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Unique Approaches and Lessons in Population Health with Corbin Petro, President and CEO at Benevera Health
Episode 238

Corbin Petro, President and CEO at Benevera Health

Unique Approaches and Lessons in Population Health

Improving healthcare outcomes through population health and person-centric care

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Unique Approaches and Lessons in Population Health with Corbin Petro, President and CEO at Benevera Health

Episode 238

Unique Approaches and Lessons in Population Health with Corbin Petro, President and CEO at Benevera Health

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there’s one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That’s why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I’ve been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That’s

Welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket podcast where we chat with today’s most successful and inspiring health leaders. Today I have Corbin Petro. She’s the President and CEO of Benevera Health. A technology enabled health services company focused on population health and person centric health care. These are buzzwords that you all have heard on the podcast. Population health being one of them being focused on the care of populations versus just a single point of care and then person centric health care taking care of that person consumer centric health care is really on the cusp of the changes that are happening in health care. She created this from a payer provider joint venture Benevera a health provides tools and resources to support value based care including analytics, risk and Insurance strategy and locally based care coordination and patient engagement services. Prior to that she was a Chief Operating Officer of the Massachusetts Department of Medicaid Mass Health. A 13 billion dollar agency providing health care to one point four million Massachusetts residents. She oversaw operations at t function several program areas and helped develop new value based payment and delivery models so as you all can see and hear she’s no stranger to value based care and to the cutting edge in what’s happening to health care so it’s a true pleasure to have you on the podcast, Corbin. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you Saul. Appreciate you for having me. It’s good to be here.

Absolutely. Now is there anything in that intro that I left out that maybe you wanted the listeners to know about you?

You know I mean that was a great overview. I think broadly My background is pretty unique and I’ve spent my career my entire career in health care but spent time in both the public and private sectors in consulting as well as being an operator and focused on innovating in multiple segments payer provider services and so I think you know with this lens I have a pretty unique view of the healthcare ecosystem.

Oh without a doubt. You know and everything is so siloed and healthcare that to have somebody like you Corbin that has seen and tasted the way things roll in the different silos it’s hugely valuable. And so I’m just curious you know a whole career in healthcare what got you into the medical sector to begin?

Well for me it’s really two things. The first one is why I was drawn to healthcare in the first place and then the second is more about how I think about having an impact in healthcare. So you know the first reason to start, I grew up just outside of Cleveland Ohio in a family that valued hard work and public service. So my father was a public servant. So it’s really the service side of health care that attracted me. You know there are a few years growing up where my family went around the state talking to people of all walks of life to understand really what they needed from government. Ohio has 88 counties. The majority of which have a county fair and you know one summer I remember going to something like 75 county fairs.

Wow, in one summer fall in one summer?


Wow, amazing

So you know talking with people who have different backgrounds needs and economics was really striking to me. And health care is really the ultimate equalizer it’s something that impacts all of us at some point. And I was struck early on at how different the experiences can be across people. So you know health care as a service fans you know across both public and private sector that affects all people regardless of background is really what I was drawn to. The second part is more around where I thought it could have impact within health. So I was an athlete growing up I was a distance runner in both high school and college and as an athlete how I performed in a race wasn’t driven by one or even two things. It wasn’t just my genetics or my training or my diet or what I ate the night before or how having my lucky socks impacted me mentally or the fact that I could afford the best shoes. It really a combination of all those things. So you know health care is the same way and as a former athlete I’m always surprised at how we address it through just one or two aspects. So you know my mission and focus in health care is through the service supervised by acknowledging the span of factors that can support oneself.

Love that very very thoughtfully approached, Corbin. And you know I think it’s fascinating right. You spend that summer going and seeing these different fairs and I think one of the things that we need to do better in healthcare is get that feedback from customers, our patients and listen better. And I feel like that was an advantage that sort of you formed very early in your career by doing that. What kind of impact would you say that summer that you did had on your formation as a leader today?

Well I think you know understanding that people have different perspectives and different experiences and particularly in healthcare how those can now percolate to the top in terms of what somebody is thinking about and what’s impacting their day to day lives. I think all of that in sort of that broader perspective helps me be a leader and a manager but also helps me and in the view that I have toward healthcare.

