Why Health Leaders Must Seriously Consider Social Determinants of Health with Lisa Suennen, Senior Managing Director, Healthcare at GE Ventures and Managing Partner at Venture Valkyrie, LLC
: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host Saul Marquez
Saul Marquez: [00:00:19] Outcomes rocket listeners, welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket podcast where we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders really want to thank you for tuning in. And I want to invite you to outcomes rocket dot com slash reviews rec'd leave a rating and review for this podcast. So without further ado I want to introduce our outstanding guest. Her name is Lisa Suennen. She's a senior managing director for healthcare and G.E. ventures. And so she's also a writer and blogger and podcaster at Venture Valkyrie and so she's done a lot of things. You guys are probably very familiar with who she is but what I want to do is welcome Lisa to the podcast and then have to fill in any of the gaps in the intro that I may have missed. Lisa welcome.
Lisa Suennen: [00:01:03] Hello there. Well that's about that about covers and I do all kinds of crazy stuff but that's the main thing the main day jobs.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:09] I love it. I love it you're up to some really cool things. And so I always love to ask why did you get into health care to begin with.
Lisa Suennen: [00:01:17] You know it wasn't really an intention. I was working in the tech world. This is back you know in the 80s I was finding it frankly pretty boring sultry Internet kind of stuff right. Yeah. And I talked to my dad who had been in a health care entrepreneur who was healthcare entrepreneur. And he said you know there's some really interesting health care companies you might find that were inspiring and I meet up with a guy a new CEO of a company and the rest is history.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:43] That's pretty cool. You know and it sounds like your dad kind of had the roots in healthcare entrepreneurship and you just kind of led that way and you haven't looked back since.
Lisa Suennen: [00:01:51] I look sideways every once in a while but no not too far.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:55] Nice nice. I love it. I love it. So you're doing some really cool things at G.E. movement and shaking with your own podcast. I have tuned into it. Really great great conversations listeners I'll include a link to Lisa's podcast on the show notes for this one so you could listen because Craig Onix. That's right. Called tectonics and so take a listen. She's doing some really cool stuff on there too. Lisa what do you think. I know all the things that are going on in health care is a hot topic that should be on every medical leaders agenda today.
Lisa Suennen: [00:02:27] Well I think a lot of people would expect me to say technology stuff and there is a lot of technology stuff going on. And I'm glad for that. But I also think that one of the most important things that we can really pay attention to is figuring out how to systematize productize and simplify the access to the social determinants of health. Things around housing nutrition transportation and other related categories that frankly have far more impact on the cost of health care than do many things that we attribute the cost of health care too. And so while I am a big fan of technology and health care and excited about a lot of things that's probably the number one most impactful thing we can do is expand our view of precision health to include an entire patients life.
Saul Marquez: [00:03:15] I think that's really interesting and you know the first thought that comes to mind. Lisa I've been doing a lot of thinking about this and one of the things that you've probably very aware is when companies get into this space oftentimes they're faced with the problems of who pays for it and when you talk about the social determinants of health. Who pays for it.
Lisa Suennen: [00:03:33] Well it's a touch you know obviously the 64000 dollar question as well. I think in a system that's a closed or fully at risk capitated type of system the answer is easy it's the payer right because frankly the downstream cost of not attending to these issues is so high. You know if a patient needs to get an A for services and treatment but they have no transportation it's going to be more expensive take care of them if they can't get access to behavioral health services keep him stabilized they're not going to take care of their diabetes or her condition. Right. So it's really easy on the interest financial interests are aligned when they're not. It's tough you know and the truth is the same in the end I think ultimately it was ever financial risk for the program for the person or the member whomever it may be is who should pay for it. If they're looking to reduce healthcare costs and improve outcomes.
Saul Marquez: [00:04:26] Yeah and just kind of diving deeper into that Lisa. The thought is OK well maybe these patients where now they're being tagged with readmission fees right the provider. So. And yeah so just it's a really great idea and just picking through it could be really impactful. You know anybody doing cool stuff in the space right now.
Lisa Suennen: [00:04:46] I do, actually I think there's a couple companies like healthify, Nowpow and ConsejoSano who are doing finding ways to create for profit business models out of these things companies like CareMore the healthplan. Oh yeah they're doing some incredible stuff particularly around lowliness which frankly is considered to be more deleterious about health and smoking now among older populations. It's very interesting yeah. There's a lot of a lot of work been done about that. So there are some really great programmatic work being done out there. There's a great organization called the Health leagues which is working on this for years. So you know there's a lot of good stuff. It's just not widespread yet. Unscalable and I think some of these organizations are trying to figure out how to solve that.
Saul Marquez: [00:05:32] Yeah for sure. Some great examples and definitely listeners take a look at these companies because if you're exploring the space if anybody knows companies doing good thing that's Lisa. So take a look at those for sure. I'll provide links in the in the show notes too. But Lisa give us an example of how you maybe GE or through you or your own you know podcasting are seeing outcomes improvement through the things that you're doing.
