“Continue Building” With Tyler Gallagher & Chelsey Geiger

I don’t like failing, but mistakes are a part of getting better. The key is to learn from setbacks and adapt. Our mission to transform healthcare is a huge objective, and we won’t be successful without constantly seeking ways to improve the experience of our clients and their patients. I had the pleasure of interviewing […]

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I don’t like failing, but mistakes are a part of getting better. The key is to learn from setbacks and adapt. Our mission to transform healthcare is a huge objective, and we won’t be successful without constantly seeking ways to improve the experience of our clients and their patients.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chelsey Geiger, President of CareThrough.

Chelsey Geiger brings a decade of experience partnering with hospitals and health systems to enrich the experience of the providers and patients they serve. Chelsey began her career in healthcare with PhysAssist Scribes, where she became integral in the operational design and scale of the company as it achieved over 1200% growth during her tenure. Chelsey and her team acquired and successfully implemented new business in over 400 hospitals and healthcare facilities across 38 states. She helped lead PhysAssist through its acquisition by HealthChannels in 2018 and has since brought her leadership experience to the CareThrough team (a division of HealthChannels). With her leadership, CareThrough is helping improve the quality of care coordination while managing costs. Chelsey’s innovative approach to new contract implementation, data-driven processes, and customer service delivery, are just a few of her lasting contributions to the healthcare industry and its best practices existing today.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Chelsey! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Like many women, I grew up admiring my mother. My mom is a retired nurse practitioner who worked days, nights, weekends and holidays taking care of patients for over 30 years. The way in which she dedicated herself to her career inspired me to seek a professional pathway that was meaningful beyond my own personal interests. Working with a team focused on transforming healthcare for the better keeps me motivated everyday. Much like my mom had a compassionate heart for her patients, I am fulfilled knowing we are helping care teams deliver more meaningful care and improving the health of their patients.

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

Solving problems for customers has always been our primary motivation and focus, and I naturally expected it would be very difficult to solve problems that are rooted in patients’ behavior. How could we influence what a patient did or didn’t do when they left the hospital or doctor’s office? I have been surprised to see how immediately patients respond to our population health and care navigation services.

By spending time on the frontlines, I’ve learned that the majority of patients want to be good stewards of their health and the healthcare system, but many don’t know how or don’t have the resources to do so. Our Population Health Assistants follow up with patients in between doctors’ visits to ensure they are able to complete regular health checkups or preventative screening exams, things that often fall through the cracks or become difficult to navigate. When one of our Care Navigators connects an uninsured patient in the emergency room with a free or low-cost follow up appointment through various community networks or services, the gratitude is overwhelming. As a patient, most wouldn’t know where to begin to find these services; by making it easy for patients, we see a tremendous influence on healthcare behavior.

What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our company stands out because of two things: we hire the best and brightest, and actively deploy top talent into new places of care. ScribeAmerica, our sister company, began over nearly two decades ago with a creative idea that initially revolutionized the Emergency Department, pairing a dedicated team member to focus on documentation so doctors could get back to delivering care. Medical Scribe programs have since expanded into multiple areas of care. ScribeAmerica pioneered the medical scribe industry with ingenuity — hiring future doctors and nurses to get a glimpse of their subsequent careers, and get paid for doing so. And now, at CareThrough, we’ve discovered a model that applies similar logic, yet solves real problems in the nursing space, headwinds that must be addressed.

My favorite stories stem from the symbiotic nature of our service. We hire young, bright individuals seeking invaluable experience that will set them apart in medical or nursing school down the road. When they complete their journey with CareThrough, finish school, and go on to become physicians, nurses, advanced practice clinicians, etc, they often return to serve in the same facilities in which they worked with us. It’s not unusual for a Scribe or Care Team Assistant to be working alongside a physician or nurse who was formerly in their shoes. This “circle of life” contributes to the growing needs of excellent healthcare workers across the country and creates a win-win-win environment for CareThrough, our valued employees, and our clients.

Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?

Your readers may have heard about the burnout epidemic that’s facing the healthcare industry. Physician burnout routinely makes headline news, but what many don’t realize is that the burnout epidemic is at a crisis point in nursing (and has been for a while). Today’s physicians and nurses report high levels of depression and lack of job satisfaction due to a myriad of inefficiencies and staffing issues. And, unfortunately, these have only compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Care teams are stretched thin with overwhelming administrative work that pulls them away from their patients, and follows them home for what is commonly called “pajama time” work today. It means less time with their patients, and less time with their families at home.

