by Maura McGinn
I’m an extrovert, and everybody knows it.
I delight in the daily interactions with interesting people, and I gain both personal and professional satisfaction from connecting these amazing people to one another. Those who know me well know that I started my career in executive recruiting where the connection points were people and opportunities. While doing that work, I happily facilitated introductions between clients and synergistic businesses. I love aligning people, priorities and possibilities with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare in the U.S.
Whether in the office, or out with family and friends, I am energized at that moment when commonalities are established, connections are made, and possibilities are identified.
In the arc of my professional life, I’ve never felt that thrill quite as frequently as I have at Belong Health. And, honestly, I (the extrovert) am more than a little surprised that’s true.
Something to Celebrate
Even though I’ve been with Belong since it’s the early days, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with many of my colleagues in person until the end of 2022 at our company-wide Kingston, NY retreat. The COVID-19 pandemic, and our decision to create a distributed geographical company makes daily, in-person interactions difficult. Before the event, I knew names, faces, and roles, of course. But like so many other workplaces, ours had been a world of Slack channels, Zoom meetings, and virtual presentations.
Under the surface, however, some other form of connection had quietly been happening over the past year and a half.
At that Kingston retreat, even before we’d shaken hands or shared vignettes about our families, several of us confessed to a special sense of kinship that went deeper than our workplace day-to-day. The value of our work, and our love for its capacity for impact, sustained and united us.
Our mission— centered around health equity and better care for vulnerable and complex needs individuals— proved more than enough to bond us all. Of course, we all had to acknowledge how much of that work is still an uphill climb. Belong Health is an early-stage company, working in a distributed way, within a heavily regulated environment.
But that tough reality has only made our 2022 successes, and the collective effort that unlocked them, all the sweeter. And at that Kingston retreat, we all celebrated the best employee engagement scores have ever seen at any company in any sector.
94% positive engagement score and 100% of employees feel their manager truly cares about their wellbeing.
Connecting with Members
It is impossible to acknowledge the impact of those numbers without recognizing the engagement of our members, themselves. The success we celebrated in Kingston signals that Belong Health members— all of whom have complex needs or are from underserved communities— are regularly connecting with their providers.
They are seeing their PCP’s for their annual preventative wellness visits. They are trusting in the guidance of their Belong Health care management teams.
They are learning how to self-advocate, and they are taking real ownership of their needs and care because, maybe for the first time in a medical setting, they are finally feeling heard, seen, understood, and valued.
When I’m not working or socializing, I’m reading. Often, I read business books and works like “Delivering Happiness” resonate. It is the story of Zappos, an online retailer, and the book details the impact of the customer service model on sales, retention and business performance. Happier employees, especially with a focus on customer service, lead to happy customers. It is no surprise to me that our members are engaged in their care. Our employees are empowered and engaged to solve problems, deeply connect with our members, and deploy creative solutions to our member’s care plans in interdisciplinary care teams.
Can you see why this work is so exciting for an extrovert like me?
In a short time, Belong Health has achieved trusted engagement with the very same people and groups healthcare has too often discarded. People who are incorrectly assumed to lack phones or other technology. People who are written off as transient or “difficult” or “unresponsive.” This past year proved, yes, they’re responding. Perhaps because they recognize us as part of the community they know and trust.
Maybe that’s why our welcome call engagement rate is 75%. Yet another number to celebrate.
Remarkably, our success stories of 2022 include a medical loss ratio (MLR) of under 80%. That feat is especially significant given Belong Health’s unique focus on communities traditionally considered high utilizers of medical care.
Through engagement with Belong Health, those same communities are receiving exactly the care they need when they need it, without waste — and without unnecessary repeat visits to specialists when a primary care provider (PCP) will do.
Personally, I think much of this unique interpersonal success is due to our commitment to whole-person care — our recognition that each member isn’t just a collection of data points but is impacted by all manner of community, culture, habits, hopes, and fears. It’s in exploring those more personal spaces— in getting to know our members on a deeply human level— where Belong Health regularly dives beyond the interests of ‘traditional’ health plans.
We don’t schedule someone for a doctor’s office appointment without also understanding the intangible drivers that have made that appointment necessary. We pose questions such as, how much of your income goes to your rent? How safe do you feel at home? Do you have access to food?
For us, this work is never just a matter of asking how are you? It’s about thoroughly answering the question of who are you? as well.
Recently our Chief Revenue Officer, Gen Gillespie, casually observed Belong Health’s “footprint is bigger than our foot.” That couldn’t be more true.
In a short time, our work has reached countless communities and spaces to change lives forever. Our care management teams — and, indeed, our whole organization — has truly made it our business to respect the dignity, agency, and health of every person we meet. That’s a privilege I cherish every day.
Even though my own role at Belong Health doesn’t put me in contact with every member, and even though I’m not on the ground offering medical expertise, this is an environment that can’t help but keep my spirits full. A place where I can truly see how my own work tangibly impacts someone’s health and happiness. Where I can match the energy and compassion of our frontline staff with that of my own, and in my own way. Where I can connect brilliant, compassionate people, watch them spark, and maybe even change lives in the process.
For an extrovert like me — what could be better?
Congratulations to all the Belong Health team on an incredible 2022! And congratulations to the following Belong Health staff who received special recognition at our Kingston, NY retreat!
Isabel Hayes, Ben Frauhiger, Kristen Soto, Michele Quintana, Boris Kaplunovsky, Jose Ramirez, Diana Sauri, Tracy Posniak, Caroline Ririe, Erica Wolfgram, and Stacy Ann Bailey.