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HeartBeats Episode 22: Strategy and Innovation at Lee Health

HeartBeats: Shipley Cardiothoracic Center Podcasts

Host:

Welcome, I’m Cathy Murtagh-Schaffer and I'm your host for this episode of HeartBeats. This podcast is brought to you by Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, an educational series dedicated to providing our patients and the community with information and education about our cardiothoracic surgery program, Lee Health, and matters affecting your health. Today, we're talking to Lisa Martinez, Lee Health's new Vice President of Strategy and Innovation. Welcome, Lisa so glad you could be with us today. I've been looking forward to this discussion. Perhaps we can begin with a little background about you. I know you've spent the last 20 years at AARP where you manage multiple health care products designed for seniors nationwide, and most recently served as the Vice-President of Business Optimization. That sounds like a huge job, can you talk to our listeners a little bit about those years and how you found yourself here at Lee?

Lisa Martinez:

First of all, thank you so much for welcoming me. Yes, 20 years in one organization, it was such a wonderful chapter in my career and I didn't expect to be there 20 years, but, you know, I told myself as long as I'm learning, growing and contributing, I'm staying and it was a wonderful time. I'd like to say that I grew up at AARP. I started there fresh out of MBA school in a health marketing role, managing brand licensing relationships with leading healthcare companies. I really loved the process of understanding our members' needs, and collaborating with colleagues to develop products that are differentiated, unique to that particular audience. In the case of AARP, if people aren't familiar, it’s an association, social welfare organization for people 50 and over. I was part of the division that helped to generate royalty revenues to support the important mission work and advocacy work at the organization. So for me, it was a perfect blend of business and a social mission, and I feel that way about, Lee Health as well. Over the years I've moved into a variety of roles, so I bring a background in of course strategy, but also program management, operational roles as well, of course as I mentioned, my career there started in marketing. I have a real passion for creating, you know, whether it's a new team, a new product, a new capability in an organization. Any opportunity I get to help an organization grow and transform I'm there. I just, I love it and it's really what drew me, back to healthcare, my healthcare roots, and I wanted to stretch myself and for the next chapter of my career, you know, take that leap of faith outside the AARP, which became a wonderful comfort zone for me. This opportunity to come to Lee Health was super energizing because I did feel like I could blend a lot of those interests and passions

Host:

Well 20 years of AARP means you must have had multiple positions within the organization, which can only lend itself to a lot of creative energy, and experience.

Lisa Martinez:

Well, anytime I was in a role, I was really fortunate because my first manager knew that I needed more than, you know, what we called, like my day job. So I had my functional role, but I really enjoyed being part of task forces and working on projects to help improve the efficiency or the effectiveness of the organization. So it was nice to have that blend. I really needed a lot of variety

Host:

I feel the same way actually!

Lisa Martinez:

It's energizing and, you know, in your quote-unquote day job, you don't always get to interact with people in an organization. So those opportunities to meet new people and to collaborate in new ways was really rewarding.

Host:

I'd be curious to hear a little bit about the health care products that you managed at AARP and how you came up with those ideas as products.

Lisa Martinez:

You know, AARP is really, one of its key competencies is just the depth of insight and research around the 50 plus consumer. So it really started there. When I first started, I was managing the marketing for our branded health products, including Medicare supplement, and didn't know what Medicare was. There was so much complexity, health insurance. So I had to learn the ins and outs of how insurance products are constructed, the Medicare space, the impact of, you know, so many environmental factors. So it was a wonderful learning opportunity. At the time, you know, marketing really led the process of identifying what products and services would we, could we create to really differentiate and tailor to the 50 plus audience. So really what we were trained to do coming in, and that mindset we had to bring to our role. You know, we were told the senior product analyst, which I was at the time said, you know, you're here to, when in doubt, it's about the member, it's about our brand promise to them to deliver, you know, quality affordability, simplicity, and it really gave me that confidence right? It like well I don't have to know all the ins outs, but as long as I'm close to the consumer and understanding their challenges really, and how this product can help them, it was a really important grounding and starting with that, and then it was looking at, well, what are some unique needs that we can design into the product? I think of why I like product development so much because I do think it is strategy in action. You know it brings your strategy to life because you're taking the time to really listen to your consumer and understand, you know, what are the benefits that you can offer, but you've also gotta be able to communicate it in a compelling way. So they actually purchased the product, they engaged with the product and, you know, no product can go to market through the effort of a single individual.

