Payment & Delivery Models

Risant Health news, benefits of value-based care and fixing the biggest problems in health care today [Podcast]


AMA Update

Risant Health news, benefits of value-based care and fixing the biggest problems in healthcare today

Jul 1, 2024

AMA Update covers a range of health care topics affecting the lives of physicians, residents, medical students and patients. From private practice and health system leaders to scientists and public health officials, hear from the experts in medicine on COVID-19, medical education, advocacy issues, burnout, vaccines and more.

What is a value-based care model? Is value-based care the future? How does value-based care work? What is Risant Health and who is buying Cone Health?

Our guest is Risant Health CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD. AMA Chief Experience Officer Todd Unger hosts.


  • Jaewon Ryu, MD, CEO, Risant Health

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Unger: Hello, and welcome to the AMA Update video and podcast. Today we're talking about what's next for Risant Health now that it's completed its acquisition of Geisinger. Our guest today is the CEO of Risant Health, Dr. Jaewon Ryu in Washington, DC. I'm Todd Unger, AMA's chief experience officer in Chicago. Dr. Ryu, welcome back.

Dr. Ryu: It's good to be back. Thanks for having me.

Unger: Well, a lot has changed since the last time we talked, which I think is about a year ago, right around the time of the announcement. Why don't we just start by having you give us a little bit of background on all of the developments that have happened over the last year.

Dr. Ryu: It's been an eventful year since we last spoke at the end of March. We got through the regulatory approval process, and Geisinger became the inaugural system within Risant Health, as we had announced about a year ago. With that, I had a transition in my role. We had hired Dr. Terry Gilliland to be the new CEO at Geisinger. And as part of that, I transitioned to become the CEO at Risant Health.

So a lot has been going on. There's been a lot of really good energy and excitement and momentum. And of course, that culminated even recently last week in the announcement that we made of the second organization that's slated to become a part of Risant, and that's Cone Health in North Carolina. Super excited to have them. Of course, still subject to regulatory approval, but just a gem of an organization and fit so well with what we're setting out to do at Risant.

Unger: Well, that is quite a year and a new development as well on top of that. So it's shaping up to be quite a year for Risant. What are your top priorities as CEO for the rest of the year?

Dr. Ryu: So I think, really, a few things. You've heard us talk about Risant Health setting out to make value-based care easier. It really is—it's probably worth me taking a moment and talking about what we mean by value-based care, and that's transforming the care model to be more focused on things like prevention, quality outcomes, affordability, equity.

And in order to do that, we believe you really have to transform how care is delivered. Shift the center of gravity so that what is true across the industry today, where the center of gravity very heavily leans towards the hospitals, the ERs, we want to make sure that those areas are absolutely built out to the fullest capabilities.

But we also want to make sure that the delivery system is able to get further upstream, whether it's focusing on prevention, primary care, the clinic environment, the home, the virtual sphere, social issues that we know impact the health of communities. We want to develop a system and transform to have the system look more like that.

In order to do that, we're building out what we call the, quote unquote, "value-based platform" with a set of tools and technology and services that make it easier to—for systems to be on that journey of transformation. That's one of the big areas of focus for the year. The other is, of course, to continue to identify the right kinds of health systems to become a part of Risant. And a big part of that has to do with mission alignment, cultural fit and so forth.

Unger: Dr. Ryu, what do you think the biggest obstacles are to seeing that outcome for value-based care?

Dr. Ryu: I think it's—partly it's a change. It's a deviation from where many health systems, and frankly, the rest of the industry has been. Rightly or wrongly, over many, many decades, the U.S. health care system has become very hospital-centric. And I think there's an opportunity here to shift that a little bit.

The hospitals are always going to be important. It's a critical piece of how we make sure that we're delivering on the health care mission. People, despite our best efforts, will always have very, very serious conditions that they need to be in those environments for, but we know that it's even better if you can identify things sooner, if you could prevent clinical conditions altogether, or if you can get ahead of problems and manage them in different settings. We have seen that that's where populations and communities do better. Think of it almost like managing the total health of a population as opposed to simply seeing them episodically when things flare up.

Unger: Absolutely. I'm curious, we talked about what your future looks like and your priorities. When we look at Geisinger, I'm curious what you think the future looks like for that system and how you see things changing there over the next couple of years.

Dr. Ryu: Well, I think with the with Risant Health and becoming the inaugural system to come into that model, there's actually a fair amount that stays the same, and I think it's important to start with that. Things like the name, the mission, the ability to partner in what we often call a pluralistic model. Partnering with other health plans as a health plan. Partnering with other physician groups and local health systems. That's going to be core to how we continue to deliver on our mission.

I think the other aspect is continuing down the journey of building out these capabilities to transform how care is delivered. I think that doesn't change either. What does change, however, is the capabilities that come along to enable us to do that in a more accelerated way and in a more robust way. So access to capital technologies, resources, know-how. To be able to continue to drive innovation and the right investments in patient care so that we can make sure that the outcomes of not just individual patients, but frankly, of the communities is really focused on that total health framework.

