Improving The Patient Journey

Ed Clark, Chief Strategy Officer at Fairmont Pediatrics & Associates

Improving The Patient Journey

Offering innovative approaches for physicians to love what they do and create improved outcomes

Improving The Patient Journey

Recommended Book:

Team of Rivals

Best Way to Contact Ed:


Linkedin – Ed

Improving The Patient Journey with Ed Clark, Chief Strategy Officer at Fairmont Pediatrics & Associates (transcribed by Sonix)

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success with today’s most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez: And welcome back to the podcast. Saul Marquez here. And today I have an outstanding leader for you. His name is Ed Clark. He’s a Director of Business Development at Fairmont Pediatrics and Associates. Where they’re focused on the development and implementation of innovative primary care delivery and business models. Today we’ve got a lot of stress and anxiety from physicians. It’s no secret. And this need for companies and groups to provide this type of innovative approach for physicians to live their mission rather than behind the EMR is very important. And Ed’s going to cover some of the things that he and his group are doing. He was formerly in financial operations at Angel M.D. Associate Addison Partners and U.S. Army captain, company commander and helicopter pilot for nine years so great background, excited to dive into this discussion with Ed. Welcome to the podcast my friend.

Ed Clark: Thanks Saul. Thanks for having me. And I think I’ve listened to about 100 episodes and I’m not sure I’m completely worthy to be on this platform with you but I’ve taken away a lot of tremendous nuggets of wisdom from amazing leaders and you know hopefully our passion the problems that we’re trying to solve are worthy for this platform. So thanks again for having me. Great.

Saul Marquez: My pleasure.

Ed Clark: My bio and I would say serving in the U.S. Army was was a privilege and an honor. I probably would still be there if the army didn’t retire my helicopter but the health care system is a close second in terms of trying to do good for our country and help people in general.

Saul Marquez: That’s excellent man. Now well thank you for your service and thank you for listening. We appreciate it. And so you know definitely excited to dive into to some of the things that you guys are up to there at Fairmont Ed, so they retired your helicopter huh.

Ed Clark: I flew the over age 58 Kiowa warrior. And it was a legacy aircraft from Vietnam. So it was do but it was sad to see it go nonetheless.

Saul Marquez: So do you still fly?

Ed Clark: No I don’t. I haven’t flown since 2015 when we flew cross-country from Fort Campbell to David Moss Muslim Air Force Base and that’s where the aircraft are laid to rest.

Saul Marquez: Gotcha. Wow man. I’m sure you have some great stories. I would love to hear those from you. So you had this excellent experience. You served the country and now you you’ve decided to get in the health care sector. You said it was second right. That was like the next best thing. Why did you decide to opt in for that?

Ed Clark: Sure. So I think the short answer is I want to help make US better and looking at where I could have some influence. You know I think the U.S. health care is unsustainable as it is and so I wanted to make a commitment to making it better. And joining from Pediatrics I think is the best steps I could take in doing that. I think that the whole story is a little more complicated. As you mentioned you know I had some experience with a venture capital firm Addison partners and exposure to business development for health care I.T. You know I’ve worked with Inge M.D. which was a crowdfunding networking platform for doctors and health care professionals other investors to invest in lifescience startups. I’ve also had the privilege to watch my amazing wife Katie build a very successful career and medical device as a rep for Johnson and Johnson. So I find health care incredibly complex and fascinating. I’ve also seen people are making a lot of money and I have to ask myself whose expense is this happening? what could we do better to share that value to make health care more sustainable? So I decided to commit to this career and join a group of pediatricians and primary care doctors that in my opinion the key element to reducing costs and improving U.S. health care for the long term.

Saul Marquez: Well you definitely have have given it some thought Ed and appreciate you sharing the meandering road that got you here. It’s definitely clear that you’re your mission driven and that you’ve chosen a mission driven company to help do your life’s work. What would you say if you had to sum it up to one topic What’s that hot topic and what needs to be on every medical leaders agenda. How are you guys tackling that?

