Features

The 2016 Leaders in Health Care Awards


10-26-2016

Here at Minnesota Business magazine, we aim to honor those who lead. And as the state of Minnesota leads the health care industry, we are excited to recognize its health care leaders. These leaders are recognized as an individual or a company that has supported and accelerated the regional health care industry through business growth in the medical field, corporate philanthropy and workplace innovations. Here we salute the leaders making a difference, not only in the health care industry, but also the communities they serve.

Meet the Judges
Startup Award
Community Outreach Award
Interior Design or Architecture Award
Software/Web Application Award
Employee Wellness Program Award
Innovations in Medical Device Award
Education and Workforce Development Award
Champion Award
Health Care Practitioner Award
Emerging Leader Award
Health Care Executive Award
Lifetime Achievement Award: Manny Villafaña, Ph.D.Sc.

Meet the Judges

Dr. Archelle Georgiou is a physician, a “recovering” healthcare industry executive, professor, and health reporter. Dr. Georgiou is the on-camera medical expert on KSTP-TV and is also an Executive-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business. In February 2017, she will release her first book, Health Care Choices: 5 Steps to Getting the Medical Care You Want and Need.

Adam Berry is the CEO of Summit Orthopedics, one of the Twin Cities’ top orthopedic groups. Adam serves as a guest educator and mentor to the University of Minnesota’s Masters in HealthCare Administration Program, and serves as a board member for the YMCA Twin Cities, Minnesota Healthcare Network and the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Daniel K. Zismer, Ph.D. is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Castling Partners. Castling Partners serves health systems and clinics in the areas of strategy design and performance, physician services strategies, performance improvement and ambulatory strategies innovations. Dr. Zismer is the Wegmiller Professor Emeritus and past Chair of the graduate programs in healthcare administration, University of Minnesota.

Jon Moon is a biomedical engineer with more than 15 years of academic research combined with 16 years in industry developing and commercializing medical technologies. The most recent 12 years are entrepreneurial, including founding and operating two start-up firms. His research work spans mobile sensing, ophthalmology, exercise physiology, metabolic energy expenditure, artificial life support and a range of physiologic measurement systems.

Prior to founding Gravie, Abir Sen was the CEO of Bloom Health, where he led the creation of private exchanges; co-founder and president of RedBrick Health, which launched the industry-leading Health Earnings system; co-founder of Definity Health; and worked as an advisor to Fidelity Investment’s Health and Welfare Business. He began his career at Deloitte Consulting.

Dr. Cheryl Matter is the Vice President of Research and Intelligence at Medical Alley, responsible for delivering original insights, industry benchmarking, and in-depth research on key sectors and trends that inform decision-making for members and the broader health technology industry. Matter holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a BS degree in microbiology and chemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Startup Award

Winner: Learn to Live

Almost half of the people in the U.S. will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives, but sadly, only one in four will seek face-to-face therapy. The 75% who don’t are prevented from getting help due to social stigma, accessibility and cost. Learn to Live overcomes these barriers by providing clinically proven, online therapy programs based on the proven fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Individuals can address problems such as stress, anxiety, social anxiety and depression through confidential, private and 24/7 access. Learn to Live’s organizational clients (insurers, providers, employers and universities) also benefit: The company uses its unique method of delivery and proprietary technology platform and tools to achieve engagement rates that are six times the industry average. The company’s ability to be truly disruptive and grow quickly has already enabled over 4,000 people to change their lives by improving their mental health.

Finalist: Sansoro Health

Sansoro Health, a digital health pioneer, transforms health care information technology by providing robust web services integration across major electronic medical record (EMR) platforms. Its core product, EmissaryTM, leverages vendor-supported modules to unlock data exchange and connect any software to an EMR through an open API model.  Emissary’s scalable and secure approach enables innovative solutions, such as real-time clinical analytics, full-featured web portals and more. This seamless clinical data exchange between EMR platforms and other digital health applications achieves better health using real-time integration software to improve patient care, clinical and financial outcomes.

Finalist: RetraceHealth

RetraceHealth is a full-service primary care clinic. Its mission is to make primary care convenient, affordable and personal by taking it out of the traditional clinic setting and coming directly to the patient with video and home visits. It’s important to note that RetraceHealth is not convenience care, telemedicine or online care. By offering in-home care for those we can’t treat via video, it offers comprehensive care and reduces the frequent triage to other high-cost care options.

