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      Building Trust Through Education and Data Innovation

      The relationship between socioeconomic backgrounds and health outcomes has been proven through years of study. Healthcare providers understand that those from lower socioeconomic brackets often face more health challenges. This is attributed to limited healthcare access, challenging living conditions and elevated stress. How can data innovation help stakeholders solve these pressing issues?

      Brian Urban, the Director of Innovation and Emerging Markets at FinThrive, delved into this intricate topic on MarketScale's recent episode of Highway to Health with host David Kemp. Central to FinThrive’s approach is the Data Humanity Lab. By donating data that covers variables like income and education, FinThrive is determined to grasp how socioeconomics influences health outcomes. Because of this, Data Humanity Lab is creating partnerships within the healthcare industry.

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      David Kemp:

      [00:00:30]    

      Hey everybody, it's David with Highway to Health podcast series. Thank you for being here. We're excited to share the message with you today. If you've paid attention, if you've tuned in, you know that we're passionate about sharing the stories of the people of the organization that are doing their best to improve the access, the experience, the outcomes for our patient community. And that's why I'm excited to bring our guests with you today. He has built an amazing community through education, engagement, even inspiration in the healthcare industry, and he's doing a lot of good work. So is his organization. Brian Urban's going to join us. He's the Director of Innovation in Emerging Markets at FinThrive. And Brian, welcome to Highway to Health, man, I'm glad you're here.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:01:00]    

      I'm so happy to be here because the setup is a grade above. It's so professional. We have Dallas behind us, big city. This is prime time. I'm going to stay here all day.

      David Kemp:

      [00:01:30]    

      Well, you're welcome here anytime. Stay as long as you want. You're a busy guy, so I bet you have to get out of here soon anyway. But man, you probably know it's kind of a tradition of ours. When we have our guests on, we like to talk about some of the things that you've implemented personally. Maintaining your mental and physical health is so important. With as busy as you are, that's got to be a challenge. And so I think our listeners take some inspiration hearing from others about how they've made some changes to their routine to make sure that they're staying available, staying at the top of their game for their families and for their professional friends and colleagues. So tell us a little bit about, you're a fit guy, tell us a little bit about what you do to maintain that health.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:02:00]

      This is great. I love talking about the personal side of work and life because it gives you a real good sense of what's the meaning you bring to your daily life. And for me, I have a locked in schedule, so it's my wife, but mainly I'll say my children and my animals that kick off my routine every morning and shut me down every evening. So we have five dogs, we have almost 40 different foul. We have ducks and chickens and they require food immediately. We're talking 6:00 AM. So you got to be up and your children require love when they wake up, so you got to be there with them and love them. So that kicks off my routine for starting my daily purpose and what I do. And of course I get some breathing sessions in and I pray and I get into the day.

      And then at the night it closes me down. You shut the birds in, keep them safe, dogs and children to bed, and then you might have a little bit of life to watch some entertainment or relax and then your routine starts the next day. But that top and end part of my day really powers the middle of it and my work and other things in life. So that kicks things off on a daily basis for me.

      David Kemp:    

      I would agree. I'm not a morning person by nature, but when you have kids and they've got to get to school and you've got a place that you need to be work-wise, it dictates what time you get up, which then dictates what time you go to bed the night before And put some good structure in your life.

      Brian Urban:    

      Indeed.

      David Kemp:    

      I want to hear more about the animals.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:03:30]

      Actually, this happened for us in the pandemic, in the early stages of the pandemic. We have a little bit of land in Pennsylvania. We live on a beautiful lake called Peters Lake. And I've always loved animals, couldn't really have an unlimited amount of animals growing up closer to the city and the suburbs of Pittsburgh. So when we got a little bit of land, I was like, you know what, I'm going to find the right opportunity. So kept buying more dogs and more labs and just started learning how to take care of farm animals. And chickens and ducks have been a great experience for my son in particular to learn how to love and how to take care and have responsibility and accountability on a daily basis. And of course you get messy, you get muddy, so you also learn how to have a good routine of hygiene. So it goes hand in hand.

      David Kemp:    

      That's good.

      Brian Urban:    

      But I love animals. Just love them. Yeah.