Ed Clark: I think the topic I’ll address is already on leaders agendas. You know I think your podcast has talked about quite a bit but you know value-based care and what does that mean. You know I think the way that some leaders should look at it should be maybe even a little more controversial. How are these leaders deriving value and at what expense is it coming? You know so it’s my belief that this topic should get people figuring out where can value be shared. That may reduce overall costs and reduce costs to those that hurt the most. Half of personal bankruptcies in the US are related to medical bills. And talking about a three to four trillion dollar industry how can we not be sharing some of the value creation with the folks like these and prevent those type of outcomes. So what we’re doing. We’ve actually implemented a policy in the primary care space similar to ANTALA which mandates that hospitals that have emergency rooms will not turn away patients that they will be treated until they’re capable of being released. And we will not turn away any patient regardless of their ability to pay. And we’re not just keeping that value for ourselves where we’re sharing it to those who need it the most. And I think overall acts like these are going to be good for business and good for U.S. health care in the long run. And so sorry if I was a little bit of a tangent. I kind of got us on a soapbox but you know value based care is a topic that needs deep consideration. I think it needs to be broken down into many different levels and understanding where value is being created, where it can be shared and then when value is created where is reinvestment going to have the biggest impacts. I think preventative care is a great place to invest where you’re going to have a phenomenal return on the long term health of U.S. health care.

Saul Marquez: Now I think it’s a great call out Ed and you know I think a lot of leaders are still struggling with value based care. What does it mean? How do we align value? Who does it go to? And you know you call that out right. There’s it’s a three trillion dollar industry. And for people to be going bankrupt not acceptable. I had a great conversation with a gentleman from Denmark and he was just like yeah. You know are our taxes are about you know if the 5% here. But what is the net tax when you are universities and health care system bankrupt half your people. So going back to what you’re saying yeah I mean how can we rethink this in such a way to give value where it should be given. I think you’re you’re calling it out and I think it’s good for leaders to be thinking about this. Can you give us an example Ed of how you and Fairmont is doing things differently to improve outcomes?

Ed Clark: Sure. You know I think it goes back to this conversation about value but you know we have a tremendous amount of compassion for providers for the employees of these practices and for our patients. And we have passion for problem solving. And I don’t think that makes us unique necessarily I hope it doesn’t. I think a lot of companies are out there have compassion and are passionate about what they’re doing. But I’ll just tell a couple examples of how we even started as a company to show the level of compassion that I’m talking about. We the first few acquisitions really happened accidentally. There was a physician that had fallen ill, wasn’t able to maintain working hours and lost a lot of patients because because of that you know it’s a wonderful physician and just wasn’t in a position to hire assistance. So we became in a choir practice. We hired some nurse practitioners, extended the hours, listen to the patients to see what they wanted. They wanted accessibility from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.. And so we did that. And the physician fortunately her health is improving and their practice is thriving today. When we’ve had other pediatricians that have been practicing in the same office for 20 years and they have a wonderful practice but they’ve seen an increasing mix of Medicaid patients and decreasing reimbursements and their practices are suffering and to some extent their patients feel the results of that suffering. So those are the types of acquisitions that we’re taking on, those aren’t easy problems to solve. We have a deep compassion and it comes from our founders who doctors say oh and rob you sale they’ve experienced this themselves in their own practice and working for 18 months before their credentials were complete and reimbursements were coming in the door. So you know I think that level of compassion is really what is differentiating us. You know there’s not a lack of physicians that are looking for a retirement plan or an exit strategy or succession strategy. And so we’re solving those problems with a deep level of compassion.

Saul Marquez: I love it. So you definitely are doing great work. Sounds like the team of providers theirs is fully engaged. What would you say is is one of the biggest differentiators for that you guys are doing that others should be considering?

