EP. 39 Careers Built Upon Core Values

by | Apr 4, 2023

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What makes a prolific career in healthcare? Of course, there is extensive medical knowledge, a passion for serving others, and a commitment to perform with your best judgement. Backed by a strong company culture designed to propel consulting careers, the workforce of Medical Advantage is committed to empowering medical professionals to do their best work, every day, leveraging the power of technology. 
The foundation of our company culture is rooted in our set of eight, yes eight, core values. These core values are: assume positive intent, act now, make others great, let’s talk, take risks, results matter, it’s all about the customer, and extreme ownership. By recognizing those who exemplify our core values, we reaffirm that our core values are more than just words, they are about leading by example. 
For those who are considering a career move to healthcare consulting or are seeking guidance on how to cultivate a strong company culture that catalyzes careers, you won’t want to miss this episode! 
Copywriter Holly Hurst sits down with our two Core Value Award winners for 2022:  Manager of Practice Marketing Dyana Gebauer and Clinical Manager Brandy Smuzeski. Holly leads a discussion of all the elements that help Dyana and Brandy thrive in their respective roles. 
Settle in as we hear original stories of career journeys in healthcare consulting!

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Full Episode Transcript

Medical Advantage Podcast: Welcome to the Medical Advantage Podcast, where you can hear healthcare professionals, expert consultants, and industry thought leaders discuss the exciting new ideas and technologies that are changing the business of healthcare. Tune in to each episode as we hear from some of the most innovative minds in medicine about the future of healthcare and how your organization can stay profitable, efficient, and on top of industry best practices. 

Rebekah Duke: Hello, and welcome back to the Medical Advantage Podcast. I’m Rebekah Duke. Here to introduce today’s episode where we share more about what we do as a company. Our staff writer, Holly Hurst, recently sat down with our 2022 Core Value Award winners to chat about what it’s like to work for a healthcare consulting company and how Medical Advantage client focus and core values are the formula for success in new ventures and long-term career development. 

First up is Dyana Gebauer. She has been with Medical Advantage for 15 years and is currently the manager of customer accounts for our practice marketing solutions service line. Let’s drop in on this short interview.  

Holly Hurst: So you’ve been with the company for a long time. How would you describe the culture of Medical Advantage, iHealthSpot or the overall culture that we work within to somebody on the outside?  

Dyana Gebauer: I’ve been given the chance to do meaningful work in healthcare with really great colleagues. And so that’s made the culture what it is for me. In that it has married the two. We have a group of leaders that provide direction and set an environment that is such that we can take appropriate risks, be ourselves and have fun.  

But there’s grace built-in there, where if someone falters, there’s not anger and finger pointing. It’s all learning and an opportunity to grow. So we have a very good customer first mindset while simultaneously the company advocates for its employees. 

So it’s just a good balance of those things for me. And it’s a reason I’ve never left. I think mostly it’s the people and the culture and the environment that has been established here. I’d also describe us as, we’re always growing. We’re kind of like an in a forever state of being a startup where we have new services and new goals and new aims and new customers. 

So it’s fast paced and you’ve gotta be nimble and agile and adaptable and all of those adjectives. But it makes it a fun challenge when it’s with people who are here to support you and work alongside you.  

Holly Hurst: You’ve worked with a lot of different groups within the organization over the years and I’m wondering if you have found kind of a common thread that runs through them all, of qualities that really make for a successful team? 

Dyana Gebauer: You work with some really smart people. Nobody holds all of the cards so there’s some support that happens and you’ve gotta leverage other people for their expertise on things. But everybody’s here to get the work done and they show up. And they understand that at the drop of a hat, there could be a change in scope or focus or need. 

And so we’ve all gotta be adaptable. And so I think that’s an important trait for teams across the board is that change is the only constant, especially in healthcare, and we’ve gotta model some of that adaptability.  

Holly Hurst: One of the core values is it’s all about the customers. Can you tell me a little bit about your philosophy on our customers? 

Dyana Gebauer: There’s been a lot where we’ve been able to grow and advance our expertise in healthcare. But being that we’re owned by The Doctor’s Company, which is a physician owned malpractice entity, we’ve got physicians top of mind. And every day we wake up trying to figure out how can we help healthcare be better for our physicians and our constituents within TDC and Medical Advantage? 

