A veteran of the industry, Mike Rhoades' former titles include COO, CEO and Senior Executive. As the founder of Blaze Advisors, Mike now serves as the Chief Executive Officer, blending his operational, technology, and finance experience to create practical, affordable, and high-value solutions. We chatted with Mike to get a little more insight into how he got to where he is today.
Question: How'd you get into the industry?
Mike: My first job out of college was working with the homeless mentally ill in Chicago to find housing and outpatient care. After a long winding career through Behavioral Health, Home Health, Ambulatory, Inpatient, and SNF/LTACH in a variety of management, leadership, and policy roles, I found my inner voice asking “What if we really can help vulnerable patients receive better care and lead more fulfilling lives all while spending fewer health care dollars?” A ridiculous notion in our pre-2010 fee for service system where the incentive is production over product; I found myself drawn to organizations like Community Care of North Carolina and Wake Key Community Care that were early explorers of transitional care management, integrated care, high performance networks, etc. Ostensibly designed to reduce the total cost of care, their value to the individual patient story was far more powerful. Our data analytics finds hidden populations of opioid users, neighborhoods of kids with severe asthma, and rising risk diabetics. We structure and design programs to reduce Pneumonia death statewide that brings Skilled Nursing and Hospitals together around a common cause. Our care managers conduct home visits to clean out medicine cabinets, help mitigate fall risks, build communities of support for elderly shut-ins, secure housing and food, and even intervene in a crisis. In short, we have the honor of helping to save lives one population at a time.
Question: What is your favorite, most interesting, or challenging project you've worked on?
Mike: We are blessed with wonderful, forward thinking, clients who challenge us to think ahead of the curve. Intellectually, I love the project Marya Upchurch is working on to combine real-time lab and ED data to isolate rising risk patients and Leslie Barden’s project to eliminate 3,000 Pneumonia deaths a year in North Carolina. But if pressed, I am most excited about returning to my roots to build a Connected Community around patients suffering from mental illness/substance use. Our project includes the organizational design and metrics for high performance behavioral health provider network electronically linked to community based organizations (homeless shelters/food panties), etc) working in tandem with advanced primary care access. I have never met a group of leaders more mission driven about creating a multi-disciplinary system of care.
Question: Tell me about your area of expertise in the industry. What interests you about it?
Mike: I am blessed to be surrounded by folks smarter than me and probably best serve as the “glue” that holds the pieces together. If I have a passion area, I would have to define it as “opportunity creation.” I love seeking out new partnerships, technologies, and clinical concepts that draw partners together. Those partnerships open doors to trust which gives rise to new ideas. At the end of the day, I have found that it is not really money that binds health care providers, it is our shared mission to our patients.
Question: When you're not in the office, what's your favorite thing to do?
Mike: Biking! Or Hiking! Or Boating! Or anything active. Actually, anything with my kids or grandson brings me joy.
Question: How do you want to make an impact on the healthcare industry?
Mike: I would be most pleased if my tombstone said “Brought people together. . ."