Community Outreach Award

Winner: Allina Health

Allina Health created Change to Chill™ (changetochill.org) in response to the mental health crisis among teens, as revealed in a recent community health needs assessment. Change to Chill is a free, online resource that provides stress reduction skills, life balance techniques, mindfulness, resiliency, deep-breathing activities and health education resources for teens. The organization is leading the way by providing teens the tools they need to stress less and care for their mental well-being. Since November 2014, the proven Change to Chill strategies have served more than 40,000 people, including teachers who use it in their classrooms, teens who use it in social groups, and parents looking for ways to help their child(ren) reduce stress. Change to Chill provides an easy way for teens to talk about stress and identify ways to manage it, leading to happier, healthier lives.

Finalist: Catholic Eldercare

Catholic Eldercare provides the care, housing and services needed by older adults to continue living fully, with dignity, within an intentionally created, nurturing community. Located in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis, it operates five senior communities offering a broad continuum of care. Programs and services include independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, rehabilitative services, senior day care, memory care and a fully dedicated transitional care unit that serves the wider Twin Cities area. For over 30 years, Catholic Eldercare has given ready access to whatever level of care residents require and can enjoy in a friendly, comfortable setting.  From direct access to daily mass, increasing socialization through its adult day program, to responding to the needs of the greater community with its award-winning Northeast Neighborhood Socials program, Catholic Eldercare is grounded in the premise that active communities are essential to the vitality of a senior’s life.

Finalist: Otto Bremer Trust

Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is one of the nation’s largest charitable trusts. Created in 1944 by banker and community leader Otto Bremer, the Trust was established with a mission committed to making measurable and meaningful impact for positive change by investing in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. 

In 2015, Otto Bremer Trust awarded $2.5 million to the Center for Safe and Healthy Children at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. One of the largest investments supporting a child abuse program in the United States, this grant will help transform the Center into a renowned regional resource for pediatric care of children who experience abuse, maltreatment and neglect. The purpose of the Center is to provide a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to help the region’s most vulnerable patients, using highly specialized and multidisciplinary clinical care while training the next generation of child abuse pediatricians.

Interior Design or Architecture Award

Winner: University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital Quinn Seymour Chapel

University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital treats the most complex pediatric patients, not only from Minnesota, but from around the world. The Quinn Seymour Chapel, a premiere national model for pediatric spiritual care, uses the healing power of nature to elicit a genuine sense of tranquility in all who enter. Named after Quinn Seymour, a patient who passed away in 2012 from a rare fatal disease, Quinn’s family made it their goal to raise the funds to build the chapel in her name. Visitors are greeted by a lifelike tree with tiny nooks filled with handwritten prayers. The comforting cork flooring leads to a beautiful mosaic with tiny animals, native plants and words of healing in various languages, all chosen by staff and patients in the hospital. A rounded, spiral floorplan and “curl-up cubby” for smaller children add to the comforting, cocoon-like space.

Finalist: PrairieCare

PrairieCare noticed a lack of mental health care services, particularly for young people, in the Twin Cities. The company is owned and operated by psychiatrists and employs one of the largest groups of psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians in the Midwest. The design and purpose of PrairieCare’s 50-bed mental health hospital for children challenges the stigma that still exists around mental health. From a non-institutional aesthetic and non-obtrusive security features to an abundance of daylight and nature and an open floorplan, the hospital inspires healing and encourages connection between patients and staff.

Finalist: University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center

From the world’s first successful open heart surgery to the development of stem cell therapies for cancer, University of Minnesota Health specializes in translating innovative research into life-changing patient care. This pioneering spirit is what drove the innovative design of the University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center. The center, which houses 37 medical specialties, is setting a new benchmark for outpatient care with its innovative approach. The facility’s design entirely re-engineers the patient experience by incorporating consumer-centric technology, optimizing patient convenience and facilitating staff collaboration.

