Leveraging on digital technology to focus on what matters most in healthcare to move the needle forward
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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 today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Dr. Pat Salber. She is the CEO, Founder and Editor-in-Chief at the Dr. Weighs In. Pat is a Physician Executive and Serial Entrepreneur who’s founded and led both for profit and not for profit organizations. She’s currently Founder and CEO of The Dr. Weighs In. It’s an award winning mobile online platform that uses new media to share stories about health care innovation. What I love about it is that their very outcomes based they focus on what matters most to health care leaders and those that want to know what matters most in health care to move the needle forward. Topics like value based care what to do with the new health care economy. You’ll find all those there they do form writing form they do videos and they also have a podcast. So I’m really excited to jump into some of Pat’s work and how she is leading the influencer scene as Editor-in-Chief at Dr. Weighs In. So Pat It’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast today.
Dr. Pat Salber: It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Saul Marquez: It’s a pleasure. So did I miss anything in the intro that you want the listeners to know?
Dr. Pat Salber: No I think you really covered it all. What I like to emphasize is that we’re trying to do real news not fake health news and we try. We try and make sure that all the stories that we have have an evidence base and I know it drives some of our writers crazy. But if they send us the story and they haven’t linked to that evidence ,we make them do that before we’ll consider it for publication.
Saul Marquez: Very high quality and that’s one of the things that is very difficult to do and now I give you credit Pat for leading the way there. What is it that got you into health care to begin with?
Dr. Pat Salber: Oh why. Why did I want to be a doctor. I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was a very young girl but when I went to college as a premed, my advisor told me “Oh I’m sorry but you know girls don’t go to medical school why don’t you go to medical technician school instead?” So luckily I by the time I graduated the women’s movement it kicked in and my medical school class at UCSF was very diverse with lots of women, lots of older people, lots of people who had second careers site. Timing is everything and I was really lucky.
Saul Marquez: That is outstanding Wow. And you totally made it happen and now you’ve gone from frontline to really impacting a broader audience with your work at the Dr. Weighs in. What would you say, Pat is a hot topic that the health care leaders listening to today’s podcast need to have on their agenda and how are you guys addressing that?
Dr. Pat Salber: Well I think the absolute number one topic if you care about health insurance is that continued effort despite rhetoric otherwise to undermine and actually kill the Affordable Care Act and taking down with it pre-existing condition protections.
Saul Marquez: Yeah it’s a big problem. So what are we to do Pat, do you think that this is going away this legislation that helps pre-existing condition patients with preexisting conditions get coverage?
Dr. Pat Salber: Absolutely. You know right now you can see that everybody is running you know I think everybody was the savior of pre-existing conditions. If you listen to the political rhetoric right now but there is a court case which is probably actually already decided. But the issue has not been released in the state of Texas where a judge was more or less handpicked to hear a case brought by a number of prominent Republicans that will make. Listen to this. This is really interesting. That will make the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. And we recently get a story on a letter that the attorney general sent to Congress explaining why the Department of Justice unlike what is the precedent which is for the Department of Justice to jump in and defend existing law. The attorney general sent a letter explaining why they were not going to defend the ACA against this lawsuit to make it unconstitutional. It’s very convoluted but there’s a lot of energy behind it. It’s just people are waiting as far as we can tell. I don’t I can’t tell you that I know this with certainty so this is not evidence based but it looks like what’s happening is that people want to wait until after the midterms because it’s such an inflammatory issue before they reveal what’s actually happened and I think the end game is to take this court case which is in a small jurisdiction in Texas and actually have it make its way through the higher courts and end up in the U.S. Supreme Court where you know once it’s declared unconstitutional it’s really hard to undo something that the Supreme Court gets involved in. So I do think that not just people have pre-existing conditions now which is most of us remember the bad old days when acne continued denial for healthcare. You know everybody needs to be worried about this because you’re going to see people who are basically priced out of the market because they’re having to pay out of pocket for a whole variety of pre existing conditions. It would be it will be a terrible situation health wise.
