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Redefining “good” health care

Jan 25 2016
Photo of Mark Bertolini

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini’s health care experiences  – both personal and professional – have significantly influenced his beliefs about the biggest problem in our health care system.

“I think the issue is that we define health the wrong way, and it became incredibly apparently to me when my son battled with cancer for quite some time and when I had my ski injury where I broke my neck,” Bertolini said in a recent interview posted by Knowledge@Wharton. “The system wanted to fix the medical issue but wasn’t at all concerned about the individual they put back into society.”

“In order to truly improve the health care system, we must first create a new definition for success in health care.”

“Success is really healthy individuals who are productive; productive individuals are economically, culturally, socially and spiritually viable; and viable people are happy. And if we can do that individual by individual and community by community, we’d have a much better world.”

In the first part of the interview, Bertolini talks about how this “people-first” view of success has helped Aetna develop innovative programs to help patients, such as Compassionate Care for people receiving end-of-life care. He also describes how this new perspective has shaped Aetna’s evolution over the past several years and will continue to support Aetna’s leadership role in transforming the health care system.

The second part of the interview focuses on the areas around the world where Bertolini sees innovation in health care, how Aetna is collaborating with health care professionals to improve care at the community level, and his unique views on leadership.

“The secret to leadership and to being successful has nothing to do with who you work for and how you fit a mold. There is no prescribed ladder to the top. The ladder to the top is in building followership, being selfless for the organization and the people you lead, and having the courage to make decisions in spite of how difficult that may be. And in doing that you come across as authentic. Authenticity builds followership and creates leaders.”

The full interview is available on Knowledge@Wharton, the online business journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.