Meet the Collective: Hi, Ben

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Meet the Collective is our series highlighting the great people who make up Collective Health. Today, we’re sitting down with Ben Katz, VP of Network & Program Partners.

Where are you from?

I’m a lifelong Californian, starting out in West LA. Some 20 years ago, I moved to the East Bay Area for an exciting job opportunity, and the region has been home ever since.

What happened in your career that led you to Collective Health?

I was previously at an incumbent plan leading efforts to create network and benefits solutions for employers who were interested in a specific healthcare experience. I also worked at a large integrated medical group driving changes in how quality, cost efficiency, and the patient experience were achieved for a new business segment. In both cases, the status quo, institutional inertia, and fear of change all limited the scope of meaningful advancements at these organizations. I was drawn to Collective Health because it’s reimagining the full customer experience in ways more established organizations are unwilling or unable to pursue.

What excites you most about where Collective Health is going?

Healthcare in the U.S. is inconsistent, disjointed, and far less cost-effective than it could be. Collective Health is bringing together the tools, services, and mindset necessary to deliver a long-overdue, improved healthcare experience.

What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?

You have to work to keep innovation at the core of a business. As success leads to growth or expansion, organizations often tend toward excessive caution and a narrow focus on efficiency, often at the expense of ongoing innovation. It takes clear and consistent leadership to push an organization forward as the existing, core business commands increasing attention.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

I enjoy cooking and gardening — and when the two come together, all the better! Both involve creativity but also require planning and rigorous execution to be done well. It’s highly satisfying to both the mind and body, and then the family gets to eat!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that inform what you do today?

I wanted to be a marine biologist. I loved all things related to the sea and anything you could do on and under the water. The many different but interconnected ecosystems within the ocean were particularly intriguing. My interest in ocean systems led me to study other biological and social systems.

The healthcare ecosystem is complicated, varied, and evolving. It has been fascinating to be part of key aspects of the system over the years. Success for me involves understanding and operating within the healthcare ecosystem, including phenomena that are not so different from those of the natural world — growth, contraction, evolving pressures, and unending competition.

What’s your favorite quote?

It is corny and old-fashioned, but I would have to go with “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Without the provocation of an imperative, it’s difficult to rally groups of people toward a weighty goal. While it can often take too long, I am comforted by the belief that humans will address critical needs through invention, as we have for ages. Good leadership and teamwork can inspire earlier advancement.

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