First, I would say Transparency, transparency, transparency. I said it before, in the United States Healthcare makes up a sixth of our economy. It’s estimated that approximately three and a half trillion dollars per year is spent on healthcare. To put that into perspective, that is almost identical to the amount of revenue generated by the federal government through taxes. All that to say this: with healthcare being one of the largest sectors of our overall economic engine, it is also the most opaque.
As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Seth Denson.
Seth Denson is the Co-Founder & Chief Strategist at GDP Advisors. In addition to his role at GDP, he is an author, public speaker and a regular commentator for numerous media outlets including Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBC. He is the author of The Cure: A Blueprint for Solving America’s Healthcare Crisis, a regularly published contributor to a number of print and online publications, and is a highly sought after keynote speaker on topics ranging from business to healthcare to politics and even fatherhood. Originally from Midland, Texas, but with experience in markets throughout the United States, including New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Francisco, Seth blends metropolitan thinking with straightforward West Texas business ethics. He has served as a consultant for companies ranging from Fortune 500 organizations to privately held organizations and is a founding board member of ParadigmRe, a U.S. based health reinsurance captive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Seth! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Actually, golf. While I was in college I really struggled with finding a career path. As a result, I change my major numerous times. During a conversation with a guidance counselor, she asked what I really wanted to do. When I couldn’t give her a good answer, she asked what I liked to do, and I said I really liked playing golf. I followed that up with the fact that I wasn’t all that great at the sport, but certainly enjoyed it; my counselor gave me some great advice that would change my life forever. She encouraged me to go down to the local golf course in West Texas where I lived in the middle of the day during the workweek, and ask those that were playing golf what they did for a living that allowed them the opportunity to do so. To my surprise many of them were in the healthcare & financial services industry. And, that’s how I got into what I do.
For the first decade of my career, I played a lot of golf too. That is until 2011 when I had what my friends and colleagues call my “Jerry Maguire” moment. You know the movie where the super successful sports agent has an epiphany about the real impact of his work on his clients and whether he was really doing the “right thing” by those that look to him for counsel and advice. I had a similar epiphany, and really began looking at healthcare through a different lens. I began to re-think how healthcare is provided, consumed, and financed. I started thinking about different ways to engage the consumer, to identify better quality and how we could ultimately finance healthcare in a different way that we find in the traditional insurance market. In short, I wanted to change the way in which a sixth of our U.S. economy operates, but do so for the better and with limited government intervention. Instead I wanted to see this change happen as a result of a more informed, advised, and engaged user.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Absolutely. The process we take within our organization is to help companies (who provide access to health care to their employees, often by way of health insurance) better understand where and how their employees are consuming care. In short, healthcare is made up of a series of supply chain — you have inpatient services, outpatient services, physician services and prescription drugs. Health insurance is just the way in which that supply chain is financed. Sadly, in the U.S. we often synonymize health care and health insurance when in reality they are two different things. That said, I was meeting with one specific client about their program. After doing significant research and data analysis, I was well prepared for my meeting with the client and all ready to share my recommendations. About 20 minutes into the conversation, the President of this company leaned across the desk and said, “Seth, do you have any idea what direction I plan to take my company next year?” Perplexed and immediately humbled, I responded, “No, Joe. I don’t guess I do.” Joe’s immediate and almost chastising response was, “Then before you come in with your recommendations for my business, you might want to take a few moments to actually ask me about my plan first.”
Joe began to tell me about his plans, and upon hearing them; I realized that the specific strategy I was laying out would be in conflict with his overall business plan. It was a valuable lesson to learn that before I can advise clients in the area that have afforded me to support, I should first engage with them and understand their entire business plan, goals and objectives. Fortunately, Joe was willing to teach me this lesson and gracious enough to let me learn from it…he’s still a great client today, but you can sure bet that ever since, I’ve always gathered information about my clients and their long and short term plans before ultimately making recommendations.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In 2012, I was only a year into owning my business and always laser focused on the direct issue at hand. At that time, the Affordable Care Act was just being rolled out and we saw the emergence of “exchanges”. These were places where people and companies could go to shop health insurance. Our business model was to help clients identify the right healthcare financing models based on a company’s objectives and through that we could direct them to the appropriate insurance company. At that time, my firms name was JDS Benefits (it later became GDP Advisors following a merger).
