David Davis – President and CEO,
Shared Health Services
David is a former United States Congressman and has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry. He has performed several important roles from managing numerous Respiratory Care Departments throughout the south-eastern U.S. to starting and managing a very successful multi-state home medical equipment company-Advanced Home Care, in 1986.
David also served as a Joint Commission surveyor. He founded Shared Health Services in 1996 where he currently serves as the President and CEO. His vast experience makes him an invaluable asset in the domain of healthcare. In this interview, David talks about his experiences as a business leader and his outlook on the healthcare industry.
Starting in the Healthcare Domain
David has been a part of the healthcare industry since the 1970s. His passion to help people paved the way for his entry into the healthcare domain. He began his career as a respiratory therapist and owned a home medical equipment company-Advanced Home Care, which he sold before starting Shared Health Services.
David is also a certified hyperbaric technologist and has worked in several different healthcare settings such as hospitals and home health care. He has served as a joint commission surveyor, traveling across the country ensuring that healthcare entities were providing the quality they needed to provide.
In 1996, David started Shared Health Service. Having worked as a healthcare giver and serving as a state representative had made him a well-known figure by then. Additionally, he has worked as a joint commission surveyor wherein he had been associated with a local hospital that went on to become his first client at the new firm.
David recalls that the hospital was getting ready to potentially close down the hyperbaric oxygen therapy center within the hospital. Neither the existing hospital nor the newly purchased hospital had an active wound center.
David’s firm offered the hospital a partnership to help keep their center open-a union that has benefitted numerous patients for well over 15 years. This desire to help people is also what led David into politics.
‘I wanted to take my values, my honesty, and my integrity to Nashville and Washington because I felt strongly that we needed those values in politics.’
Current Business Structure and Organization
Shared Health Services is a wound care management company. The firm contracts with hospitals across the United States to help them either open a new wound care center or transition their existing wound care centers in-house. The firm also assists partner hospitals by helping to educate them on the different rules and regulations by staying abreast on the Medicare NCDs (national coverage determinations), and LCDs (local coverage determinations).
‘We provide hospitals with the assistance that they need because wound care is a niche market. We give them the guidance that they need on how to treat wounds and we also assist them with billing and compliance issues. Right now, there are over 6 million patients with wounds in America. So, there is a big need for the services that we provide.’
David and his team also provide the know-how and the intellectual property required to remain compliant, increase quality, and take care of the patients. A lot of David’s patients are diabetics with foot ulcers. Additionally, David talks of his own experience in dealing with his condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), a neuromuscular disease that he inherited from his father, and the importance of quality care in treating chronic non-healing wounds.
‘My father was almost amputated twice later in his life but when he died in his late 80s, he had both feet and 10 toes. So, high-quality wound care services are a very personal passion for me, not just as a business entity but as far as a healthcare entity as well.’
Presently, a lot of the firm’s partner hospitals are concentrated in the eastern United States. The size of the client hospitals ranges from university-affiliated teaching hospitals to local community-based hospitals. Some are standalone facilities and others are larger regional system affiliated.
David is also talking with various sized hospitals, hospital systems, and some of the larger corporate entities across the country about the benefits of a partnership with Shared Health Services. He says that there are also hundreds of visits on their website from hospitals looking into their wound care services depicting the growing need for this domain.
Shared Health Services currently has 10-12 hospitals or hospital systems under contract. While their employee footprint is fairly small, David says that the leadership team members have worked with over 500 hospitals across the country.
Formative and Standout Moments as a Business Leader
Having spent decades in the healthcare domain, David has seen a lot of changes in the industry. One of the biggest changes that have impacted hospitals according to him has been the development of DRGs (Diagnostic Related Groups).
Prior to the mid-1980s, healthcare was paid for under a fee-for-service model. Hospitals could charge for any service they provided and Medicare or insurance would pay for it. However, in the mid-1980s, the shift occurred away from fee-for-service towards diagnostic-related groups where hospitals are paid a set fee for a given diagnosis.
David believes they are unique in the niche market among wound care management companies. However, what distinguishes their firm is their inherent focus on integrity. They try to make sure that everything is done correctly with treatment only given to patients that are in need of treatment.
‘We are looking at quality improvement data and different benchmarks. We don’t just benchmark against our own partner hospital data but the wound care data contained within the US Wound Registry.’
Overcoming Challenges in the Healthcare Segment
One of the biggest challenges has been the transition from fee-for-service to DRGs. However, recently David has noticed another trend in the outpatient wound care space with their partner hospitals. Medicare is now paying more attention to the enforcement of stated rules than they did previously.
For instance, the rules for hyperbaric oxygen therapy relative to the diabetic wound were added as a covered indication back in the early 2000s. The rules that are in effect today are the same rules that were put in place originally.
However, Medicare is now holding hospitals and providers more accountable to ensure the therapy is medically necessary. They are working to confirm that services are done the right way and to make sure that patients are being given the best option to heal and not to use services that should not be utilized.
