A North Star in Healthcare, Leading Innovation and Transformation

Francine Barnes
Mon 14 Nov 2022
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Innovators push boundaries to achieve growth. Innovaccer was founded on accelerating innovation and is led by “Xccelerators” who—through their talent and experience—push boundaries to help our customers achieve digital transformation.

Amy Dirks Stevens is an Innovaccer Xccelerator, whose extensive experience in healthcare as an executive, strategist, and voice for health equity has given her a unique and holistic view of the industry. She plays a crucial role in supporting Innovaccer’s rapid growth and industry leadership by unlocking providers' ability to fully achieve the business and clinical performance targets in their contracts. Innovation is in her title, and in this edition of Innovators @ Innovaccer, you’ll learn why.

Have a question for Amy? Write to us at team@innovaccer.com.

  1. Tell us about yourself.

    I'm lucky enough to have had a career in a few different industries, healthcare being the most recent for the past several decades. Before joining Innovaccer, I worked as a start-up executive and executive vice president at AVIA, a health transformation network of providers and payers focused on improving business performance through digital solutions and automation. In this role, I addressed the challenges and priorities of health systems and payers and gained an insider’s perspective on the technology and services companies that serve them.

    Before AVIA, I was president of one of the first FTC-sanctioned clinical integration networks (CIN). For over two decades, I worked as an enterprise and regional executive in health systems, holding chief operating officer and chief strategy officer roles. I had the opportunity to work with many corporate leaders from early on and do some unusual things in the healthcare industry. Test driving new business models in a complicated industry is a critical way to move things forward, and to learn what doesn’t work—sometimes dramatically.

    For instance, economic credentialing of physicians—where hospitals don’t allow physicians to be on staff if they have competing economic interests, not because of their skills at practicing medicine—was, not surprisingly, a failure. But other models that benefited patients and providers were quite successful. Two examples included contracting with physicians to formally co-manage service lines and learning how to create managed care contracts that could improve patient outcomes—while also supporting the providers and payers financially.

  2. Why did you join Innovaccer?

    What got me excited about Innovaccer was its growth and scalability. The data space is still quite young in maturity, which makes for interesting opportunities to help grow organizations and if you're going to go into the data and analytics space, why not work for the very best that's out there?

    I’ve known Dr. Brian Silverstein, Innovaccer’s chief population officer, for quite some time and had a mutual connection to Innovaccer’s chief medical officer Dr. David Nace. I was happy when they approached me about joining Innovaccer as general manager for provider performance because it’s intriguing to be able to take all the disparate parts that have been working for so long in value-based care (VBC) and population health and help them work together in service of all contracts.

    Contracts are how providers get paid, which has translated in the U.S. to being the number one construct that shapes how care is delivered, or not. Every dollar that comes into a health system as patient care reimbursement is at risk in some way (e.g., claw-backs, bonuses, more quality stars). So, the tools we have built so well for fully at-risk populations are highly applicable to other contracts.

    While there's still incredible room left inside the market for ACOs, MSOs, CINs (the smaller entities focused exclusively on risk contracting), the organizations that own them can tremendously benefit by using the same tools to increase business performance across the board. Our Best in KLAS data & analytics platform can support significant improvement for them clinically, operationally, financially, and in quality, patient engagement, and provider experience.

    And if there was ever a time when health systems needed help, it’s now. They are posting historic losses, a shrinking and depleted workforce, increasing costs, and new competition from disruptors like payviders. With a more informed view of their organization's performance in key areas, Innovaccer is in a unique position to be able to help these organizations make better decisions, faster, and with confidence, so they can change business outcomes and improve health. When I have the opportunity to go into a space where I can be a part of making a difference, it’s exciting for me.

  3. What’s your role at Innovaccer?

    As general manager for provider performance and value innovation, I help organizations achieve their strategic objectives to improve access in their communities, reduce cost, improve and diversify revenue, and enhance quality. I work closely with Innovaccer leadership to implement innovative care delivery models and population health management (PHM) strategies that leverage the Innovaccer® Health Cloud’s Data Activation Platform (DAP) and PHM suite to improve clinical, financial, experiential, and operational outcomes, no matter the type of payment models.

