We need to personalize health guidance. No one wants to be unhealthy. And everyone, and their body, is unique.We need to empower people to understand their health, make sustainable lifestyle changes, and manage medications, nutrition, sleep, social stressors, emotional health and exercise. This takes time and a whole person, humanistic approach.
As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Chris Cronin.
Chris Cronin leads MOBE — an entire organization on a mission to help people enjoy better health and more happiness. MOBE provides one-to-one guidance to help people gain a deep understanding of connections between exercise, sleep, medication, mindset, and nutrition. Every person’s story is unique, and MOBE meets them wherever they are on their health journey.
As MOBE’s CEO, Chris is committed to innovating solutions for population health and partnering with organizations working toward the same effort. The strength of companies joining together to promote better health will have a positive impact on generations to come.
Chris’s career has intentionally been about health and serving others. He spent years at Medtronic working to bring novel solutions to people struggling with cardiac and neurologic conditions. While living across the US and in Europe, Chris has challenged the barriers to healthy living in different socioeconomic, health care, and educational environments.
Chris inherently cares about people and has a strong desire to do the right thing — both characteristics that inspire his professional life and his personal life.
Not everyone’s personal life includes multiple Ironman Triathlons, but Chris’s does. And although he doesn’t expect his four children to follow in his footsteps, he does want them to make choices to live healthy lives and have the tools they need. He wants that for everyone.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My career has taken several different paths so far, before my dream job as the CEO of MOBE. The first chapter of my career actually wasn’t in healthcare — it was in financial consulting. From there, I went to the strategy, marketing and commercial side of the medical device industry. In 2012, everything changed.
My father, who had no pre-existing conditions, was diagnosed out of the blue with a terminal disease and given a short span of time to live. It made me realize how important it is to spend time and energy in roles that truly align with my values and what I enjoy doing — life is short, and we must do what we can to make a difference in the world, while we can. That realization led me to MOBE.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
During one of my first leadership team offsite meetings in Nevada, our Founder and Chairman Mark Evenstad asked everyone to jump in a car and follow him. We drove for a long time, to the Hoover Dam. We all got out and looked in awe at this creation. Mark then told the story of the Hoover Dam: how many believed it wasn’t possible, how it took a massive amount of effort from people with a wide variety of expertise, how it became a source of energy, water and a better life for many. In telling this story Mark was drawing a parallel to MOBE — it was inspirational.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our product and our people set MOBE apart. We serve a population that is accessing the healthcare system at a high rate, yet not getting better. We connect them with personalized healthcare guides that help them make the most of medical care, medication and lifestyle changes to live healthier, happier lives. This is a game-changer for our participants, their providers, our partners and the overall healthcare system.
Our product stands out as we don’t add costs to the healthcare system. We only benefit economically when people get healthier and happier. This means our partners (employers and payers) benefit from predictable, guaranteed savings over time, rather than increased costs, which in turn helps them manage growing health benefit expenditures.
MOBE team members join our organization because they believe in our mission to guide people to better health and more happiness. When COVID happened, we asked our Guides if they would be willing to change or extend their hours as our participants’ lives had changed. The overwhelming response was “How can we help?” We asked them to take on more as we wanted to offer our services to the friends and family of our participants, as our customers are primarily in some of the most affected parts of the country. Again the immediate answer was, “How can we help?”
I can think of many participants whose overall health has been improved after working with our Guides and Pharmacists. Susanne, a 52-year-old woman who suffered from chronic facial pain for 15 years, was unable to eat or go about daily life because her medications did not alleviate her pain and caused severe nausea. She was paired with a MOBE Guide because her condition wasn’t getting better, despite taking new medications and seeing the doctor more. After working with MOBE for 12 months, Susanne experienced significant health improvements including gaining control of her pain and reducing her anxiety, reducing RX fills by 50%, and reducing physician office visits by 58%. She was able to return back to work teaching and started her own business, inspired by her experience with MOBE and the process of healing.
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?
