Venture Capital

Right care. Right Place. Right time.

Todd Park on why it’s time to put care back into the health care system.

4 min read

What does it mean for a company to care for people like we’d care for our own families? When Todd Park and his brother Ed Park cofounded Devoted, they set out to answer this question. Their goal was to build a new kind of healthcare company delivering personalized, coordinated, and proactive care to elderly Americans. The Parks’ “right care, right place, right time” model dramatically improves Devoted members’ well-being while also lowering costs. By grounding all decision making in the simple directive to care for customers like family, Devoted proves that social impact and bottom-line success can be two sides of the same coin. 

Todd speaks with Emerson Collective Partner Sarah Pinto on aligning mission and business strategy, building an “alternate-universe” healthcare system as a service, and how caring for members catalyzes change in people’s lives.

Sarah Pinto: There is perceived tension between building a company for financial valuation and impact. How does Devoted navigate this dichotomy?

Todd Park: Our prime directive driving every decision—which is a massive asset and allows for rapid decision making—is, "When making any decision, visualize the faces of your own family members and loved ones, then ask yourself: If this decision impacted them, what would you do? Then go do that thing, big or small." 

Our mission is to dramatically improve health and well-being for older Americans by caring for every person like they are literally family. We define the best healthcare in the world by the formula: right care, both clinical and non-clinical care, delivered in the right place, at the right time in a highly consistent, proactive, coordinated, prevention-oriented way.

Unfortunately, in the United States the status quo healthcare experience for elderly Americans is generally poor and impersonal. As a direct result, the United States spends more than double per capita on healthcare than the rest of the developed world, though our preventable illness and death outcomes lag at the bottom.

The good news is that if you get people the right care in the right place at the right time upfront, two things happen. First, you dramatically improve outcomes and second, you lower costs. 

SP: How is Devoted’s commitment to doing it all, owning both risk and the payment, relate to aligning outcomes and success?

TP: When considering how to deliver on our mission at scale, we said, "let's build the smallest possible thing," in order to keep the execution task as focused as possible, that would guarantee our ability to deliver on caring for everyone like family. What we concluded is that we truly had to build an “alternate-universe-American-healthcare-system-as-a-service”—including our own health insurance plan, concierge health guide service, doctor and hospital partnerships, and advanced in-house medical group, all tightly integrated and built from scratch to align with our mission. It is existentially important for all of those elements to be powered by the right technology that choreographs all these players’ collective action to deliver our members the best care. 

There was no tech platform before we started Devoted that could actually run these elements in combination with each other. So we built that groundbreaking software platform, too, which underpins everything we do. We’ve built the first company that's capable of actually hyperscaling the right care, right place, right time model for every member—delivering the kind of care you want for your own family. And we're demonstrating that business success is a function of mission success.

SP: As a mission-driven company, how do you measure success?

TP: From the beginning, we've had a very particular theory of what to measure. The first is team engagement, because a team that’s  deeply aligned, motivated, and excited about the work is going to drive success on mission. Then we measure operational execution success with respect to serving our members, which entails a whole basket of metrics from how quickly we answer the phone to how rapidly we resolve issues, all of which are key to delivering on the mission. Thirdly, we measure clinical success with respect to improving our members’ health and well-being, including metrics on diabetes or hypertension management, reducing hospitalizations, and maximizing the percentage of members who get needed care upfront. We measure member happiness through Net Promoter Score (NPS) and member satisfaction surveys. At the bottom of the scorecard is growth and profit, which flow from the other measurements. Growth and profit at the levels we are targeting are actually not possible without success at the other mission-oriented layers. 

Our prime directive to care for people like family embodies our mission and also happens to be a phenomenal business strategy. If you always act in accordance with the prime directive, you build a level of trust with members that is extraordinarily differentiated in our sector. We have an NPS of 77—the foundation of an emerging brand that makes us the fastest growing company in our space, largely powered by member referrals.

We're building a cult following for a healthcare company, which drives another business benefit: people trust us, so the acceptance rate for any suggested Devoted Medical service is 2.5 to 3 times higher than industry standard. Because members accept our help, they get the right care at the right time, which keeps them healthy and lowers our costs. 

I recently visited with 25 members in their homes. Their life stories were amazing. An incredibly striking pattern across these conversations was how they experienced Devoted. In addition to the health insurance benefits, guide service, and the Devoted Medical care, all of which they immensely appreciated, they experienced Devoted as, in one member’s words, “the feeling of being loved.”

If someone feels loved, their health status will improve. It's really hard not to care for yourself if someone else intensely cares for you, and that mantra is key to our members’ health journey. The feeling of being loved also unleashes love that flows from our members into the lives of people around them. That is truly the impact that I'm seeing Devoted have in the world—and it is extraordinary.