Throughout 2012 we planned to launch our own “exchange” specific to helping our clients navigate the health insurance industry. I hired a tech company; spend thousands of dollars (which I really didn’t have to spare) in both development and marketing in order to prepare our launch on October 1st, 2013. We all know the story of the challenges that Uncle Sam had in launching the federal exchange, but few knew the big challenge I would soon have when launching simultaneously, the JDS Exchange. I’ll never forget the mortified look on my assistant’s face when she came in on the day we were set to launch. “JDS Exchange dot com” she said to me with a panicked look. “Yea…” I said, “and?”
She smirked and asked me to spell it out. I started, “j d sex…” and it hit me. I had invested time, energy and resources into a site that according to the search engines would seem to be promoting someone named JD’s upcoming sex change. Needless to say, we scrambled to shut the site down and, in the end, it never really saw the light of day.
There were certainly other reasons why we ultimately didn’t rebrand the site and relaunch it, but in the end, a valuable lesson was learned that I could no longer only look at something in silo. I must look at the “full picture”. Optics matter and I would also need to look at what we were doing from ALL angles.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
No question, what makes our company stand out is our people. We compete in an industry where most of our competitors are filled with industry insiders with impressive resume’s and decades of experience. In our firm, the average age of our team member is 26. Most of our staff, myself included, does not have college degrees and yet, we compete against firms staffed with numerous MBA’s and certifications.
We have; however, what I call the “give a darn” factor. The litmus test for hiring a new member of our staff isn’t where they’ve been, awards they’ve received or recognition they’ve earned, rather do they want to make an impact on those that we put in their care. My favorite story of one of our top team members is that when she came to us, she was a single mom in her early 20’s working as a cashier at the local hardware store. She likely came into the interview with little expectation that she’s be qualified to work here, but kudos to her for applying. During the interview, we could sense her “give a darn” and offered her the job on the spot. Today, only a few years later, she’s one of the top team leads on our staff, managing one of the largest healthcare portfolios within the organization.
We are a firm trying to fundamentally change our industry…the last people in my opinion we should be tapping to do that are those that have been jaded by our industry for years. That’s not to say we don’t have a few members of our team with a longevity in the industry (myself included), but those are few and far between and certainly had more scrutiny during the interview process.
I love hiring millennial. They are wired to want to change things for the better and make an impact. They’re less concerned with the “job title” or “status symbol”. We ask each new employee during their orientation to “find their why.” We all know “what” we do, but “why” we do it will be different for each person on our team, and they will need to determine that on their own. Our firms “why” is to impact the growth and direction of people (GDP). We are a group working to make people’s lives better (that’s our mission). That’s our “why”. And if our firm can be a vehicle to help our staff live out their “why,” then we’ll be successful.
What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?
Get out of the proverbial box. In healthcare, there seems to be a sentiment to “well, that’s just the way it is.” My favorite question to ask is, “why?” Why is it the way it is, and does it have to be? I don’t want to throw out our current healthcare system or dismantle it completely, but we certainly don’t have to do things the way we always have just because we always have. If you want to improve things, think of a different way to address problems. Sadly, our industry financially rewards complacency and acceptance of the status quo. We must break, through that barrier and recognize that doing better work and solving problems provides even greater rewards, both in relevance and fulfillment, but guess what, you will be financially rewarded too.
Ok, thank you for that. 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?
The first thing I would say is that when it comes to healthcare, we as a society have a significant lack of Engagement. In the United States the average American is a great consumer, at least we are when it comes to anything other than healthcare. Take for instance when buying a car. In the U.S. the average consumer spends 10 hours researching the car before they actually make a purchase. When it comes to a flat screen TV, most Americans will spend as much as two hours doing research before they buy, but when it comes to health care, sadly, on average the American Consumer spends approximately 15 minutes asking questions and doing research. We are disengaged when it comes to our health. We blindly trust people in white lab coats instead of taking responsibility for our own actions. Many Americans take prescription drugs yet have no idea the components of those drugs where they come from oftentimes even what alternatives there might be to those drugs. We just take what the doctor gives us, and fill it at whichever Pharmacy the insurance company tells us to go. This has led to significant issues in our health.