Business Plans for the Future
David has recently been focused on transforming Shared Health Services from a regional hyperbaric oxygen therapy company to a nationally-known and premier wound care management company. The firm has brought in a larger and more experienced corporate team. Further, David was able to attract a corporate team of individuals with a passion for delivering high-quality wound care services that are both clinically and financially beneficial for the partner hospitals.
These aspects, along with reaching out to new hospitals, are what David believes can help the company grow and assist potential hospital partners with their wound care programs.
Talking about the marketing strategy, David claims it is twofold and multileveled. Initially, they work to engage potential new hospital partners followed by a collaboration with their existing partners to assist the new hospitals in attracting new physician support and referrals. At both levels, digital and human interaction plays an important role.
‘Our primary marketing focus is on building personal and enduring human relationships. We utilize industry-specific, individually-focused customer research data to better communicate with our potential customers. We also collaborate with our potential customers to ascertain their wants, needs, desires, and pain-points, to help build customizable wound care solutions and support.’
David also credits LinkedIn as an essential part of his digital marketing strategy. He spends a good deal of time communicating with various levels of hospital leadership throughout the week including a variety of C-suite members such as CEOs, COOs, CNOs, and CFOs.
Top Philosophies and Core Values in Business
For David, his core values of integrity, honesty, and doing the right thing are at the forefront of everything he does. At his firm, the team strives to coach their hospital partners and physicians that work in their departments not to use treatments and modalities that they should not use and not to overbill for services.
However, at the same time, they strive to make the hospitals and physicians aware of the patients that could benefit from a treatment like wound care debridement which is cutting away dead tissue or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
‘I have witnessed during my 40-plus year career that there are some patients that receive treatments that they really shouldn’t receive. I would hate to see a patient lose a limb that could be potentially saved by using the right treatment and the right aspect of care.’
Advice for Newcomers starting a Career in Healthcare
Before starting a career in healthcare, David believes individuals should consider more than the financial benefits alone. They should also have a strong desire and passion for patient care. They should also realize that healthcare is quite different than it has been in the past.
New employees may often be required to work long hours at times, along with holidays, nights, and weekends occasionally. Formal education is also becoming increasingly important for entry-level jobs and continued advancement.
Two Key Learnings through Experience
- Basic Sciences
Initially, individuals who are considering a healthcare career should focus on the basic sciences; such as anatomy, physiology, and biology to obtain a focus and understanding of how the body works.
- Combine Healthcare with Additional Education
Next, David believes it is valuable to combine training in a specific healthcare field and then proceed with additional education in business and leadership.
‘Combining healthcare and business education has served me well throughout my career. The combination has also benefited my hospital partners and the patients that we treat.’
Key Benefits of Shared Health Services
There are two key benefits as per David. One is the knowledge and understanding of proper and evidence-based wound care. The other is knowledge about how to run a wound center and how to be compliant with current rules and regulations. This comes back to the molding of the art and science of healthcare and business acumen together to run successful wound treatment centers.
Additionally, wounds can be very complicated to heal. Hospitals and physicians need to know which patients will benefit from which therapy. For instance, there are different types of wounds, venous stasis wounds come from a vein problem, an arterial wound is on the opposite side of the blood flow-one is coming from the heart, one is going back to the heart.
These wounds may seem like they would have a similar treatment but they are quite different. Moreover, some wound types can benefit from and qualify for advanced therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy but other patients wouldn’t benefit from the therapy and the hospital would be breaking Medicare rules and regulations if hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used inappropriately.
So, hospitals need to know the ins and outs of the care that they are providing and the billing processes that accompany the care provided.
Vision for the Healthcare Domain
David believes that healthcare is going to continue to change. Consolidation in healthcare has been underway for several years and is likely to continue as it will be difficult for rural or standalone hospitals to survive individually. A lot of them have already started to merge into smaller regional groups which are likely to continue.
Acquisitions in the market are likely leading to larger systems and fewer smaller hospitals available to individuals across the country. This transition will continue to offer Shared Health Services enhanced growth opportunities as the larger systems seek to partner with a quality-driven and integrity-focused wound care partner.
Additionally, paying groups, such as Medicare, will not be able to spend money on things that are not medically necessary because they are either unproven or being used outside of the norm.
Moving forward, David says that physicians and hospitals will need to know and follow existing and future rules and regulations that are put in place by third-party payers if they hope to remain competitive and successful in the ever-changing healthcare environment.
This is especially true in the outpatient setting where advanced therapies and procedures like cellular tissue products and hyperbaric oxygen therapy are used. If the appropriate rules and regulations aren’t followed the provider risks having to return money after care is provided, if they are found to be at fault during a Medicare recovery audit or targeted probe and educate audit.
In many cases, proper care may have been provided but adequate documentation is lacking. Therefore, it is very important for healthcare providers to pay close attention to documentation and compliance requirements.
Leadership Lessons Learned over the Years
One of the biggest leadership lessons that David has learned during his career in healthcare and as an elected representative, is the value of a good company. He believes the most successful leaders surround themselves with good people and then they let the good people do the job they are trained and very capable of doing.
‘True leaders value and respect the insight and knowledge that other people bring to the organization.’