Software/Web Application Award

Winner: Sansoro Health

Sansoro Health, a digital health pioneer, transforms health care information technology by providing robust web services integration across major electronic medical record (EMR) platforms. Its core product, EmissaryTM, leverages vendor-supported modules to unlock data exchange and connect any software to an EMR through an open API model. Emissary’s scalable and secure approach enables innovative solutions, such as real-time clinical analytics, full-featured web portals and more. This seamless clinical data exchange between EMR platforms and other digital health applications achieves better health using real-time integration software to improve patient care, clinical and financial outcomes.

Finalist: UnitedHealth Group

Since 1977, UnitedHealth Group has helped people across the country lead healthier lives by simplifying the health care process, building and maintaining trusting patient-provider relationships and meeting its community’s health and wellness needs. According to a study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, UnitedHealth Group’s online cancer care payment model reduced overall cancer expenses by more than a third. The company’s chemotherapy approval tool provides patients with fast access to the best treatments by quickly verifying coverage for treatments that meet the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) guidelines.

Finalist: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN

As Minnesota’s largest nonprofit health plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s mission is to make a healthy difference in people’s lives. Blue Cross re-designed and re-platformed its public-facing website and member self-service portal to provide its more than 2.9 million health plan members with an easy, relevant and personalized digital experience. Using the new, integrated Plan Dashboard, members can manage their health care spending in one centralized place, with year-to-date spending and claims and coverage details in one, uncluttered view. The platform has shown a significant increase in consumer site satisfaction and engagement with site content since launch.

Employee Wellness Program Award

Winner: Living Well Disability Services

At Living Well Disability Services, our wellness philosophy is impressed upon every person who comes through our doors. We cover eight dimensions of wellness throughout our organization: physical, emotional, social, occupational, environmental, financial, cultural/spiritual and intellectual. Employees participate in wellness programs, annual biometric testing, premium health discount incentives and a variety of physical activity and healthy lifestyle challenges. From healthy food choices to “Hope in the Workplace” activities, we’re finding ways to meet our goals for 2016 which address overall health, stress management and physical activity. Our staff work to support individuals with disabilities and each person supported creates an individualized wellness plan with personal goals aimed at physical fitness and community connections. Plans include health coaching, horticulture, art and music therapies, volunteerism, and mind/body wellness. Improved nutrition and increased physical activity has resulted in a better quality of life for both employees and people with disabilities.

Finalist: Lakewood Health System

Lakewood Health System (LHS) is an independent, rural health care system founded in 1936. It is composed of a 25-bed critical access hospital, a level III trauma-designated emergency department, five primary care clinics, a dermatology clinic, a 100-bed long-term-care center, a 10-bed memory care unit, two assisted living facilities, and home care and hospice programs. Results of LHS’s employee health assessment showed that it needed to take action to improve the mental health and obesity of its employees. With a significant financial investment/subsidy by the organization and unparalleled support by senior leaders, the LHS Employee Wellness Committee developed, launched and is administering its own unique, customized wellness program (called LIVING WELL). Participants receive points (and corresponding incentives/rewards) for a wide variety of activities (i.e., not only exercising).

Finalist: Target

Target believes thriving team members positively impact the company and our communities. To help team members and their families make healthy, informed choices, Target has integrated a holistic approach to well-being focused on five elements of well-being: health, social, career, financial and community. It works to create environments, resources, benefits and a culture that promotes well-being. This includes incentives to sustain or improve health and unique tools and resources to help team members and their families meet their well-being goals. Target’s goal is for every team member to be their personal best.

Innovations in Medical Device Award

Winner: Sonex Health LLC

"Refined simplicity” is the guiding principle behind Sonex Health LLC, to drive efforts and innovations that result in elegant, effective solutions to some of the health care system’s most pressing needs. Mayo Clinic physicians Darryl Barnes, MD, and Jay Smith, MD, and business operations expert Aaron Keenan founded Sonex Health in 2014. The three were brought together by a shared desire to create safe, effective means of treating common orthopedic conditions that would improve patient safety while decreasing procedural costs. Sonex Health has developed the SX-One MicroKnife™ to treat carpal tunnel syndrome in a novel fashion, termed micro-invasive surgery. This innovation allows carpal tunnel release, a procedure that once took place in an operating room, to be safely and effectively performed in the office or ambulatory surgery center, resulting in rapid patient recovery, improved cosmesis and reduced costs. The SX-One MicroKnife™ is scheduled for launch in November 2016.