For sure. That’s interesting. So there’s obviously a lot to tackle within the sphere of healthcare Corbin but today what would you say a hot topic needs to be on every medical leaders agenda and how are you guys addressing that?

Sure, well, you know you talked about barriers and silos and a big part of my career has been breaking down traditional silos whether that’s data organizations or how we think about patients. One example is when I was working as chief operating officer of Medicaid in Massachusetts one of the things we did was launch an analytic tool to help us identify waste and abuse a tool incorporate data from a bunch of other state agencies. So it gave us insights into a person or organization or a physician’s activity with the state. Well outside the walls of the Medicaid agency the fact that data between the Department of Revenue and the different aspects of state government wasn’t shared with so shocking to me. They didn’t have a single record for a person a citizen of the state. But this is really how data exist everywhere. It’s not like Amazon is sharing their data with with Walmart. We think about how important data is and analytics but it’s always within sort of a siloed sphere. So in healthcare I think it’s really important that we recognize that a person’s health and the data associated with it shouldn’t be siloed and so that definitely goes for the way we think about treating patients and what we’re doing at the end of era. So everything we do at the end is about breaking down those silos and just mention data. And that’s one area where we’re certainly innovating through our model. We bring together that’s the claims data from the insurance partner and we integrate it with EMR data from our provider partners and then we bring in publicly available data and patient report data have to have a really rich picture of the patient as well as a provider behavior. So I think it’s important in healthcare for us to think about the service and the public aspect of healthcare as something that impacts everyone and how we can work together to improve health more broadly we shouldn’t think about data like Amazon or Walmart and think about hoarding it for our own benefit. We should think about it as as a means to improve overall health.

I think that’s a good call out Corbin and you sit in a unique seat as leader of of an integrated payer provider system. So you see a lot from both sides of the aisle that maybe a lot of companies don’t see or allow hospitals and a lot of insurance companies don’t see the full picture. Can you give an example of how you guys have done things differently to create results and improve outcomes?

Sure. I mean I think our model itself obviously is very unique. So there are basically two major innovations in our model that that involve doing things differently and breaking down those those silos I mentioned previously. The first is is on the insurance side. So first part of end of era is the insurance aspect so what we did and the joint venture is took Harvard Pilgrim who is the insurance partner their market in New Hampshire and put it into the joint venture so that the hospital partners are owners of the insurance business. So in being owners of the insurance business and sort of blurring those lines between payer and provider it really allows us to learn more from the hospitals as what are the sort of the pain points and the community needs of their communities. So that helps us to develop different products and services that the community needs as well as what you know understanding those physician pain points so as an example our hospital partners told us early on that some of their challenges with high deductible health plans was that the patients weren’t paying their patient portion the you know the coinsurance and deductible and that really encouraged us to move more toward transparency and point of service pricing copays for example and to build products that limited the patient cost sharing specifically for our partners. So really let them focus on delivering care instead of going back and capturing the financial piece from patients. That’s sort of on the insurance side you know the second part of our model that we’ve talked about was spinning out a new company doing tech enabled services focused on population health and again we sort of break down the silo by sharing data across parent provider obviously giving us a really rich picture of the patient as well as a better understanding of how providers are delivering care. We think about patients holistically and try to address all their needs through our engagement model whether that’s housing or helping them understand insurance, scheduling appointments, transportation, scheduling visits. Understanding how to manage chronic complex conditions and then for providers we’re able to have real and local benchmarks that they trust to help us identify outliers. So those are sort of the ways that we’re innovating and in terms of outcomes quantitatively are our results have been pretty fantastic. So you know we’ve had significant reductions in E.R. and inpatient missions that drive about a 35 percent reduction in costs for patients who are engaged in our program. It’s about four times or why those are sort of the quantitative results. But you know the real results are brought to life by some of our patients physicians stories.

