I would increase incentives for people to go into frontline healthcare careers — home aids, health aids, caregivers. I think we should provide the necessary reimbursement for education — healthcare jobs are increasingly critical as the population ages and we need to ensure that we have a workforce in place for the future.
As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Jill Seidman. Jill is a VP of Provider Solutions at AVIA and is focused on value based care initiatives. In her role, she helps guide AVIA’s network of 40+ health systems from the prioritization of technology needs to selection and through successful implementation, in challenge areas ranging from improving mental health access to addressing social determinants of health.
Jill has over ten years of experience working at the intersection of healthcare delivery and technology. Prior to joining AVIA, Jill was the Director of Quality & Innovation and served on the leadership team at Alivio Medical Center, a system of federally-qualified health centers on the west side of Chicago. Before that, Jill was an early team member at Healthbox, one of the first US-based healthcare accelerators for digital solutions, even driving the launch of a Tel Aviv accelerator.
Jill holds an MPH from Yale University in Health Policy & Management and a BA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
Jill joined AVIA to help innovative digital solutions find the necessary market traction to grow.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In high school, my tennis coach had cancer. During my four years of working with him, I would see him go in and out of remission frequently. When he did go in for treatments, it was hard for him to keep up with work full-time. But if he stopped working, he was no longer insured and could not receive the treatment he needed. This just seemed so unfair to me. From that point, my career goal became to understand how healthcare could be provided more equitably across populations.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
In the 3+ years that I’ve been with AVIA, I’ve seen our health system Members turn to digital solutions like never before, especially to address the behavioral health and social needs of patients. And what’s even more interesting is that both payors and providers are now buying innovative technology solutions because there is a first mover advantage to adopting these solutions. These former collaborators are now competitors, because everybody wants the patient throughout their entire care journey, from community to hospital to home. And the more that payors and providers compete, the less their names are accurately describing what they do.
Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?
Every day I work with 40+ health systems and I see healthcare from the system, entrepreneurial, and technology sides. I’ve been part of teams that are trying to change healthcare from the inside out and from the outside in, so I understand the nuances on both sides. I also have experience both within the US and abroad, where I launched the Tel Aviv accelerator for Healthbox.
What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We believe that both entrepreneurs and health systems have a place in the healthcare ecosystem, but that health systems will be the drivers of a transformative shift. And we believe that regardless of policy swirl, health systems have a time and a place to act — and that is now. We’re seeing health systems really take this ownership to heart in the work they’re doing with the Medicaid Transformation Project. They know that there isn’t time to wait for government to recognize and address the problem of delivering quality care to vulnerable populations in a meaningful enough way. That’s why 27 health systems across the country are stepping up to find innovative solutions to improve the way they deliver care rather than wait for policy changes. They recognize that this is not a partisan challenge, it is an American challenge that requires a united approach, and we’re deeply honored to help guide that work.
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?
Most notably, I’ve seen a real market shift from our 40+ Members about addressing the social needs of patients because we know that social determinants are responsible for 60% of health outcomes. When I started working at AVIA in 2016, there were less than five verified companies that had solutions that addressed the roles that health systems can play in addressing patients’ and their surrounding communities’ social needs. Now, the market for these types of solutions has exploded; we evaluated over 50 solutions for a recent body of work on this topic. This tough challenge area is now spawning really interesting and mature solutions.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m leading the Medicaid Transformation Project, a national effort to transform healthcare and related social needs for the nearly 75 million Americans who rely on Medicaid for healthcare. Disparities in health and healthcare disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. The Medicaid Transformation Project’s commitment is to close the gap in care and outcomes in communities in need through a renewed focus on innovation and investment. The 27 health systems in the Project will identify, develop, and scale financially sustainable solutions that address challenges including behavioral health, substance use disorder, women and infant care, and expanding community care to transform the ED.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- Financial incentives do not always align with what is good for outcomes. I have been in conversations with very respectable health system leaders and they acknowledge that they cannot focus on interventions that reduce NICU stays or truly attempt to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits because that is actually how they generate the most revenue. This is not a disparaging comment toward health system leaders but an acknowledgement of how payment does not incentivize health but treatment.