Host:

Yeah, it takes a village, as they say!

Lisa Martinez:

Yes! So many individuals and bringing so many perspectives and blending, so many experts together.

Host

Can you give me an example of a product that you worked on?

Lisa Martinez:

One product which was really rewarding, was health insurance, a comprehensive health insurance product for people 50-64 because we found that during that 50 to 64 age, and the gap has been filled with other, other products in the market, but at the time, you could be more vulnerable to job loss, you know, maybe you're in a caregiving situation or, you were laid off and you don't have access to comprehensive health insurance. That age group at the time is considered a high-risk group, and so health insurance was not as accessible, you're still too young for Medicare. So our organization worked with a health insurance company to design a product for that audience and to design a product that was still affordable for what was considered a high-risk group was quite challenging, but, you know, the organization rose to the challenge. I was part of the marketing team at the time. I would say most people don't understand is really what the price of an insurance product is. You know, if you're working with an employer, chances are the employers taking a huge portion. So it was just educating on the pricing and what made it valuable and beneficial, teaching people what a premium is, co-insurance a deductible.

Host:

What it looks like when you don't have insurance and you do, and you need it.

Lisa Martinez:

Yeah, how to buy a plan that's best for you. So I would say that was really rewarding because you were meeting a need and closing the gap in the market. We ultimately exited that product because there were other solutions, and I think that's a testament to AARP and its social mission as well. It's not about, oh, the chasing the revenue, it's meeting a need to help fuel the mission of the organization. So I've learned a lot in that, in that process. I would say that was one that I do remember

Host:

Lisa, Lee Health is huge as I'm sure you're finding out, how do you go about getting your arms around the strategy and then ensuring that all of Lee Health is committed to working on that strategy?

Lisa Martinez:

Yeah, you're right Lee Health is huge! Every day I learned something new, which I love it's exactly what I wanted in this opportunity. What was really, let me say it was a pleasant surprise, and I shouldn't have been surprised, but when I came in, it was so wonderful how embraced I was and the function of strategy and innovation. The organization, so many of my colleagues just, you know, there's a hunger for innovating and creating new value and being the national leader and seeing the value of a strategic planning function. I really see my role as enabling the organization to anticipate the future and continuously deliver value to our patients, team members and our broader community. I've said more it more than once, my role is not to own the strategy, I'm not the savior or the silver bullet, but I do think it's important that my team, that we orchestrate important conversations about our purpose and direction as a system. I needed to spend a lot of time to understand when I first joined. So I think I've been here about nine months or so nine or 10 months. I mean, I spend a lot of time listening. I wanted to get lots of perspectives on the needs and expectations around strategy and the strategic planning process and people were so open with their feedback. I really took that to heart and, announced a strategic planning approach that I think is well suited to our dynamic ever-changing healthcare space and I'm really excited to roll it out. Some of the needs and expectations I heard were around being future-oriented, not just reacting to the day-to-day. So many organizations I think struggle with that, to be inclusive, to bring the outside in, you know, there's the world's changing out there and we can't be insular; The need to align and integrate, work across organizational boundaries is key. I heard a lot about focus, how hard it is to say no, or how, you know, we want to be all things to all people. And, you know, it's noble, it's wonderful, but we can't stretch ourselves either. So really, I took all that in, because I think it's important to be responsive, that I'm here to be a steward of the planning process and bringing those insights that help to stimulate really thoughtful conversations about our future and the more conflict, the better, the more differing opinions, I think the better the strategy.

Host:

Yeah, I would agree with you. I'm happy to hear that you're having these conversations with people because I think that's kind of, one of the things that I feel has been lacking overall is this conversation about, well what do you see? And okay, you see it that way, why do you see it the other way and how do we make that mesh? And I think that's healthy for an organization.