It has also lead to what I think is the second issue causing the United States to rank so low, which is crony capitalism. Don’t take me wrong here; I am a capitalist. And I certainly want our Healthcare System to remain a capitalistic one within a free market. As a matter of fact it is our free-market system that generates the vast majority of health care innovation utilized throughout the world. While much of the world can operate in a socialized government run system, they can only do that effectively because we don’t have socialized medicine hear in the United States. That said, a free market system without appropriate regulatory structure would invite bad players into the mix. Our Healthcare System is no longer run by doctors and medical practitioners, its run by business men and women and while not all of them are bad there certainly are with misaligned intentions. In the end we care more about the shareholders return then we do the patients that are actually utilizing the goods and services we provide. How we solve for that is a much bigger challenge, but we certainly should provide better shareholder value based on the care received and outcomes of that care instead of the volume of care which is the way our system operates now. Regardless, this issue is one that we certainly need to step up and address head-on.
We need our free-market system to operate in a more regulated way; I’m not saying that all regulation comes from the government. We our citizenry to be more engaged as it is the American Consumer that is the best regulator of industry. The consumer regulates what stores remain open, what products stay on the shelf, even which cities professional sports teams reside — we regulate based on our consumption and wiliness to pay or not pay for goods and services. Quality metrics, price engagement, and user experience are all things that the American consumer utilizes when accessing the market…that is in every area except for health care. Why is that? We pay for health care by way of health insurance. The crony capitalists that oftentimes are involved in our Healthcare System know this and capitalize on it.
This leads me to the third thing that plagues us in the U.S. and that is immediate satisfaction and gratification. We would much rather take a pill to solve a problem then to get on a treadmill or step away from the table or engage in understanding behavioral health and mental health issues. In the same way, we care more about the “co-pay” associate with our insurance than we do the actual cost of the care we receive. Often American’s care more about our status on social media and how we are perceived than the reality we may be in. That need for how we are perceived has become our desired reality and as a result we don’t engage in healthcare the way we need to which is often times long-term engagement. We look for the shortcut. What will solve the problem now instead of what we need to fundamentally do to solve it over time? If solving a problem seems too difficult, we often don’t even try, and that’s what’s led to an even worst healthcare outcome. Diet pills, inability to cope, social media influence, and access to fast food instead of healthy food, all lead to a decline in healthcare outcomes.
These issues above are amplified in certain socio economic sectors of our communities. From an access perspective we have significant challenges in when it comes to this. It’s not about general access per se, rather quality access. Most parts of our country (urban or rural) have accessible Healthcare facilities. That said, not all of them are great and have the ability to address the specific challenges that many of our communities face. Our underserved inner cities, for example statistically are the ones that have the greatest need, as they are the ones at greater risk. So why don’t we see more quality facilities in these areas with a broad spectrum of resources and solutions? Simple: profit or a lack thereof. Some of our most vulnerable sectors of our country lack the ability to generate higher revenue because they are in government-subsidized areas (i.e. Medicare & Medicaid Etc.). The best of the best heart facility isn’t going to set up shop in inner-city LA, because the opportunity to generate private pay reimbursements under our health insurance system are not as readily available as they are let’s say in a higher socio economic area of the country. I’m using that as an example, but we must find a way where our Healthcare System is more accessible in the areas that needed the most and we do that through new ways of reforming the system where we lift the veil of ambiguity and open up price transparency, driving competition and engaging the consumer at a higher level.
All this to say, there is a greater issue at hand that needs to be addressed. The American consumer foots the bill for the rest of the world. Why? Because we have to. In many nations across the globe, American innovation is utilized, but not aptly paid for, and this is what makes our spending higher per capita for the same goods and services.
