Ken Young is an accomplished executive with a time-tested record of successful business performance. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Medecision, he blends insightful business acumen with strategic planning and leadership to drive change and organizational improvements for growth. His expertise extends across diverse industries, including healthcare technology (ERP and SaaS), life sciences, manufacturing, and professional services.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into our interview, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks for having me here today. Before my journey with Medecision started, I served as a financial executive at several high-growth multinational companies, both in the public and private sectors. My roots are in auditing, so I’ve always been the type to “dig deep.” I love getting to the heart of new areas, really understanding customers, and facing challenges head-on.
That’s why it’s no surprise that, when I landed at Medecision, my top priority was to get an intimate picture of our customers’ – primarily U.S. health plans and health systems – pain points. It didn’t take long to see that there was a massive opportunity for tech to level up their operations, boost their profits, and, crucially, improve health outcomes and consumer engagement. There were clear gaps: they needed sharper data insights, smoother automation, and a faster tech implementation process. Recognizing this, we’ve stepped in to make data work harder, increase its impact, and empower health plan and health system care managers to reach more people. My mantra? Deliver results quickly and make sure our solutions fit exactly right.
Seeing the vast amount of data not going to use in the healthcare industry has been a wake-up call for me. This realization is driving exciting innovation at Medecision, and I’m proud to be part of a team that’s on the forefront of this evolution, pushing for a more efficient and effective healthcare system for all of us.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in my career was leading the implementation of a large-scale care management system at a major health plan. It was a complex and challenging project, but seeing the positive impact it had on the organization and the patients they served was incredibly rewarding. It reinforced my belief in the power of technology to improve healthcare outcomes and make an impact.
- Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Early in my career, I had a humorous yet memorable experience during a presentation. I accidentally spilled coffee on my laptop right as I was about to begin presenting. It was certainly a moment of panic, but I managed to stay calm and composed. I quickly adapted to the situation and continued my presentation without any notes or access to my computer. It taught me the importance of always being prepared and adaptable, as well as the ability to keep moving forward in the face of unexpected obstacles. It was a valuable lesson in resilience and the power of a confident mindset.
- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” This quote resonates with me because it emphasizes the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges. Throughout my life and career, I’ve encountered setbacks and obstacles, but it’s the ability to keep going and learn from those experiences that has ultimately led to my personal success and growth.
- How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?
An excellent healthcare provider is one who prioritizes personalized care above all else. They take the time to understand each patient’s unique needs, values, and preferences and tailor their care approach accordingly. They consider the individual as a whole person and work collaboratively with the patient to develop personalized treatment plans, which also includes addressing the non-clinical SDOH barriers that are prevalent in our society today. This approach recognizes that healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all solution and that delivering care that is aligned with the individual’s circumstances and goals leads to better health outcomes and patient satisfaction.
I also think that to be an excellent healthcare provider, you must have a sincere desire to leverage technology and data to lessen the burden of care. Healthcare is never supposed to be a one-size-fits-all type of situation. We continue to see wonderful progress from our clients in this regard. Whether we are working with health plans, health systems or third-party administrators, the willingness to utilize technology and data is steadily increasing.
- What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
One of my favorite resources for healthcare leadership inspiration is the GeekWire Healthcare Tech Podcast. I enjoy listening to this podcast because it features in-depth discussions with industry leaders, innovators, and experts in healthcare technology. The episodes provide insight into the latest trends, advancements, and challenges in the healthcare tech space. I find it to be a valuable source of information and inspiration as it helps me stay informed about the dynamic landscape of healthcare technology and sparks ideas for driving innovation in my own work.
- Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
At Medecision, we are continually working on exciting projects that aim to improve healthcare outcomes and empower individuals to play an active role in their own health. Our teams are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to helping our customers. Whether it is serving top health plans or health systems, our goal is to help improve outcomes and empower people to actively participate in their own health.
I am always excited about the speed at which Medecision can deliver value to customers. Even our most complex implementations can be condensed into months, as opposed to years, which truly is remarkable. For example, one of our health plans with a million members was able to go live with our Aerial platform in only 5 months. This sort of success is unheard of in our industry. And the best part is, shortly after they went live, they realized 75% member engagement. This success was due to our advanced Aerial Data Platform and Next Best Action Engine – which offers the fastest access to real time data feeds.
One of our latest projects focuses on leveraging artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to identify individuals who are at risk for avoidable hospitalizations and proactively intervene to prevent them. By addressing potential health issues before they become emergencies, we can help people stay healthier and reduce healthcare costs.
