We need to streamline the business of healthcare and eliminate “middlemen” — As someone running a middleman business, I wish there wasn’t a need for what we do, but to make substantial changes we need to rethink how payers and providers interact — a structural problem our technology helps address. Too many resources are dedicated to smoothing over the friction between healthcare’s stakeholders versus treating people.
As a part of our interview series called “5 Things We Must Do To Improve the US Healthcare System”, I had the pleasure to interview Dan Wilson.
Dan Wilson, CEO of Moxe Health, set out to make healthcare better, smarter, and more affordable for all. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Dan’s early work in healthcare IT spurred his interest in the potential of clinical data and payer-provider collaboration. Today, Moxe works with EHR vendors, clinicians, hospital systems, health plans, and other healthcare IT vendors to streamline secure data exchange to inform better healthcare.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into our interview, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Early in my career, I thought I would start out in finance. That changed when I went to a career fair and ran into representatives from Epic. They had a big sign with a cow on it that read something like, “Come work here and you’ll get all the milk you can drink for free.” At the time I thought, ‘What kind of perk is milk?’ But it was intriguing. I spoke with the reps, and it sparked my curiosity.
It was clear to me that healthcare technology was seeking to solve many more compelling problems. A couple of months after deciding to take that job at Epic we entered a global recession, healthcare got HITECH, and things really took off. I was lucky to take that zigzag to Madison, Wisconsin — I’m sure I would have learned the real meaning of LIFO if I’d taken a gig in finance.
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?
I was 21 years old with no healthcare experience, and just two weeks on the job. I was asked to build order sets for orthopedics, but I had no idea what orthopedic departments did. There I was trying to figure out the most common procedures performed, but I didn’t have a medical background or access to clinicians. Let’s just say, it did not go well.
The lesson was that there’s a role for technology and there’s a role for people with clinical expertise. To solve most challenges in healthcare, you need both the expertise of people and the power of technology.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately: “Pressure is a privilege.”
The quote is credited to Billie Jean King. A lot of people are trying to make a positive impact on healthcare. Everyone who is working in healthcare could be doing something else, but they chose healthcare. There are days that you feel like you’re hitting your head against a wall. There’s a significant amount of stress in this industry, especially when you are trying to enact positive change. However, you must remember that it is a privilege to have the ability, bandwidth, and opportunity to work on problems that really matter.
How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?
The definition of an excellent healthcare provider is changing, and it is changing fast. Years ago, excellent providers may have been those who stayed up on the journals, attended the most conferences, or had the biggest networks to call upon for second opinions.
Now, no matter how much you read or how big your network is, you can’t possibly keep up with all the developments across healthcare. Technology has changed the game by quickly synthesizing and indexing information, connecting clinical communities, and streamlining processes. That said, there are things technology can’t do, like provide empathy.
Today’s best clinicians and caregivers are people with extremely high emotional intelligence (EI). They are present on the toughest days and communicate information in a way that people can understand.
We need to increase the EI of healthcare. Some medical schools and health systems are exploring this. For example, Thomas Jefferson University recently developed The Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) to measure empathy in healthcare providers to prepare them for working in a clinical setting.
I believe excellence in healthcare is about leaning into empathy and vulnerability, putting people first, and embracing technology for support. Afterall, if we ignore the humanity in healthcare, what is the point?
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’re currently working on a cool project with a large insurance company and a leading health system to determine how to pay and adjudicate a visit purely off a clinical record. It’s an opportunity to figure out how to use clinical data to bypass legacy friction and create a more efficient way to run the business of healthcare.
Our goal is to create a system that significantly reduces administrative costs, uses clinical data more intelligently, and solves real world problems for people.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now 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?
First, healthcare is too expensive. We charge too much, and prices don’t reflect costs.
Second, the current trend in consolidation of healthcare providers eliminates consumer choice.
Third, physician compensation models are fundamentally flawed. We’re not putting our money where our mouth is.
I think the report you link to hits the nail on the head: “To gain more than incremental improvement…the U.S. may need to pursue different approaches to organizing and financing the delivery system.” I would remove the word “may.”
We need to pursue different approaches as the current system isn’t working, and we cannot just grow our way out of this. We must restructure and decide, based on our societal and cultural values, how we’re going to make healthcare work.
As 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.
- We need to expand access — access to insurance and access to care. We’ll see what happens with Medicare Advantage and the states who still haven’t expanded Medicaid.
- We need to streamline the business of healthcare and eliminate “middlemen” — As someone running a middleman business, I wish there wasn’t a need for what we do, but to make substantial changes we need to rethink how payers and providers interact — a structural problem our technology helps address. Too many resources are dedicated to smoothing over the friction between healthcare’s stakeholders versus treating people.
- We need to integrate mental health throughout the entire system — Mental health services need to be incorporated throughout the primary care system at every step. Much easier said than done — but it’s a worthy cause.
- We need to update physician compensation models — Compensation models are still too focused on Relative Value Units (RVUs) and production. If we’re serious about value-based care, it’s time to update most provider compensation models so there is more transparency and alignment with the overall objective of focusing on value in the care delivered.
- We need to put humanity back in healthcare.
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?
To manifest change, we all must start taking a more human-centric approach to healthcare. We must infuse compassion and kindness into the system.
We need to turn down the rhetoric when it comes to how we expand access to affordable healthcare. These are complex issues with non-obvious solutions. We all benefit from high value, affordable healthcare — and it will take some combination of regulatory adjustments and incentive restructuring to have the system we all want — and deserve.
To increase diversity and humanity in healthcare, we need to engage, develop, and support caregivers from all backgrounds and communities. This starts with nurturing individuals early in their schooling and creating opportunities, scholarships, and debt-free programs that make pursuing a career in healthcare possible from both a financial and educational standpoint.
How do you think we can address the problem of physician shortages?
We don’t just have physician shortages, we have clinician shortages across the board: nurses, therapists, social workers, etc. We need to rethink what our education and licensing practices look like.
We have an elite system now, and that must change. We should open and expand the educational system, rethink current limits on residency slots, and create opportunities for non-traditional students.
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?
Clinical psychologists and social workers should be a part of nearly every care team. There are nuances to providing competent mental health services. While all clinicians would benefit from increased training on incorporating mental and social health into their practice, ultimately, we need to rethink a culture of medicine that focuses on triage more than root causes. This will take time, training, resources, and way more empathy.
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. 🙂
Kindness is underrated — and our world needs a lot more of it. There’s a great quote from Stephen Grellet:
“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
I’d like to help inspire a movement where we all embraced his sentiment.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can visit our website, or follow Moxe Health on LinkedIn and Twitter. We’re growing and looking for passionate, creative thinkers who want to disrupt the status quo and be a part of the solution. Check out our careers page to find out more.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!
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