Lisa Martinez:

Absolutely, we don't move forward. Inclusivity, being an inclusive leader I think is key to that process. I think the more, and I've said that the more senior you are in the organization the more blind spots you're likely to have. A lot of information gets filtered up so you have to be even more and more intentional about reaching out and understanding what's happening in the organization and in the environment.

Host:

I think people have this idea that the higher you are up in senior leadership the easier the job gets, but it's so wrong. It's so wrong.

Lisa Martinez:

That is so true. That is so true.

Host:

Can you tell me a little bit about how you're approaching innovation?

Lisa Martinez:

Absolutely, first of all, despite the title of strategy and innovation, I really consider myself a student of innovation and I'm still learning, the language, the philosophies, tools, and methods for innovation, they're wide-ranging, they're continuously evolving. It's not about having the right definition of innovation. What exactly is it? I think it's just being clear. What does it mean? What does innovation mean for your organization and how are you going to approach innovation giving what your organization is aspiring to do and the environment that it's in. Common language is important, that there is no one language of innovation. As I was having, even in my interview process, I had the sense that, wow, we have a lot of opportunity to really define it and to understand to what end are we pursuing and how we'll pursue it. I was more energized, I think some people would think, wow, they're still, it's still so unclear- and I saw it as, wow it's, it's a blank canvas. We can figure it out. I didn't want to make the assumption that innovation in however way you define it wasn't happening in the organization either. So for me, I wasn't going to come in with any preconceived notions of what it should be. So I wanted to go on a journey and I wanted to bring staff with me on the journey, not your usual suspects in terms of the most senior people in the organization. I wanted to reach down into the organization and find these, you know, say we have a group of 20 people that are really passionate. What I'd asked for when I was asking for recommendations I said, well, you know, who were really passionate problem solvers, who get things done at Lee Health. It was great, and the team that I'm working with, they're just so energized to go on this journey of developing an innovation program for Lee Health, that really delivers on our vision to be a national leader in the advancement of health and healing. We're asking important questions guided by experts that we brought on board, why are we innovating? What does success look like? Such an important question, where and how do we need to innovate? What is our risk appetite? Because really, we need to understand, what's our appetite for failure. How are we going to manage ambiguity and complexity?

Host:

Ambiguity is the hardest piece in my mind. Ambiguity always is the tripwire.

Lisa Martinez:

Embracing it, right? Because we, I think many of us, we crave certainty and success. I like to say.

Host:

I would agree, and in medicine, I think we have this concept that these are the way you do things and this is the path that you take. If you come to me with a disease, I have a clear pathway of how I'm supposed to do that. Stepping outside of that box becomes uncomfortable. So once you find yourself filled with that type of thinking, it's hard to get out of that zone and say, oh, well, I could do this, but no, it's outside of my box, and that's uncomfortable for people who are trained to think in a stepwise fashion

Lisa Martinez:

Oh, absolutely. I love what you just said, because I did say early on to colleagues, if you're not feeling discomfort, we're probably not innovating. It's okay, embrace the discomfort. I would love to hear from you. When you think about innovation and your time in the organization. How do you see it, and what do you think are the opportunities to accelerate it?

Host:

Well, for me, it's always about communication and that's one of the reasons we do this podcast. This podcast started in January as an idea of how do we get information out to our patients and how do we let them know that Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at Lee Health wants to be a leader in providing information and helping our community with their heart health. From there, it just kind of expanded into, well let's talk to Kris Fay about women in leadership, and let's talk to Dr. Prasad about leading during a crisis, and we've had all of these wonderful conversations that have just stemmed from originally just doing heart health. So I'm excited about that. I'm always, when I think about innovation, it's always about how do we communicate better? How can I, as a leader, communicate with staff or patients or our vendors or whoever, or my surgeons, how do I communicate better with them? How do I communicate better with the folks at the front desk? It's always about communication because Dr. DiGiorgi says this all the time. If you've got a break in communication, you've got a problem. And I agree 100%

Lisa Martinez:

That really resonates with me. As I'm learning more about health systems and just the environment, this wonderful environment that I'm in, they talk so much about being patient centered really is about communication. When you're facing a serious illness, as an example, or you're in a caregiver situation, how vital that two-way communication is.