I think the other thing is Risant, the model, really embraces the notion that a lot of health care still needs to be pretty local. As the old adage goes, health care is inherently local. And as a result of that, the local communities, the management team, leadership, the board, there's quite a bit of input, as there should be, in terms of things like service planning, quality, patient experience, all of those things that really go towards affecting those outcomes.

We know that the—as much as possible, if you keep those things local while still taking advantage of many of those capabilities in a more common way, we think that's the right balance to strike.

Unger: Makes sense. Dr. Ryu, of course, you said Geisinger as your inaugural member of Risant Health you've got an addition to that, in terms of Cone Health, on the horizon. Talk to us a little bit about how you're looking to grow Risant Health and what types of health systems would make ideal members in the future.

Dr. Ryu: We set out on a goal to identify maybe five or six like-minded, mission-aligned, community-based health systems over the next five or so years. I think the criteria that really seems to fit well with our model, first and foremost, there's got to be mission alignment and like-mindedness, for lack of a better term.

And I think specifically, that comes in the form of quality, equity, prevention, affordability. These are the kinds of things and kinds of focus areas that help define the mission of an organization, and we want to make sure that that's front and center.

I think the other is that we want systems that are sustainable with stand-alone financials. This is not a rescue mission. This is really about taking great organizations and making them even greater. Being able to put them on turbo boost—or steroids, if you will—to accelerate what they're trying to do, especially on that movement towards value-based care.

And the third is value-based care. We want to see systems that are walking the talk, if you will, rather than simply talking the talk. Really making steps and having already made steps towards transforming how care is delivered so that the viewpoint isn't just through that episodic interaction in an ED, for example, but rather thinking of people and populations more holistically.

Sometimes we think of it as building clinical capabilities and programs and taking them to meet people in communities where they are. Whether that's in the home, in the clinics, in the virtual sphere, in social programs. All of those are great examples of moving things a click or two further upstream to really drive better health.

Unger: Now you've got a lot on your plate over the next, well, let's say, five years of that kind of timetable that you outlined there. I want you to project out now 10 years and thinking out longer-term, what's your vision for the future of health care and what role do you see Risant Health playing in bringing that vision to life?

Dr. Ryu: Well, I think I'm that kind of time horizon, it's those systems that are referenced, whether it's the five or six that come into Risant, or any others that do on that time frame, we would want care to be delivered in those settings differently than how it is today.

There are still going to be the hospital and the ER like I alluded to earlier, but we would want to make sure that we're treating cancer sooner, identifying it sooner, preventing it altogether. Getting a handle on chronic diseases like diabetes, congestive heart failure, so that those things are managed and folks with those diseases never have to step foot in an ER or the hospital because those protocols are guiding and helping care teams to bring the best evidence-based guidelines and reduce unwarranted variation.

I think that's a picture of what we're talking about. We also want to bring tools to physicians and other providers—and to patients so that at their fingertips, they have the right things to assist them in achieving their best health. I think all of those things go towards a healthier community, a healthier population, and a more thriving community. And if we could do that and impact the health of millions more, I think that would be success over that decade.

Unger: Well, that's an ambitious vision, and you've, of course, already taken some steps toward it. Just in the next year, what's the big challenge that's keeping you up at night?

Dr. Ryu: I think it's a really turbulent and challenging time across the industry. I think we've seen that certainly over COVID, but even as we've come out of COVID as a society, it's, it's challenging times. Populations are aging. With that comes more disease burden. At the same time, we've got to figure out how to drive greater affordability in health care.

I think the easier we can make things, whether it's through technology or through better identification tools, I think those are going to be the key ways to deliver and transform how care is delivered. And by doing so, I think if you can make it easier, you also address things like what I'm sure you've heard about with burnout and so forth. Things have strangely gotten more complicated and they've gotten more difficult exactly at a time when we need to be pressing to go the other way.

And so the easier we can make it—and we believe, with some of the things I've described in terms of the value-based platform, that's exactly what we're trying to do.

Unger: That's interesting. I just want to follow up on that because we have talked about the patient outcome part of value-based care. How do you see that feeding into well-being and just the state of physicians right now?

Dr. Ryu: I think this is a big problem facing all of society. And I think there is a role that we all can play in terms of if we're driving towards a care model that gets to problems sooner, I think inherently, the job of physicians and care teams across the board gets easier.

In order to do that—and this is where you get a little bit of chicken and egg. In order to do that, some of the tools that are at their fingertips to help guide the decision-making and to—frankly, you want the path of least resistance to be in those better environments for patients. I think the more we can do that and offload some of that burden from physicians and care teams, I think the better off we'll all be.

Unger: Well Dr. Ryu, thank you so much for joining us. And congratulations on seeing this process with Risant Health, bringing it forward. And good luck with all of the wonderful initiatives that you have on your plate. We'll keep tracking your progress and I'll hope to talk to you again soon.

Dr. Ryu: Thanks so much, Todd. It was great to catch up again with you.

Unger: And the AMA has a wealth of resources on value-based care, and links to our most popular resources are in the episode description. To support our work, become an AMA member at That wraps up today's episode, and we'll be back soon with another AMA Update. You can subscribe for new episodes and find all our podcasts and videos at Thanks for joining us. Please take care.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this podcast are those of the participants and/or do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.

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