Take for example prescription drugs. In the U.S. it can cost as much as $2 billion to bring a new drug to market. That kind of investment means that the private sector, which is willing to invest those dollars, wants to turn a profit. In many countries; however, there are cost controls and pricing caps. In order to provide the drug to those foreign markets, the U.S. based pharma companies will increase the cost to Americans where we don’t have those price controls. Some will say; however, that we need to put price controls here, but that’s not the answer either. We want innovation to continue and we want there to be a capitalistic engine behind these ventures. That said, we need the rest of the world to pay their fair share, and that means we need to start making healthcare part of our national trade deals.
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.
First, I would say Transparency, transparency, transparency. I said it before, in the United States Healthcare makes up a sixth of our economy. It’s estimated that approximately three and a half trillion dollars per year is spent on healthcare. To put that into perspective, that is almost identical to the amount of revenue generated by the federal government through taxes. All that to say this: with healthcare being one of the largest sectors of our overall economic engine, it is also the most opaque. Consumer rarely know the cost of the goods they’re getting and again, that’s because we don’t’ think of healthcare consuming like we do anything else we consume (in large part because we think of healthcare and health insurance synonymously, but they’re not). Let’s use a grocery store for example. When I go to the grocery store I’m able to fill my card with the various products that I want or need and can make that decision based on the price that I see listed on the shelf. Once I get the checkout aisle I scan my groceries run my card and call it a day. This same experience can be said for almost every other transactional experience I have as a consumer. Let’s compare that to an experience when consuming healthcare. When I go to get services rendered, I’m often presented with a multi-page document I’m asked to sing which is written by an attorney that in effect says I’m liable for the charges. At the same time, I’m asked for my insurance card, and then services are rendered. Often, I have no idea what it is and I’m ultimately going to get billed for (i.e. facility fees, provider fees, tests, lab fees, goods like tissues etc.,). Nonetheless, I move forward because, hey, my Doc says I need to, only to receive a bill months later outlining what my insurance did and didn’t pay for and what I ultimately owe. And, that is just the first issue behind the lack of transparency. Because the American consumer has no way of knowing the true cost of what it is they’re getting, the healthcare system has been able to do things like charge $300 for an MRI while the same MRI miles away at another facility can be as high as $3,000. This massive variance would never fly in the auto, clothing, electronics or food industry. We would never pay $3,000 for a television when we could pay as low as $300 for the same TV, same brand and all, only a few miles away. The reason there we don’t see variances like this is because consumers don’t know the price when it comes to healthcare. This MUST change. Transparency will lower cost by way of higher consumer interaction while simultaneously improving quality — as pricing transparency does in every other sector of our economy.
The second area I would address would be how we compensate the system for care. In the U.S. we operate on a Fee for Service system. The more tests that are run, the more people seen, the more goods provided, the more the bill goes up. It is as if we are paying for the journey through healthcare, not the destination. I want to leave at sick and arrive at healthy, and I should pay for healthy. There is an incentive in the U.S. system to “up-code” (a process of utilizing higher reimbursement codes as the listed care or condition) or even unnecessarily test or treat. It’s estimated that approximately 25% of all healthcare in the U.S. is unnecessary. When you are talking about a $3 trillion spend, that is an estimated $750+ billion of annual wasted care. While it is not likely that we could recoup all of the waste in its entirety, that change alone would lower the annual cost of healthcare to EVERY American citizen by over $2,000. We must get to a place where the financial incentives within healthcare are higher when based on the outcome of that care rather than the volume of it.
