Unbiased Information, Trusted Guidance, and Unfettered Access: Q&A with Glen Tullman
Glen Tullman on the non-negotiables for employer-sponsored health care and a consumer-driven health care experience.
March 25, 2021
Launched in March 2021, Transcarent is a consumer-directed health and care platform designed to put people back in charge of their health and care, providing unbiased information, expert guidance and easy access to high-value care for Employees of self-insured Employers and their families.
Transcarent connects Employees via chat, phone, or video to a personal Health Guide or a physician, expert second opinions, medication review and management, virtual physical therapy, and full surgery management —It’s a personalized, 24/7 care experience that meets patients where they are. For Employers, Transcarent provides a risk-based model that fully aligns incentives, allowing all parties to share the cost savings generated as a result of better health decisions.
Transcarent CEO Glen Tullman, former Livongo chairman and Allscripts CEO, recently sat down with the team to share more about the new company, the need that Transcarent aims to address for Employers, and its vision to make it easier for Employees to navigate their health and care.
Q: It seems like Employers are now faced with the growing challenge of offering dozens of digital health point solutions, but now challenged with attempting to provide a better experience for their Employees that results in better clinical and ultimately financial outcomes. Would you agree that there’s a correlation there?
Yes, I agree that Employers are doing everything they can to try to improve the quality of care being delivered to their Employees, and also improve the cost of that care — Make both of those manageable. But, until you focus on the experience, you’re not going to get either. I think we’re going to see more and more a focus on the user experience, on creating delightful experiences that people love. If you think about all of the other things that we do in the digital economy, no one forces us to use them. We make a decision to use them because we recognize the value, and we enjoy the experience. In healthcare it’s been very different, but I see us moving to a much more consumer-directed kind of experience going forward.
Q: How is Transcarent different than traditional navigation or solution aggregators?
These companies have been around a long time but haven’t seemed to scale to meet the growing needs of Employers, payers, and consumers.
I think the whole concept of a navigator is flawed. Think of it this way —If you break a glass on the floor, you wouldn’t actually just clear a little path and help people walk their way through it. You would sweep up all of the glass. If you have a software system that is so complex that you need someone to help you navigate it, it’s not a problem with the user or even the navigator — It’s a problem with the software. So, I think we have to focus on how we can make the experience easy enough that anyone can use it without a navigator.
What do people want? They really want three things: Unbiased information, trusted guidance and, last but not least, they want access. You see that in so many of the applications we have today. If you think about Travelocity, we used to have navigators. They were called travel agents. Today, what we have is a program that gives you unbiased information that actually helps you make smarter decisions with that information. The program also provides trusted guidance that you know is unbiased — You know they don’t have an axe to grind. They’re just trying to be there for you. And, last but not least, it lets you actually take the action: to book the trip. It’s much easier, much more efficient, and it’s lower cost. That’s what we need in health care. We need the ability for someone who needs care to actually navigate on their own — Not a separate service who’s going to walk them through it. We need to make the systems easy to use, understandable, and make it easier to stay healthy.
Q: Did you see this same trend emerging when you were scaling Livongo? How would you approach this with Employers given the company had over 1,300 clients? How did you manage to provide the kind of new consumer experience you did?
Well, Livongo was all about the experience. It was really about creating an experience that was different than anything that existed before, but also an experience that people didn’t just like — They actually loved it, and that was important. We were fortunate, starting with my own son who had to face the challenges of diabetes from the age of 8 to our president Dr. Jennifer Schneider who also lived with this chronic condition. We understood what it was like to manage through these experiences. Consequently, we could build something that actually made it easier to stay healthy, and made the experience much better. Every aspect of what we did was designed with the Member — the user of the system — in mind. That’s what great programs do. They focus on the user, not someone else in the equation.
Q: Given all the success you have had throughout your career, most recently leading Livongo through the largest IPO and then merger in digital health history that created the world’s leading virtual care company – why start Transcarent?