Saul Marquez: Well and from the sounds of it it sounds like it’s an inevitable end so as we think about things like this you know in the current political environment and how things are happening you know what would you suggest, leaders need to be thinking about because at the end of the day there are the things that you can control and the things that you can’t. So what would you say you’d recommend for the leaders listening to this as an action plan?
Dr. Pat Salber: Sure. And it’s not just leaders who truly everyone. I think that we’ve gotten far too relaxed about how involved we get in in these kinds of issues. And so I find when I talk to people they’re surprisingly uneducated about these really important issues. So I think number one leaders and you know the people that they work with need to read as broadly as they can so that they can understand the pros and cons and come up with an educated decision as opposed to one that’s been spoon fed to them by some whatever their media choices. Though I would say that’s the first thing is really think of it two or three or 10 issues are really important to you and your life and your family and your you know the people that work for you and your company and dive in and really really try and understand it and some depth. And we like to think that we can help you do that. But we would never say “hey come to the doctor race in” a no while I answer for you. Now we have evidence based information for you but you need to look at a variety of sources and come up with your own decision, informed decision.
Saul Marquez: Yeah I think that’s such a great call out Pat. And you know today we do need to take more ownership for what we decide. And yeah it’s easy to just kind of drift and go with what you what you call that you’re your favorite media spoon feed you the challenge and the call to action here folks is to is to take a little taste from a variety of sources. Take a look at at every angle and then make a choice. I like to check in on the Dr. Weighs In. It’s thedoctorweighsin.com. They also have a podcast. If you guys haven’t had a chance to listen to their podcast an outstanding source for information so yeah definitely love your your call to action there Pat. What would you say an example of a topic you guys have covered recently that helped your readers or listeners?
Dr. Pat Salber: Oh that’s a really interesting question because I just got some feedback today. One of the stories that we did we get stories on a regular basis from a doctor who is an infertility specialist. He’s written a really very interesting stories. Infertility and opioids and you know just a variety of issues. But the last one that he did I thought was fascinating because of my side work is that I review benefit designs for a variety of organizations. And if you ever look at benefit designs for infertility they are all over the place but most of them are pathetic in terms of the amount of coverage that they have. So this doctor’s latest article he wrote about not only the inadequacy of the coverage and the fact that infertility is a disease. You know this isn’t this isn’t just a women’s issue. Are these women they want to have babies. You know that’s the way it gets framed so it’s ok why should I pay for you to have your babies when you know my babies are already grown up. That kind of attitude when he wrote a very compelling article and also talked a lot about it included interviews with other people who talked about why we’ve accepted the inadequacies of these benefit designs when it didn’t take very much to get by ever covered. It takes a whole lot to get in fertility covered although I realize that it can be quite expensive. There’s still ways that you can put in a decent benefit design for people. So I posted it on a list serve that I participate in which has a lot of people who are involved in working with employers to do their benefit designs. And one of them wrote me back and said “Oh I can’t thank you enough for this article it’s so timely.” We are right now having discussions about what we should do with our infertility benefit and we’re considering enhancements. So I mean I was very gratified to see that when you read this story it might act on it.
Saul Marquez: That’s awesome. Congratulations on that. And you know kudos to the reader that read and act and we recently had a guest on on the podcast Pat. That is part of the company. Well he’s a founder track and they help males track their sperm count.
Dr. Pat Salber: I did a story of I know I did. Did you really love it.
Saul Marquez: That’s awesome. So you know it’s these things right the resources and options that you don’t even know exist. And I think these are the things that Pat obviously you had these guys on folks you got to pick your sources. And frankly I do believe that Pat and the product that she puts out there is is definitely fantastic. So I urge you to take a look at her honor and her work for another source of health care news and as well as data to help you make some great decisions. So at this point Pat I’d love to hear about a time that maybe you had a setback and what you learned from it.