Another exciting project is the release of our Real Time Rules Builder, which is a part of our Next Best Action Engine powered by the Aerial digital platform. This project will greatly enhance healthcare delivery and outcomes, while utilizing real-time data and advanced analytics to power population health strategies for health plan member engagement. Our goal is to always help to foster a whole-person approach to care, while enabling continuous support and engagement.
- Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3-5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?
You’re correct, not only is our country’s poor ranking shocking, but it is also absolutely unacceptable. I believe that the U.S. healthcare system is ranked poorly for several reasons, mainly there is a tremendous lack of access to affordable healthcare. Every day, many Americans struggle to access and afford the care they need, leading to delayed treatment and worse health outcomes.
Next, we have a very fragmented and inefficient system of care. Our U.S. healthcare system is highly fragmented, with multiple payers and providers operating independently from one another. This leads to administrative complexity, higher costs, and challenges in coordinating care.
Third, our country is experiencing tremendous health disparities. These disparities in healthcare access and outcomes continue to persist, with certain populations experiencing poorer health due to social determinants of health and systemic biases. Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are non-medical factors that significantly influence health outcomes. I am pleased to see the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is committed to making improvements in people’s lives by reducing these inequities. At Medecision, we also recognize the significant opportunity in this area and have made this a priority – whether through our recent partnership with Uber Health to help solve transportation-related inequities, or our Aerial Social Care Coordinator platform to help give health plans and medical providers immediate insight into an individual’s potential that is designed to help care managers to close the loop on SDOH referrals and barriers.
Finally, our high healthcare costs: The United States has some of the highest healthcare costs in the world that are driven by factors such as the increasing cost of prescription drugs, excessive administrative overhead, and the fee-for-service payment model.
- As a “healthcare insider,” If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.
While there are many significant opportunities to improve our overall healthcare system, there are a few that I think should be immediately considered.
First, I believe we need to have better health information technology integration. This can best happen through the seamless integration of health information technology systems across healthcare organizations to improve care coordination and minimize duplication of services. This includes adopting interoperable electronic health records and telehealth capabilities.
Secondly, there needs to be increased health literacy and patient education through investment in health literacy initiatives to improve individuals’ understanding of their health and healthcare options. By providing clear and accessible information, patients can make informed decisions about their care and actively participate in their own health management.
Third, I would like to see value-based drug pricing that addresses the rising cost of prescription drugs through value-based pricing models. This approach ties the cost of medications to their clinical effectiveness and aligns payment with the value they provide to patients.
Next, there needs to be more integration of mental healthcare services into primary care settings to address the mental health needs of patients more effectively. This includes enhancing access to mental health providers, increasing mental health screening, and improving collaboration between physical and mental healthcare providers. Mental health needs have drastically increased since the start of the pandemic.
Finally, there needs to be more focus on addressing the SDOH aspect of patients. Whether we are talking about access to reliable transportation to attend preventative care appointments, or access to quality food and safe housing, these types of barriers can directly lead to health disparities. If all our healthcare providers can better understand the correlation between outcomes and nonmedical circumstances, I believe that overall well-being can significantly improve across our communities.
To fully maximize manifest these changes, it will require increased collaboration and partnerships. Healthcare organizations, policymakers, technology companies, and other stakeholders need to collaborate willingly and effectively to drive these improvements. Partnerships should be fostered to share best practices, develop innovative solutions, and advocate for change.
We will also need to see policy reform that advocates for changes to support and incentivize the adoption of health information technology integration, health literacy programs, value-based drug pricing, and mental healthcare integration. We also need to pay greater attention to eliminating SDOH barriers. Policymakers play a crucial role in creating an environment that enables these changes to thrive. And of course, the public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers need to be more aware of the benefits and importance of these changes. Education programs can inform stakeholders about the need for health literacy, integration of mental healthcare, and the value of data-driven, interoperable health IT systems.
If we can implement these changes, we can enhance healthcare system efficiency, improve patient outcomes, and promote a healthier population. It will require collective efforts from all stakeholders to drive these changes and create a healthcare system that is more patient-centered, cost-effective, and sustainable. I believe our industry is capable of these improvements and it is up to each of us individually to work to drive change.
- What concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?
It goes without saying that manifesting these changes will require a collective effort across the healthcare industry.
As Individuals, we need to engage in proactive self-care, seek preventive services, and advocate for equitable access to healthcare. It is important that we all stay informed and engaged in healthcare policy discussions.
For corporations, they need to better collaborate with payers and providers to implement value-based care models and Invest in innovative and technology-driven solutions that improve healthcare efficiency and outcomes.
Within the local communities, it is important to foster community partnerships to address social determinants of health and implement community health programs and initiatives that empower individuals to take control of their health.