Yeah that’s really wonderful. You guys are definitely so focused on moving the needle there for patient care but also it’s so important to keep the eye on on the organizational business success because hey without margin there’s no mission so it’s super key. And a lot of hospitals are struggling to find new revenue models. And taking this unique approach is I think definitely opening up some doors for you guys as a system. But I’m sure with that comes a lot of lessons learned. Can you share with the listeners a setback that you had and what you learned from it?

Sure this is a great questions in many ways. Failure and mistakes are really just when reality doesn’t meet expectations. So that can be because of unrealistic expectations it can be because of falling short or mistakes so that you know there have been many times in my life where reality didn’t meet expectations and many of those felt like massive personal failures. But in my current role at Benevera we expected the hospital and provider partners in the joint venture to really sort of create a consortium amongst themselves learn from one another and for Benevera to ride services to them as a collective. And for the most part that just hasn’t been the case. The market dynamics have changed dramatically in the area that we that we serve. So for example Elliott Hospital which is our second largest hospital decided to merge with another hospital that’s not part of the joint venture. So you know the hospitals that we once thought would be we could see them aligning closely together started to have less and less reason to do so.


We also realized that the providers who are in our joint venture are in a very different place when it comes to moving toward value based care so Dartmouth Hitchcock is the largest hospital in our joint venture and you probably heard of them. There are large academic tertiary hospital with a lot of community group practices around the state of New Hampshire and they’ve been participating in Medicare ASIOs and are in many respects contract so they’re well on their way to value based care. On the other hand Frisbie Memorial Hospital is our smallest hospital partner. There are 75 bed Community Hospital located in a part of the state where their patient mix weighs heavily on public programs so they have a lot of Medicare and Medicaid patients in their area and the joint venture is really frisbees first foray into risk and the first time they really thought about moving toward value based care. So those two polar opposites are really just examples of how our provider partners were in very different places and needed very different things so we sort of had to acknowledge that the consortium model is sort of serving them as a collective wasn’t going to prevail. So we pivoted. So instead of serving all the providers together we started thinking of them individually and with their unique needs. At times it feels like a failure because you know I really wanted them to sort of think together as an elective and treat them as a consortium but in other ways you know we’re able to add a lot more value in this model. Being a true operating and servicing partner to do are a different provider groups and meeting them where they are.

Now that’s super interesting and I appreciate you sharing that, Corbin. You know it’s when you meet with the like you said right. When when reality doesn’t match your expectations. You said it so eloquently and you guys have made shifts to adjust and give these providers what they need. And I think it’s all about making sure that we pivot that we do the things that are are really being asked for us rather than sit there in denial and trying to do things because that’s where things really hit the fan wouldn’t you agree.

No that’s exactly right. I mean I think recognizing and pivoting when things aren’t going as planned while balancing that with with patience. Right. So we know that in healthcare care things are very hard and change is hard and takes time and so knowing when to adjust course and when not to. I think that’s really important and to sort of recognize them.

Now that’s a really good call and appreciate your walking us through that. So how about the other side of the coin, the positive. What’s one of your proudest experiences or moments that you’ve had to date with your work there?

So the teams I’ve I’ve been a part of building and the impact we’re having on people’s lives makes me proud everyday in the work that we’re doing. The team at Ben is mission driven smart thinking practically about how we can innovate and improve the lives of patients or our work every day I hear amazing stories from my team and that makes me so honored to be working with such amazing people. But sort of on that on the team side when I when I moved into my role as a CEO it was you know was my first time reporting to a board and generally just being a CEO and I wanted to be successful and I knew I had a lot to learn and so I asked my board if they would support an executive coach for both me and for my team. It was a big ask. At the time since you know a required investment early on but once they agreed to it I was so proud to be able to support the development of my leadership team and you know we all benefited personally and as a team from the investment and personally I see it as one of the most valuable leadership development activities engaged in and I know that the folks on my team who were able to engage in and with the executive coach feel the same way and so I’m proud that I have brought them into the fold and was able to develop them in that way.