    Innovaccer fairly recently and quite quickly moved from a 1:1:1 business model to a “Many:Many:Many” model. We originally built the company primarily around one market and one market subsegment: providers and smaller risk bearing entities, like MSOs, ACOs, CINs, etc. We had one geography for many years: the U.S. And we were singularly focused on one product suite: value-based care and population health, underpinned by the DAP. That meant all the functions in the company—like sales, marketing, product, customer innovation, etc.—basically functioned as a single business unit.

    But we believe, and saw strong investor agreement, that this solid 1:1:1 foundation can be multiplied. So, we became a company of “Many:Many:Many”. We’re developing multiple product suites, and multiple markets and subsegments across multiple geographies. In this new business model, you need to have business leaders who stay tightly aligned to whatever category or business unit they’re pulling all the resources across the organization into, in service of that business.

    We now have multiples of them; we have providers, payers, and life sciences; we have the UK and the Middle East. We can do several product suites, revenue cycle management, PRM, etc., and when you look at it that way, we now have our functional areas. If you're in marketing, if you're in product, if you're in growth strategies, you’ve suddenly multiplied the number of stakeholders that you're trying to service in these various dimensions. So there needs to be key business leaders who organize and run the business units inside of the company. We used to be essentially one business unit.

  4. Tell us about your team.

    Our deepest expertise in the company is in PHM and it’s highly dispersed across every corner of the company. When Innovaccer shifted solely to healthcare, virtually every function was originally focused on how to develop products for risk-based entities; many were stand-alone and some have been a subsidiary of a larger entity, like a health system.

    Especially in the last year as we’ve added new categories, like CRM, and geographies such as the UK, and UAE, each function in the company has been rapidly expanding their expertise and bandwidth to service these new markets and geographies—from marketing and product to GTM and partnerships.

    While there is still significant head room to grow in our founding core segment (an alphabet soup of entities like MSOs, CINs, ACOs, MSSPs, etc.), we are expanding our target segments to entities like health systems, payviders, venture-backed VBC entities, and giant retailers. Even if someone has been in the population health category in Innovaccer for a while, there are tremendous new opportunities for professional growth given our market segment expansions.

  5. What's a typical day like at Innovaccer for you?

    One of the great things about being a category leader who looks across the entire organization is that no day is the same and I get to work with most every function in the company. I travel most weeks and work from home on the in-between days. I get tremendous energy and value from engaging with prospects and customers to help us tune our strategies and know what the market needs and will buy.

    The meetings I’m typically in include c-suite or senior executives, given these are roles I’ve been in for decades—allowing me to easily engage as a peer. We also took on a one-of-a-kind major consulting project for one of the largest health systems in the U.S. So over the last four or so months, several of us shifted a significant portion of our FTE to being traditional consultants, and I was the executive sponsor for the client.

  6. What makes Innovaccer different from other companies you have worked for?

    Innovaccer has a strong sense of how it wants to be seen in the global market as it grows. I love leading companies when they are in this stage of growth and maturity of their vision. It takes a new operating model, different strategies, and enhanced tactics to advance a company through its natural development. I like to say we’re acting age appropriate as we go through this sometimes messy and overwhelming phase of our cycle.

    But the thing that drives me more than anything is improving the health of our communities. With digital health accelerating at an incredible pace, providers need new ways to transform their workflows and provide better care at lower costs. They need a platform that helps them streamline workflow, optimize resources, collaborate across silos, increase productivity, deliver actionable insights into care delivery, and continuously improve quality while reducing costs.

    Innovaccer also can help partners innovate in areas such as provider performance management (PPM), VBC, and PHM. Our platform gives customers deep insights into how they can create new efficiencies within existing healthcare systems—whether it be improving reimbursement models or lowering per capita costs through improved patient engagement. Innovaccer takes a consultative approach to help customers understand exactly what their needs are, then designs solutions around those needs.