      David Kemp:    

      Yeah, that's a cool way to raise your kids.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yeah.

      David Kemp:

      [00:04:30]    

      Responsibility is a good word. Those animals will bring it out in you. So well, look, I love what you're doing with the Healthcare Rethink podcast. I love tuning in and you've built an incredible community. Tell us why it's important, especially in healthcare, maybe more than any other industry, to build personal and organizational credibility through education and lending that thought leadership, that expertise, and celebrating the others that are connected to FinThrive as those experts. Why is it important to be an educator in healthcare today?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:05:30]    

      And this is so very important when your organization is working with leading experts in the healthcare industry in particular, you have to be educated yourselves. You have to be an educator as well because they're expecting you to be able to know not only the technology or the solution you're bringing to the table, but how that fits into their vision, their operations, the impact they want to have on individual lives and patient health outcomes. And then you have to be a connector. See, it's kind of this trifecta. You have to go beyond that and be able to also pull in others that can help contribute. As you let off, it takes a village for us.

      And the leaders in the healthcare industry now are just so intuitive than generations in the past, I think they're very open to knowing that they don't know everything, that they need to continually learn and that they need strong partners that will do that. So being an educator is far beyond the transactional relationships of old and when you can show a subject in depth, but also what their vision is connected to what you want to work on and partner together, that takes it to the next level.

      David Kemp:

      [00:06:30]    

      We've both been in healthcare a while now and we've seen how it's evolved. And partnership used to mean not only provide a good product, but provide a good support and service with that product. Today it feels like being a good partner means being a good leader and leading your partners to solutions that make an impact to their business and teaching them some of the best practices that you've seen at a higher level. And that education part is a huge part to being a great partner in today's healthcare ecosystem in these partnerships that we have.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:07:00]

      Yeah, you said it great. I couldn't say it better because in particular with some of the teams I work with that are of a health equity program or an SDOH team of social determinants of health team, they need support and buy in across their enterprise because this work in terms of a business case is not built out to have a proven ROI. There's not a standard cut value realization for this type of work, and it's often been thought as civic affairs or local marketing or promotional efforts and community health, which it is. But now leveling up to actually close some of the societal fissures we have, you need to be able to work with the teams that are of a research background or grant writing background to have the rest of their enterprise buy into it. So it's being able to work with them in their walls and with your technology or your solutions, and that's the approach I think has been really helpful for developing relationships.

      David Kemp:    

      And relationships are built on trust in our personal lives and in our professional lives. How have you seen FinThrive specifically building trust with their partners through this educational aspect?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:08:30]    

      Yeah, this is actually in part where the podcast comes into play in a new initiative we just launched called the Data Humanity Lab. So I think that when we're developing these relationships, it's ensuring that they have a voice and that you're both in the journey together. The podcast that you all power for us has been so influential not only to grow the visibility of our young brand, we're about a year and a half old now and we're known in the revenue management space software as a service, but we're really emerging in the data as a service space in terms of our socioeconomic data or SDOH data, I'll call it. And being able to have our partners elevated and their message and their vision and their story. And it's the impact makers, it's not the figureheads, it's the folks that are actually doing the work we have on the show.

      [00:09:00]

      And then that allows a really comfortable atmosphere for us to understand, well, what can we partner on? How can we take it to the next step and fulfill some of the visions you have in particular to health equity, in particular to leaning up your operations in regards to claims or payments or benefit coordination. There's a lot to work on. And having a library of content that is of the leaders of the industry that shows other leaders like, hey, you need to tell your story. You need to pick your partners in a thoughtful manner and you need to influence others so we can all advance at more of a reasonable pace.