I admire you for that, Corbin. A lot of times people believe that they’ve got to know everything, that they’ve got to just fake it till you make it and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In I’m a big proponent of coaching too I’ve hired professional coaches to help me through my journey. And I’ll tell you what it saves time, saves money and it really helps provide that guidance that I feel like we all need especially as leaders in healthcare so kudos to you for not taking that mindset that hey I got to find a way and fake it till I make it. Because that really I think is what makes a big difference in a leader in today’s healthcare environment so congrats to you on that.

Thank you. Yeah. No I think you’re right. I think we’re always there is a bit of sort of fake it till you make it. Of course. But I think it’s important to acknowledge where we have weaknesses and where we can grow. And I’m certainly a believer that you can constantly be learning and growing.

Totally. Now tell us about an exciting project or focus that you guys are working on today.

Sure we’ll sort of in that that same growth mindset sort of trend. A big part of our work is continuing to just change and improve on a day to day work that we’re doing engaging with patients leveraging data and technology and working with providers to move toward value based care. So we’re constantly just improving our technology how we’re using data how we’re using all of our technologies to improve how care is delivered you know on the patient side we’re working to integrate new data sources into our analytics and reporting back so that our analytics and algorithms are constantly learning and providing better identification and recommendations. We’re also launching new ways to engage patients including web and app based tools to extend the work of our very human based teams. But on the on the provider side which is where we do a lot of our work helping providers move toward value based care we have a renewed effort right now around working with providers on identifying low value care which has a negative impact of quality outcomes and obviously is a big waste within the broader healthcare ecosystem. So in one example we looked at some basic diagnostics, imaging and pharmacy. Those three areas are areas that we know from literature often overused and prescribed. We’ve got a lot of outliers but in one example there was an endocrinologist who was prescribing high end diabetic medication significantly more than his peers within his organization and at surrounding hospital system. So he was like three to four standard deviations above the mean. We showed this to the Chief Medical Officer of the system and she looked that and was ready to have a conversation with the doctor on his future age and the potential negative impacts. And he embraced the conversation and actually changed his behavior. So in this case it was really at the local unreal benchmarks that we have and that we use with our partners finding sort of actionable efforts within that data and then having real live conversations with providers that really lead to impact and you know it continues to be something that we’re focused on today is sort of looking at that low value care identifying actionable efforts and things that we can do and then delivering that to our partners.

Corbin I think that is so valuable. What a great story. Firstly I was recently doing an interview with Marcus Osborne. He’s the he’s the V.P. over there at Walmart for healthcare. And you know the big thing that he brought up like you’re bringing up right now and it’s a trend. It’s like we’re not giving our physicians the necessary metrics that they need to get feedback on whether they’re doing well or are not as well as they could be or maybe overprescribing or under utilizing resources. And I think these metrics that you’re setting up internally are so key. And the next step to helping providers get that feedback that they need to deliver better care. I mean there’s not a provider out there that wants to do a bad job everybody wants to do a good job. And folks pressed rewind on this because I think that was a great story that Corbin shared and some best practices that leaders definitely need to uptake. Lots to be learned here from Corbin Petro. Corbin, this is coming to an end. Time flies when you’re having fun let’s pretend. You and I are building a medical leadership course and what it takes to be successful in the business of medicine. The 101 of Corbin Petro. I’ve got four questions lightning round style for you followed by a favorite book that you recommend to the listeners you ready?

Sure. Let’s do it.

Alright. What’s the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?

I think you’re gonna like this one, Saul. But breaking down silos

Love it.

And working together so in most cases we have everything we need to improve outcomes. We’re just not using what we have effectively because of access to information and misaligned incentives so you know in our case turning once adversaries, providers, and insurers with misaligned incentives and to advocates for the patient that’s really near term I think the best way to improve healthcare outcomes.

Love it. What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

So we all know health care is pretty complicated so I’m not fully understanding all the different dynamics and players in health care and not thinking through unintended consequences. So you talked about consumerism a little bit earlier. So for example one of the challenges and consumerism of healthcare is that the patient for the targeted consumer has historically not been the one making purchasing decisions nor are the vast majority of people thinking about their health care all the time. So you know as we know the usage of digital apps and tools has for the most part been pretty lackluster. So I think before innovating in the healthcare space it’s really important to understand. Again all the sort of different dynamics and players within healthcare.