- Getting health systems to innovate is hard for a reason. Have you set foot in a crowded urban emergency department? The sense of urgency and importance is all around, from the crying patients to the anxious families in the waiting room. It is incredible to really stop and think about the number of lives that are saved every day in one building. That same high-paced environment makes it difficult to stop and adopt change — when everyone is necessarily moving so quickly.
- Convince the doctors in the room — and the administrators will follow. In the end, the physicians in a health system generate the revenue to meet margins so that health systems can meet their mission. If you are trying to get a health system to do anything — convince the doctors to be on your side.
- Listen to the early-stage entrepreneur in the room; the idea may be crazy but in ten years it may completely change how your business runs. After working with really small companies for more than half a decade, I now know that it’s often the ideas that you didn’t think would have legs that continue to grow. I firmly believe that entrepreneurs identify where there are needs before health systems realize that they need to change. Even if it’s not a specific company, it’s the trend in the market.
- When you’re selling to hospital leadership — sit in the lobby before going into a meeting with the C-Suite. This started by accident, but if I am ever traveling alone I try to enter the hospital through the main lobby or the emergency department and sit for five minutes before proceeding to administration. Seeing people walk in to deliver babies or visit sick family members with flowers reminds me that despite the uphill battle to change healthcare, in the end it’s all about people and impacting the health of individuals and communities.
Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this studycited 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?
1. We focus on the downstream work of care delivery, like innovative cancer treatments (which are fantastic and useful), but not on public health, education, or social needs like food security and safe housing. We put more funding into providing direct clinical services than preventative or social services, and it’s really hard to change direction and reallocate money in a different way.
2. Misaligned financial incentives mean that providers are paid for services rendered rather than for the outcomes delivered; this is fundamentally wrong.
3. Every other industry is about convenience and bringing benefits to the customer, but healthcare expects the customer to come to us. Too often the solution is to build more buildings, when a more radical and convenient solution is to bring care to the customer.
4. Doctors are burned out. They have increased administrative demands, reduced resources, and more pressure to improve throughput. As a result, they are more likely to experience stress, compassion fatigue, and a disconnect with their healthcare organization’s mission. 70% of physicians would not recommend the profession, and we’ll be facing both a primary care and specialist physician shortage by 2030.
You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, 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.
- I would put more money into public health to better educate healthcare consumers and aid in disease prevention. If people are educated they are more apt to make healthy decisions.
- The biggest indicator of longevity isn’t anything related to health but access to adequate primary education. Outside of healthcare, I would fund as much money as possible into public education.
- I would increase incentives for people to go into frontline healthcare careers — home aids, health aids, caregivers. I think we should provide the necessary reimbursement for education — healthcare jobs are increasingly critical as the population ages and we need to ensure that we have a workforce in place for the future.
- See your competitors as collaborators — instead of competing against the payer in your market — collaborate with them — and figure out the right financial arrangement so that both sides win.
- I’d make healthy food choices more accessible — I’d love to see healthy fruits and veggies on every corner in America, not just in NYC.
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?
1. Get collaborative — share knowledge across systems and geographies so that success doesn’t happen in pockets, but more broadly across the nation — i.e. in MTP other systems can learn from Geisinger about their Fresh Food Farmacy or Carilion Clinic’s Opioid Task Force and successful models can be replicated across the U.S.
2. Get local — Understand what is already in your community and collaborate with them to be more successful and extend reach, versus building something new yourself (i.e. partner with a food pantry versus building one).
3. Entrepreneurs need to see that technology is impactful for vulnerable populations so that more companies enter the space — therefore — health systems — start adopting!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
I spend my whole day thinking about healthcare, so in my off hours I like to expand my thinking and horizons. My favorite podcasts are Pod Save America, Pod Save the World, and Slate Political Gabfest. Learning about policy across the US and globally helps me think about how to realistically effect change in healthcare.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Connect with me on LinkedIn!
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!