Finalist: Geneticure Inc.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most widespread disease in the U.S and the most preventable risk factor for premature death worldwide. Clinicians do their best to treat the disease with the tools they have, but unfortunately, the process is largely trial-and-error and takes (on average) 65 weeks to control. Geneticure has developed and patented a non-invasive genetic test. It uses pharmacogenomics, the study of metabolic pathways and physiologic markers which dictate varying response to drug therapy among patients to help patients get better faster with less cost. With a unique understanding for the integrative physiology of complex diseases and supported by strong clinical evidence, Geneticure takes personalized medicine to another level not found in health care today.

Finalist: Tamarack Habilitation Technologies

Tamarack Habilitation Technologies Inc. is a med tech product design and manufacturing company specializing in strategic friction management technologies, ankle-foot biomechanics and custom wheelchair seating. Its newest innovation, a dual-layer, low friction fabric technology called GlideWear® has resulted in significant advancement in the prevention and relief of pressure ulcers and other forms of skin breakdown for at-risk populations, including wheelchair users, amputees, diabetics and individuals in extended bed-stay environments. By collaborating with prominent local and international health care facilities, Tamarack has demonstrated the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of its patented GlideWear technology with thousands of at-risk individuals. Recently, Tamarack initiated a clinical study at Augusta Care, a leading provider of housing, health care and community-based services to older adults.

Education and Workforce Development Award

Winner: BridgeWorks

BridgeWorks specializes in one thing: bridging generational gaps. Interactions between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials occur every day in the health care industry, and inevitably they have the potential to disrupt the work that needs to get done. In the health care industry, change is happening quickly and employees are feeling the pressure — new government regulations, the exchange, the shifting relationship between patient/payer/provider and the demand for quality care has never been higher. BridgeWorks helps its clients answer tough questions like, “How do you keep each generation engaged and motivated while staying focused on patient and customer care?” BridgeWorks works with its health care clients ranging from St. Jude to United Healthcare to understand where the generation gaps arise and how they can start bridging the communication divide the next day.

Finalist: Children's Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the nation and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. At Children’s, the mission is to champion the health needs of children and families by providing the highest-quality, family-centered care, advanced through research and education. In a time of change, employee surveys demonstrated the need for new Children’s Minnesota values, so Chief Human Resources Officer Samantha Hanson engaged employees to redefine them. Samantha and her team defined the vision to be every family’s essential partner in raising healthier children — not only during illnesses or injuries, but throughout childhood. Employees identified five behaviors needed to achieve this vision: kids first; listen, really listen; own outcomes; join together; and be remarkable. These values now guide the way Children’s engages with each other, its patients and its communities.

Finalist: St. Thomas University Healthcare MBA

The University of St. Thomas Health Care MBA is entering its 25th year of providing excellence in health care business education. Delivered via an innovative combination of on-campus and distance-learning, the Health Care MBA connects students with experienced faculty and talented peers from all sectors of the industry. The resulting program allows students to seize the opportunities to innovate and create value in the health care system. The curriculum allows clinicians and health care leaders to immediately apply the business tools to inform their decision-making in the fast-evolving health care space. The program’s emphasis on value creation, innovation and collaboration teaches students how to lead with confidence, credibility and strategic vision during times of rapid change. With distinguished alumni representing most of the health care systems in Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas Health Care MBA continues to be a leader in the market.

Champion Award

Winner: Dr. Donna Block
Physician, President and Chief Executive Officer, Clinic Sofia

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment in your promotion of health care?
A:
Throughout my career, I have focused on providing a different level of care for our patients by combining evidence-based medicine to the patient’s symptoms in a relationship environment. This means going beyond using the latest medical technology to ensure we are continually communicating and listening to our patients.

Through this highly personalized approach, we strive to provide our patients with the tools, guidance and resources — beyond the treatment — to help them stay happy and healthy. It is this approach and how we encourage our patients to be advocates for their own health that has earned patients the opportunity to have their examinations and to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the health care industry?
A:
The greatest challenge is delivering health care in an environment in which patients will remain the center of care despite the drive for profitability. Whether it is the insurance companies, government, hospital systems or providers, we all need to remain focused on meeting the needs of patients.

