Top left Senator Ben Sasse, Lower right Michael Milken

Creative Minds + Challenging the Health System = Solid Recipe for Goodness

By Eric Letsinger, Founder & CEO of Quantified Ventures

I spent the last couple of days at Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit here in DC — which assembled creative minds to challenge everything about our current health system. Pulling together medical practitioners, financiers, entrepreneurs, advocates, academics, and researchers and asking them to brainstorm strategies for disrupting our health system is a solid recipe for goodness.

We know that our health is driven by factors outside our traditional health system — housing, transportation, environment, employment, and other social determinants. Michael Milken challenged the 600-person audience to be disruptive in the process of integrating cross-sector solutions, while minimizing unintended consequences.

Cross-aisle leaders Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) each set the health table differently, but both emphasized the urgent need for leap-frog innovations. Government plays a role, but can’t do it alone. So let’s not lament, blame, or turn away from this reality. Let’s address root problems with a gumbo blend of new tools, bankable research, and wisdom — these are strong assets that we are lucky enough to build upon.

This is what the Milken Institute does best. With the brainpower, drive, and determination present in that room, I’m betting on America every day to get to where we know we need to get to.

I founded Quantified Ventures on the belief that we can blend the strengths of the social, private, and public sectors to make preventative care not just financeable, but profitable. We believe in running at the challenge of creating sustainable markets for society’s toughest problems in healthcare, the environment, and education. This work is not for the faint of heart.

One example is our work with Meals on Wheels with whom we are working to launch a senior-focused Social Impact Bond in Baltimore. "When I came here, I saw immediately that Meals on Wheels needed to be more directly connected to the healthcare industry. If our member base is going to do business with them effectively, then we need to first understand their language, what drives them, and how they value our services," Meals on Wheels CEO Ellie Hollander told me in an interview earlier this year. "I knew we needed to measure our impact on healthcare savings in a rigorous manner and to develop the formal evidence-base. I had just done this at my last post, and it worked well, so I took the same approach here to develop a healthcare business case - a reason for health plans to want to do business with us."

The attendees at this conference certainly weren’t faint of heart. They are bravely approaching the challenges we all face in our health systems and working every day to make them more effective, sustainable, and even profitable. It was a pleasure to learn with and from them.

Eric Letsinger is the Founder and CEO of Quantified Ventures, a for-profit impact investing firm that helps clients finance specific and measurable environmental, health, and educational outcomes. He is a “tri-sector” executive, bringing 25+ years of leadership experience in government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations operating in healthcare, environment, education, and housing. He has led transformative, public-private initiatives to drive social impact in complex, cross-sector business environments including: IBM, Baltimore Public Schools, Baltimore Housing Department, Cyveillance Software, PWC, and Samaritan Inns Homeless Services. Eric has an MBA from Yale University and a BA in Urban Studies from Northwestern University. He started out as a standup comic and then hit the road for two years as the drummer in a band before trying to save the world full time. Eric speaks regularly at dozens of conferences, events, and universities, including the Aspen Institute, Urban Institute, Yale, Duke, and the University of Virginia. He married way over his head and has two daughters who keep him humble.