Host:

We had Dr. Rabia Khan and Dr. Von Koenig, who are the palliative care leaders do a podcast with us talking about exactly that- When you have a critical illness, how important is the communication and their role is to kind of supplement what gets lost in the communication between physician and patient and family. Sometimes they don't understand or family isn't there to hear it. And so they come in and try to smooth the waters, so to speak. I think they do an incredible job there. They are put in the worst of the worst kind of situation, as far as trying to communicate, not happy news, usually.

Lisa Martinez:

I'd love to meet people in the organization in those roles. Because I’m sure I would be just so incredibly inspired

Host:

Dr. Khan is absolutely wonderful. You'd love her. She's really special.

What recommendations do you have for women who would like to pursue a career in strategy and innovation are their first steps and is there a logical progression?

Lisa Martinez:

I think I'm proved that there's not a single path to a strategy and innovation. It's interesting, I’ll share and I'll always remember this, it was a former manager I had, there was a recent reorg, so it was pretty early in my career at AARP. I was moved to a part of the organization where I felt I want to be able to do, because as you remember, I had a day job and I love side projects and I felt confined in the role and I was ready for something new and at the time this new function was created- the strategy team in the organization. I remember my manager say, wow, you must really love marketing, the role I was currently, and I said, well actually, I'm ready for something new. And that was a risk at the time because I thought, well, she's relatively new. She could tell me, well, too bad.

Host:

Or if you're not interested in, you need to leave.

Lisa Martinez:

She says, well, what do you know, what are you interested in? And she's like, well let's have a conversation. And what was so nice was that she helped pave the way for me to ultimately join that team and that was in the strategy role. It's one of the things when I'm mentoring people to say, don't be afraid if you're ready to explore new things, to talk to your manager. I think sometimes people have this fear that their manager might feel threatened by that or displeased. I have found that as much less the case, we want to see our team members thrive and pursue whatever career aspirations they have. I think we all have the capacity to build our problem-solving skills and, build our creativity, and someone who's interested in a strategy role, think about that. If you love being in the problem-solving business, and I think in any role you're there to solve problems and help the organization excel. But, I would say, think about the big picture of your organization. Why does it exist? The role that you're in now, how does it support that, the purpose of your organization. Who are your customers, both in the organization and outside, what are their needs and expectations, who else is needing those expectations? I really think that the best strategists and innovators ask more questions than they answer. They're relentlessly curious about the world around them. I think that's honestly, I think a key to success to a strategy and innovation role. You can learn the language, the tools, but it's really a lot of what I've learned over the years and it's difficult at an organizational level, but certainly at an individual level. Empathy, building empathy, putting yourself in someone else's shoes, understanding that there are other perspectives outside of your own. We all have biases that can, constrained our thinking. I would say, it's just a wonderful career. It's been a wonderful career path for me. There's no linear path. I think people can be strategic and innovative in whatever role they're in, in an organization, be a learner.

Host:

Lisa, thank you so much for being here today. This was a great conversation. Is there anything you want to add before we go?

Lisa Martinez:

Well, thanks again for, including me. I'm so grateful to be at Lee Health. The organization is filled with people, really inspired to improve the health of our patients and our community. I feel that and I'm looking forward to partnering with you on our innovation journey, I think today's just the start, the start of many more conversations. So thanks again for the opportunity, to be here with you this morning.

Host

Well I'm glad you were here.

Until next time, I'm Cathy Murtagh-Schaffer and this has been HeartBeats Shipley Cardiothoracic Centers podcast, dedicated to bringing research innovation and education to our patients and the community until next time.

Lee Health has a never-ending passion for innovation and strategy. We are constantly focused on our vision to be a national leader in the advancement of health and healing and searching for ways to improve patient care!

Lisa Martinez, Lee Health's new Vice President of Strategy and Innovation joins us today to speak about important innovation and strategy are within a healthcare system and how her team is going to help support, strengthen and grow Lee Health.

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