Because there’s no shortage of requirements and demands on a practice regardless of their structure, independent or employed, private equity, or multi-specialty practices, they’re all facing similar challenges. And it’s not that anybody wants to or is really resistant to doing things differently, it’s just there’s no time in the day for practices to adapt and monitor different programs and understand different requirements and submissions to different payers and health plans and government entities. 

Our model is really how can we help make healthcare easier for physicians and help the efficiency of the healthcare system overall by doing that. 

Holly Hurst: What kind of advice do you have to other people, especially since you’ve been with a company for 15 years, for someone like me who’s only been here for six months, or someone from the outside who’s thinking about joining, what inspires you to aspire to those core values? 

Dyana Gebauer: I guess it’s just a fundamental belief that everybody shows up wanting to get the job done and some folks have more capacity to give more right now than others or want to spend more time. Whatever it is I think it’s just understanding our colleagues and how they work and how they respond and being patient and having grace. 

And then it’s a trickle down for me of the other things that translates to me for it’s all about the customer. And understanding that if a customer is frustrated about something, well they have a business to run and they’ve got a lot of other things happening. And likewise with our colleagues. 

So there’s very little that I think can’t be solved or that warrants being rude or upset about. I think if we can all just work together for the common goals of the company and the customer, the rest of it tends to fall into place. And it’s a mentality and approach to just being patient and wanting to be collaborative with your colleagues. 

I think of some of those, like, Let’s Talk, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone in the company or just reach out. There’s no concern that if I go above a leader to talk to somebody else or around someone, like, that’s just not how our culture has ever been set up. 

And I appreciate that about our executive team because they’ve helped make it that. You know, taking risks, like I said earlier, I don’t feel shy about that because I’ve had times where I’ve stumbled in front of our CEO and he’s one of the first to say, that’s all right and let’s think about it this way. 

And so it makes it easier to serve the company in terms of all of our core values when our leadership and our colleagues are on the same page and working together for a common goal.  

Rebekah Duke: Thank you Holly and Dyana for outlining the role that leadership plays in healthcare consulting team’s success. 

Next we have Brandy Smuzeski. She’s been with the company for about five years, starting as a senior clinical consultant and is now a clinical manager. Recently, she’s been instrumental in the launch of Medical Advantage’s Accountable Care Organization. Let’s drop in on their conversation.  

Holly Hurst: So how long have you been with Medical Advantage? 

Brandy Smuzeski: It will be six years in May. So I just received my five year award, which the box just came the other day and I was thinking it was going to be the core value award and it ended up being my five year service award.  

Holly Hurst: Oh, nice.  

Brandy Smuzeski: It’s like May 22nd, it might be, will be my sixth year mark with the company. 

Holly Hurst: Can you tell me some of your favorite things about the culture?  

Brandy Smuzeski: Yes, I do definitely appreciate and respect the autonomy that all the employees have. I always have that mindset of, and my background is in psychology and social work, so my mindset’s always, if you’ve gotta think the best, you have to have the positive intent and think the best of people. 

And if you’re going to hire the best and pay someone, you really wanna be able to hire, invest someone that you feel is comfortable and confident in doing their position and the responsibilities you hire them for. And I think that’s exactly what Medical Advantage stands for.  

When they do hire their employees, they’re not micromanaging them. They very clearly lay out the expectations, they provide the tools and resources for them to be successful in their role, but they’re also there to coach and guide.  

I’ve seen a lot of companies where they bring on an employer or employee and they do a lot of micromanaging instead of just allowing that employee to be hands on and grow within their own position.  

So I think that’s one thing that’s really fantastic with Medical Advantage. When Covid hit, it was everything switched over to remote. And I think it’s great for a company to offer that because I think initially it was, did you wanna keep going into the office once back to office was being reinstated or did you wanna maintain from remote? 

And I feel like giving employees the opportunity to choose, not only put that choice in their hand, but it made them more driven too. They trust me, feeling like their boss or leadership, the company trusted them to do their role from a distance.  

They tend to really, I feel like, drive that culture of feeling like a team. So when we went live and, the Medical Advantage ACO, it was a lot of work from all different teams, which is fantastic to have that availability to instead of just being siloed. You get to work with analytics, you get to work with marketing, the sales individuals, just from all the different teams come together. 

