Why Putting Communities First Drives Growth

Being a part of a team, whose shared mission is “Helping People Live the Healthiest Lives Possible,” is personal to me.

 hands holding onto letters spelling community 

When I was 9 years old, I came home from school one day with a terrible fever. My parents didn’t take me to the doctor for three days because we were extremely poor and had no health insurance, like many families in Utah. I almost died. My appendix had burst several days earlier and peritonitis—an infection caused by bacteria—had set in. But as a part of Intermountain HealthCare’s charitable mission, they helped cover the costs.

I have never forgotten the care and compassion I received as a scared little boy who was literally knocking on death’s door. 

So, when years later I joined the Select Health familya wholly-owned subsidiary of Intermountain HealthI was delighted. I see it as my chance to serve as a caregiver for other families in need.

Being a part of a team, whose shared mission is “Helping People Live the Healthiest Lives Possible,” is personal to me. I’ve worked in a variety of industries, from telecommunications to trucking to healthcare. And what I’ve found is that when you build a company centered on values, such as quality, safety, compassion, and caring for the community, you will see better results for your company and among those you serve. Here are three strategies to help you get closer to that goal.

Be consistent in your vision

Some companies are constantly reinventing themselves, making it hard to discern how their values ladder up to their goals and what that means for you, the consumer. But when you stay true to who you really are, you don’t need gimmicks or fancy messaging to get people to believe in your mission. It’s already a part of your DNA and it shows. In turn, your customers will have more reason to stick with you.

Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have to continually work for their support. But you’re starting with a solid foundation to build upon. That always brings me back to my experience as a young boy. Intermountain Health to this day has always made caring for others, even those with nothing, a capstone of its mission.

Whether it’s in the design of your programs, the way you treat employees, or the time you take to listen to your customers, find a way to consistently communicate your priorities to others.

Go beyond what’s expected of you

Giving back to your community and growing your business are not mutually exclusive endeavors. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. Our ability to create change is deeply rooted in a sense that we want as many people as possible to have access to our products. 

At Select Health, we’ve realized that when you address some of the barriers to healthcare, people have better health outcomes, and we all thrive when everyone’s healthier. That’s why we joined with Intermountain Health, our parent company, to launch the Utah Alliance for the Determinants of Health, a $12 million, three-year initiative in collaboration with city, county, and state agencies, as well as other community-based organizations in Ogden and St. George. By focusing on some of the non-medical factors— also called social determinants of health—such as housing, food insecurity, and transportation, we can improve health, prevent illness, and bring down healthcare costs. It’s a unique collaboration that unites many stakeholders for one goal.

How will it work? Perhaps we can we give someone a lift to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription or help them get access to fruits and vegetables. We’re also currently simplifying the language in our materials to better educate people about their insurance options (even if they don’t choose us). It’s all designed to enhance the lives of our neighbors.

Be an inspiration to others and they’ll join you on your journey

Oftentimes, the only way to drive change is to take a risk.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy once said: “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” If you’re truly committed to making a difference, you might need to be the one leading the charge in hopes that others will follow suit. 

The healthcare industry is a perfect example. Rising healthcare costs averaging 10 to 14 percent a year have been crippling the industry and our customers. But we knew nothing substantive would happen without a radical shift in thinking. We took a leap of faith and once again partnered with Intermountain Health to create Select Health Share, a three-year program with guaranteed premium increases at 2.5 percent. We call it “Share” because it’s based on four parties that share commitments to help control the health and wellbeing of a population of people—from employers to employees to Select Health to the provider community. We knew that if we could get everyone involved around the shared goal of wellness and fixing costs, we could make this work.

We’ve seen improvements in the health of our participants. For instance, hospitals admissions have decreased by 3.8% and monthly claims per member are down 8.1% compared to employers that aren’t on Select Health Share. It wasn’t easy, but everyone was committed, and it paid off. As a result, we’ve guaranteed the inaugural groups in the program another three years with only a 2% annual rate increase—allowing them to budget around those costs. And we’ve doubled our enrollment in Share. 

Our hope is that other healthcare companies will join us so that together, we can be a force for better health and making healthcare affordable for all. But we know we’re not alone in putting our community-first approach. What kinds of values do you build your businesses on? How do you work with communities to make the biggest impact?


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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