Buy-in for a shared vision of the company is a powerful force for growth. A shared vision is one with the alignment of direction. It like the crew boat that has all the crew members rowing together in rhythm. Today’s guest is Steve Wiggins, Founder, and Chairman of Remedy. Steve has over 30 years of experience in launching and managing companies in multiple sectors of healthcare, including healthcare services, health insurance, specialty pharmaceuticals, medical technology, and healthcare information technology. We talk about what is Buy-in and why it matters. We talk about the critical elements of a shared vision so that you can align your team.
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Target Audience: Steve Wiggins is a Managing Director of EW Healthcare Partners and Founder/Chairman of Remedy Partners. He founded Oxford Health Plans and served for 14 years as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, Oxford grew to over $5 billion in annual revenue and ranked among the 300 largest U.S. corporations.
Steve Wiggins: The Transcript
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Listen, leaders in the trenches, your host today is Gene Hammett.
Gene Hammett: Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. This is leaders in the trenches. My big question for today is do you have a shared vision that everyone in the company has bought into? Well, when I talk about a shared vision, it really is about people aligning together, making sure that everyone’s there for a purpose and that they know what that purpose is because you’ve articulated very well and they have bought into what you’re doing as a company. They know their role within that. Well, that’s what we’re talking about today. We have Steve Wiggins, he is the chairman of remedy partners. Remedy Partners is a specialty company in the world of healthcare. They do bundle payments. We talk about what that means inside here. But what you really want to know is the importance of a shared vision and why to do that as a leader and what you can do specifically to make sure that everyone aligns around that. Together. We talk about some of the things you do over 60 days. It really does make a difference in growing your company. So that is my interview with Steve Wiggins and here is that conversation.
Gene Hammett: Hi Steve. How are you?
Steve Wiggins: Good Gene.
Gene Hammett: I’m glad to have you here to leaders in the trenches and I’m glad you got my name right this time. I’ve already introduced as you to our audience through the introduction, but I’d love for them to hear it from you. So tell us about you and who you serve.
Steve Wiggins: A well, Steve Wiggins and I’ll get your name right. Cause my father raised me to always believe that everybody’s favorite word is their name. So you got to get that right. And I’ve been in healthcare, I’ve been building health care companies, uh, since 1977. Uh, so I’ve been added a long time. My first business was a nonprofit organization and from then I’ve built seven companies that I personally built and started. And the current one remedy partners, um, is in the same vein of a lot of the other businesses. The businesses were mostly around health care. How you pay for it, how you make it more efficient, how you make it more responsive, how you get people better faster how you keep them out of hospitals and keep them living their life. And so a remedy is in that same field.
Gene Hammett: Well, I want to dive into that because, you know, healthcare and whatnot is a big topic in our society. And mini business owners are struggling with what’s the right health care for their families, they’re the workers and whatnot. Um, tell us specifically around where you see healthcare going right now.
Steve Wiggins: Well, we’re gonna have to do something. I, you know, there’s a lot of views when you move into that question. The answer is always full of the, uh, the opinion of who’s ever answering the question. And so, but generally speaking, the problems that we face don’t have a political viewpoint. The problems are that we’re, we don’t have enough money for guys like you. There’s not going to be a Medicare trust fund that solvent unless we do something about it. For most employers healthcare is eating up a bigger share of their revenue than they really want to spend. For most consumers. Healthcare’s complicated when they think about it. It’s a Chinese menu. They get the bills in the mail, they don’t know who did it, why should it cost so much? It lacks all of the transparency that we’d like to see and how we buy things. And um, and most importantly, we’re losing the worldwide global race to be a healthy country. We lag and so many measures of health outcome. And so healthcare has a lot of issues and what remedy does is has a unique place in helping a lot of the parties to solve each one of those challenges that I just mentioned.
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Gene Hammett: Well, you said that since you started this in 2011 as an idea, 2012 was official launch is if I have to have those dates, right?
Steve Wiggins: Yup.
Gene Hammett: That you’ve grown really fast because of the innovation that you’ve brought to the marketplace. Like can you share with us what, what you mean by the innovation?