It’s great to celebrate the success of the teams, employees as well as the company as a whole as you’re going along the way. Instead of okay, just one and done kind of thing that you might see with another company. Medical Advantage, I feel like just celebrates and does a lot of that recognition and the core values. 

I think every, Let’s Talk, there’s usually a handful of core value awards, that are people identified for as well as exemplifying them and then hand it out, and I think it’s just fantastic because that really boosts the morale of the employee.  

Holly Hurst: You kind of highlighted some of these already, but what do you think are some of the most important qualities for a successful team, especially when the teams are remote? 

Brandy Smuzeski: Not one employee succeeds without the entire team succeeding because it’s a group effort. There are a lot of times the way the life in the world works is somebody gets sick, something comes up and you’re just unable to hit that deadline or complete that task. Having a team, and I feel like Medical Advantage really supports us and they tend to just hire employees that are team players. Having that team stand behind you and pick up what you’re unable to get done because you got another priority, or maybe your kid’s sick, or you’re sick, or whatever the case is.  

We’re always hands on, do you got this? Do you need this communication? Just people really thriving to help each other out instead of, well, that’s not my responsibility and siloing off. They don’t do that with a Medical Advantage, and I think it comes from the leadership down of developing and enhancing that culture of this is all hands on.  

Success isn’t just from one person, it’s from the entire team, and it’s recognized, and I think that’s what makes them more driven to wanna help out each other. 

Holly Hurst: One of the other things that you mentioned was our core values, and I’m really curious based on your role with Medical Advantage in working with the ACO team, tell me a little bit about your philosophy on customers. I know that the core value says it’s all about the customers, and I just am curious to hear kind of what your perspective on that is and how you feel like you’re delivering that. 

Brandy Smuzeski: We have to ensure that we’re giving our customers the best experience that we can. I really feel, for me internally, what separates Medical Advantage from other consulting groups, from other companies in the healthcare world, is we don’t just deliver to our clients, we deliver quality work to our clients, and that’s always been the base of our model. 

I think it’s the mission or the statement, is about delivering high efficient quality healthcare to our clients or to the world in general. And I think we stand behind that and every one of our core values is linked to being able to do that. So it’s the assume positive intent, that’s not only internally, but it’s also towards our clients always assuming the best. 

Our clients may not always have the answers when they come to us and they’re telling us, well, I don’t like that idea that you guys came to us, but we need to do X, Y, and Z. We need to hear our clients, we need to hear what they’re saying. But we also have to do our, our due diligence of sharing why we felt the way that we do if there is a discrepancy between the two. 

But it’s also at the end of the day, we do have our clients and that’s what keeps us alive and thriving. And as long as we’re always providing high quality service to them, which I think is exactly what it’s all about the customer stands for, then I think will always be in a good place.  

Holly Hurst: Do you have any examples that you could share of where you were able to kind of deliver that above and beyond customer service to a client? 

Brandy Smuzeski: Our practices that are part of the ACO now knew that they were part of an ACO. I remember calling out to a couple practices that first year I’d hired in and I’d say, oh, this is Brandy Smuzeski calling from PMC ACO, just wanted to call to let you know of your patients discharging. And they’d say From, where are you calling from? 

I’m like the ACO that you’re part of, that you’ve been part of since 2014. And again, this was, I was hired an 18 or so in, yeah, 2018. So they had been part of the ACO for about four years and had no clue that they were part of the ACO. So I was so surprised to go from that point of them not knowing, which just gave me insight of the opportunity that existed. 

Like first off, we’ve gotta have rapport established with our practices, and it’s not me individually, it’s my team. We have to work together. How do we make this happen and all be on the same page? We made it happen as all of the practices within about a year and a half knew they were part of an ACO. 

They knew the name of the ACO that they were part of, and they knew who was working with their practice if they had questions or concerns. Our engagement for our physician meetings, which we measure as physician engagement, to look at where they were at for showing up to a meeting from the very first year to where they’re currently at. It’s like 90% attendance rate.  

Some meetings we have a percent. We have office manager meetings, and we have done such a great job with improving the attendance of the office manager meetings. We started doing gift cards. If you come to the meeting, we’ll put your name in a gift card if you’re able to participate and answer three questions that we’ll have, and there’ll be three silly questions, but it gets your name in the drawing. 

