Two weeks ago, The New York Times showcased two Aledade partner practices in Kansas. I, like many of my colleagues, excitedly shared this piece with friends and family to explain what we do at Aledade, and how we have the power to impact health care. Are you curious about the people taking on this innovative problem solving?
Last month, the Aledade Fellows had a Friday afternoon happy hour, with Farzad, our CEO. He kicked off the summer celebration by asking, “What does it mean to be Aledadey?” Each fellow gave an answer, often supplying an anecdote with the value. After every answer, Farzad would dig deeper, “Why?” he would ask. “What it is it about this trait is Aledadey?”
Read what some other Aledade Fellows took away from this conversation on values:
As I looked around the room at my impassioned coworkers, I couldn’t help but think that this moment was really what Aledade was all about. The fact that the CEO cared enough to take the time out of his Friday evening to hear what group of recent college grads thought about company values is very unique to Aledade. It doesn’t matter what your role is, whether you’re a fellow or the CFO, if you have a well developed opinion or idea and articulate it, people are going to listen to you. Aledade is a place where you are judged on the quality of your ideas and the work that you do rather than on your title. This distinct culture inspires the kind of collaboration that has been instrumental to Aledade’s success.
One of the interesting points that Farzad made during this kitchen hangout happy hour was that each person at Aledade has a deck of playing cards – we each have a unique skillset to contribute. No one is an expert at everything. But as we get involved in new projects, we acquire new skills and expand our decks. A culture of continuous self-improvement is central to Aledade’s mission to improve primary care. In the short time I have been here, I have become better at data analysis, learned a new programming language, and participated in various projects both within and outside of my team. When I complete my fellowship and move on to pursue a medical education, I hope to bring my “Aledadiness” with me – that never ending desire to own what I do, share my passions with others, and find “scrappy” ways of continuously improving the world around me.
As we went around the room, we heard words like “scrappy”, “flexible”, and “collaborative” to describe our Aledade work culture. The Aledadey qualities list can go on and on but, simply put, it’s the supportive culture that encourages us to be innovative and always thinking outside of the box. At the core, Aledade gets it – invest and build something great, hire a talented, fun, and personable team that believe in the Aledade core values and success falls right into place.
Whether it’s through hangouts or staff retreats, the Aledadey culture constantly creates opportunities for togetherness that help close the gap between remote employees and HQ staff. Those relationships are key and contribute to the great work we do as a company. In my experience, the focus is more on doing something than being someone here at Aledade. Each day we are presented with new challenges and situations, which help us to stay focused and interested. Whether it’s being scrappy in Excel sheets or bringing Primary Care Providers and specialists together for meetings on referral processes, I know when I go home that I truly did something meaningful and important.
This happy hour itself contributes to being Aledadey. One example of Farzad’s that stuck with me was his advice on finding that one thing you’re good at, becoming an expert on that subject matter and using that as a growing point to learn around. I have never before felt that our leaders cared about our development, life outside of work, and general happiness with our roles more than the Aledade team. Individual success is celebrated as a team as much as team successes. The “work hard – play hard” attitude is very much alive in the Aledade world. While sticking to its core values, the empowering, Aledadey culture strives to deliver affordable, high-quality care across the country.
What are the things we do that make us Aledade?
As a recent graduate, it’s easy to answer this question with a litany of business clichés from the textbooks I read not so long ago. At Aledade we break down the silos, peel back the layers of the onion, think outside the box, move the needle, roll up our sleeves, get deep in the weeds and when that’s all said and done we stand back and look at the 30,000-foot view. Although there is some truth to the sentiments of many of these platitudes, they’re not what make us Aledade.
Google Hangout video calls allows our company culture to thrive across the country. Although this might sound like an exaggeration, these virtual interactions play a critical role in our daily operations. These calls provide more than just a channel for individuals across the country to speak to one another. They also allow us to understand the subtle nonverbal cues and facial expressions that often convey more than words, like seeing someone crack a smile when you slip a joke a presentation or noticing your coworker fail to hold back a yawn at 3pm and giving them knowing look. It’s these elements of human interaction that foster a sense of comradery and better enable us to openly discuss concerns, share ideas, and delve into the issues we face.
Another aspect of our culture is our shared understanding that working together is critical to our success. We believe in the importance of collaboration, respect and face to face conversations in relationship building so much, that each of our partner practices receives weekly in person practice transformation support.
Simply put, at Aledade, we still do business face to face.
Farzad posed a question to the gathering of Aledade fellows and summer interns: “What does it mean to be Aledadey?” We glanced at each other, uncertain of an answer, but sure that this adjective was not in any dictionary. As we reflected on our brief experiences at Aledade with its co-founder and CEO, it became evident that this short question did not have one finite answer.
I was anxious when I joined the team at Aledade as a summer intern. While I had developed an interest in working to improve health care from the perspective of government and policy, I did not know where to begin from the perspective of a start-up. Health care in America is complex, yet my team was undaunted. Quickly, I learned how Aledade is in the business of tackling systemic problems in health care, creating value for patient and provider alike.
In my first week, I confronted one of many challenges in Aledade’s mission to drive value in health care: I began working on a new initiative that focuses on improving the quality of care in the end of a patient’s life. With up to 25 percent of Medicare costs occurring in the last year of living and high levels of patient and family dissatisfaction – often due to excessive hospitalization – the motivation for making a change was clear and compelling. I was excited by the potential impact, but overwhelmed by the complexity of what seems to be some uncharted territory in value-based care: How do you realize gains for quality and value, and achieve these consistently at scale? Noticing my unease, Dr. Joshua Israel, the project lead, ended our first meeting with a smile: “I do not know, we will just have to figure all of that out together.”
This “can-do” approach in the face of complexity, uncertainty and high stakes serves as just one clue to respond to Farzad’s question. Being Aledadey is asking difficult questions and digging into the data and evidence to discover a solution. It is tackling complex problems and creating solutions that improve the lives of patients. Aledadey is the pathway to the brighter future of American health care.
For me Aledadeiness is comprised of the people and their humility, integrity, and impatience for improvement. Humility is knowing we may try something and have unexpected results. A push here may not lead to a pull there. We are okay with re-charting a course, knowing we’ve learned something from it. This humility also promotes asking, asking for help from teammates or asking why. Data is important in everything we do, but isn’t always visible to an end user or to the patient who will end up coming in to see their doctor because of it. It’s knowing we would never use data that could shortchange a partner practice or put a patient at risk.
Finally, it’s a continuous improvement. Last summer, I worked on a relaunch of our website. This redesign was months in the making and included incredibly talented designers with feedback from every team. Before the new version was rolled out there was already a list of improvements for the next day and the next version.
For us, being Aledadey is being scrappy, and focusing on continuous improvement, collaboration, supporting your teammates, building relationships on face to face conversations, jumping into an unknown problem to discover an actionable solution, and people who demonstrate humility, integrity, and impatience for improvement.