From my perspective, as a nation, stresses on our healthcare system have required us to take a critical eye to how people receive the care they need. Here are three areas where I feel we could do better:
- We need to personalize health guidance. No one wants to be unhealthy. And everyone, and their body, is unique.We need to empower people to understand their health, make sustainable lifestyle changes, and manage medications, nutrition, sleep, social stressors, emotional health and exercise. This takes time and a whole person, humanistic approach.
- We need to collaborate in how we provide health guidance. Today healthcare delivery is often fractionalized, not integrated and at times contradicting or overlapping. We see participants on multiple drugs from multiple doctors. At times conflicting, offsetting or worse creating risk for the participant. One third of the medical therapy problems our therapists have identified are safety related.
- We need to align incentives. Our current model (largely, it is changing quickly) rewards volume versus outcomes. We need to flip that and reward performance across healthcare. This requires a new set of payment mechanisms. We don’t make any money unless our participants get healthier and happier.
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.
Improving the US healthcare system will require collaboration, and a holistic assessment of both its infrastructure and the health needs of the people and communities it serves.
- Provide support and guidance in a personalized manner. Our sophisticated institutions and advanced medical technology can’t reach their full potential to improve health until we ensure that each individual has the information, access and support they need to achieve wellness. This requires taking time to listen to the individual, understand what they value and what is standing in the way of their optimal health and happiness.
- Align payment incentives to reward outcomes not volume. Our system will heal — costs will go down, administrative burden will reduce, access will improve — when we focus on health care rather than sick care. We need to realign the system so that it rewards improved health, not number of services performed.
- Identify the individuals who need the most help — who are accessing the system at a high rate and not seeing improved health outcomes — more quickly and accurately, so that they receive the support they need sooner.
- Collaborate with insurers and employers to assist in meeting people where they are — to improve health outcomes without adding cost to the system.
- Utilize a whole-person approach that provides actionable guidance on medication, nutrition, fitness, diet, and other factors impacting wellness like sleep and mental health. Ultimately, our healthcare system must be measured on the health and wellbeing of the people within it. Shifting attention to whole-person health, rather than only treating specific conditions, is a critical step.
Ok, its 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?
In order to implement these changes, approaching care with personalized guidance and a whole-person approach in mind will make all the difference. We have a wealth of data and technology at our fingertips, and we must leverage it to identify those individuals who need care the most. By analyzing population data and implementing predictive analytics to identify the hidden population, we can then provide guidance and care rapidly and often to the people who need it most. Collaboration is key between platforms, solutions, insurers, employers and more in order to improve care across the board and lower costs to the system.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
It’s important to note that for the population that MOBE serves, improving their health isn’t a question of access. Our participants are already accessing healthcare at a high rate, but their health is not improving. MOBE uses deep data science to identify people whose health care needs (and costs) are going up, then pair those folks with a personal MOBE Guide or Pharmacist who helps them balance their lifestyle with their medical plan. We don’t prescribe, treat, or diagnose — instead, we work with participants to give them the knowledge, tools, and motivation to get healthier.
Our business model is innovative because of its simplicity — it’s built on the simple goal of improving people’s health, and in doing so, we’ve generated $100MM in total medical savings to date. We’re helping participants lead healthier, happier lives, with less time in clinicians’ offices, lower costs, and more time doing things they love. We’ve accessed nearly 100,000 members across four of the country’s large insurers. We’ve added more than 200 employees to our team, including approximately 100 MOBE Guides. Within the past 18 months we have launched an app and began our own pharmacy program. We opened our innovation center in Reno, Nevada last year to support and accelerate our innovation efforts.
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 listen to the podcast Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They largely cover tech but inevitably end up touching on healthcare. I don’t read a lot of business books although I do enjoy Daniel Pink, Malcom Gladwell and Simon Sinek. I would recommend the book True North by Bill George. At a turning point in my career, this book gave me great perspective on how to shift my mindset and get to the heart of what inspires me, which led me to MOBE.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!