Dr. Pat Salber: Oh sure. So I did have a big setback. I took this job back when I was still doing a lot of physician executive stuff in Texas which was a big move for me because I’m a Northern California San Francisco Bay Area person Earth doctor many of us but I’m one of them and that is a big move. Yeah and just ended up in a terrible situation and they fired me man. That was the biggest setback. I mean as physicians we don’t get fired right. It just doesn’t happen. And I learned a lot from it. One thing I learned from a friend of mine is I’m whining about it. I’m going on and on about how horrible this is you know unfair and all this stuff. And she said you’ve never been fired before. That was a real eye opener to me that this is just you know it wasn’t the end of the world which I was feeling at the time but rather it’s just one of those bumps in the road that happens to people and actually happens a lot more frequently than you think and you pick yourself up and you figure out what you learned from it and you and you move forward. So it actually ended up being a positive. You know once I worked my way through no all or all of the learnings that I had to do about it.
Saul Marquez: I love that you could look at that and now get a kick out of it. It’s definitely important to be able to see these things that that you know we initially see us setbacks and eventually learn most from and what would you say the one nugget that you took out of that experience that maybe you want to share with the listeners is?
Dr. Pat Salber: It’s interesting because I’m not sure if that was just one nugget but one of the things that I’ve learned now this is ten years ago. So it’s way far behind me. Yeah. Is that the relationships you make even when there’s a bad outcome like that can be enduring and the person that I just brought onto my company was my executive administrative assistant in Texas and she is now my production manager for the Dr. Weighs In. So it is up to me that’s the most important thing I’ve met despite this being a negative experience I met wonderful people and have new friends as a result of that.
Saul Marquez: So strong. I love that. And you know Yeah there’s there’s always a silver lining folks. If you focus on it you will find it and maybe oftentimes it’s not readily apparent. But if you keep searching reflecting it will definitely show up. Thank you for sharing that Pat. Appreciate you being transparent and very real with us.
Dr. Pat Salber: What’s easier to do when it’s 10 years behind you.
Saul Marquez: That’s for sure. That is for sure. Now tell us about an exciting project that you’re focused on today.
Dr. Pat Salber: Sure. So I’ve been consulting with a small company that’s involved in helping caretakers of patients with Alzheimer’s do a better job not just caring for the Alzheimer’s issue of their loved one but to better manage their chronic illnesses. And as a result of that we decided to do a research study. You know I’m not any longer affiliated with the university but and in fact the four of us that created this research project none of us have academic ties but we ended up doing a really interesting research study that showed that Alzheimer’s having Alzheimer’s impacts the overall cost and outcomes of care for chronic illness which sounds intuitive right. But we were able to demonstrate it with we use the CMS 5% sample which is a huge sample of cost in place of service and demographic data for Medicare patients. And we ended up getting it published and I have the final proofs on my desk right now. And I was able to give the presentation of the results at a big Alzheimer’s conference in Switzerland less final that was a very consuming kind of project. It was big to finish the research project big to try and get it published then and then big to for me who is not primarily an Alzheimer’s researcher primarily focused on Alzheimer’s so that we write about it a lot to be able to present to a community of internationally known people in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. So that was that was my big project for this year.
Saul Marquez: Wow. Congratulations. And…
Dr. Pat Salber: Thank you.
Saul Marquez: So was it well received I imagine?
Dr. Pat Salber: It was well received. I mean I would myself until a little bit of a frenzy wanting to be sure this was a very data intense kind of presentation at a conference where people were talking more about theoretical issues. My panel I presented on was was called frameworks for Alzheimer’s so you can imagine how theoretical that is and then I stood up and it showed them the data. But they we got really good feedback from it.
Saul Marquez: Wonderful. Wow. That’s awesome. Congratulations.
Dr. Pat Salber: Yeah. Thank you.
Saul Marquez: Well the quality and the dedication that you put into these these products of your work is certainly resonates with all the people that touch it. So keep up the amazing work that you’re up to Pat. I mean it’s really making a difference for people.
Dr. Pat Salber: Well I hope so. Thank you. It’s a very nice feedback.