    One thing that stands out about Innovaccer is its ambition. Innovaccer’s work has been recognized by KLAS in a brand new category—data and analytics platform—exemplifying that the market understood why it is needed.

  7. Why should others join Innovaccer?

    There’s no generic answer for this question. It depends on the role and boils down to the opportunities Innovaccer provides. For example, if you want to be a software developer for a big industry-level platform, you can do both the platform play, as well as specific applications at Innovaccer. Not all companies offer that opportunity. You can work at an application company, you can work in data science, you can work in a data platform company, but to be in a company that gives you all of those options is something special.

    In sales, we’re addressing so many different parts of the industry concurrently, whether it's provider, payer, life sciences, different geographies, and both applications as well as a platform. I think if you're in something like marketing and branding, you have a great opportunity to bring awareness to the world, not just the country, about what the Innovaccer is doing. And there’s so much rich fodder to work with.

    There's a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness in the market about the need for integrative data analytics platforms, to help the industry, and ultimately, our customers and patients.

  8. What are some of the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your life and/or career?

    My family has always supported me in everything I do. Having the opportunity to be a mom to two great kids would be my number one accomplishment for sure, tied with my 34-year marriage to my high school sweetheart!

    I’ve always been heavily involved in my community. I’ve sat on boards, created new not-for-profits, and been very involved in child welfare issues. My husband and I helped start a crisis pregnancy home years ago when we became strong adoption advocates. I was lucky enough to be in a place where I could help create new laws in the state I was living in for abandoned babies—to protect children that were sadly being abandoned in unsafe places.

    I’ve been very involved in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging work in both community and professional capacities—from starting programs in my company to intentionally changing the demographics of our workforce through recruitment, retention, and growth opportunities. This is one of my core values.

    Professionally, I've been the president of the Issue Management Council twice (I was called in when somebody could not serve their full term), and I’ve served on a variety of other boards and organizations to advance the profession as well as the industry. Working to bring positive change across the industry is important to me, because in your daily life, you work within an entity, but professionally, I feel it’s important to lift the profession as a whole and to make systemic difference. That's what I'm trying to do.

  9. What are your goals at Innovaccer?

    My primary goal is to help us truly live our mission, and that starts with saving lives, as well as fundamentally changing the work environment for a traumatized and deflated healthcare workforce. I believe our platform can make a huge difference.

    Business goals and serving our clients are incredibly important imperatives at Innovaccer. And we also want to increase how we address the number of lives we've impacted, and the number of patients who—through our tools—have had a clinical intervention or an engagement intervention that has changed the course of their health.

  10. Tell us about a pivotal moment, event, project, or person in your life that changed your thinking or the direction of your career.

    I had a great CEO at HCA who was my mentor and took a chance on me—as someone who hadn't been born and bred inside of healthcare. As a for-profit company delivering healthcare, it isn’t always an easy concept for people who don’t feel profit should be made off others’ health. One specific conversation we shared addressed what it means to take care of a community.

    He said, "Amy, I will never apologize for trying to be a healthy business because if we’re not a healthy business, we cannot take care of our community. We won't have the money for equipment, we won't have the ability to expand locations or virtual care, we won't be able to attract the best doctors and nurses and staff, and so we have to be a healthy company to achieve those goals.”

    And that stuck with me—the dual aim of a leader—to create a healthy company (financially and operationally) so you can create health in the communities you serve. I ask myself every day, how can you wake up and think about health from that dualistic standpoint so that you can charge hard in running and growing a business, in service of your fundamental mission?

    So really, what I like to say is: some days are about saving lives and some days are about saving dollars, but those two missions can and need to happen simultaneously.


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Tags: Population health management, value-based care, payers
Francine Barnes
A North Star in Healthcare, Leading Innovation and Transformation

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