We hold three meetings, two times a year, for the office manager meetings. We have only maybe one practice that doesn’t end up attending the office management meetings throughout those three, which is about 25 practices that end up attending. So it’s a pretty good turnout that we’ve had there. But the rapport that we’ve been able to establish with our practices, I think has been one of the biggest opportunities and insightful things that I’ve watched occur throughout the year. 

But it’s not on me, it’s on our entire team. Everybody has to play that part. I think that’s just been beneficial to watch. The ACO seems to be an area of my subject matter expertise. We continue to grow the ACO, which I’d love for us to and have multiple ACOs that MA ACO owns instead of just providing consulting services. Overseeing all of that would be great.  

There’s been some mention of providing just some consulting services as well to other ACOs, so if they need help with analytics, if they need help with care management for different opportunities within another ACO, just consulting and not necessarily owning them, that would be fantastic to oversee that as well. 

Holly Hurst: I know that there’s certain things that really motivate me within this organization. I’m curious, you know, about the things that really motivate you and what advice you would have for others?  

Brandy Smuzeski: I think for me, the biggest thing is being empathetic and putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, and I think that is applicable to all of our core values because if we really think about results, and we step outside of our own personal role and just that narrow mindedness, and we start thinking of why did the results matter? 

Having that better understanding of how that impacts the company, how that impacts the client, why you’re doing what you’re doing. And it doesn’t hurt to ask questions to have a better understanding because we should have the understanding for the work that we’re doing. But also when we think about it’s all about the client, putting ourselves in that client’s shoes, do you think about what it’s like for them because they don’t know all the fine details that you know, they’re just coming at it from their own experience. 

They’re probably overwhelmed, they’re probably bombarded. And just to have a better understanding of where they’re coming from.  

And it’s the same with taking rest. Why do we support that with the core values? Because we know you can have a lot of return back in that investment. So you gotta think about stepping outside of you and how would that help the company? Just having a little bit better understanding outside of your role and coming in from an outsider’s view.  

Holly Hurst: Perfect. Yeah, that’s a great answer and very good for someone especially just coming in, because I think a lot of times, especially people who are newer or even, earlier in their career, they’re afraid to ask questions. 

Brandy Smuzeski: I’ve had experience with other individuals that have said, if you work with someone or if you worked with someone in your past and they’ll say, well, you’re not really involved with that project, so I’m not gonna explain it. But that’s part of learning, that’s part of professional development. So I hear you, I may not be hands on, but gosh, it will really help me professionally to have that greater picture or that whole picture of how the company works or develops. 

One thing that I love is when we have these Let’s Talks, and some will kind of go through and explain more in depth about what those services we’re providing that other teams maybe don’t overlap with to have the knowledge. I just think it’s fantastic to have that.  

So absolutely, questions I think are always good. For me it’s, I always wanna learn, I wanna learn as much as I can. Maybe I won’t retain it all, but at least at some point like, oh yeah, I remember hearing that before. And it just clicks and it puts everything together.  

Holly Hurst: I agree. Well, this is all of the questions I have for you. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you would like to add to the interview? 

Brandy Smuzeski: I think the big thing is Medical Advantage operates, in the experience I’ve had, so differently than any other company that I have worked for. And I think the way that it operates, the leadership mentality as a whole, the culture and the environment is what makes the company so successful. I think they do a great job of finding the right people for the right roles and they build them up, and I think that’s fantastic. 

So I’ve just always been so appreciative and grateful from day one of having the opportunity to work for the company, let alone almost six years to be with the company, and then to be able to grow within the company and receive the core value award has been fantastic. So I’ve been so appreciative of it all. 

Rebekah Duke: Thanks to Holly and Brandy for covering how company culture helps professionals thrive in their roles. And this concludes our episode. Thanks for sticking around.  

To learn more about what we do, this podcast is produced by Medical Advantage, our consulting solutions are designed to help practices improve care quality, reduce healthcare costs, and increase revenue. 

Our broad portfolio of services optimizes operations for medical practices, specialists, groups, and private equity. Explore the wonderful opportunities in consulting, ones that make a positive impact on the world of healthcare, by visiting our careers page at medicaladvantage.com under the About tab. Hope you’ll join us for our next episode coming soon. 

Medical Advantage Podcast: Thanks for joining us this week on the Medical Advantage Podcast where we discuss the ideas and technologies changing healthcare and what they mean to your organization. For more information, visit us at medicaladvantage.com and make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast, so you never miss a show. 

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