PODCAST #5. Empowering Expertise: How to Thrive as a Scarce Specialist in B2B
Our guest this time is Paul Norton, Health Tech Product Leader at Oscar Health. Norton’s future choice of profession could not help but be influenced by his physician’s parents. At home after work, they discussed the barriers that prevented them from providing quality care to the population. As a result, Paul grew up with the understanding that he wanted to change that situation. Our guest’s college years came during the Obama presidency and his ObamaCare program. He worked for an economist who worked with national leaders to design health care worldwide and specifically to implement the Affordable Care Act. Paul likes that kind of systems approach but realized that research wasn’t for him; he was focused on action and execution, which can be achieved through technology.
Paul’s Journey to Product Solutions
So Paul ended up at Athena Health, where he focused on strategizing and implementing products related to value-based care, where his “political” background helped him. At that time, medical institutions began actively funding digital projects, such as the introduction of electronic health records, and Paul’s company doubled in size and revenue in 3 years.
Having Domain expertise or background in something that may look slightly different from your peers can help you take on higher levels of responsibility early.
You’d think, what more could you want? But Paul continued to develop himself, earning his MBA and MPH degrees and having had time to work with a unicorn company. Norton noticed that insurance companies desperately needed technology to adequately share medical data. That was exactly what Oscar Health, a tech-driven insurer, was doing. That’s how Paul got into that company and is now the Assistant Director of Product Solutions.
Policy and Regulatory Change Creates Opportunities
The connections and people can come from all kinds of different places.
A considerable challenge is asking a healthcare organization to remove and replace its entire infrastructure. The market has been looking for more modular offerings, so Oscar is moving to a more modular strategy and is about to go to market with a patient engagement tool called Campaign Builder, a user experience you can’t get from an insurance provider. “We sort of have that fully integrated Tech stack enables that because we’re not having to sort of move data around between different systems and sort of piece things together; it all sort of layers on top of things, and it gives us a lot more flexibility with how we sort of surface data to members and providers.”
We often underestimate how policy and regulatory change create opportunities.
Any person who has gone to a doctor in the U.S. has been told that they can’t access some element of their information, whether it’s their medical information, information about the payment to a provider, or the number of times HIPAA has been misused as a reason not to share data with a person.
Navigating Complexity and Learning in Healthcare Evolution
When you look at your technology capabilities, you think about the differentiator of your offering and how that differentiator becomes more robust when the political environment changes, which is essentially a market condition.
There are three key characteristics of product ownership – curiosity, skepticism, and empathy.
You have limited resources at your disposal, and you have a lot of requests from a wide range of stakeholders, and you have to prioritize and understand the motivations. This requires significant skepticism because you often have to say no. You have to have good data skills because how else will you assess priorities?
“I’m trying to get the state of California to spend tens of hundreds of millions of dollars to create a statewide health data network and pass laws requiring it”, Paul advises, “If you’re in doubt about whether you’re right for the product manager role, ask yourself why you were hired for that role. It was for a reason.”
And also explains the difference between a large company and a startup: in a smaller organization, priorities are a problem because resources are limited, but there are also fewer stakeholders making decisions, so it becomes much easier to reach a consensus. On the other hand, in a large team, there are many more people around from whom you can learn.
Every day I learn something new, expect a huge change in healthcare, hopefully in a good way.
The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.
Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?
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