In healthcare, bold decisions save lives and help us become healthier. During times of crisis, a leader’s actions define a company or an organization.

There are hundreds or even thousands of leaders whose current and recent actions are transforming a changing healthcare business landscape. Here are just a few.

Julia Taylor Cheek, Co-founder and CEO, Everlywell

Cheek started her company in 2015 to simplify at-home lab tests. This spring, when the coronavirus hit the United States, she pivoted Everlywell to COVID-19 testing due to surging demand. Her company worked with smaller labs, who process hormone, vitamin and STI tests, however they were not ready for the change.

She asked the Everlywell board to create a $1 million development fund to incentivize the smaller labs to focus on the problem. She told Inc. Magazine that her small start-up board called the decision “bold leadership.” Despite cash being critical for a startup to survive, she was told, “You should do it.”

“I want to make the right bets in a time of economic crisis,” Cheek told Inc. “I want to make the right product. And I want this to be everything that we hope our response can be. For us not to participate in this moment, for us to be observers, was not an option. This will define our company in a big way.”

Paul Coyne, Co-founder, Inspiren

At age 22, Coyne, currently the Assistant Vice President at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, suffered a stroke that weakened the right side of his body, limited his ability to speak and caused memory loss. After recovery, he returned to his position as an analyst with Goldman Sachs for a few years but felt strongly called to enter nursing.

In 2016, at age 30, Coyne, who had previously finished Northeastern University’s combined MBA and finance master’s program, completed the Columbia University nursing school. While there, he met Michael Wang, another nursing student with an MBA. Together they developed a device that helps nurses care for patients by keeping track of the physical and digital environments in hospital rooms. These include information like patient risks from falls to pressure ulcers. All the data feeds into a patient’s electronic health records.

During COVID-19, the tool has been used to simplify contact tracing, observe who entered the room and how long the person stayed, the proximity of the visitor to the patient, and whether PPE was properly worn at all times.

Due to the nature of a complex healthcare system and a fragmentation of IT and clinical skills, the healthcare industry often forgets to truly explore the pain points of the only two people who are essential in healthcare, the clinician and the patient,” Coyne told Modern Healthcare, which named him one of the top 25 innovators for 2020. “Opportunities cannot be identified by a survey or a focus group.”

Susan Sender, Chief Clinical Officer, BrightSpring Health Services

Sender led BrightSpring’s COVID-19 outbreak committee, which helped develop a web-based platform that tracked confirmed cases and notified nurses. She initiated new infection protocols across 2,400 care settings that limited the infection rate to less than 1 percent.

“To optimize our ability to quickly visualize COVID-19 positive patient, client and employee trends by business segment and geography, we developed a business intelligence application, leveraging Power BI (Microsoft Corp.),” Sender told Modern Healthcare. “These tools are used every day as a ‘situation room’ that enable us to deploy specific mitigation tactics as cases emerge.”

BrightSpring services include home health care, residential living for the disabled, foster and family care, and more.

Healthcare Keeps Innovating

This list could go on and on. The economy may be down, but people are taking risks on ideas that can help us live healthier, safer lives.

As the healthcare industry continues to adjust to the pandemic, we look for many more movers and shakers to disrupt the status quo, to innovate and to pioneer the transformation of healthcare.

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