Lisa Suennen: [00:05:59] Well I think that our goal actually ventures is to invest in things that align incentives improve outcomes and reduce costs for all parties involved. We are really excited for instance about sysops which is a company that I did interview the CEO Ken Tarka on my cast recently. They combined data from Myanmar's and genomic data and the like to help identify what's the most effective likely treatments for cancer patients. You know personalized medicine approach. Yes I think that's a good example of that. We're working with another company called Health reveal which uses similarly large quantities of data from disparate sources to identify patients who are not getting treated in accordance with best practices of evidence based medicine. Identify people who might be very likely to have a stroke or heart attack or something and intervene with them before those horrible things happen which obviously saves money but more importantly saves lives. Yeah. So you know that's a big focus of what we do and to the extent we can identify those types of things that align incentives for patient payer and provider. Those are things we look for.
Saul Marquez: [00:07:08] I love that those are really great examples of the sign it's so great that you're doing this you know having these people on your show having these conversations because half the battle is breaking down the silos and communication and health care and so kudos to you for taking the six that so maybe you could share with us. Lisa you've done a lot in health care of a time when you had a setback or a failure and what you took out of that. What pearls of wisdom you took out of that.
Lisa Suennen: [00:07:35] Well I mean those of us who've been inventor or have had numerous setbacks and failures. The odds of all of our companies succeeding are pretty low. And I think about one for instance along the way that what does it do. Actually it was kind of focused on the social determinants thing. Ironically it was. But cancer was focused on getting ancillary services to cancer patients like physical therapy nutrition counseling financial counseling behavioral counseling. You know things that address the side effects of having cancer and being treated for cancer and it was set up kind of as an in clinic model with them physician offices within cancer clinics you know particularly the community sometimes in hospitals and it failed. And I was really upset by that because I didn't really believe what they were doing was good and it was clearly good. I mean there was no dispute as to whether it was helpful to patients patients loved yes but physicians just the oncologist at the time and this is now probably 10 years ago sort of early on in the discussion of paying for the social determinants types of stuff or the ancillary services type stuff. I think it's more common now particularly at the NCI Caterson cancer centers and the like physicians just couldn't remember to refer to it didn't bother to refer to it you know and I think part of it was workflow didn't exactly fit the workflow. Yeah the part of it was frankly it didn't add real revenue to their practices and that we know stood in the way of success and really taught me about how how important that aspect of it is not just the workflow I do about the workflow aspect. We worked hard on that. We obviously didn't get it right but also the financial incentive alignment was a stark example because you're doing something you know is good. You can't get people to refer to it for financial reasons they just didn't make any real revenue from it while they didn't lose money from it. It just didn't care enough.
Saul Marquez: [00:09:27] Yeah Lisa that's such a great great lesson and listeners something to consider as you dive into your business ideas or if you're looking to implement something into your hospital. Lisa brings in some really great examples. This company that just the heart was there but the money and the incentives weren't truly aligned. And it's something that you really have to make sure it's aligned. Yeah. You know Lisa one of the things that comes to mind when we talk about aligned incentives is the implementation of CAP Nagra fee to avoid respiratory compromise in hospitals. And I'll tell you what. You know it's one of those things that should be done but frankly is not done everywhere and it's just an example of you got to make sure you find a way to either bake it into the order set the physician or otherwise find a financial incentive because otherwise it's not happening.
Lisa Suennen: [00:10:23] Yeah well there's many examples of things like that unfortunately and until we have a system where the financial alignment is ubiquitous we will continue to find examples of things like this.
Saul Marquez: [00:10:33] Totally. LISA Okay. So that's one side of the coin. Let's look at the other side the much more bright and amazing side the stuff that you do. What are your proudest moments to date in what you do.
Lisa Suennen: [00:10:45] We'll give you not what you probably expect to answer but my proudest moments are really two things that come to my mind immediately. One is that my daughter told me not that long ago my daughter is in college that she appreciated that I was a role model for her and I know that's like. But you know it really meant something to me that I was always the mom that worked among many moms that didn't around me and that I felt really committed to that and I did what I could to be with her of course but that I felt it was important to have a career to model that for her and she all the guilt that I felt all those years of not being around for whatever programs at school. I think that all washed away with that discussion. For one thing the other thing is now you know being of a certain age and not in my 20s anymore. I spent a lot of time advocating for women and strictly women in leadership and health care and I appreciate that people look up to me for that and that I've been able to do something active and create a company called C-sweetener for mentoring of women in leadership and health care that's been taking off and I know that people respond to it and feel excited about it. And it's very gratifying. I mean it's of course gratifying to invest in a great company and see them succeed. That's incredibly gratifying. But some of the other stuff has been super exciting too.
Saul Marquez: [00:12:09] Totally. And you know what. It's so wonderful. Thanks for sharing that. Lisa I'll have to replay this part of the podcast for my wife because she and she does get these feelings of guilt. And so you're doing an amazing job. Just trust me you are. And so I'm hoping that my son when he grows up he can say the same thing he said to you and I'm going to give him some guidance. So thanks for sharing that and the other organization. I wasn't aware of that when me so that you started that. So that's very encouraging to hear that you have a movement like that in place.
