Adimika Arthur, Executive Director, Healthtech 4 Medicaid

Adimika Arthur is an experienced clinical epidemiologist and hospital/health system executive. She uniquely brings her population health, public hospital expertise, and focuses on improving health equity and access to quality care for vulnerable populations. She serves as the founding Executive Director for HealthTech for Medicaid (HT4M). HT4M is a collaborative convening of payers, providers, policymakers, and innovative entrepreneurs collectively advocating for health equity and improvement of the Medicaid program on a national scale. This collective of advocates believes that with the strategic injection of technology and innovation into the Medicaid ecosystem and strives to be a bold, action-oriented, and inclusive network working to ensure critical new technology reaches Medicaid enrollees and other traditionally disadvantaged populations.

Adimika is a public health leader, hospital executive and humanitarian who holds numerous certificates and awards. She combines her love of mentoring, servant leadership and service by maintaining non-profit board roles for many organizations including CALHIPSO and others focused on the pipeline of underrepresented youth getting into the full spectrum of health careers. She received her BS in Biochemistry from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, her Master’s Degree in Public Health in Epidemiology and Health Systems from the University of Washington, and spent time at Boston University School of Medicine.

Adimika Arthur at HLTH19

I run an organization called Healthtech 4 Medicaid HT4M. We bring payers, providers, policymakers and entrepreneurs together to scale, and innovate in the Medicaid space. Basically, I’m a consensus builder, and we, we call ourselves a market-based enabler to help bridge technology to the patients that need it the most

Healthtech & Medicaid Population

The Medicaid population is a very big population, 75 million people in this country. It’s 50% of the births in this country, 48% of the nursing home visits that are paid for in this country. The Medicaid program requires federal and state partnerships, you do get different rules for Medicaid in each state. The first step in making some rationalization around how technology can play in that space is really understanding where the pain points are from the entrepreneurial side. What do the providers need? What are the payers finding as populations or subpopulations that they’re really interested in providing better service or care to and how can we work in a policy framework to better advocate and better provide solutions to bridge technology to the patient.

Shifting the Trajectory of Healthcare and Healthcare Delivery

There should never need to be HT4M. There’s a need for HT4M because we’ve created an entire field of health technology but we haven’t necessarily created products that serve everyone. We’ve created products that typically serve employer-based markets and individuals who have the discretionary income to pay to play. If we would have started this with a different ethical framework or had health equity as a part of our construct, then we wouldn’t have had to find something like this. HT4M is an organization to be here because every health technologist, every innovator would basically want to solve health for everyone. I do believe we have an ethical imperative to make sure that all of our solutions are easily and adequately accessible to everyone.

Advice for Innovators and Entrepreneurs that are Building Healthtech

I’ll admit, I think that entrepreneurs are in a tough spot and because you’re trying to build a solution, you’re a startup by nature so you often have very limited funds, you’re being asked to address pressures in the market to work with folks to develop something. Oftentimes, when we build from the point of inclusion, building from those individuals who are vulnerable and don’t have as much, it often serves absolutely everyone. I think that’s the reason why many of our policies in this country are the way that they are. There are many examples of us using policy as a way to make sure that we’re including everyone, and it better serves absolutely all people.

I recognize that it’s tough to be an entrepreneur. And one of the things I would say is if you’re interested in a specific area of healthcare, you want to make sure that you have a representative sample of those individuals who have that disease state. If you’re a transportation solution, you should understand how people actually get to their appointments and not make assumptions. You do so by working with the community, which I understand is challenging, complex, and expensive but ultimately, it’s the best way to move ahead.

That’s the reason why HT4M really feels like we need to bring all the stakeholders together. The responsibility is really not only on the entrepreneur. It’s really that the payers need to be able to articulate what it is that they will pay for and what it is that they need. The providers need to be able to be willing to implement it right. It takes engine ingenuity from an entrepreneur to go into a provider space to make sure that patients have access to something. Then payers pay for it. Ultimately, that could also be a plethora of payers, It could be a State procurement payer, it could be an insurance company, it could be a private equity firm or a VC. This cycle only works really well, when we’re working together.

If we realized in this country that we have terrible outcomes, and we’d like to see some innovative solutions in an area, we need to basically be able to define, what that area is, i.e maternal child health, we have incredible maternal deaths. And so how do we then solve that problem? If you bring all of these disparate thoughts into the room, and then really work within the community, we can easily solve solutions because in many cases, the community has the answers. They just don’t have the ability to vocalize those answers, create their own digital health solutions, digital therapeutic solutions, or technological solutions and then have them walk through the process of, going from scalability to adoption. But you might get into an ideal situation of all the stakeholders, the payers, the providers, the entrepreneurs, and even the policymakers.

Designing an Equitable Healthcare System 

We’re talking about the panacea here, right. No one place that does this well, but I think they’re incredible models and examples. I’ll use North Carolina as a great example. Mandy Cohen, who’s the state Medicaid Director there and interested in thinking about health from a holistic perspective. She believes every North Carolinian should have access to good health care. And that is where it starts, at the policy level. Making sure that everyone has a broad perspective.

She also has been working really closely with innovators, like Unite Us and others who, who are creating solutions that help them meet their greatest need. How do we create social engagement mobilization strategies that help us understand the needs of our entire state? And then how can we work with all of our players in the state to be able to engage in this methodology? Health is not as a science that, we just wave a magic wand and we know all the answers. And we learn as we go along. Acknowledging where we’ve made missteps, where we could do better, and how we could do better as a part of the journey.

Passion for Improving Population Health

I’m a public health background. I’m an epidemiologist by training and spent the last 15 years being a hospital administrator. So I still have bruises, I think from beating my head against the wall trying to solve problems for mainly underserved populations and vulnerable populations. The thing that gets me up every single day is recognizing that If not now, when? If we don’t make a difference today, we’re just going to further divide technology from populations who are just as deserving as anyone else to have quality and duration of life.I feel like I’m on the backs of 75 million people who are counting on us to include them in. These are my family members, these are my friends.

These are my neighbors. These are the people I go to the grocery store with. And so for me, it’s from a community framework. And it’s also a program that I’m not exempt from. Who’s to say that I could lose my job and the next thing I know, I’m on a government related program. I just think about it as it’s just a community good to make sure that we are all healthy. It’s what helps our country be productive and to have us be good citizens. So the things that drive me are continuing this drumbeat of making sure that when people think of health, they think not only a certain population but they think that everyone deserves health as a right.

This interview was recorded at HLTH19