Mary Modahl, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, American Well
How did you become an executive in the health care industry? Did you always have an interest in health care?
I got involved in healthcare sort of by accident. My career started in banking and finance, but I found I was more interested in technology and its impact than in finance, so I joined technology research firm Forrester as its fifth employee. Forrester focused on how technology would change the way everyday consumers interact with their world. My role was to launch and run research services examining how technology would change industries such as retail, travel, financial services, and of course healthcare. When it came time to move on from Forrester, I realized that the Boston area has a fertile healthcare ecosystem and that the challenge of modernizing healthcare using technology would be a complex undertaking. So, I moved over to healthcare, starting first with Health Dialog, which offered disease management and wellness programs. About six years ago, I joined American Well, which is a telemedicine company looking to transform care delivery itself with digital information and access. It has been a great place to be.
What is one thing that sets your company apart from competitors?
We offer a single end-to-end system to transform care delivery.
American Well believes that digital care delivery will transform healthcare. Our purpose is to equip clinicians, patients and the industry that supports them with the tools to realize a better healthcare experience. We are connecting and enabling providers, insurers, patients, and innovators to deliver greater access to more affordable, higher quality care.
What is a current challenge you are facing in your role or in the industry as a whole?
The biggest challenge in telemedicine right now is reimbursement. Many health plans do cover telemedicine, but most do this only within certain plans or for specific types of visits. Medicare covers telemedicine, but only for particular conditions or from designated sites. Medicaid varies by State. This lack of transparency and consistency in reimbursement holds back the modernization of healthcare. Other industries – finance, retail, travel, and music to name just a few – have been transformed by internet technology, bringing higher value at lower cost on a mass scale. Healthcare needs such a transformation as well.
What does true leadership mean to you?
True leadership means creating an environment where we can accomplish great things as a team and each individual develops new capabilities along the way.
Name one recent accomplishment you are proud of.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support victims of disaster. Telemedicine is uniquely capable of helping people when the physical infrastructure is under threat. As an example, during Hurricane Florence, we delivered more than 1,200 free visits over mobile phones to people in the Carolinas who couldn’t get to a doctor because of floodwater. We’re getting ready as I write this to do the same for people who will be affected by Hurricane Michael as it makes landfall in Florida.
Personally or professionally, what might the WBL network be surprised to know about you?
Despite being very committed professionally, my family still always comes first. If my husband or one of my kids calls me, no matter who I am meeting with, I step out and take the call. Now that they are adults, my children don’t call during work hours casually, but it has been an important part of our family trust for them to know that if they need me, I am here. And the same is true for me – I can call them anytime, anywhere.
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