The third area I would address would be in the way by which our prescription drug system operates. Sadly, there is limited oversight in some areas while perhaps too much regulatory red tape in others. Pharmacy Benefit Managers, for example, are the middlemen in the U.S. drug trade, and have in a sense become the legal U.S. Drug Cartel. These folks entire job is to negotiate the price of the drugs between the manufacturer and the end user by way of the retail pharmacy. When they were first established in the 1960’s they served a valuable purpose, but they have been plagued with the crony capitalism virus for far too long and have been allowed to operate with limited oversight. As a result, they, PBM’s are responsible for the vast inflation in the cost of prescription drugs in the United States, while simultaneously boasting some of the highest profit margins. The other area surrounding prescription drugs that I would address is the protectionist way in which the FDA operates when it comes to allowing new drugs into the market. I address this at length in Chapter 10 of my book, but in short, the regulator way in which the FDA operates has allowed fewer drug companies to compete by driving up the cost to bring a drug to market (on average $2 billion over 12 years). Limited access to foreign testing and the inability to source drugs internationally have also hindered the competitive nature of our prescription drug system.
The forth area I’d focus would be in way we have allowed too much consolidation within the healthcare market. In the U.S. we seem to do a rather good job of enforcing monopolies and Anti-Trust Laws with the exception of healthcare. We need to button that up. Hospital systems consolidating is one example, but there are others. Today, hospital systems own the majority of primary care doctors. Why is that? Because the PCP has become the sales force for the large hospital conglomerate. When patients see hospital owned PCP’s guess where they are ultimately referred to for testing and treatment? Yep, within the hospital system. This has led to unnecessary care in many cases at inflates prices. But, the biggest “scam” in our system today is in how Insurance companies are able to either own or be owned by Pharmacy Benefit Managers. Today it’s estimated that 75% of all drugs are distributed by one of three PBM’s. All three of these are owned or own health insurance companies. Collusion anyone? This must stop as it leads to increased drug prices and increased health insurance premiums all on the back of the American patient.
We also need real insurance reform — not in the way that the ACA tried to address it which ultimately led to increased insurance prices and profits, rather we need health insurance to work like auto insurance. Health insurance should operate more like an indemnity plan rather than a credit card arrangement with minimum payments. We need to eliminate insurance networks — they do not provide discounts by way of steerage like they did decades ago. Instead, they operate as a veil of ambiguity where true pricing (and profits) are hidden from both the patient and in many cases even the doctor. The price of delivering healthcare should be the price and should not vary based on whether my insurance card says Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna or United Healthcare. If we would eliminate insurance networks, transparency would become the norm. We as consumers could then pick the right insurance company based on how they would protect me, not based on where they would direct me. Remember the phrase “if you like your doctor you could keep your doctor?” If we eliminated insurance networks, this could become a reality as it wouldn’t matter which insurance I had…all providers and facilities would accept it, “surprise billing” would be thing of the past, and I could spend my time shopping for care instead of searching for in-network.
Ok, it’s very nice to suggest changes, but what concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?
That’s a great question and you hit the nail on the head from the perspective of there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to health care and everyone needs to be involved. I think a lot of times we as Americans want somebody else to solve the problem for us but we absolutely need to take responsibility ourselves as we, ourselves, are the only controllable that each of us has. Specifically to individuals, and I discussed this specifically in my TED talk, when it comes to Health Care, we all must take 3 steps. First, we must be engaged, second must be informed, and by that I mean ask questions of our providers, do our own research, etc. And third be we need to be confident. Sadly, when it comes to healthcare, we treat a visit to our doctors more like speed dating than we do an opportunity to learn and to that end, we blindly trust anything those in white lab coats tell us to do. At the end of the day each individual has the own responsibility for their own lives and they need to take control of that.
The same can be said when it comes to corporations. Roughly half of Americans get their Healthcare access through insurance provided by their employer. These employers are those corporations that need to be engaged at a different level as they too have a responsibility to their employees to think differently than they have in the past. We are starting see this happening, and I’m encouraged by that. Throughout the employer community, specifically small and mid-sized employers, we’re seeing at grass roots movement across the country. These employers are looking to collaborate and share ideas and best practices. Companies like Pareto Health have emerged allowing these employers to group purchase resources to better manage and finance their healthcare. The companies engaged and working with organizations like Pareto are seeing a vast improvement in their overall cost and experience. In the end, healthcare is a series of supply chain and corporations, by and large know how to manage supply chain. Corporations that will think about Healthcare much more like they think about everything else in their business (via supply chain management) will be able to significantly impact health care in a positive way.