Steve Wiggins: Well, in healthcare generally payments have always been made on a fee for service basis. So what happens if you go to the doctor and there’s a bill that comes in. It might have 10 different items that you’re being billed for. Then you go have surgery and there might be another 50 items that are billed for in the recovery. There might be another a hundred things that you’re paying for each of them come in, you pay some share, you don’t know it’s confusing and what bundled payments are, which is the field that remedies in it’s a payment mechanism that essentially takes all that and creates one price offers that price to the company and to the consumer and the provider teams that you create to do a hip replacement or to do the normal, a normal delivery of a baby or to do whatever the procedure condition is about that.
Steve Wiggins: We’ll get rid of that. To do whatever is involved. A bundled payment is essentially one price for everything and it covers what’s called an episode of care. And so what remedy does is all of the difficult math, all of the difficult contracting, all of the difficult user interface software, whether it’s with the physicians, the hospitals, or the patients. Where are the logistics people that make a very complicated system easy for somebody like you or for an employer? And the net result is we generally can lower spending on the same services that you’d get any other way by having teams except a bundled payment. We can lower the cost anywhere from 10 to 25%.
Gene Hammett: Well that’s pretty good to have it cheaper. That’s a good innovation. And what’s one of the challenges you’ve guys have had to overcome in the last few years as you’re growing fast?
Steve Wiggins: Well, there’s a lot of competing ideas for how you should control healthcare costs and we live in a time where hospitals are buying their competitors and they’re also buying the physician groups that are uh, historically serving the patients in their community. And so you’re getting these, you’re getting significant head Gemini in a market where one provider may control a significant share of the overall healthcare market. And um, so sometimes change, particularly something like what we’re doing, which creates a lot of transparency and people can see into what things cost. If you’re the dominant player, you don’t like it. And if you’re the insurance company that’s been growing by leaps and bounds and you actually make more money as costs go up because you have four premium dollars that are being managed you’re not as, you don’t have quite the sense of urgency is the small businessman who is struggling to make payroll and to get his revenues in line, his expenses in line with his revenues. And what we do is we create a path for employers and insurers and the government to save a lot of money, but we’re going up against very strong interests that would rather not change and they have often a different view of how you should change.
Gene Hammett: Well, I appreciate your sharing that with us. I, you know, I want to go back to some of the notes I had in preparing for this interview. Steve, you talked about, having a tribe of employees and a shared vision. Um, how did you come up with a shared vision?
Steve Wiggins: Well, if you’re building an organization, you better start with one yourself and you better have some belief and you better have a pretty clear idea of, how to articulate that. Because particularly in this day and age, more and more people want to be involved in something that makes a difference. So we have the good fortune of being involved with something that makes a huge difference. We’re saving Medicare right now over $200 million a year. And so that’s making a difference. We, we make healthcare easier to understand for patients who are going through a difficult hospitalization. That’s something to feel good about and make a difference you’re making, that you’re making a difference in. It’s easy to create a culture and to have a tribe when you’re doing something meaningful. And so in our case,
Steve Wiggins: It’s a little easier than in some others. If I was selling tires or something, it might be a little more difficult unless I had a distinct advantage. But in healthcare, we have the benefit of being able to attract software engineers and data analysts, which are the two biggest job categories for us. Um, because they’re doing something that’s going to make the health system better. And they see that and they appreciate that. And in building a tribe and starts with clarity, honesty, you have to tell people exactly what you’re doing. You have to be consistent. Nobody wants to work in an organization where they don’t have trust in the leaders. You have to be able to articulate that vision clearly to everybody that is involved. You have to be able to stick to it. And I think you have to be willing also to follow your instincts and your gut and you need enough people around you that, and ideally know you, trust you.
Steve Wiggins: So you’re not starting from scratch. I have no problem bringing family members into the company. Never have, I have no problem bringing friends into the company. I never have. I’ve been able to sustain the friendships and not disrupt any family dynamics because I want people to feel like it’s a real tribe where you’re part of something, you’re part of a broad family. And we’re, I think we’ve, I think we’re accomplishing that at remedy. We still have a ways to go, but I think it’s a big part of our success.
Gene Hammett: I want to single out that shared vision part because most business owners have a vision for themselves. What do you mean by share?
