We were delighted to have Dan Mendelson join us for a fireside chat last week.
Dan is the CEO of Morgan Health at JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the investors in Vera Whole Health (now a part of apree health), and an apree health Board member. It was great to have someone who believes in our company spend time with us and share more about himself, his career, and why he’s so passionate about our mission.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things we learned is that Dan’s undergraduate major was music, proving once again that not all career paths must be linear. Dan studied at Oberlin College, one of the top music colleges in the United States. Post-graduation, he played the viola and violin professionally, even playing with Aerosmith once and earning credits on the album Smoking in the Fields by The Del Fuegos.
While music remained a passion, Dan felt a pull towards public service and transitioned into a career in public policy. He moved back to his hometown of Washington, DC, and worked in consulting for eight years before becoming the Associate Director of Health for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 1998-2000. “I’d always wanted to [go into government],” he says. “It’s a huge learning experience and an opportunity to give back.”
While working for the OMB, Dan helped implement the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of the Balanced Budget Act. “That’s probably the thing I was most proud of—getting insurance for 10 million kids,” he says.
After his time at OMB, Dan wanted to continue helping develop and shape meaningful policies but soon realized the type of company he wanted to work for didn’t really exist. So, he created his own healthcare advisory company—Avalere Health—with a mission of being the essential voice in improving healthcare.
As our CEO Don Trigg mentioned during the fireside chat, Avalere “was incredibly successful. It really created a differentiated offer. [Avalere] became a great purveyor of insight across multiple segments of the health economy.”
After more than a decade at Avalere, Dan recognized the challenges facing patients and the health system could be tackled through transformational partnerships—the type of collaborations that he saw and supported firsthand through clients’ work at Avalere and through his work in private equity. From this experience, Dan was able to develop and articulate the vision behind Morgan Health, a business unit within JPMorgan Chase focused on improving healthcare for the 150 million Americans who depend on employer-sponsored healthcare.
The mission of Morgan Health is to drive innovation in employer-sponsored healthcare—more specifically, to accelerate the adoption of new approaches to care delivery that improve health outcomes as well as the quality, affordability, and equity of care for JPMorgan Chase employees as well as 150 million Americans who receive healthcare through their employer.
“We’re focused on quality, affordability, and health equity,” Dan says. “And those are really the ways we talk about what we do, measure our own progress, and keep ourselves honest.”
One of the ways Morgan Health accomplishes its goals is by investing. “Coming together with investors like Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to bring apree health to market is core to our mission,” he says. “In Columbus, there is no value-based accountable care model, and we have 40,000 [JPMorgan Chase & Co.] employees and dependents who rely on us for care in that market. We have a duty and obligation to them to provide the best care possible.”
“Dan brings a really interesting perspective to [apree health’s] board,” Don says. “He started in the policy space, which is very mission-driven; he’s run a company and knows what it’s like to be in the CEO seat; and he brings all that experience not only to Morgan Health, but to our strategy around apree health.”
In addition to apree health, Morgan Health is also an investor in Centivo, Embold Health, and LetsGetChecked, all companies that are consistent with Morgan Health’s mission.
When it comes to achieving a mission, one of the values Dan regards most highly is collaboration. “We succeed when we collaborate well with one another,” he says. And this extends beyond the internal culture of a company. It’s important for external partners as well.
Don echoes this point. When talking about apree health’s initiative in Columbus, Ohio, for which we’re partnering with Central Ohio Primary Care (COPC), Don says, “We wouldn’t be working in Columbus absent our partnership with COPC. How well we partner will be a big dimension of how successful and how impactful we are.”
Dan understands that the change apree health seeks to make won’t be easy. But he’s excited about the company and believes so strongly in it because it has both a philosophy of humanity—thinking about the whole person, wellbeing, behavioral health—and highly sophisticated technology. It is the beauty that was created when Vera Whole Health and Castlight Health integrated with each other.
“The opportunity of the combined company is to create this category that provides meaningfully differentiated care for America’s employers,” he says.