Q: Name your strongest characteristic that helps you be a good champion for health care.
A:
By developing deep patient relationships that includes extensive communication and education, I strive to be a champion for each and every one of my patients’ well-being. I take great pride in creating a community of strong, healthy women by working together with my staff to ensure we are helping patients to be their best. We provide information, tools and resources — anything our patients may need to keep them healthy — and also ensure we are keeping them up-to-date on the latest complexities in the health care industry.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
Determine what you are worth and then care for yourself in that manner.
I have always been a strong advocate for women to put themselves first, making their own health and happiness a priority. So many of us are so busy caring for others, we neglect our own needs. It is important that women, who are often the hub of their families and workplaces, take care of themselves as it will not only help them in the long run, but it will help them to be better able to respond to the needs of others.

Q: What will be the dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
In terms of what is happening, there is more and more consolidation into bigger systems. It is uncertain where the patient will fit in.

Finalists: Paul and Susan Rosenau
Co-Founders, The Legacy of Angels Foundation

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
Our foundation has been supporting research for better treatments of Krabbe disease and cystic fibrosis. One project for Krabbe disease using gene therapy is showing tremendous promise in the lab; researchers are working with FDA to get it into clinical trials. We feel blessed to be on the cusp of such potentially lifesaving research.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
Cost. Health insurers continue to raise premiums but are reporting losses; hospitals and clinics continue to have a rise in overall wages for employees but are not able to recapture operation costs; drug prices continue to rise, making them unaffordable.

Q: Your strongest characteristic?
A:
PASSION! We are passionate about finding better treatments for Krabbe disease so those diagnosed with this disease will no longer suffer and die as our granddaughter Makayla did. As our tag line reflects….It’s All About The Kids!!!

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
For the patient and families, it is advocacy. You are your own best advocate. We have seen numerous occasions where physicians have treated rare diseases they have no experience in, resulting in making situations and suffering much worse.

Q: Dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
The trend in the field of rare diseases is gene therapy and stem cell treatments. Both are evolving and will continue as optimal treatment for many rare diseases. Secondly, virtual medical care. It does not replace seeing a doctor, but it does help alleviate numerous office trips by answering patient questions virtually. Two projects we have supported are “Virtual Medical Home” (ndrdvirtualmed.chp.edu) and GeneThink (thinkgenetic.com).

Finalist: Glafira Marcon
Board Member and Lead Organizer, Healthcare.mn

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
I am bridging my own experience in community health, technology and analysis in nonprofits, startups and corporate to move the dial on social determinants of health. Through Healthcare.mn, I help bring together people from community health, digital startups, corporations and government. As a Navigator at a community health center, I helped over 800 people get health insurance and resources. At Optum, I am helping magnify this through a technology that assists Navigators in finding and referring clients to organizations that address social determinants of health, and measuring its impact on health outcomes.   

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
The inability to reach and engage the people who are at most risk, and experience higher rates of chronic and infectious diseases.

Q: Your strongest characteristic?
A:
Listening. Listening is not just hearing; it is the ability to ask the right questions and identify pain points and barriers blocking success.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
When engaging a specific person or group, find out what ‘health’ and ‘healthy’ means to them. You’ll be surprised, and will better understand how to engage them in a way that is motivating and successful.

Q: Dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
I think there are two: the accelerated adoption of advanced technology and analysis such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and the return to in-person, field-based models of care. I am excited by the opportunity for technology to quickly analyze data, detect abnormalities and predict outcomes, leaving people to care for and build relationships with patients.

Health Care Practitioner Award

Winner: Dr. Laura Gandrud
Pediatric Endocrinologist, Children's Minnesota

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
What I’m trying to achieve with my team at Children’s Minnesota is a whole new process of care for patients with chronic illness, specifically diabetes. My vision is to disrupt the current care methods that aren’t working as well as they should, and provide more continued care for the patient. It’s recognition that despite rapid advancements in technology, despite the hard work of our clinical teams and families, we’re stuck in the same care processes and our outcomes haven’t changed. We can do better.