I think there's important work to be done. Why do people come to work? Why are they energized every day? Because they love what they do, and they're doing something important. When we look at health care, Livongo was a step in that direction. We empowered millions of people with chronic conditions to live better and healthier lives. But that's only a segment of the health care experience. There's so much of that experience that's still broken. We see an opportunity to fix it and to actually make it easier to accomplish what we want. And that is a really great experience, better outcomes for people like you and me, and our families, and, last but not least, do it at an affordable cost. So that's the biggest challenge I think I've ever faced. And I couldn't be more excited about it.
Q: It's known that part of what drew you to found Livongo was your son Sam’s experience managing his diabetes. Was there a personal connection to Transcarent and your view that consumers need unbiased guidance and information more than ever, to provide a better health and care experience?
I think the best businesses are built by people who are missionaries, not mercenaries. They want to actually build something because it's important to them personally, because they see a business challenge, and they know it can be better. I think in our country today, around the world today, everyone knows health care can be better. And particularly in that case, my experience with Sam showed me that even for people with resources, who wanted to be healthy, we made it hard, and we put hurdles in front of them. So the opportunity was to create something that was much bigger than Sam's need. It was an identification that this was a part of our health care system that was broken for people with diabetes, with hypertension, with weight management issues, and with behavioral health challenges, and we could make it better. We had literally 1,000 people who woke up every day saying they were doing important work and that they could make a difference. And then we had millions of Members who said, “You're doing it!” There's nothing more rewarding than that in the whole world.
Q: How does Transcarent plan to work with key industry stakeholders like Employee Benefits Consultants?
Employee Benefits Consultants are key to how large, self-insured Employers make decisions. So, we're working hard to partner with them to make sure they understand that Transcarent offers something new that they haven't seen before. That is the ability to actually align incentives with their clients, and to make sure that we're focused on delivering high-quality care, and a great experience for the Employees of their clients and their families. So, we're working very close with them. They have a great insight into how to implement these systems, what the Employers need and what their Employees need as well. We expect to have a very tight relationship with the Employee Benefits Consultants.
Q: The surgery industry seems like a very hot industry right now – was this what led to Transcarent merging with BridgeHealth? What did BridgeHealth bring that others in the market didn’t?
I think right now, we've seen in the industry that surgery, and figuring out how to manage surgery more effectively, is actually very critical. Employers have woken up to the fact that surgery represents an important part of their spending, and is important from a quality perspective of getting people taken care of and getting them back to work. So, this has become a hot area today. BridgeHealth was the leader in this space. They were focused on helping people find the best place to have their surgery, whether it be a Center of Excellence, whether it be a surgery center, or their local hospital, and then guiding them through that process. But perhaps most important, BridgeHealth was also focused on determining whether they needed surgery at all. It turns out, when you look at areas like heart surgery, in some cases up to one in five of the heart surgeries requested don't even need to be done. So, this is a really critical area, and it serves as a foundational element of what we're doing at Transcarent. Surgery is really important for us and that was a great base to take off from.
Q: Given your role on the board of Teladoc and Transcarent’s new model – is there any perceived conflict?
The reason we merged Livongo into Teladoc Health was that it’s a great company. They have a great vision, and we expect to be working with them in the future, whether it's on some of their telehealth products, whether it's on their behavioral health products, or whether it's on Livongo. We wouldn't expect to do anything other than use Livongo, for example, for the people with chronic conditions, and that's what we expect to do in the future. So, I look forward to a very strong relationship with Teladoc and with the various services they offer.
Glen Tullman on joining Transcarent as CEO: Link to Video
Transcarent, a Silicon Valley-based consumer digital health company, is putting people in charge of their health and care experiences. Transcarent created a new consumer-directed health and care platform. Using a combination of software, technology, Health Guides and data science, Transcarent empowers consumers with the kind of unbiased information, trusted guidance and access to high-value care that leads to better care, better outcomes, and more cost-effective decisions and allows Members to share in the benefits of their decisions. Transcarent believes that having the right information, tools, and incentives in the decision-making process can positively transform the way we all experience our health and care.