That’s such a great call out and for the entrepreneurs or even you know large companies looking to innovate in the digital space. A big note to take there. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

So you know I think having a growth mentality constantly improving evolving and embracing change and then hiring people with that same mindset is really critical. So at Benevera who we are today as an organization should absolutely not be who we are three to five years from now if we are we’ve failed. And I can you know I can relate this back to my time as an athlete. Never being satisfied with your last performance and constantly changing techniques, training, diet with the goal of constantly improving. That’s really just critical to any organization but particularly in healthcare.

Powerful. What’s one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

For us really the patient – the patient as a human and as a customer. So we aim to address all of a patients needs that we can and to think about them and their complexity not just as a disease or as a condition. So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but we focus on what we call the whole person in person and then more broadly as a as a joint venture about delivering patient care better together. So we believe that by working together we can deliver patient care. So everything we do is aimed at trying to improve the lives of people and we really stay focused on that work every day.

What would you say your book that you recommend to the listeners is, Corbin?

So I have I have a lot of favorite books. Most of your listeners probably want something health care or sort of improvement related.

Whatever rises to the top of your mind.

Yeah okay. So I love David Brooks’ The Road to Character which really helps. Think about how we as people evolve throughout our lives and seek meaning and purpose in what we do. And so it helped me think about how who I was and what I was doing isn’t entirely about intent and my own personal goals. It’s also about where the world needs me now. So that’s a really that book struck me at the time my life that I that I read it and then it just in terms of general reading. I love all things Michael Lewis, Haruki Murakami, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Love that listeners we’ve had our great discussion with Corbin Petro today CEO at Benenera health. You could find all the show notes as well as a transcript of our discussion. Links to the organization links to the books that she has recommended for your learning. Just go to and you’ll find all that there. Corbin, this has been a blast. Really, really appreciate the time you’ve made for us. If you can just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place we’re the listeners could get in touch with you or follow you.

Sure. I’m gonna end with a little story about a meaningful experience that I had. So about 10 years ago I rode my bicycle across the country solo self-supported and self-guided. I started…

From coast to coast?

Coast to Coast, so yes.

Good for you, that’s amazing.

I started in Seattle and ended in Washington D.C. and I covered thirty two hundred miles and 33 days so each day I would I would navigate my way through places I had never been and was able to see and talk with people of all walks of life. Most people thought I was crazy and they would gladly spend some time about their lives and challenges and everyday for me I had really high highs like reaching the top of the 9000 foot elevation and really low lows like you know when a state highway turned into a dirt mountain pass. So you know the challenges were physical and mental and often the really challenging parts were not what I expected. So for me not having physical contact with another human being for weeks at a time. It was really the only time in my life that I didn’t hug another person for close to a month. Most of us have that human connection on a daily basis and it was really impactful the longing that I had for physical human connection. So my closing thought is that you know as humans we need human contact and especially in health care it’s you know it’s a very human endeavor. So technology can help us enhance but it really can’t replace human contact. So as we think about innovating and health care. You know I encourage people not to lose sight of patients as humans and our need for human connection especially as we age.

That’s a great story. And pretty amazing that you did that and it does bring home the message you know the importance of care.

Yeah absolutely. And I think you know it’s obviously very striking for me and I think just continually thinking about patients as humans is a big thing that we try to do at the end of era. So in terms of connecting with me obviously check out our website Benevera health and then personally I have a very Google-able name only Corbin Petro who is out there. So I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter under my full name.

Outstanding. Thanks again Korban. This has been a blast. Listeners. The beauty of podcasts is that you could go back and listen again. I know this is one that I’ll personally go back and take more notes on. So you’ll be sure to do the same thing and just want to say again Corbin, thanks so much for making time for us. Looking forward to staying in touch with you.

Great. Thanks Saul. I had a good time. Appreciate having me on.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there’s one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That’s why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I’ve been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That’s

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Recommended Book:

The Road to Character


Best Way to Contact Corbin:

Linkedin – Corbin Petro

Twitter – Corbin Petro

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