Tales from the Trenches with Jeff Margolis, CEO of Welltok

By Welltok Marketing

Earlier this month, Welltok CEO Jeff Margolis joined Matter at Tales from the Trenches™ to share the wisdom he’s gained from a 30-year career building some of the nation’s largest and most innovative technology and service organizations.

Jeff is on a mission to transform what he calls the ‘sick care’ system, so that future generations have the resources necessary to achieve and sustain optimal health. At the event, Jeff shared how he is bringing his vision of a better system to life through Welltok, what keeps him motivated and some of the lessons he’s learned along the way. Here are some key takeaways from Matter's conversation with Jeff:

Shifting the focus in healthcare

“You have to have the courage to say that this system is screwed up — in fact, it’s not a system. We live in a system where we almost prolong chronic diseases because they’re more profitable than when cured. And we know that social determinants, the kind of support system you have, your personal relationships and your education about certain topics are more important influences of your life outcome than a doctor is. Back in the day, we were trying to produce a higher health status at a lower cost around the concept of ‘sick care,’ and I’m working now because I don’t want to stop until we figure that out for health in general.”

Welltok’s consumer activation platform

“We know that 70 percent of what drives health has nothing to do with quality medical care or your genetics. We know that people spend well under one percent of their time in a clinical setting…In fact, they spend less than one-tenth of their time in one. 

What we’re doing is asking what platform could aggregate all of the direct consumer-facing resources so that — instead of just fixing you when you’re sick — it helps you achieve and sustain your best health.

We’re what we call a consumer activation platform, not consumer engagement. Engagement is a term that comes out of Twitter metrics that measures how much time people spend online. That’s not useful in healthcare. What’s useful is: If you as a consumer need to get something done, or your physician needs you to get something done, does that actually get done? So we’ve invented the consumer action transaction and the consumer activation platform. The secret sauce is [that] it’s driven off of consumer data through machine learning applied to healthcare as opposed to claims data, EMR or EHR data.”

Learning the value of others

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 19. I almost died a couple of times in my late 20s, which will teach you a lot about the value of other human beings. For me, I learned in my 20s that the person mopping the floor of the hospital rooms was every bit as important as I was.”

Jeff’s motivation: ‘Tikkun Olam’

“I was taught this concept in Judaism — Tikkun Olam — which means ‘repairing the world.’ And so I grew up with a course of values that said there’s something a lot more important than me. You can leave [behind] big buildings and things with your name on them, but what you can really do that might matter is make the world a better place for the generations to come.

I’m just old enough now that I’ve watched this pattern where people who actually know their industry or are the ones in the position to actually make the fix exit before the fix gets done. And then the next generation comes in and keeps the mistakes, and we go through this pain cycle. That motivates me to leave a blueprint for people and express what I’ve learned.” 

Original article appeared on Matter on 3/20/2019.