Lisa Suennen: [00:12:44] Yeah it's a company called the C-sweetener. He could find it on the web light of what is going on Match.com.
Saul Marquez: [00:12:50] Why the name, it's a really interesting name.
Lisa Suennen: [00:12:52] It was a play on the word c suite is the target women who are already women in the sweetener were either in the c sweet or near to the c sweet, to make it a sweeter experience. Hence the name. And like that it's kind of a match.com model where women can sign up as men to use it's for women who are you know senior level and match with mentors through batching that's both skill based and interest based as well as personality based with mentors who've signed up and committed time who are extremely experienced people both men and women dedicated to helping women find more in their careers.
Saul Marquez: [00:13:31] That's so cool. Definitely another one we'll have to check out listener so if you find yourself as somebody that can give mentorship or you want to receive mentorship your lady wanting to receive mentorship please visit. But if the mentors could be men and women right.
Lisa Suennen: [00:13:46] Yes the mentors can be men and women I mean we really feel strongly that if men don't participate in the change it will never be struggling.
Saul Marquez: [00:13:53] Yeah for sure. Oh that's so great. So listeners you'll have a link to that too. Lisa doing some amazing things. Tell us about an exciting project you're working on today.
Lisa Suennen: [00:14:02] Well I think we're starting to do a GE where I work is very much a leader in 3-D printing broadly and we're starting a project on the investing side to really focus it on where the opportunities are going to be to make a material difference no pun intended. And I was just going to say a 3D printing world applied to healthcare and I'm really excited about that. I feel like that could have. It's early in the 3D printing application elsewhere but I see how it could have really a big impact over time. You know and we want to be at the front of.
Saul Marquez: [00:14:37] That it's really exciting. And so if you had to say one thing that that's exciting say ten years from now in that space what is the prospect of fill in the blank.
Lisa Suennen: [00:14:46] Printing scanned printing organs printing bone.
Saul Marquez: [00:14:49] The biological side of it.
Lisa Suennen: [00:14:50] Yeah. I mean we're already using it for her some things health care at least experimentally but boy can you imagine how many lives could be saved if you could could use some of those things and use organic products and the body great can.
Saul Marquez: [00:15:06] That be really great. No more donor waitlists.
Lisa Suennen: [00:15:09] Imagine if you could print about heart valves that fit properly. Amazing was made of natural material that would be amazing.
Saul Marquez: [00:15:17] Now our but super interesting definitely Lisa. The list goes on and on and what you do and so appreciate you kind of getting those little gems out to the listener.
Lisa Suennen: [00:15:25] Sure.
Saul Marquez: [00:15:26] All right. Getting to the end here what we're going to do Lisa is you and I. Let's just pretend we're building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine. It's the 101 or the ABC is over. Lisa Suennen, it's a syllabus right now for questions lightning round style followed by the book that will add for our listeners. You ready. Yes. All right. So what's the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?.
Lisa Suennen: [00:15:51] Design products and services that really align particularly financial ones can focus deeply on the clinical side of that. I mean without clinical depth it doesn't go anywhere.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:03] What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid.
Lisa Suennen: [00:16:06] Hiring weak people.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:08] Ooh, that's so great. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change.
Lisa Suennen: [00:16:14] Never stop learning. I mean I think you have to not believe your own B.S. You have to always assume other people are smarter and you have to like go seek out information all the time.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:23] What is one area of focus should drive everything else in your organization.
Lisa Suennen: [00:16:28] Creating value for patients.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:30] And finally. Lisa what book would you recommend to the listeners here on the syllabus.
Lisa Suennen: [00:16:34] Now in an age where data is becoming more and more important I love to recommend Moneyball. It is about baseball it has nothing to do with health care. Yeah. The analogies are terrific. I think the cleverness in which data was applied to make decisions about teams about strategy you know in a way that nobody really had written about before. It's funny as hell it's great.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:57] Lisa so I've seen the movie does it differ from the book much.
Lisa Suennen: [00:17:01] It's a lot more in-depth about how they use data. It's a lot more wonky in a way. Yeah but it's still absolutely fun to read apply. You know and I wasn't big baseball fans. I love it. Didn't know that about you very cool listeners so there you have it Moneyball along with the answers to this syllabus. You could find everything on the show notes. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/Lisas and you're going to be able to find everything that we just talked about today right there. So Lisa before we conclude I just invite you to share a closing thought with the guest and then the best way that they can get a hold of you or follow you.
Lisa Suennen: [00:17:41] The best way to follow me is at venturevalkyrie.com on my Website you can sign up for my blog. Or you can follow me on Twitter @venturevalkyrie and my closing thought is if you don't ask you don't get go out there in the world and ask for what you need you know find partnerships ask for help and ask for opportunity. It's amazing what you get when you ask.
Saul Marquez: [00:18:02] What a great message Lisa and listeners. Be sure to ask and again be sure to visit us at outcomesrocket.health/reviews. Let us know what you think. Lisa just want to say thank you so much once again for spending time with you.
Saul Marquez: [00:18:16] Thanks so much Saul.
: [00:18:20] Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.
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