Steve Wiggins: Well, you have to, you know, in general, we try to put everything we do into the language of why it matters. And so in our case, we think it’s important to organize healthcare around a patient episode. And we think that it’s important to do that because we believe that if you organize healthcare and pay for health care around the episode, the providers will be more cooperative with one another. Patients will know ahead of time what something’s going to cost. There’s going to be more transparency on what the outcomes are likely to be and, and the patient will have a more connected experience. Everybody that they’re involved with. And so when you begin with the why and what’s the net outcome of what you’re doing, and then you piece together the component architecture of how we’re getting there, it’s up to anybody that looks at us to say I’m in or I’m not. And in our case, it’s pretty easy. We are the people that enable an insurance company. We enabled a physician group, we enabled a hospital to you to operate with bundled payments.
Steve Wiggins: And then we enable a small employer to be able to buy an insurance product that encourages his employees to use more efficient teams of providers that accept this fixed price. And so we were lucky. We are in a space that is huge. We’re in the biggest industry in the world and we could potentially capture billion, hundreds of billions into this payment model. We’ve already captured a just under 10 billion of spending in our PA in just our program. And so, and what we do applies globally. It’s not just in the US. And so it’s like I say, it’s a little easier to get people to believe in a vision when it makes a lot of sense and it’s not a vision that’s involved in just making money. It’s, that’s a byproduct for the people involved.
Gene Hammett: I want to ask you a question because a lot of people have a vision and somewhere it gets derailed because they get focused on how and, and maybe the people lose track of it. Is there anything you’ve learned in your journey of keeping people aligned with the Vision as the company continues to move forward?
Steve Wiggins: Well, first of all, I’m a big believer that if you’re not a writer, become a writer. If you’re not a good speaker, become a good speaker. And if you’re not a great speaker, just get comfortable being exactly who you are and making sure that you communicate. The second thing I’m a real believer in is some organizational framework that allows everybody to know what their part is in the broader play. And we use OKR, our objectives, and key results. You can Google it. It’s a well-known approach to agile planning that allows you to modify. But what Okr is allowed the leader to do is always be zoned in on is, is this organization headed down the path that where we’d like to see it go? And if the leader doesn’t have the answer, doesn’t know that and you got the wrong leader. And probably if you, if you could ever know that about a company you’d want to short it or get out of bed or compete against it.
Steve Wiggins: But, I’m a big believer that objectives and key results where you say to somebody, what do you think are the five things that are most important that you can do for the company in the next 60 days? And don’t tie it to pay. And if the person comes up with seven of them, you’d take it down to five. And then from those five, you try to take it down to three and you save those three matters the most. And if at the end of 60 days they’ve accomplished two of the three. Great. Because what doesn’t happen now in particular because of the distractions of our day, is that sometimes people don’t get to important things done in 60 days. And so if the leader can always use Okr’s, or some tool like that to pull everybody back on track and think of that as the most important work that they do, you can, I’ve run a fortune 300 company that way that I built from scratch. And I just made sure that I knew at the highest level what the goals were and I knew exactly what the response the Okr is were for my second tier people. And, and they were responsible for taking all that down to down through the organization. And when you do that, when you have that alignment and it’s agile because you’re shifting it every 60 days beautiful things can happen.
Gene Hammett: I was going to ask you, is there something, some magic to the 60-day timeframe for you?
Steve Wiggins: I don’t believe in like annual goals and that sort of thing because people can hide behind them. And, it’s not reflective of the dynamic nature of how organizational life works and how organizations themselves evolve and grow. Because when you’re growing, you really never know what the problems are that are going to come at you and you might have to change what is one thing might be a really important priority, but the government changes a regulation or a competitor comes out with some new way of doing something. And, if you don’t have an agile planning process and an agile execution process that allows you to shift in real time, you’re going to struggle to keep up.
Gene Hammett: When you talk about tribes, uh, you had shared with us some, some ways that people align around vision, but is there anything specific to make sure the tribe stays engaged with the work that they’re doing?