Within our communities we need to do a better job of providing better access and resources to those who are underserved. Healthcare impacts everyone and as a result we are all in this together. We cannot address healthcare in one sector of our community while keeping it unaddressed in others. The more affluent areas of within our communities cannot turn a blind eye to those areas that are less affluent as in the end, we’re all paying the tab collectively and feeling the impact of a system that could be much more effective. Healthcare is intertwined, and we need our community leaders to get more involved and really understand what the real problems are, and address them head-on. A half a century ago Healthcare was all about the community. Leaders within the community ran the hospital at the local level and likewise; those doctors within those hospitals were involved in the community. These were the people that we knew, our neighbors, and friends. We went to church together and all had a vested interest in the community. Sadly, today, that has changed and within many (albeit most) of our nations local communities, Healthcare is often times run by Wall Street and conglomerates rather that local leaders. That’s not going to change unless we all demand it to change.
They say that all politics is local and there’s nothing truer than can be said then when it comes to Health Care. From that perspective let’s talk about our leaders and politicians. In the United States the healthcare Lobby is larger than the tobacco, gun, oil and defense lobby combined. As such, our elected leaders listen to those voices more often than they do those that are on the front lines of healthcare. They should listen more to doctors as well as nurses, patients, advocates and finally advisors like me who work and see ALL sides of our healthcare system. Historically, I have referred to the healthcare system as a three-legged stool with the Delivery Systems the Finance system and the Consumer all being three legs of that stool. Today, I know longer refer to it that way; rather I call it a three-headed cannibalistic Dragon. I say that because all parts seem to feed off one another with the consumers, sadly at the bottom of the food chain. The Affordable Care Act only amplified my point as it serves as a perfect example of what happens when you try to solve healthcare by only focusing on one part. While we can have a debate over some of the pros and cons of the ACA, its primary focus was the health insurance industry. A decade now since the ACA’s passage, and we can see that when you only focus on one leg of that stool (or one head of that Dragon) then the other legs the other pieces the components are impacted in a negative way. While the ACA did expand access to insurance by way of government subsidies and did positive things like eliminate pre-existing conditions, it also has resulting in significant increases in the cost of health care, thus inflated insurance premiums and profits of all players in the healthcare space…all on the backs of employers, the insured and the populace as a whole.
I’m interested in the interplay between the general healthcare system and the mental health system. Right now, we have two parallel tracks, mental/behavioral health and general health. What are your thoughts about this status quo? What would you suggest to improve this?
I absolutely believe that there is a link between mental health, behavioral health, and physical health. I do not believe that, simply because I feel it, but because data proves it. Our mental state impacts things like our heart, our lungs, our endorphins, etc. It affects our sleeping and eating patterns, which have underlying impact on our health. It even can impact how our body will fight off illnesses. In the end mental health and Behavioral Health are physical health. Sadly historically in our society there’s been somewhat of a taboo surrounding these aspects of our life. I’m glad to see that in many across the country, addressing mental and behavioral issues is being more widely accepted. More of our businesses are providing access to mental and Behavioral Health to their employees. More insurance plans are providing greater access to providers in this area as well. We are taking some good steps, but they are initial steps and we must move the mantle forward. If we will address both mental and behavioral health more broadly, we will see the overall health of our communities improve. That improved health will also influence cost in a positive way as well. More focus and attention to this area is one of those areas in healthcare were there could truly be a win-win for everybody
How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?
I would define it as a provider that is engaged in the whole person. I certainly do not want to demonize our medical community. I believe that within our healthcare system are some of the greatest minds and some of the most wonderful people. That said, today many of them don’t have the power that I believe they should spend the time with or do what is in the best interest of their patient. I often refer to the Macy’s vs. Gimbels comparison from the movie Miracle on 34th Street. When one store didn’t have what the customer really needed, the Macy’s Santa was quick to send them somewhere else where their needs could be met — even if that meant sending them to their competitor.. We need to see that more in our Healthcare System. We need to get back to the place where health care is much more personal than it is today. Sadly in 1992, when our healthcare system adopted the process of relative value units (RVU’s) as the way in which patients are viewed from a revenue perspective, it fundamentally shifted the way providers were able to do their job. Patients became line items on the P&L statement, rather than people who needed help or were looking for guidance and counsel. The best providers, the most excellent ones, are those that truly focus on the patient. They dedicate their time and energy to that patient. They treat the whole person not just the condition or the revenue opportunity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If it’s okay, I’d actually like to give you two as they are both fundamental to the way that I try to live my life and run my business.