      David Kemp:

      [00:10:00]    

      Exactly. And you used the term connector earlier on. And we use this term all the time on Highway to Health, it taking a village. And something I heard at a show recently, it was actually the new Philips CEO. He actually said none of you all are going to change healthcare. And he was talking to a room full of exhibitors, a room full of providers, and he straight told them, none of y'all are going to change healthcare because you don't talk to each other, you don't collaborate, you're not connected. And you have done a great job. FinThrive has done a great job of making those connections through your media channels. Why is that important for FinThrive? Why is it important for healthcare in general?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:10:30]

      For so many reasons. And related to my work in particular with health equity advancing a lot of those initiatives across the healthcare ecosystem, we need to have a lot of different viewpoints at the table. And something that we've started to advance from our one-on-one and two-on-one podcast is a executive round table, which is really fun because for instance, we're going to be having a CEO from a Medicare Advantage plan, a Medicaid arm, a biotechnology firm, clinical trial chief officer, all sharing their perspectives on data exchange, meeting consumer patient needs in the next generation of healthcare. So it goes beyond just picking a network and knowing your coverage plan, but it's how you expect care to be delivered and the service and excellence that's now required as a consumer in our new world.

      That opportunity to have this really great round table and we have a series and panels coming out the rest of this year into next year that you all are helping us with, that fuels just invaluable content and inspiration to what you're saying because it inspires others to say, I want to come on the show, I want to talk about what we're doing, but I also am open to hearing about what others are doing and how can I learn from what they're doing and maybe put it into my walls.

      David Kemp:

      [00:12:00]

      Yeah, I think that's where we've seen a big shift here is we used to develop and innovate in these silos without context sometimes. And by making these connections, opening up these conversations, these innovations aren't happening in silos anymore. They're being developed with influence from others and with different perspectives. And I think that's a huge part to improving the access, the experience, and the outcomes for our patient community and improving the provider experience. And the payer plays a big part in this. We can't do it alone. We can't do it by ourselves. It's going to take a little bit of everybody and from everybody, and that starts with education from the group collaboratively. So it's exciting what you guys are doing. You've been a huge voice. I want to dig in a little bit more to this Data Humanity Lab.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yes, let's do it.

      David Kemp:    

      Tell us about that initiative and what you're hoping to see from it.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:13:00]

      This is something in certain ways I've always felt drawn to. The purpose of this initiative is to give, is empower and is to influence others to give as well. So really pulling the whole industry forward. So the Data Humanity Lab is a data donation and research lab, if you will. So just launched it this past week and we're going to begin to promote it and talk about it within conferences and hopefully with some new partners. And it's our SDOH attribute data. So our socioeconomic data, everything happening to an individual and a family that you don't see in electronic health record today, that's outside of the physician's walls. And from what I've learned with my research and my background, all roads lead back to really credit bureau based data, the socioeconomic data set.

      And we're donating that data for two big reasons. One, we want to advance existing health equity initiatives or programs that are in development or have been around for a few years in a healthcare institution or health plan that need to go to the next level, to really make a meaningful and measurable impact. The other side of it is donating data at the individual and aggregate level to medical academic affiliated centers or higher academic institutions for pure research purposes to help us understand in the market abroad what are the defined use cases and the interventions that can be connected to it. So how and why we should be building a social health profile and merging it to a clinical profile is exactly what this lab is going to be contributing to.

      David Kemp:

      [00:14:30]    

      Give us an example. You used the term data that happens outside of the healthcare setting walls. I think that's so important because I mean 99% of our lives happen outside of that setting and they impact our health in a lot of different ways. If you don't mind, without putting you on the spot too much, share with us a life event that may be happening outside of that healthcare setting that might impact their healthcare journey.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:15:00]    

      This is good. I want to get down into the applicability of this data set, integrated or standalone. So a good example is we can see at the individual level who might've passed away in the home. So we're pulling from public sources to be able to pull that in, DMV records as well. If you are losing an asset in terms of a vehicle or a home, bankruptcy records. Also judgments and liens, if their criminal activity has happened, that's an immediate barrier to accessing care or accessing medication or getting children to school or follow up appointments for your own health.

      So there's this adverse life event dataset that I'll call it as a subsection, and it's pulled from marketing consumer data. It's pulled from public resources and also surveys too. Race, ethnicity, language and gender data is a huge treasure trove of information to understand someone's cultural health preferences in life, but then also what are their particular needs and how can you communicate that in their preferred modality, what type of phones they have, paid minutes, voiceover internet, how often they've moved. It's everything you can think of happening in your daily life.