And, as leaders, we must continually advocate for policy changes that promote universal healthcare coverage, payment reform, and equitable access to care. It is up to us to foster collaboration among stakeholders and promote innovation in healthcare delivery.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has put intense pressure on the American healthcare system, leaving some hospital systems at a complete loss as to how to handle this crisis. Can you share with us examples of where we’ve seen the U.S. healthcare system struggle? How do you think we can correct these issues moving forward?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed several areas where the U.S. healthcare system has struggled. It is important to point out that COVID-19 is still here, and it continues to impact the health system, as it has not been completely eradicated. Some specific examples where our system has struggled include the lack of coordination and communication between healthcare providers, limited access to testing and supportive care, and challenges in distributing vaccines.
I believe that, as we move forward, we can address these issues by:
- Enhancing public health infrastructure by strengthening public health agencies and improving their capacity to respond to public health crises. This includes investments in surveillance systems, testing infrastructure, and rapid response capabilities.
- Streamlining communication and coordination by establishing clear lines of communication and coordination between healthcare providers, public health agencies, and government authorities. This can ensure a more coordinated and efficient response to future crises.
- Investing in telehealth and remote care and expanding access to telehealth services and remote monitoring technologies. This can help bridge gaps in access to care and reduce strain on healthcare facilities during a crisis.
- Improving supply chain resilience by building a more resilient and flexible healthcare supply chain to ensure the availability of critical medical supplies and equipment during emergencies.
- How do you think we can address the problem of physician shortages?
The anticipated shortage of physicians is a significant problem facing our country. A lack of physicians will lead to longer wait times for appointments, increased cost of care, and a lower quality of care.
To address this challenge, I believe there needs to be a multi-faceted approach which includes an Increased funding for medical education. We need to expand funding for medical schools and residency positions to increase the number of physicians entering the workforce.
Secondly, there needs to be a renewed focus on promoting the need for primary care. Let us start encouraging medical students to pursue careers in primary care by offering incentives such as loan forgiveness programs and increasing reimbursement rates for primary care services.
As I said before, we must also begin to further leverage technology. By continuing to embrace technology solutions such as telehealth, telemedicine and remote monitoring, the industry can extend the reach of physicians and make their expertise more accessible.
- How do you think we can address the issue of physician diversity?
Addressing the issue of physician diversity is extremely important to the industry. Diversity in health care will help to ensure that all backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives will be adequately and fairly represented. It is crucial that the healthcare workforce is representative of the community it serves.
To make advances in physician diversity and inclusion, we must first promote diversity in medical education. We need to Increase representation of underrepresented minority students in medical schools through targeted recruitment and scholarship programs.
We must also create inclusive and supportive environments. Healthcare organizations should foster inclusive workplaces that value diversity and create opportunities for underrepresented physicians to thrive.
Finally, there is tremendous value in mentorship and sponsorship programs. Establishing mentorship and sponsorship programs will help to provide further guidance, support, and career advancement opportunities for underrepresented physicians.
- How do you think we can address the issue of physician and nurse burnout?
It is crucial that our industry immediately solves the issue of increasing physician and nurse burnout rates. To help with this challenge, health systems need to increasingly emphasize work-life balance by providing work schedules and policies that promote a healthy work-life balance for healthcare providers. Also, we must implement strategies to mitigate burnout, such as flexible schedules and adequate time off.
Next, we must further emphasize and promote self-care and wellness. This starts by offering wellness programs, mental health resources, and support networks for healthcare providers. Other options are to sincerely encourage self-care practices and stress reduction techniques.
Another significant way to reduce burnout is to effectively address administrative burdens by streamlining administrative tasks and reducing paperwork to allow healthcare providers to focus more on patient care. We need to utilize technology to remove areas of excess work that often becomes overwhelming to providers.
Finally, let’s all work to foster a culture of support by cultivating a supportive and collaborative work environment that recognizes and values the contributions of healthcare providers. Encourage teamwork and provide opportunities for feedback and professional development.
- You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement, it would be to prioritize patient empowerment and engagement in healthcare decision-making. This movement would involve educating individuals about their health, advocating for their rights, and empowering them to actively participate in their care. By giving individuals the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions, we can improve health outcomes and create a more patient-centered healthcare system. It is also very important to always enable and inspire our health providers to deliver the right care, at the right time and in the right place.
- How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can follow my work and stay updated on Medecision’s initiatives through our website at www.medecision.com – where we regularly feature insightful blogs, podcasts and industry webinars. They can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your great work.
This article was featured in Authority Magazine