The first is something my father used to say, “If you always tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you say.” Today in our society, it seems like honesty, facts and in general, “the truth” is up for debate. If not up for debate, one would think that the truth can sometimes vary. We certainly seem to hear that from some of our elected leaders. But the reality is it can’t. Truth is truth. We need to be honest. We need to be honest with ourselves and certainly honest with others. That is the way we move forward effectively, positively influencing everyone.
The second life lesson quote that I try to live by is, “Eat crow fast…in the end you’re going to eat it anyway…might as well do it while it’s hot.” I tell this to my staff all of the time. We are humans; we are going to make mistakes. The key to overcoming those mistakes is to own up to them and do it quickly. In the end, passing the blame never works, and eventually the truth will come out anyway. People will appreciate the fact that you own your mistakes and oftentimes give you the opportunity to correct them. Be honest, own your mistakes, work to solve them, and in the end you will find success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am actually working on a couple of things. First, I’m working on my second book wherein I’m taking a close look at the lessons that we could learn from this most recent Covid pandemic. While we have certainly found ourselves in a tragic situation, globally, I think there are some fundamental things that can come out of this that, if we will learn from, we can ultimately improve our Healthcare System, not just in the event we face future potential pandemics, but in general improve our Healthcare System overall.
The second project is actually working with employers throughout the country helping them identify their own Healthcare supply chain. As I’ve said before, roughly half of Americans get access to the healthcare system through the insurance provided by their employers. We need to help those employees navigate the Healthcare System differently. Doing that means better education, better transparency, and better information. That will ultimately lead to a higher engagement, which I firmly believe that will help us improve our Healthcare System and the overall health of our citizens.
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 absolutely love anything written by Patrick Lencioni. His ability to communicate the fundamentals of both life and business encapsulated within a great story is inspiring.
Specific to healthcare, I regularly read articles and insights on Modern Healthcare.
I daily tune in to my friend Eric Bricker’s video podcast called A healthcare Z. Eric is a phenomenal doctor and an even greater advocate for improving our Healthcare System. His insights are informative and inspiring.
There have also been great books written specific to healthcare that have certainly encouraged me along the way. Elizabeth Rosenthal’s An American Sickness, Marty Makary’s The Price We Pay and Dave Chase’s The CEO’s Guide To Restoring The American Dream have all helped me think differently about health care and how we can work to solve it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I adopt the philosophy of American scientist Margaret Mead who once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I was fortunate enough to be raised by two amazing parents who loved us immensely and taught my brothers and I that it was our inherent duty to make a positive impact on the world. For me, improving healthcare has become my life’s mission. Often, we look to someone else to solve what can seem to be the behemoth of health care, but in reality each of us has the power to make an impact in this area. It affects us all, but it takes all of us collectively working together to make improve the system in its entirety. The way we do this is changing the way we, each of us, engages in the system. I cannot control the actions of everyone, but I can control my own actions. By me doing the things I need to do and offering my thoughts and experiences and voice to others, I can make an impact. I often times will read to my three children and one of the stories that I’m constantly inspired by is that of The Lorax. I live my life with the thought outlined in that story by Dr. Seuss, which is this, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better it’s not.” It’s up to us to care. It’s up to each of us. If each of us will, things will get better…I am confident in that.
How can our readers follow you online?
I regularly publish my thoughts on Twitter @sethdenson; Facebook @sethdensonshow; LinkedIn @sethdenson; Instagram @gsdenson; and YouTube at Seth Denson. I have a website, www.SethDenson.com, and regularly blog on our firm’s site, www.gdpadvisors.com.