At Cohere Health, Mending a Broken System Requires Innovation — and Compassion

The company’s chief product officer outlines how her team fulfills the organization’s mission, the importance of an understanding culture and her excitement to lead a growing team.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Jun. 13, 2022
At Cohere Health, Mending a Broken System Requires Innovation — and Compassion
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With her daughter’s head resting on her shoulder during a Zoom call, it’s clear that Cohere Health Chief Product Officer Gina Kim has mastered the art of multitasking. 

Backed by a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a resume filled with product leadership roles, she epitomizes the definition of a true career woman, comfortably discussing her work at Cohere while handling both maternal duties and executive responsibilities. Yet Kim has also seen firsthand what happens when unforeseen circumstances cause a shift in both work and home life.  

When Kim was seven years old, her father was injured in an accident and underwent extensive medical treatment. It was an experience that she considers especially formative; not only because she faced hardship at such a young age, but also because it would ultimately set her on a path to supporting patients like her father. That’s why she’s so passionate about tackling the very issue that many families, including her own, have been forced to face: a convoluted healthcare system. 

“The system — through no one’s fault — evolved in a way that makes it hard for patients to receive and pay for care,” she said. “Healthcare is a fundamental human right, yet it’s one that people don’t experience equally.”

Kim’s team is focused on reducing friction between health plans and providers, therefore making it easier for people to receive proper treatment. For her, accomplishing work on this scale doesn’t simply enable tech professionals to tackle some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. It also offers them the chance to pursue meaningful work. 

At the end of the day, everything we do has a real impact on patients,” Kim said.  

Below, Kim describes how Cohere Health fulfills its mission, the kind of work and culture new hires can expect, and her excitement about the company’s continuous growth. 

 

A doctor holding a digital tablet talking with a patient
Shutterstock

 

How does Cohere Health’s product vision fulfill the company’s mission?

Our mission is to help patients and providers find and adhere to an optimal care path. That involves trying to determine an individual’s optimal care path, which requires a lot of data, analytics and evidence to know what that looks like. We drive collaboration in this space, guided by the belief that providers are trying to do the right thing, and health plans have an important role to play in that partnership. 

This teamwork is cultivated by transforming a broken process called prior authorization, which is a touch point that exists between the provider and the health plan to determine whether or not the care that a patient will receive is medically appropriate. We seek to turn that touch point into a space for collaboration, allowing us to understand where a patient is on their care path, offer recommendations to the provider and get that patient to the right care as quickly as possible. With this process in place, everyone wins. The patient receives optimal care at the right time and in the best manner, while the provider isn’t left dealing with an extremely frustrating, broken manual process. 

 

ISO: TALENTED TEAM PLAYERS

As Cohere Health continues to expand its tech teams, including engineering, product, and data and analytics, the organization is eager to attract individuals with both technical chops and a mission-driven mindset. Kim said that the company aims to hire people who work well with others, bring out the best in their teammates and thrive in fast-paced environments.

 

 

As the company builds out its technical teams, what kind of work will you and your peers be tackling over the next few months?

Our data team and analysts collaborate frequently with the product organization. Currently, we’re focused on working together to develop advanced data and analytic models to drive better decision-making. For example, we aim to identify and characterize patient cohorts so we have a longitudinal understanding of the services they require. There’s significant work to be done to accomplish that. Another focus for us is ensuring that providers engage with our products as seamlessly as possible. We want to clarify recommendations and make them understandable in workflows, which is especially exciting. 

It’s also important for us to be transparent with our stakeholders. We’re considering ways to democratize our analytics for stakeholders who previously lacked that level of insight. While a large amount of organizations’ healthcare data at scale is claims-based, we have data from electronic medical records and clinical notes that help us understand the patient. We can then blend this data with the administrative data that we have from health plans. This is a really unique source of information at scale. Overall, we’re excited to find ways to not only drive insight for people, but help them decide what they should focus on during the decision-making process. Both the provider and patient should be armed with the best information that’s delivered in a way that meets their specific needs.

 

UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES DRIVE PROGRESS

According to Kim, diversity is key to product development. In order to build technology that meets users’ unique needs, the company relies on team members who have been in their shoes. “We serve a broad patient population, and we aim to hire diverse individuals who can bring their viewpoints to the table,” Kim said.

 

Close up of hands wearing medical gloved making a heart shape
Shutterstock

 

How is the company’s focus on compassion reflected in its culture?

It’s been interesting to grow a company during the pandemic. Even though my colleagues and I are further apart geographically, we also know a lot about each other. Having a camera eye’s view into people’s homes has shed light on things you wouldn’t normally see in an office. In a sense, it humanizes our relationships with each other. Team members approach tasks with an understanding that everyone is struggling with personal issues while handling work at the same time. For instance, I feel fully accepted as a working mother at Cohere. At some companies, managers might see someone as a parent first and a professional second, and especially for women, discount our drive or capacity. That’s not the case here. In fact, I have thrived during my time here, considering my colleagues see every aspect of my life, including the messy ones. 

 

“I feel fully accepted as a working mother at Cohere. At some companies, managers might see someone as a parent first and a professional second. That’s not the case here.”

 

What do you enjoy the most about your role, and what excites you about Cohere Health’s current growth phase?

As a product leader, I’m constantly learning and feel humbled every day. With every new prospect conversation, I learn about our potential customers’ needs. It’s really meaningful to see how decisions have been made to help patients receive appropriate care. 

I also really enjoy building teams, which is why I’m especially excited about our current growth phase. It’s hard to find companies that have a strategy to get to scale. We have great proof points at scale, so we’re only going to accelerate from here. It’s total controlled chaos, and it’s exciting to be at a company at this stage. There are so many ideas and directions, and it forces team members to come together to execute and prioritize what’s important. Growth can be challenging, yet it’s also the most fun feat to accomplish. It forces you to adapt and use your creativity, so it’s an exciting time for me. 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via Cohere Health and Shutterstock.

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