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the health care industry?
A:
The greatest challenge facing our industry is also the greatest opportunity: the transition to value-based care. As a whole, providers will be focusing on measuring and achieving the best possible outcomes in a way that’s meaningful to patients. With the rise of chronic illnesses we have to reimagine how we’re caring for our patients, and that means keeping people out of the hospital by providing care where the patient is — at home. Once we’re able to accurately measure and compare our outcomes, value-based care will allow for quicker adoption of the right technology at the right time to provide better, more cost-effective care.

Q: Name your strongest characteristic.
A:
Challenging the status quo. I believe there has to be a better way to do things in health care. We can’t remain on the same path and hope for different outcomes. We have to disrupt the system in a positive way — and we have to do it with compassion, reminding ourselves every step of the way that we have an obligation to do more for our families and patients.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
When you’re facing a chronic illness, good health takes teamwork. You can’t achieve quality outcomes as a physician alone; it’s about partnering with everyone in that patient’s life (e.g., caregivers, school nurses, pediatricians, etc.) to set them up for success. Working in this manner requires strong, dedicated communication. My philosophy is the sooner you address an issue in a sensitive, constructive way, the better off that patient is going to be.

Q: What will be the dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
Telehealth. In the last year many states have passed laws requiring health plans to cover and reimburse for telehealth in the same manner and at the same rate as in-person services. This legislation is breaking down barriers to care by increasing access for patients to be treated at premier pediatric health systems like Children’s Minnesota. What’s incredible with diabetes care is families can show doctors via live-stream what they are having for a meal, where the patient keeps their insulin, how the patient administers insulin at home, etc. — things we as providers would have never been able to witness before.

Finalist: Steve Claypool
VP of Clinical Development, Wolters Kluwer 

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
Development of a sepsis surveillance system (POC Advisor) that alerts staff. This reduced sepsis mortality by about 50%. To my knowledge, this is the first clinical decision support system shown to dramatically reduce mortality from any cause.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
U.S. health care expenditure is rising faster than the GDP, without significant improvements in quality. This is one reason I focus on health care solutions that deliver better quality at reduced cost.

Q: Your strongest characteristics?
A:
Passion, innovation & leadership.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
I am dedicated to teaching about nutrition! See steveclaypool.wixsite.com/ebn-nutrition. This project has the potential to save and better lives — which is why I became a doctor.

Finalist: Priya Verghese, M.D., MPH
Pediatric Nephrologist, University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
Discovering a promising means to reduce the transmission of herpes virus from an organ donor to an organ recipient. The results were published in a leading transplant journal and selected by the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology as one of the “premium papers in the field” that year.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
Ensuring patient access to high-quality care while balancing costs. Despite spending more per capita on health care than other countries, we have not found a way to allow for the in-depth discussion each patient desires for counseling and treatment.

Q: Your strongest characteristic?
A:
I am an optimist. I do not give up no matter what hurdles and obstacles appear.

Emerging Leader Award

Winner: Drew Zinkel, MD
Medical Director and Associate Medical Director for Health Plan Quality, HealthPartners

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment in your promotion of health care?
A:
My greatest accomplishments came as a result of working to impact one of the fastest-growing trends affecting the general population here in Minnesota. Sexually transmitted disease cases had reached an all-time high back in 2014, and chlamydia accounted for roughly 80% of those. As a result, I spearheaded an aggressive community health and awareness campaign that encourages young people — especially women — to get educated and tested. I’m proud to say that as a result of these efforts that I had a part in, screening rates improved by 1.8% across the HealthPartners organization last year, with approximately 50,000 patients receiving screenings.

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the health care industry?
A:
Eliminating stigma around screenings and care is the greatest challenge that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s STD testing, colonoscopies or mammograms, there is still a sense of “taboo” that surrounds these types of very important screenings. By offering less invasive options for screenings and working to change the conversation, we can help people understand the importance of taking control of their health. The same can be said for mental health issues, in that people need to become more comfortable talking about their health with a professional, who only has the intention of improving or maintaining their health.

Q: Name your strongest characteristic that helps you be a good champion for health care.
A:
Being a team player. It is very hard to accomplish something in health care if you work alone. You have to understand how to work as a team and support your team. And that can sometimes mean working with several different teams and coordinating all their efforts. That is how the work gets done and you achieve success.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
Do the things that are recommended by your doctor that nobody really wants to do. I know it isn’t fun. Trying to convince people to get a colonoscopy is not easy. But when it results in an early diagnosis and successful treatment, they will be your happiest patients. And they will live longer.