Saul Marquez: Hey so now you’re back state side so and we’re close to the end of this interview we’re gonna do a reef lightning round with four questions. What we do is we form a little syllabus through this lightning round four questions followed by a book the one to one of Dr. Pat Salber. You ready?
Dr. Pat Salber: Yeah.
Saul Marquez: All right. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?
Dr. Pat Salber: Well I think it’s. Which is your focus. It’s you have to measure and manage to what you measure because if you don’t do that you’re just kind of blowing in the wind. So I think that’s the most important thing. Do something. Measure the result, tweak it, measure the result keep on going tell you really improve the outcomes.
Saul Marquez: Love it. What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?
Dr. Pat Salber: I said you’ve got a measure and I made it sound like it’s easy. It’s really hard to work hard to do it right. So I actually recommend that people get experts to help them out with it. When we did this paper I told you the Alzheimer’s paper I worked with an updated epidemiologist and I’ve done other papers with. He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to measure correctly. He knows what the mistakes are. I don’t think you can do it alone. Be sure you have the right kind of people at the table with you.
Saul Marquez: Such a great call up but how do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?
Dr. Pat Salber: Got to stay on top of things. I know it’s hard because we write about everything I know you talk about the business side of health care that we write about but we we write about all sorts of stuff. I do a lot of new tech stuff which is how I happened to interview the people the CEO of track and you just have to be on it all the time. You’ve got to you’ve got to go to conferences you’ve got to talk to people you’ve got to be open to having people submit stuff to you and it takes work. You can’t I don’t think it’s something you can do just sort of sitting back and being casual about it. Jump in or force.
Saul Marquez: Love it. And what is one area of focus that drives your organization Pat?
Dr. Pat Salber: Well our big focus now and this comes back to measurement management is we want to continue to get bigger and we have gotten in the past very tied up which is being sure that we had good stories and so forth but have really great stories. But if no one’s reading you’re not going to drive any change. So a big focus for us this year is to do a lot of measurement I brought on a person who’s an expert in what’s called technical SEO Search Engine Optimization and he has already doubled our page views within the first month and doubled our page views. So we actually want to be sure that not only do we have really good stories but people are actually have access to a they know about him and they’re reading them.
Saul Marquez: Outstanding. That’s definitely wonderful. And congratulations on again getting that expert. And folks there’s a theme here right. If there’s something that you’re looking to impact and have very quick impact in I use that word quick in quotations because in health care things do take a while but leverage an expert and you know the money that you’ll spend it will be worth it if you do get the right person. So what book would you recommend to the listeners Pat?
Dr. Pat Salber: Okay. So I did think about this question you did said I had a hope that I listen to books on tape I don’t read much anymore I don’t read business books. But I think the book that impacted me the most this year was a book called Dark Money by Jane Mayer who is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. And if you think you know what’s going on out there in the world of politics in the world of political influence you are well you need to read this book and find out how much power and money is being deployed to get things done that the rest of us just have no idea about. So it’s not only a very good book and very well researched because she’s a super duper researcher but the information in it is is really important I think for everyone.
Saul Marquez: Great recommendation Pat. Dark Money you all could find the show notes a transcript of our discussion as well as links to the Dr. Weighs In as well as a link to the book that Pat just mentioned dark money go to outcomesrocket.health/salber and you’ll find it all there Pat I’ve really enjoyed our time together I love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could get in touch with you.
Dr. Pat Salber: All right well I’ll do a self-serving closing thought. I hope everybody comes over to thedoctorweighsin.com if you are a writer consider this as a place where you can publish your materials and whatever you do keep on reading read a lot read all sorts of different kinds of things so that you can come to the table and no matter what it is what kind of decision you’re making but it’s an informed decision.
Saul Marquez: Outstanding Pat. And again folks you could go to the Dr. Weighs In at thedoctorweighsin.com and if you want to check out their podcast it’s thedoctorweighsin.com/podcasts and you’ll find all that there Pat. This has been a pleasure. Thanks for spending time with us today.
Dr. Pat Salber: Thank you it’s been great spending time with you.
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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