      David Kemp:    

      So now these providers, these payers, they get a holistic view of the member or the patient and they can start coordinating care in a more personalized way. Is that the idea?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:16:30]

      That's the idea in terms of upfront. And we would never want to have 300 data elements in front of a physician that already has a very beefed up electronic health record they're trying to work off of for servicing a patient at any point of service, whether it's an annual checkup or if it's more of an urgent or emergent need. But we would want to put more of a need index, like what are their most challenged areas in their daily life? Is it transportation, food? Is it affordability, economically? Are they struggling with where they might be earning their income from or where geographically they live? Those types of triggers, if you will, are really important in a timely manner for a physician to see and to then downstream coordinate care to a licensed clinical social worker or if they're involved in a particular program with a health plan that can fill those needs short or long term.

      David Kemp:

      [00:17:30]

      So you've got this great community of education through the podcast and these round tables, you're donating this incredible data set to improve access, experience and outcomes for our patient community. There must be a reason why. You've probably seen a shift in the healthcare buyer. Tell us a little bit about that shift. Why are they the most educated buyer? How has their behavior changed when determining who to partner with and what solution to bring under their umbrella? What changes have you seen in the healthcare buyer's behavior?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:18:30]

      I've seen a couple, and I'll give a little context to what I'll share here. So at large, the last several decades, we've seen technology, health, science, medicine, care delivery advance very fast. Behind that there's been a big lag in the system we operate within, and that's mainly due to policy, the way that profit has been set up in terms of earning on what healthcare services are provided. So this system construct is behind the advancement of technology and medicine. And I think the best way we can create adoption of new technologies and data is of course with an initiative like the Data Humanity Lab, to be able to show the value and also be partners in it. And the education of the healthcare buyer now, I'll say the expectation is that you are telling them something new, but you're also going to partner with them end to end.

      This is not going to be a simple one-on-one transaction. We're not just selling data. We're not just selling technology. You're going to be through implementation and you're also going to be able to help us tell the story. We need someone that is deep expert that can also share it in a very meaningful medium like podcasts, like conferences. So then it takes it to the next level. So they're not only taken care of from an operation standpoint, but they're taken care of from actually echoing their vision and the work that's happening. So it is a 360 approach that a lot of buyers expect because the competition now is so tight with every tech that you see coming into healthcare.

      David Kemp:

      [00:20:00]    

      And there's a little bit of a solutions fatigue on the buying side. There's no shortage of solutions out there. And so in a way you have to meet their demands and be a little different and provide value outside of just the solution, just the technology, just the service. And you guys are doing that.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:20:30]    

      Yeah, actually I think you bring up a really good point. So I think what a lot of healthcare, health plan leaders are open to now is leveraging technology to be able to fund initiatives that don't have a traditional ROI. Kind of like funding SDOH programs or health equity initiatives. So we work with a lot of partners that have traditionally had a small grant team or civic affairs team that have written grants. They're very talented people these grant writers, they write grants and get monies from CDC, NIH, CMS, and they'll fund some of their programs to be able to have more of a grassroot impact in the communities and the lives they serve.

      But we're seeing a lot of our partners now being willing to adopt technology that has a huge top line savings for how they operate today, and that allows a new portfolio dollar amount to be funneled over to investing into SDOH programs and that way you kind of speed to impact. If you can save a notable seven figures, eight figures a year in operations in terms of knowing how many insurance policies a member has and who gets paid for what services from a health plan perspective, that's reoccurring value funneling into now programs that otherwise couldn't be funded. And a lot of the grants are great, but they're not reoccurring. They're not guaranteed every year. As these technologies, they're guaranteed to produce opportunities for you to funnel other monies over.

      David Kemp:    

      Which allows those organizations to make the kind of investments they need to see the changes in the community and holistically instead of these one-time grants.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:22:00]

      Exactly. And I should have named it, but insurance discover technology has been around for a long time on the provider side of our ecosystem, and now just more emerging on the health plan side. So when you have both sides working together, especially with an integrated delivery network, knowing who retrospectively, currently, and prospectively with our technology is having other insurance policies, who's the primary payer? Who's the secondary payer? That means a lot because it's not just who's paying for what savings, but it's also the coordination of benefits. Now you have this information to pass on to providers so that they can get what they're owed in terms of payment for rendered services. So there's a provider relations uptick there. You're helping the ecosystem. It's not just that top line savings. It's now you're actually helping the benefit coordination downstream.

