Maria Trusa – CEO
Formé Medical Center
Maria Trusa is a CEO at Formé Medical Center. She has been an integral part of the healthcare domain, particularly in helping members of the uninsured community in gaining access to affordable and quality healthcare.
As a child of a family dedicated to healthcare, Trusa always had a passion for the industry and has played a huge role in promoting accessible and quality healthcare among diverse individuals. In an interview with me, Trusa takes us on a journey through her formative years and the invaluable industry experience she has gained.
The calling towards healthcare
Coming from a family of physicians and nurses, Trusa always dreamed of joining the healthcare industry. She came to the United States at the age of 15 and was married at 17. Blessed with a child at age of 20, Trusa was passionate about continuing her dream of being a healthcare professional but shifted her focus from being a physician to being a medical assistant.
Her passion and dedication to the field quickly took her to the best institutions. After a few years of experience working with a dermatologist, Trusa joined a reputed medical practice in Scarsdale, New York as a medical assistant. Here, she quickly rose through the ranks, first as a manager and later as an Executive Director. During her 26 years of experience, Trusa was instrumental in growing the practice from 7 doctors to 50 doctors.
Trusa recounts that the days when healthcare was a fee-for-service with traditional plans. With the introduction of HMOs, a lot of people struggled with challenges but Trusa saw an opportunity. As difficulties started occurring for doctors in negotiating with insurance companies, Trusa was able to on-board some of the finest doctors in the industry at Scarsdale.
Starting over with a new dream
‘We did not take people that really didn’t have insurance and if we did the price was something that I couldn’t bring to the people that I knew that needed help.’
As an Executive Director, Trusa was already at the top of the healthcare industry. However, she felt something was amiss. Trusa realised that the center at Scarsdale, while offering state-of-the-art healthcare, was accessible only to the wealthy.
As the center didn’t accept Medicaid insurance, a lot of people from the underserved community were left behind. Over time, this Trusa decided to change the accessibility of the healthcare system from just the wealthy to everyone. She decided to leave her position at Scarsdale and start something new that was inclusive and catered to all sections of the community at affordable rates without compromising the quality of healthcare.
Three months later, Trusa connected with Gina Cappelli who shared a similar vision and the two became business partners – a relationship that continues till today. Trusa brought in all her experience, passion and knowledge to the center and together, over the past 5 years, the two created a highly successful practice that focusses on every member of the community, especially the underserved.
Quality and compassion at Formé
‘Formé is to reshape. We are reshaping the healthcare system.’
At Formé, cultural sensitivity towards patients of diverse backgrounds is given high importance. For individuals that may not be comfortable with e-mails, the electronic medical record has the ability of texting information which patients are more comfortable with. The focus is constantly on figuring out the needs of the patients and the best way to help them.
In keeping with her dream to help the uninsured, Trusa created an innovative solution at Formé termed a Medical Membership. Under this revolutionary program, for a dollar a day, $365 a year, members could get access to the urgent care unlimited.
Additionally, Trusa also negotiated with numerous doctors and specialists in the field for subsidised fees for members on the membership. Through her determination Trusa was able to create a comprehensive healthcare system for the uninsured community which also had local pharmacies helping out with a 70% discount and labs such as Quest Diagnostic chipping in with an 80% discount.
‘The Medical Membership is one of the most unique things that we have. We don’t know many people that actually have thought of this because we are so culturally sensitive that it gave us the ability to create something that really fits their needs.’
Currently, Formé has about 60 employees and witnessed a growth spurt because of the COVID situation. The center is seeing about 500 patients a day while also doing outside testing for COVID. For Trusa, this has been a momentous step as they have been able to grow the center in a way that can continue to help the community in numerous ways even after the pandemic is over.
Overcoming business challenges
For Trusa, starting a medical practice from zero was the biggest challenge. A lot of centers were already established with a large patient base. At Formé, with hardly any marketing budget and just a 1000 patients – which was the minimum needed for the center to continue, Trusa knew some quick action was required.
She credits tips learned from audible books by Grant Cardone and building strong connections within the community while being completely dedicated to the mission as her main empowering tools in building her practice. Today, the center boasts of a patient base of about 30,000 patients.
Future business plans
For Trusa, the next step is to build different satellite offices, not just throughout New York, but throughout the nation. This will help them duplicate the service they are providing to the underserved communities in New York, across the nation with California being a great place to start.
She also credits social media platforms such as LinkedIn as a great way of promoting one’s passion and business. Additionally, outreach programs, holding events in the facility, conducting seminars and working with different insurance companies have helped Formé gain the recognition it deserves from the community.
Top philosophies and core values
‘I believe that we need to figure out how to be culturally sensitive, especially in a country that has so many different cultures.’
Trusa believes when it comes to healthcare, it is important to figure out how to unite healthcare and ensure the quality of service and accessibility isn’t dependent on the amount of money a patient may have. The expectation for quality healthcare needs to be raised at the typical centers that cater to most underserved communities. Instead of run-down centers, infrastructure and a streamlined process need to be an important part of every center regardless of their location. At Formé, the simple placement of chandeliers in the ceilings help give the patients a sense of service and quality that is traditionally missing.
Another thing is to treat all patients with respect and kindness. In medicine, logic and diagnosis can often come in the way of kindness. However, Trusa believes that every employee in the center – from the front desk to the doctor – should communicate with the patients in a way that is comfortable, respectful and kind.
Advice for people entering the healthcare domain
Opportunities in the healthcare field are tremendous. People getting into healthcare need to understand what part of the field excites them and find opportunities in that facet.
For instance, there’s administrative, nursing, physician’s assistant and a lot more. Ultimately, medical professionals will always be in demand. People need to figure out what their calling is, and find an opportunity that fits in with their vision.
Two key learnings
- Understand the healthcare business
For Trusa, it is important to understand and study the healthcare business. Not just one facet, but everything from billing, the lab processes, a medical assistant’s aspect, reception etc. and become as diverse as possible.
- Delegate to the right person
Understanding your own skills are equally important to avoid wasting time and effort on a task that is not part of your skill-set. it is better to identify the right person for the job and delegate the responsibility for maximum efficiency and growth.
Vision for the future of the healthcare domain
Changes in the healthcare domain are continuing with importance for culturally sensitive and quality healthcare becoming increasingly important. Also, changes are needed in healthcare for the uninsured community that does not have access to healthcare.
Emerging trends in healthcare
‘I hear a lot more people talking about how do we reach the underserved communities and make changes so that what happened with COVID does not happen again.’
The cost of healthcare is going to continue to rise and it is important to educate people of regarding quality healthcare. As COVID has proven, we are highly susceptible to illness and in such instances the underserved communities face additional challenges. The future trend will be in setting up processes and facilities to provide better healthcare to every community and section of the population.