Ed Clark: Sometimes it just comes down to simple engagement and in others you can use technology and you have to measure. You have to hold yourselves accountable to measure the things that you’re doing and the effectiveness of your engagement. But I’ll give you a small example. I was talking to a pediatrician two days ago and asked how he has maintained a successful and busy practice for 30 years and he said he simply picked up the phone and called patient. He called them to engage with them to educate them to follow up or book appointments and that level of compassion and passion for helping others I think is is what we look for in the physicians that we acquire. And from a management perspective, we’re trying to bring tools to our physicians that make it easier for them to engage on that level provide them feedback that they don’t typically get. Help them assess their success versus their peers. Because again that’s not something that is readily available for physicians. So a couple of things that we’re doing in terms of measuring our effectiveness helping provide some clarity with physicians on, where does their practice stand compared to others and always keeping their compassion for our patients our employees and the physicians themselves at the forefront of our decision making.

Saul Marquez: And I think that’s really great. I mean compassion is is definitely something that we all need especially when you’re when you’re getting taken care of and if it’s your kids. I think about the landscape and I think about one of the biggest challenges is that user interface with the health care system from setting up appointments to filling out forms to follow ups and accessing records. Are you guys do anything in that realm to make it easier for patients and their families?

Ed Clark: Yeah. We’re we’re experimenting a lot with different products that are out there. You know we would love to be part of aggregating some of the products that are out there. You know there’s some wonderful text messaging applications, REHR, clinical works has some wonderful tools to engage patients to help them make appointments online to give them access to their own patient records which is a crime that people have had to pay for access to their own records you know back in before electronic records came out. So you know I think the access that we are providing is patients from the different tools that we’re integrating into REHR have been very effective. And then the other some of the tools that we’ve companies we’ve been talking to do care wire patient pop that they really help you get a sense of you know your patient satisfaction and those in primary care especially in pediatrics. It’s a little more difficult to determine the quality of care. So tools such as those have been critical for us to understand from the parents perspective and the child’s health. How effective are we being? Where can we improve to meet their needs?

Saul Marquez: Yeah. You guys are definitely open to the things that are out there so major kudos for you guys. You guys are out in Pasadena Texas right?

Ed Clark: Yes that’s a suburb southeast of Houston and it’s a really great area. Big Oil and Gas Industry chemicals and it’s a wonderful area that boom probably 40 years ago. And you can see how the whole city of Houston has continued to transform in different areas migrating and we’re in areas that really have insufficient health care access in my opinion and we’re concentrating in these areas because that’s where the majority of the need is from. As I mentioned Pasadena and I may not have mentioned but about 80% of our patients are on Medicaid and a lot of physicians won’t accept Medicaid insurance. So we’ll step in happily to help these children and families.

Saul Marquez: You guys are doing great work and for those folks listening around the Houston area or serving populations similar to what Ed just mentioned definitely worth checking out the work of Fairmont pediatrics. What’s the best place for them to check out the stuff that you guys are up to Ed?

Ed Clark: You know best place just to connect with myself eclark@fairmontkids.com. Now we’re in the process of rebranding our management team. So we’ll have more information available very shortly. And I think we’re certainly open as I mentioned to you before the podcast. You know we’re building our advisory board right now and certainly interested in health care leaders that want to help us in the primary care space and how to best affect children childhood development, and the families in areas that need the most help considering the social determinants of health which is a whole nother conversation we could have.

Saul Marquez: Right. For sure. So definitely take up that invitation folks. If you’re looking to collaborate or even advise a group looking to take some strides in pediatrics definitely reach out. We’ll include Ed’s email in the show notes. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/fairmont. You’ll find it there. Ed what would you say one of your proudest leadership experiences in health care have been to date?

Ed Clark: We have a program in all of our pediatric clinics to sponsor and celebrate kids birthdays. So it’s not only a way for us to get back to the families and connect with them but we give nutritional classes. We discuss insurance benefits, Medicaid eligibility, and the importance of regular wellness exams. So one day we had a distressed mother of three come into our office and was asking if we accept Medicaid and we said yes we absolutely accept Medicaid. We’re happy to have you here. And she had a big sigh of relief and you know we continue to engage with her and her three children and come to find out the youngest had his birthday that Saturday. And we offered to sponsor a birthday for them. And she just filled up with tears and was so thankful that we were caring enough to provide a birthday party when she couldn’t afford something like that. And so to me I was incredibly proud of our team how they engaged with our patients and showed compassion to them. And you know certainly we’re going to help that family of three children for years to come. And I think that’s a win win situation. And I’m very very proud of.

