Stephany Verstraete, the chief engagement officer of the telemedicine company Teladoc Health, believes her focus on leading with business purpose has become quintessential to her success. In my recent interview with Stephany, she mentioned how she never envisioned herself as a healthcare executive nor had she ever worked in a truly mission-driven organization. But now she cannot imagine herself being in any other type of organization.
Being mission-driven is a very common trait among the Creator archetype of today’s Evolved Healthcare Enterprises, which I expanded upon in an earlier article. While the digital aspects are critical for these fast-growing start-ups, being mission – or purpose-driven – is arguably equally as important in healthcare branding. Much of Teladoc Health’s success, as well as the unique differentiators that drive it, can be traced back to its mission-driven culture.
Stephany believes that Teladoc Health is leading the creation of virtual care because the organization is committed to putting people first, while striking a balance between modern consumer experiences and traditional medicine. “Teladoc Health intersects new consumer-centric healthcare experiences with traditional healthcare expertise.” And the term “people”, is intentional. “The healthcare industry tends to de-humanize everything with terms like members, patients, providers, payers, etc. The recipients and deliverers of care aren’t objects. We’re people.” This belief is at the heart of Teladoc Health’s mission, and it has become much more than just words on an “About Us” page. “Teladoc Health is not just mission-oriented, we are truly a mission-driven organization. All our major decisions come down to, ‘Does it help us achieve our mission?”.
Teladoc Health’s success is driven by its culture, experience and ability to look outside the industry for insights.
Culture: “Relentless alignment to our mission keeps us honest”
Even healthcare executives are patients. And all patients around the world routinely have bad experiences. That’s at the heart of Teladoc Health’s mission of “transforming how people access healthcare around the world.” Stephany believes that Teladoc Health is “creating a new kind of healthcare experience – one with greater convenience, outcomes and value.” And when she says it directly influences every major decision, she means it. “It took us six months to get a CFO. If they don’t relate to our mission, we know they won’t be successful…we don’t want people who want to build their resume at cool start-ups or are motivated by the money. You need to share in our passion towards our mission.” This is easier said than done, as Teladoc Health has the expertise and capabilities to create a wide variety of great products. Stephany goes on to say, “We often have hard conversations with our partner organizations regarding product development. It’s not a question of whether we can develop something. The innovations we prioritize have to be aligned towards delivering ‘greater convenience, outcomes and value.’”.
Experience-First: “We invest a lot in meeting people where they are”
Stephany emphasizes that, “You have to remember that this is a very human enterprise, and it’s human because you’re dealing with art and science, patients and doctors. To deliver that in a meaningful way you must consider all the access points and the macro trends from a digital perspective.” This is something the Creator archetype often excels in, and she goes on to contrast it with the Transformer archetype, “Unlike the Transformer space, we’re able to truly look at how we meet the ever-evolving expectations of consumers and what their core barriers are without legacy business systems restricting our freedom. We can service a fundamental bridge, the virtual front door. Because of this, we can quickly become people’s first choice in care. And that’s what we’re continually striving to do; become the trusted place for people to access care.” Stephany routinely underscored the experience they are trying to deliver. While technology is very central to Teladoc Health’s success, it is a means to deliver a valued experience. Leading creators are in the experience-first business, using digital and technology to enable it. Not the other way around.
Looking outside of healthcare: “To stay ahead, you have to look both inside and outside of healthcare to inform your path.”
Nobody would argue that winning in healthcare is different than in other industries. However, Stephany sees this as a risk at times. “People who have been in healthcare for a while tend to over-emphasize how their organizations are different rather than thinking about the similarities they have with other organizations.” For example, when it comes to patients – many healthcare organizations describe them as objects, such as a ‘high-deductible HMO patient’. On top of that, too many healthcare organizations expect individuals to self-navigate and find them. That’s where Teladoc Health is different, Stephany says, “We invest in meeting people where they are. Social media and digital channels are now a primary place where people are willing and seeking to enter. The experience has to deliver a sense of consistency with the healthcare experiences they were having before.” This is not a new concept outside of healthcare. The majority of retail and banking no longer resides in stores and branches, they have gone out, met people where they are, and brought those categories to their consumers’ homes and phones.
Culture, experience and looking outside the industry for insights are universal and global. Stephany notes that, “Healthcare is local, but you also need to think about how you act globally and deliver locally.” Everything mentioned above is valued across the globe and patient populations. Though Stephany agrees that providers will always need to deliver at the point-of-care, there is often a tendency to think globally. “Inherently many healthcare challenges are more similar on a global basis than you would think. The role virtual care can play on the global level is something that really excites me.”
Keep reading for more perspectives on Evolved Healthcare Enterprises from the leaders behind them.