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Paul Hennessy: Why I Joined Aledade’s Board
June 19, 2023

By Paul Hennessy

I’m what you might call a “serial start-up guy.”

My career in business and entrepreneurship has been driven by finding the most innovative, disruptive ideas and scaling them up to fundamentally change the status quo. I got into the wireless industry to fundamentally change telecommunications, and build the foundation for countless innovative tools to keep us all more connected. I stepped into the leadership of an online pre-owned car retailer, Vroom, to fundamentally change the business of buying and selling cars, and we ended up making it a top 10 automotive retailer in the United States. As Chief Marketing Officer of Booking.com and CEO of Priceline.com, I helped lead change in the travel industry to fundamentally change the travel industry, and help more people quickly and easily see the world. And today, I’m leading the team at Shutterstock, where we’re combining technology, content, design, ingenuity and innovation to help bring the best versions of our customers’ stories to life – and harnessing the power of generative AI to do it.

I’m also a health care guy at heart.

That largely comes from my family. My children were born in the very same hospital where my father served as Chairman of the Board. My parents were both deeply philanthropic, opening the Barbara Hennessy Breast Imaging Center to help more women catch breast cancer early and fight it. And today, my brother and his wife are practicing physicians, and I have other family members serving in the health care industry. Finding ways to care for one another was just something that came naturally to us.

So when I heard about Aledade, I was intrigued. Aledade’s model drew me in. It’s a model that brings all of the different parts of our health care system together, and focuses them on one goal: better health. In everything it does, Aledade is about helping doctors do what they signed up to do in the first place when they became doctors: give their patients the best care possible.

When people think of disruptive start-ups, what they often miss is that this disruption isn’t about changing the industry just for the sake of shaking things up. It’s about bringing the industry back to the core of what it was supposed to do for people.

People need telecommunications to connect one another. They need car retailers to give them the mobility they need to live their lives. They need the travel industry to help them see more of the world. And they need content like images, videos, music, 3D models and tools to advertise and tell their best stories. In every one of those industries, our start-ups grew and scaled so rapidly because they helped people get what they needed from these industries in the first place.

People need primary care to help them stay healthy. Period.

Aledade has done that. Over the past nine years, primary care practices working with Aledade have helped patients avoid hundreds of thousands of unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room, costly hospitalizations and more than a billion dollars of unnecessary spending on health care. And they’ve done it by going back to the core of what makes health care work – giving primary care practices the tools and resources they need, so they can give their patients the preventive, proactive care they need to stay healthy.

The key question is: how do you bring those types of essential solutions to scale? In my past roles, I’ve leaned on a lifetime of insights in marketing and growth to drive scale as quickly as possible. It’s one of the things I first saw at Aledade – the growth of this company has been exponential. To go from a handful of practices to more than 1,500 and the largest network of independent primary care in just nine years is astounding. But the opportunity is astounding as well, which is why Farzad likes to remind me that my first question when learning about this company’s growth was “what’s holding you back from growing twice as fast?” The opportunity and the importance of this mission of empowering primary care require Aledade to grow as quickly as possible, so more practices can stay independent and more patients can stay healthy.

I have also been intrigued by how Aledade is looking to the future. At Shutterstock, we have kept our eyes on the horizon, especially when it comes to the explosion of AI-generated art and the innovative partnerships that help us ensure we can drive even greater creativity while responsibly monitoring the impact of this new technology on our consumers and contributors. I know that Aledade, too, has kept a close eye on the rise of AI, to bring their machine-learning and AI expertise to enhance the tools Aledade gives practices, so these health care professionals can extract valuable insights from disparate data sources, provide more accurate predictions with past data and optimize their workflows with cutting-edge algorithms.

I’m thrilled to join Aledade’s Board of Directors, because this is a company focused on disruption for the right reasons and in the right ways. It’s already changing health care for the better, and I can’t wait to see the new heights this team and the primary care professionals they serve will reach in the years to come.