Steve Wiggins: To really, good question. And I don’t think that there’s a silver bullet. Just don’t, I think the way this really works is you have to stay on top of it. There’s asymmetric warfare is a concept in international terrorism that applies to companies now as well. And you know, you can have one disgruntled person who goes on any one of the websites that could take down a CEO and they logged the lab something in and so you’re out. You have to, you have to be able to take all that on. Also because your vision anymore in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s and the early two thousand, it was a different challenge. It was quite frankly easier to keep an organization going in one direction. Now with so many people that have so many competing views and so many different views as you know, cause you’re in the business, you know, we have people that maintain a significant social media presence, but at the same time we have a digital presence team that’s watching exactly what’s going on in Linkedin, exactly what’s going on all the websites that could affect us. And we’re also putting things out mostly in health care policy so that the government knows what we’re thinking at all time. Because, uh, in our case, the government policy is very important. And if we don’t, if we don’t also have, as part of our strategy moving policy will fail.
Gene Hammett: I want to be able to bring this home when innovation, like I don’t know what you’ve learned in your years of decades of working in health care, but you’ve got to continue Leslie innovate and you’ve got to get people to bring fresh ideas and have the courage to make those things happen. How are you doing that on a regular basis, Steve?
Steve Wiggins: Well, right now I’m the chairman, I’m the executive chairman and I go, I do a lot of sales calls and I go out right now. And so the next, uh, three business trips for me are sales calls and meeting with customers each because our customers are all over the country. We’ve got hundreds of hospital systems and hospitals and physician and organizations in some big insurance companies around the country. And I like to get in front of them. I also like to hear from our field organization what’s working and what isn’t working because I think Steve Jobs had it right. And that’s what you can’t delegate innovation very successfully. Someone who has a connection to all parts of the puzzle in complicated businesses, in particular, has to take a personal interest in defining if you’re building software, you have to define use cases, you have to write the functional specs yourself.
Steve Wiggins: You have to be engaged with the people doing that. And then you have to monitor the progress to make sure that the knowledge people that know about it are transferring that those insights to the engineer, the software people are the analytics people. In our case, I, I’ll write a, I’ll write a report like I would like to see it. And uh, and it’s interesting how often it becomes part of our armamentarium of the analytics packages that we’re delivering to our customers. And at the same time, I feel that way about presentations. You know, we, people tend to reuse in an organization, whatever’s available as a, as a PowerPoint, let’s say. And I’m a big believer that in the ideal world, um, as the leader, you have to create those yourself and you have to learn to use those tools. And don’t delegate that out.
Steve Wiggins: Don’t care how high up you. I have so many friends that are on bigger organizations and I say to them, how can you not know how to use some of these, some of these software tools? Are you, are you just relying on somebody to do this for you all the time? And I think that’s a mistake I think you have to go hands on. And I find that if I build a deck for a presentation that I make, I’ll go to one of our big, uh, employee gatherings and I’ll see, I’ll see 15 of my slides show up in other people’s backs and I realize some of that’s innovation to its innovation and how you’re characterizing complex subjects and communicating them in images and words.
Gene Hammett: Yeah.
Steve Wiggins: And so I think it’s important. You just have to be engaged in when you, when you get to the point where you think, I just can’t do this anymore, then you have to start the delicate process of turning it over to somebody who?
Gene Hammett: Steve, I appreciate you being here. I love for you to take a chance to tell the audience where they can find out more about remedy partners and what you guys got coming up next.
Steve Wiggins: Good. Well remedy is based in Norwalk and a Norwalk Connecticut and New York City and you can find us on the [email protected]
Gene Hammett: All right, well that wraps up this episode with Steve. I really appreciate the insight around shared vision and tribes and how do you continuously innovate and how you want to be hands on that. That’s, those go back to this is all about leaders in the trenches, so thanks for being here, Steve.
Steve Wiggins: Good job. Good luck with your podcast.
Gene Hammett: Wow, what a great interview. There are so many similarities between fast-growing companies because they know what works and if your company’s not growing, you probably haven’t tuned in to the fast growth drivers, which I have talked about, you know, over and over and over on these podcasts. So if you have any questions about where your company is going next, you have a challenge that you want to ask me about. Then make sure you reach out to [email protected] I’ll be happy to engage with you. Maybe you’ve got free content. They could just answer that question. So make sure you reach out to [email protected] as always, lead with courage. I’ll see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
In this episode we’ll cover:
- Overcome Fastgrowing Companies
- Tribe of Employees and a Shared Vision
- Keeping People Aligned with the Vision
- How to Stays Engaged with the Work
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