evaluating where we fit into and best support the fight against COVID-19
5) Make decisions and don’t look back.
In our early days of GoHealth, we had to choose our IT system for electronic health records. Partnering with different health systems across the country who may use different systems, this was a difficult decision as we knew the lack of an accommodating an EMR platform could dissuade a partner from choosing us. We knew that it wouldn’t be cost effective to scale the company across various health system partners to be on multiple platforms from both an IT support standpoint as well as a training and hiring perspective so we selected just one to build our EMR. It’s a decision we’ve stuck with ever since.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!