Saul Marquez: Man that’s so cool. And you know it’s a testament to what’s possible. You know number one a testament to the creativity and mission drive you Ed and in your and the team over there, the physicians. But it’s also an example for us like we could be creative in a lot of ways. I don’t know about you guys and gals listening to this but you know when Ed told me about this birthday I think about how little it costs and the value that it gives. I mean Ed you could probably and hey folks listening if you want to sponsor one of these birthdays. Reach out to Ed. I mean you know this talk about an incredible opportunity to give to a child a need and it just all part of that caring. So if this sounds interesting to you reach out to Ed. You open for some donations Ed?

Ed Clark: Absolutely.

Saul Marquez: Birthday sponsorships.

Ed Clark: We will not turn anyone away.

Saul Marquez: And so Ed, what’s your e-mail again?

Ed Clark: eclark@fairmontkids.com.

Saul Marquez: Awesome. So folks there you have it. And as a matter of fact I will definitely do one my friend. It would be my pleasure to kick off this this round. So let’s chat after this. Be happy to sponsor the first one and start from the outside of the organization.

Ed Clark: Thank you Saul.

Saul Marquez: So let’s pretend ad we’re building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in the business of medicine and outcomes. The one to one of Ed Clark. We’re going to build out a syllabus lightning round style. So I’ve got four questions for you. Followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Ed Clark: Sure.

Saul Marquez: What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Ed Clark: I think health education and investment in primary care and preventative medicine is the best thing we could do in the United States?

Saul Marquez: What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Ed Clark: I think the best insights can come from very unexpecting encounters. So I would say avoid overlooking, underestimating anyone.

Saul Marquez: How do you stay relevant despite constant change?

Ed Clark: You have to listen to your customers and for us that’s the providers, that’s our employees, and in our patients. You have to understand the value chain and where you can share value with all of the stakeholders.

Saul Marquez: What’s one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Ed Clark: It’s continuous improvement. It comes in several forms. I think education, growth, testing, failing, failing early and learning. I think that’s the beautiful cycle that we’ve tried to implement for continuous improvement.

Saul Marquez: What would you say is your all time favorite book?

Ed Clark: It’s kind of a long one. I read it probably a decade ago.

Saul Marquez: All right let’s hear it.

Ed Clark: Team of Rivals. It’s a great book about the most remarkable leader in American history American and Abraham Lincoln. We built this presidential cabinet with political rivals and leverage insights from all these different perspectives to influence and lead our nation in its most critical moment in history. It’s my favorite book of all time so I had to throw it out there. Not health care related.

Saul Marquez: Nevertheless though complex situations needing strong leadership. I think it’s a great application to our health care environment today Ed. Team of Rivals folks. We’re going to include a link to that book, or linked to or share all the contact info for Ed. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/fairmont find all that there. Ed, this has been fun man. I’ve really enjoyed our talk. If you can just share a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could get in touch.

Ed Clark: Sure. Thanks for having me Saul. I think there are people in health care doing amazing things through advanced medicine that really is going to revolutionize humanity as we know it. I think we have to balance our investment in those advancements with investments and a bit like childhood development and social determinants of health. Again which I’ll leave to another conversation but I constantly think about the social determinants of health in our primary care space and I think prevention is under invested in the US and has some of the best return on investment for patients in our country. So I’ll continue on that path and I welcome anyone that wants to connect with me and those regards to contact me eclark@fairmontkids.com I’m on LinkedIn. I’m not incredibly active on social media but you can find me either as Ed Clark or Edward Clark and I would be happy to discuss further.

Saul Marquez: Outstanding Ed hey this has been a pleasure. Folks take Ed up on that invitation to collaborate and Ed looking forward to staying in touch. Thanks for spending time with us.

Ed Clark: Thanks Saul.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration, and so much more.

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