Our innovation brings relief to the key contributors of their pain — focus on documentation support and relief of administrative duties — allowing them to get back to the bedside and apply critical thinking for their sick patients. We are disrupting the status quo by breaking a glass ceiling through the adaptation to the care model. What sets CareThrough apart is our impact to the entire care team, in addition to patients. For providers and nurses, we relieve burnout caused by an increasing documentation and clerical demands. Burnout has reached epic proportions across all medical staff sectors, a pain point felt by both practitioner and patient. We aim to create a more positive experience for the patient by decreasing this stressor through the support our staff provides to doctors and nurses.

What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

01. Learn how to Adapt

I don’t like failing, but mistakes are a part of getting better. The key is to learn from setbacks and adapt. Our mission to transform healthcare is a huge objective, and we won’t be successful without constantly seeking ways to improve the experience of our clients and their patients.

02. Incremental Improvements Lead to Monumental Results

I used to think everyone had it all figured out, especially early in my career. I thought that if I brought an idea to the table, it had to be audacious or remarkable to have value. What I’ve learned is that you don’t have to make drastic changes to move the needle and make a difference in people’s lives. Calling patients in between visits to see how their medication is working can save lives by catching errors that would otherwise lead to acute ailments. Small changes can have a truly incredible impact.

03. Compassionate Care and Improving Profitability are Not Mutually Exclusive

I used to think within the healthcare industry, every leader considered compassionate care the most essential component to success. With daily demands, turnover, and margin pressures, some leaders lose sight of the heartbeat of healthcare. At CareThrough, we build compassionate care into our training materials. Knowing how to engage with patients and their families in challenging times is a skill we prioritize, and a key component in our training.

Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

Our healthcare system is 1. Confusing, 2. Challenging to Navigate, and 3. Expensive. Patients comparison shop for care and delay medical treatment because of the lack of transparency in pricing. A hospital stay in the US can run about $15,000 as compared to $750 in Australia. The most heartbreaking stories are those of patients avoiding critical healthcare needs for fear of an enormous bill. Luckily, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services) recently proposed a “Transparency in Coverage” rule with the hopes to increase market competition and drive down healthcare costs. The average US citizen spends more than $10,000 a year on health care and many families, even those who are insured, are saddled with medical debt.

You are a “healthcare insider”. Can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

Combat “Compassion Fatigue” in Nursing

As mentioned above, focusing on nurses and the compassionate caregivers who are often overlooked for critical support is an opportunity to boost morale and patient health outcomes. The nursing shortage is a national concern. With an aging population coupled with a growing number of patients presenting two or more chronic conditions, ensuring a strong nursing workforce is a top priority. To combat high turnover due to burnout, and the thousands of the baby boomer generation of nurses set to retire, deploying highly- trained support staff is an imperative.

Reduce Documentation Burden for Providers

Instead of focusing on patients, today’s providers are bogged down with paperwork. Returning providers back to the practice of medicine is mission critical, and machine learning technology offers a level of relief. Improving the efficiency of provider documentation and optimizing Electronic Medical Records with technology, combined with a highly-skilled workforce, will allow providers to focus time and attention on patients rather than paperwork.

Right-Size Emergency Departments

In the US, emergency department utilization for non-acute episodes has steadily increased. Without insurance, many turn to the Emergency Department for primary care. At CareThrough, we’ve worked closely with health systems to embed Navigators in the ED who connect repeat ED patients with community resources to make the ED work better for trauma and triage.

Expand Population Health

From food insufficiency to lack of transportation, health systems must look closely at the populations they serve and develop personalized solutions to drive better health outcomes. When you empower patients to ask questions about their illnesses and to share the challenges they face when trying to adhere to a care plan, you see improvements. Our Population Health Navigators address patient needs that may have been overlooked. Sometimes, delivering quality care begins with asking “Have you had enough food to eat?” and connecting patients with resources for well-being outside of the clinical setting.

Continue Building the Telehealth Platform

Now more than ever, patients need remote access to high quality healthcare. We help providers treat patients remotely through our various telehealth platforms, and our remote patient navigation services help patients continue their care plans after and in between visits.

Thank you! It’s great to suggest changes, but what specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities and leaders do to help?

For individuals, asking questions prior to receiving care and throughout the process is critical. Talk through your care plan with your provider, and ask if there is a navigator program for you to receive support outside of the clinical setting to help you stay on track with your healthcare goals. Many health systems offer additional services for smoking cessation and grief management. Hospitals can take a more holistic approach to patient care by investing in services to connect patients to community resources and wellness programs. Support caregivers on the frontlines. Providers and nurses with a myriad of stressors and demands have begun to leave the medical profession. Leaders must take action to ensure a robust and safe health system for the future.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

Thrive Global — As someone who is passionate about reducing systemic burnout in the healthcare industry, I appreciate the focus on how wellness correlates to performance. The sense of community creates a great support network.

www.modernhealthcare.com— As a professional, Modern Healthcare is a great resource for current events in the industry and other leaders’ perspectives on the challenges we are collectively facing.

How can our readers follow you on social media?


Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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