In our blog series, Meet Castlight, we’re featuring some of the best hearts and minds that drive our business. In this Q&A, we learn more about Emily Summerville, director of Business Development.
Describe your position and how it fits into Castlight’s role as a leader in connected navigation.
As the director of Business Development, I lead partnerships, meaning I focus on building a partner strategy and partner portfolio—which we call our Ecosystem—that allows us to change healthcare from the inside out. I lead a team of talented individuals who get to work with healthcare companies that share our mission: helping people get healthy or stay healthy in a way that works best for them.
Castlight’s Ecosystem is one of the main pillars of our connected navigation solution; it helps our customers cut through the complexity of the ever-evolving healthcare market by providing them with a thoughtfully curated list of leading health and wellbeing solutions. These solutions can be simply purchased on one contract and launched in a pre-designed way that will drive meaningful engagement and outcomes for the customer and their members. Our 30+ Ecosystem partners—spanning more than 20 categories—are both deeply embedded into the entire Castlight experience and deeply integrated with Castlight using real-time two-way data exchange, creating a best-in-class experience for both members and customers.
My team will not settle for the status quo. We are constantly watching the market, assessing and bringing in the newest and most innovative partners, and considering alternative partnership models that allow us to deliver the most value to our customers. For example, we recently added a pharmacy savings category—with RazorMetrics, Rx Savings Solutions, and WithMe—to help our members save money on medications. I am incredibly proud of the partnerships we’ve established so far.
What led to your decision to join the Castlight team five years ago?
I joined Castlight to make healthcare better. There were (and still are) so many disparate solutions and I knew Castlight’s connected navigation solution would play a key role in bringing these solutions to people at scale and driving true impact. Building a seamless way to help other healthcare leaders improve individuals’ and specific populations’ health and wellbeing has been the most fun challenge of my career so far.
How has the Ecosystem grown since your time at Castlight?
When we first launched our partnerships initiative, we were solely focused on extrinsic motivations to get members in the door, like rewarding them with a gift card for completing their health assessment. But as the healthcare space has evolved, so have we. While “keeping healthy people healthy” is a core tenant of Castlight—friendly reminder to see your primary care doctor this year!—we are acutely focused on driving meaningful clinical outcomes. It’s not about getting the most people to use a partner solution, it’s about getting the right people.
We have expanded our Ecosystem to include partners with proven ROI, investing in categories like pharmacy savings and medication management, women’s health, musculoskeletal, pediatric behavioral health, financial wellness, and more. And we have invested in our high-touch and high-tech engagement capabilities allowing us to increase participation in these solutions by members who can benefit from them the most.
What have you learned from working with some of the top leaders in healthcare?
My role allows me to collaborate with the leaders of some of today’s most groundbreaking health solutions, as well as the health benefits leaders of some of the country’s largest and most forward-thinking companies.
U.S. employers and health plans spend hundreds of billions on healthcare each year, yet leaders and members alike remain frustrated with the system’s complexity, quality, and rising costs. I have seen first-hand the proactive leadership required from employers and health plans to use their market power to influence change. I am excited to see how these groups start shifting towards value-based arrangements, encouraging providers and solutions to offer their members higher quality care that is more efficient and effective.
Ultimately, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that affecting change in healthcare is hard. Really hard. One of my colleagues says that “healthcare entrepreneurship is the Mount Everest of entrepreneurship.” Digital health leaders have traveled a tough road, and it’s so inspiring to see how they’ve persevered to bring life-changing solutions to the market.
Supporting both our customers and partners in this endeavor is what makes my job so rewarding.
What’s your best piece of advice for managing a team?
Encourage continual curiosity and lead with energy.
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by team members passionate about the healthcare space; coming to work every day is an opportunity to find the best healthcare solutions on the market and get them into the hands of our customers and members, and we are all excited by this opportunity. But as I mentioned earlier, the healthcare space is hard. It’s ever-evolving and there is rarely one single answer. This is where the true beauty of teamwork comes in. Give your team the opportunity to learn, grow, and have their opinions heard. Together, we can make an impact.
What are you most excited about as the next innovation in healthcare?
Connectivity. HR leaders have realized health benefits have to be launched with some level of connective tissue. These solutions cannot operate in a silo. We are seeing our partners recognize this and, as a result, they’ve started building better referral pathways. For example, one of our digital physical therapy partners, Hinge Health, recently partnered with Carrum Health—now, there’s an easy path to get members to high-quality surgery if needed.
And I am thrilled by the evolution of Castlight and our own connected navigation platform. The Castlight-Vera combination will further defragment how patients access and engage with care, how providers deliver care, and how employers and other purchasers pay for care. Vera delivers great care to our patients, and the high-touch and high-tech services provided by Castlight will enhance that and enable us to serve more members while also making them aware of the rich benefits they have available to them from our partners.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
At our house we have a weekend tradition of walking our dog, Pretzel, to a new coffee shop or to revisit an old favorite. This sums up my free time very well—I couldn’t be happier exploring new areas with family and friends, playing with our dog, or trying new restaurants, bars, and cafes.