…as a more overarching change, incentivize outcomes, not procedures. If medical providers were compensated based on the healthy population that they maintain, not the number of sick people they bring in the door, then providers would be compensated for healthier populations, not frequency of visits and “chair time”.
Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Justin Joffe. Justin is the CEO and visionary behind HENRY The Dentist, the state of the art mobile dental practice that’s revolutionizing the healthcare industry by delivering in-network, high-quality dental care right to the workplace. Founded in 2017, Justin has led HENRY’s rapid expansion across four states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and New York), and most recently raised $10M in Series A funding for HENRY to continue along its aggressive growth trajectory. Prior to joining HENRY, Justin spent a decade building reputable companies in the US and Canada, most recently serving as CEO at Hudson Blvd. Group building a national portfolio of retail brands.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and after I exited my last venture, I realized how difficult it was to get affordable and convenient healthcare, especially as a healthy, young person. I didn’t have great access to preventative care, and it really became apparent to me on how broken the healthcare system was. As I was dreaming up what was next for me, I knew I really wanted to be in an industry that I could be proud to be operating in, and healthcare was just that.
HENRY The Dentist (HENRY) was created to change the way that healthcare is being delivered by going directly through the employer to bring the dentist onsite at the work place.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
In the last few months we began working with our client Novartis to begin studying the correlation between oral health and overall health. Novartis took a long-term holistic view of their employees’ overall health, and working with Novartis’s onsite clinical team, HENRY has begun an undertaking of testing correlated factors that our dentists identify in the chair with more severe primary care concerns such as heart disease, sleep apnea, and diabetes. We’re fascinated and inspired by this partnership and objective.
Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?
As the founder of HENRY The Dentist, our company is increasing awareness of the importance of preventative healthcare, and providing greater access to care by bringing high-end patient practices onsite to large employer groups. By addressing convenience and brand experience, HENRY is raising awareness for employees to take care of their health, and promoting employers as innovative places to work based on how they invest in healthcare initiatives for their employees. Many tech companies led a revolution for onsite perks, such as free cafeterias, massages, and scooters. But the proliferation of “perks” to other companies has not focused as much on healthcare. HENRY is focusing the wellness movement on programs that actually improve healthcare outcomes, and provide for employees to utilize the benefits that the company has rolled out.
What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
On a regular basis, we hear stories about patients who have not been to the dentist in years (or, shall we dare say, ever), and whose oral health has been dramatically positively impacted by coming to HENRY. We have been thoughtful and intentional about every element of our brand experience, from the website and music to the massage-featured dental chairs. As a result, we’ve helped eliminate a huge fear burden that people feel towards the dentist. Our team, brand, and delivery model have made advances to the delivery of healthcare for thousands of employees who previously didn’t have the time, interest, or resources to access care.
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?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association, approximately 40% of employees with dental insurance haven’t gone to the dentist in over a year. The #1 reason cited is inconvenience of finding and going to an in-network provider, and the quality of care. We believe that the simplest innovations are often the most effective ones. We’ve improved the delivery model of in-network dental care without changing the system of how companies and payors operate. We simply bring an in-network dental team and practice onsite to corporate offices, providing employees with access to in-network onsite care.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Overinvest early in brand: brand (the look and feel of visual and sensory elements of a customer experience) does not just support the business, but it IS the business, especially in a consumer-facing healthcare business. We believe strongly that good clinical healthcare is the table stakes, but the brand is what will set HENRY apart. Our hope is to help individuals overcome their fear of the dentist and develop a brand loyalty for HENRY, where they look forward to coming back.
- Choose your investors based on their long-term belief in your vision and team. We’ve been very fortunate to have incredibly supportive and helpful investors, and it has helped with each subsequent funding round and added significant strategic value and insights as we grow.
- Bring on senior people early, not just junior work horses. Startups tend to “hire cheap” at early stages; we found it to be much more effective to bring on senior people who maybe need to do more “basic” things at the beginning, but understand where and how their departments should scale to, so they learn the most basic parts of the business and build the most efficient systems from Day 1.
- Be in the trenches! Founders need to do this in order to understand and to scale. It was critical in the early days that I did every role including driving our vehicles, dumping water, checking-in patients, building payroll systems, and setting up our website. As we hired a head of each department, I could more effectively coach and direct those individuals before they took things to a new level.
- Be kind but hold your team to a high standard. It’s easy to confuse “nice” with “soft”. Hold your team to the highest standards of excellence, but deliver your coaching and feedback with empathy and support.
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?
While the US government has shined attention on providing citizens with access to affordable healthcare coverage, the country has done a poor job of addressing the delivery of quality healthcare at affordable costs. The burden on the system, and incentives for providers, warps the incentive toward high volume expensive care, rather than patient-centric customer experience in the most efficient way possible. The US hasn’t taken an outcomes-based approach to healthcare, nor a patient-centric approach to the delivery of care. Over the last 5–10 years, private companies have begun to address the gap, but total impact remains small.
HENRY is merging the key factors that we believe are critical in motivating individuals to seek dental care — we’re creating an affordable, high-quality, and patient-centric healthcare experience.
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.
- Accessibility: On average, it takes 4 hours out of an individual’s day to visit the dentist. Healthcare is critically important, and we need to find innovative ways to make sure staying healthy and accessing preventative care is an easy and seamless process.
- Affordability: This one is easier said than done, and faces some of the biggest barriers within the US healthcare system. But I believe every step forward we take in making healthcare more affordable is a massive leap for our healthcare system.
- Approachability: When designing HENRY’s mobile dental practice and the HENRY brick and mortar, we thought through every last detail of the design, including minimizing the amount of clinical white within the space because of the simple concept that people associate white with scary medical moments, like surgery or hospitals. HENRY’s practices are colorful and playful, and create a welcoming environment that you’ll want to go back to.
- Education on preventative care: People lack the education on how critical preventative care is for their long-term healthcare. HENRY’s research has shown that for every $1 spent on preventative healthcare saves $8 to $50 in later-stage care. That’s one of the main reasons for HENRY’s partnership with Novartis, to hopefully be able to identify the connection between oral health and long-term overall health.
- And then lastly, as a more overarching change, incentivize outcomes, not procedures. If medical providers were compensated based on the healthy population that they maintain, not the number of sick people they bring in the door, then providers would be compensated for healthier populations, not frequency of visits and “chair time”.
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?
Dental care is an essential piece of healthcare, but it’s often overlooked in the overarching conversation around healthcare. When we set out to create HENRY, we did extensive research to learn more about the barriers that were preventing 40% of insured Americans from going to the dentist. We quickly realized that some of those barriers might be simpler to address than one might think — such as in-network accessibility, convenience, and approachability. And HENRY is tackling just that. We’re addressing the fears and anxieties that people have because of preconceived notions of going to the dentist.
I believe the first step in solving a problem and implementing change, specifically within the healthcare space, is really doing your research to fully understand the challenge at hand. There are many different stakeholders involved within the healthcare space, and we found that after talking with insurance carriers, dentists, and patients, it was clear that HENRY had the potential to solve a pretty large barrier.
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 often look outside of the healthcare industry for leadership best-practices that inspire impact within the healthcare space. Some of my favorite resources include the podcast How I Built This, the book Radical Candor, and biographies including Elon Musk, Bad Blood (what not to do), and The Hard Thing about Hard Things.
How can our readers follow you on social media?