Q: What will be the dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
Consumerism. Health care organizations have not figured out how to make health care easy to understand to the consumer. We are all working on this. A huge part of it is how confusing our health care system is. But it is our job to figure out how to make it less complex and more understandable to our patients and members.

Finalist: Thompson Aderinkomi
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RetraceHealth

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A:
I’m most proud of building a company that makes people’s lives better. We save our patients time and money.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
The growth of the cost of health care. This cost is unsustainable, particularly for the consumer.

Q: Name your strongest characteristic.
A:
My dedication to doing what’s best for the average consumer.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
It’s a simple one… eat a balanced diet.

Q: Dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
Using technology to enable virtual care, particularly video and in-home visits. That bodes well for us.

Finalist: Dr. Jewelia Wagner
Ob-Gyn, Clinic Sofia

Q:Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
Joining Clinic Sofia.Being part of the team has allowed me to establish myself as a physician and provide care for a wide variety of women.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
Achieving a work/life balance. A woman in health care is expected to reach maximum potential professionally while coaching her kid’s sports, serving as the leader on the PTA board or participating as adult sponsor at the dance recital.

Q: Your strongest characteristic?
A:
I truly strive to show compassion through communication. In a patient’s time of need, I feel that I can be that rock of stability.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
My favorite advice is for women to take time for themselves.

Health Care Executive Award

Winner: Sarah Stoesz
President and Chief Executive Officer, Planned Parenthood MN, ND, SD

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment in your promotion of health care?
A: Overall, it is in creating a thriving network of clinics serving women of three states who have urgent needs for basic reproductive health care, many of whom have had no options for care elsewhere. More specifically, in 2008 co-founding and continuing to help lead Afaxys, a mission-driven, socially conscious business dedicated to serving the women’s health care needs of safety-net health providers and their patients. Afaxys has two divisions: Afaxys Pharmaceuticals, which brings a strong portfolio of branded and generic contraceptives to the public health market, and Afaxys Group Services, which negotiates favorable pricing across a wide spectrum of products for public health providers. Afaxys has been a highly successful company, and this in turn, has created opportunities for strengthening the public health sector.

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the health care industry?
A:
Factors outside of the direct control of the industry, such as rising wealth inequality and related social determinants of health are putting great pressure on the industry and on society generally. On one hand, the growing financial pressures on families encourage them to select high deductible plans and also can discourage appropriate health care consumption in the private market. On the other hand, the public health sector is ill-equipped to handle rising demands. In Minnesota we’re fortunate to have strong industry leadership that recognizes these issues, but there is a limit as to how far industry can stretch to address factors outside of our control.

Q: Name your strongest characteristic that helps you be a good champion for health care.
A:
My strongest characteristic combines an unrelenting mission-focus bolstered by clear strategy and nurtured by optimism.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
My favorite advice is to get enough sleep, but I have trouble following it!

Q: What will be the dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
The current trends of consumer cost-consciousness and convenience will intensify and drive our industry to continue to re-examine how care is delivered. That means retail health care delivery will grow, along with providing care online. Minnesota Planned Parenthood has an app that allows patients to get their birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections using their smart phones to connect online to a nurse practitioner. We think of it as having Planned Parenthood in your pocket.

An important lesson we learned many years ago is that our patients need and demand price transparency and this principle has guided our traditional health care as well as our tele-health.
All providers, Planned Parenthood included, are approaching the provision of health care with a keen eye to putting the patient at the center of their care as never before, demanding a strong focus on patient experience and engagement.

Finalist: Grace Tangjerd Schmitt
President, Guild Incorporated

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
We have developed an array of recovery-focused, community treatment and rehabilitation services. We work with individuals 16 and older who have serious mental illnesses, and many have long-term histories of homelessness. Because mental illness affects every area of a person’s life, Guild focuses on an integrated model of care, treating the whole person, not just their mental illness.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
To bring about full integration of behavioral health and physical health care across systems while simultaneously addressing and improving the powerful social determinants of health, such as housing, unemployment and education.