      David Kemp:    

      That's what we're all here for.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yeah.

      David Kemp:    

      That's inspiring and it's empowering for these different members of the healthcare community to have what they need to make the investments that they need to see the changes that we're all waiting for.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yes.

      David Kemp: 

      And we've talked about a lot.

      Brian Urban:   

      Yes.

      David Kemp:    

      I'd like to go back to the personal side of things.

      Brian Urban:    

      All right.

      David Kemp:

      [00:23:30]    

      You started this podcast, Healthcare Rethink. We've talked about how that's important for the organization. For those out there that might be a little intimidated, hesitant to start unlocking their own voice and sharing not only their expertise, but providing a platform for others to contribute and be celebrated. Tell our listeners, share with me personally what it's meant for you to have this platform, to have these conversations.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:24:00]

      For an organization to not only support, but encourage creative risk taking has been a tremendous benefit for allowing me to connect all of these amazing voices and allowing me to probably use more of a blend of my personality and skillset into my work life that I haven't had the opportunity to do in most of my career prior to FinThrive. So it's about speed and direction. And I think we work really fast on producing really good content, but we're not doing it in a crazy way. We're doing it in a very thoughtful, meaningful direction that is hopefully going to continue to attract other doers and impact makers that are in healthcare organizations to share their story, what they're doing and why their organization is trying to make a positive improvement in the healthcare economy.

      David Kemp:    

      When you consider brand affiliation and when you consider the different things that we've talked about, you're almost creating a sense of FOMO.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yeah, yeah, yeah.

      David Kemp:    

      By celebrating the change makers in healthcare.

      Brian Urban:

      [00:25:00]

      Yeah, you're right. I mean, I think if any of your listeners in terms of organizational leaders are hesitant to... And we've had folks say no to us, like, hey, we don't do commercial activities, which it's a podcast. This is free earned media, this is it. This is a gift to share your voice and you're helping others. Like you said actually off camera. It's not about you. It's about how you're helping everybody else get a little bit better and being there for them. And if you're a leader and you're hesitant to do that, I don't know if you're a leader, you better keep stepping up and being able to voice that on a podcast, let alone conferences and interviews and articles and magazines. It's an important step and it's your responsibility to do that. And it influences others. Had the pleasure of working in a deep manner with Highmark Health, UPMC, Walgreens, NCQA, just a bunch of great organizations that are willing to talk about what they're doing and not worry if they're perfect or not.

      David Kemp:    

      Right.

      Brian Urban:    

      That's the best part.

      David Kemp:    

      That is the best part. Authenticity is the new creativity.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yes.

      David Kemp:

      [00:26:00]    

      And when you're educating and guiding the industry to success through the challenges that are ever present, ever evolving, just the conversation alone is worth the partnership.

      Brian Urban:    

      Yeah.

      David Kemp:    

      And so I love what you guys are doing. If you could leave our listeners with one thing.

      Brian Urban:    

      Oh man.

      David Kemp:    

      If they walked away from this podcast remembering one piece, what would you leave them with?

      Brian Urban:

      [00:26:30]

      One piece I would say, I'm going to go into the camera for a compelling comment here. I would say that if you are of the opportunity, you have the ability to influence others, don't sit back and wait. Be proactive and do it. And that could be sharing your voice on a podcast, that could be contributing your technology, your resources, your people, your intellectual property for good. It's your responsibility, especially in the healthcare industry, to contribute, not with a dollar sign next to it, but with a purpose aligned to it. So I suggest you contribute your voice, money, tech people in any way that you can because it takes a village, just like you said

      David Kemp:    

      It does. It takes a village. You're a huge member of that village. So is FinThrive. So thank you for all you do. Thank you for being here.

      Brian Urban:    

      This is great.

      David Kemp:    

      Love the shoes, by the way.

      Brian Urban:    

      Thank you. We're going to take a run afterwards.

      David Kemp:    

      All right, deal. You're welcome back anytime.

      Brian Urban:    

      Thank you, David.

      David Kemp:    

      Thank you.

      Brian Urban:    

      This is great.

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