I was able to FINALLY see Hamilton: An American Musical last weekend. I distinctly remember reading Ron Chernow’s classic Alexander Hamilton in 2008 (while at a Health 2.0 Conference to boot!) and just being blown away by the hurricane force that was Hamilton. Having enjoyed the music and watched the video of the play, I can say that seeing it in person, and judging by the reaction of the audience, the performance “blew us all away”. Not just the incredible story line of Alexander’s rise (and fall), but the creative genius of Lyn Manuel Miranda in person just brought more depth, more passion, and more force to an already powerful narrative. For whatever reason the lyrics from several of the familiar songs really hit some nerves.
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control: who lives, who dies
Who tells your story
The final song of the musical is one of the greatest summations I have ever seen to bring together an epic story. Eliza gets to speak to an incredible legacy that was well deserved but that she had to fight to preserve through history. She chose to take on the task of telling the story of Alexander through the eyes of his family, his soldiers, his fellow political leaders, and ultimately through the success of the country that he was instrumental in founding. I was struck by the clear purpose, the powerful intent, and the relentlessness through which she single handedly pursued these objectives. But preserving Alexander’s legacy wasn’t done with statues and honors but instead through 5 decades of constant acts of courage (including forgiving a painful betrayal), acts of patriotism (to fight to abolish slavery and remain true to the principles of freedom), and acts of service (starting the orphanage). Amazing.
So what’s the tie in to my work at Crossover?
Having read the scorching critique of our industry, more recent revelations of additional misbehavior, and having recently completed a pretty constrained finalist presentation (limited by a prescribed agenda), I have been thinking a lot about “who tells your story”. Or perhaps, put more clearly, whats the story I really want to tell. As with all great stories, it can’t just be about what we do or how we do it. It has to focus on why it all matters.
I take seriously the privilege of caring for people and my profession as a physician leader. I’m always so disappointed to see the existing misincentives undermine the great work being done by so many to lift us to a higher and better standard of care achieved by doing the right things. Is our industry only just about manipulating an already manufactured Fee For Service game: upcoding for a few more points of margin, casting the diagnostic net a little wider to extract a few more dollars, and pressing people and even patients unnaturally to eke out a bit more profit? Of course, “proof of profitability” is an essential byproduct of a well run company that clearly communicates its value, demonstrates success in a competitive marketplace by commanding a reasonable price, and operating within a cost structure to create a sustainable business over time. I have personally learned so much over the last 12 months, more so than at any point in the last 12 years, about how to “operate” a great business. Enduring great businesses are a byproduct of a passion, great concepts, better execution, and a fair share of luck, in healthcare as in any other sector. And, every health entrepreneur should be fighting to have a business story worth telling.
But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?
What’s the story about Crossover, now and in the future? I hope it will always be that we managed, through a clear vision and hard work, to move the reality of what healthcare can be, and what great health must be. That we created a valuable business that was truly valuable to our members, that it operated on sound principles and sounder ethics, with profits fairly earned in competitive markets, and with a moral compass that led us to do the right things. Always. And it’s the story we want our members, our clients, and the sector itself to tell as well. Building an enduring company doing great work with great people–which by its very nature creates a virtuous cycle–will be a story that deserves to be told and retold for generations to come!