Q: Your strongest characteristic ?
A:
Mettle. It’s one of my favorite words and the characteristic that has most helped me champion and advocate.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
The blockbuster drug of the century is patient engagement. When patients are engaged in their health care, when their physicians are aware of their histories, patient outcomes will be better and they will be able to live healthier lives. This is especially true for people living with serious mental illnesses. We want them to have the same opportunity to be engaged in their health care and have the same positive outcomes others experience.

Q: The dominant trend in 2017?
A:
Increasing use of technology — in particular, use of data analysis to drive care decisions: by the provider, the payer and by the individual consumer.

Finalist: Andrea Walsh
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, HealthPartners

Q: Your greatest accomplishment?
A:
Making health care easy to access and more affordable is a constant area of focus for me at HealthPartners. Creating our Well@Work strategy — to bring health care to the worksite — is a good example. We operate 18 Well@Work Clinics, providing a range of primary care, health promotion/coaching, and pharmacy for employees in a confidential and convenient way.

Q: Greatest challenge facing the industry?
A:
Affordability is our greatest challenge. Health care and coverage are expensive and unaffordable for too many people.

Q: Your strongest characteristic?
A:
I’m mission-centric and lead through partnership with others. A mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with our patients, members and the community requires teamwork. At the end of the day, it’s always more fun to be on a team than go it alone.

Q: What is your favorite health care advice?
A:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s important to take care of yourself and not neglect your body or mind. Exercise will improve your health, including your mental health. Do a little every day. You will feel better, think better and sleep better.

Q: Dominant trend for health care in 2017?
A:
Mobile technology will continue to move from transactional space to more of a relationship tool. More care will be delivered virtually, and consumers will turn to mobile resources for better information on care, costs and other health supports.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Manny Villafaña, Ph.D.Sc.

A giant in the medical device industry, he epitomizes the American dream, and as a serial entrepreneur, he just can't stop dreaming

 

Although Manny Villafaña has received innumerable awards over the past quarter century, he balked when we told him he was our choice for the Lifetime Achievement Award. “But I’m not done yet,” he said. Indeed, about a year ago he launched his eighth startup, Medical 21, which is developing an artificial grafting material for veins in bypass surgery. We assured Manny that we would not hold his entrepreneurial tenacity against him.

The son of Puerto Rican immigrants, Manny grew up in dire poverty in New York’s South Bronx. His mother dressed him up to go beg for food on the streets. But when he grew up he learned to sell medical devices, and in 1967 Medtronic brought him to Minnesota. From there he went on to help design breakthough technology in the cardiac realm, including the first pacemaker using a long-lasting lithium battery, as well as artificial heart valves and other devices. His inventions gave rise to a series of companies: Cardiac Pacemaker (Boston Scientific), St. Jude Medical (Abbott Laboratories), ATS (Medtronic) and more.

Q: How did you learn to create medical devices?
A:
Medtronic did a fabulous job in educating their sales staff on the pros and cons of pacemaking. I met the inventor of the first successful and implantable pacemaker, Wilson Greatbatch. He was developing a new power source to make pacemakers last longer. But Medtronic rejected the concept and so we joined forces to develop the first lithium-powered pacemaker. That’s how it all got started.

Q: You used to tell college kids to go work for a big corporation, but now you don’t.
A:
Yes. I used to say get a job at a large company and learn a trade within. I don’t do that anymore. I have found in the last 10, 15 years that the loyalty of the company to the employee isn’t there as it used to be. Many companies will hire people on a temporary basis rather than giving them a real job. I now recommend to continue your education in the field that you love. Be the best and show that you can do it. If necessary, make your own company around it.

Q: How do you create a company?
A:
There are six things you need to know. 1) Be honest. If you need $10 million, say $10 million. Don’t say $5 million and then try to raise the rest. 2) Know your product better than anyone else in the world. 3) Have a good marketing plan. Know how you’re going to roll out a product or a service. 4) Have a good cash plan. How much money do you need? 5) You can’t do it by yourself. Develop a team of the best possible people you can get. 6) Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Q: Tell me about your honorary Ph.D.
A:
One day I got a call from the president of the University of Iowa and they told me that the Board of Regents of the State of Iowa had decided to give me an honorary doctorate degree in science. I started to cry because in our family, education was something that always had abandoned us. The doctorate was one of the greatest honors that I’ve ever received.