Don McDaniel

Don McDaniel is an accomplished leader, advisor, and entrepreneur. He is also a highly-respected health economist, and sought-after speaker, writer and strategic facilitator. Over his professional career, Mr. McDaniel has played leadership roles in a number of health care, insurance and technology organizations, and is recognized as a thought-leader and strong executive manager. Mr. McDaniel has expertise in the areas of health economics and markets, innovation, entrepreneurship, business and strategic planning, and the strategic deployment of health information technology. As Vice Chairman of Continuum Health, Don oversees Continuum’s strategic plan and vision, ensuring that company activities are appropriately aligned and focused to meet the company’s goals for growth and success. Don is also the founder and Chairman of Sage Growth Partners, LLC (SGP), a leading healthcare strategy, applied technology, marketing and venture management firm. In his former role as President and Chief Executive Officer of SGP, Don advised a number of prominent clients in healthcare and related industries, and generally led the company’s efforts to deliver high-impact, deep-value solutions to its clients. Mr. McDaniel previously served as Vice President and General Manager of Lighthouse Risk Solutions, a subsidiary of IWIF, a top domestic U.S. property and casualty insurer; President, Integrated Solutions Group; Ascendia Healthcare Management, a healthcare business process outsourcing, information technology, and turnaround firm; and Vice President, Business Strategy for the Bon Secours Health System. He is also actively involved in a number of Board roles.
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Recent Posts

Health Care's Future IT Value Proposition

Posted by Don McDaniel on Sep 7, 2017 11:00:00 AM

McKinsey & Company recently published the results and analysis of a global survey on IT’s future value proposition. While many expect IT, and CIOs for that matter, to play a growing role in improving business results, IT still suffers from performance issues and unfulfilled promise. The survey suggests that CIOs must raise their skills and influence within their respective organizations. Of the 709 respondents, many felt IT will contribute most through innovation and integration – that is, better integrating solutions that support business results. As I read this and applied it to the healthcare industry, I couldn’t help but think about how these issues related to the current malaise – an ambivalent sense that we’re not sure whether technology is advancing progress, or further complicating it. There are more than a couple of general conclusions from the survey that apply explicitly to healthcare.

First, integration seems to be even more important in industries with legacy technologies, and the healthcare business is full of proprietary, siloed, premise-based technologies. One explicit use case in today’s migration to value-based medicine is the challenge of providing relevant, timely information to caregivers operating in delivery environments with multiple electronic health records. There is no easy way to build sustainable integration today, but this must be solved in the future.

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Topics: Value-Based Healthcare, Healthcare IT, IT and analytics, Role of CIO

What Could Medicare Do To Drive Change

Posted by Don McDaniel on Aug 29, 2017 11:00:00 AM

There’s been a lot of discussion about reforming our health care system over many generations and presidential administrations, and most recently in the run-up to and immediate period after the election of Donald Trump. Republicans promised for 7 years to repeal and replace Obamacare only to (so-far) fail miserably at walking-the-walk.  I believe the political milieu, is at best a red herring, innocuous and really noise.  The fact is the value movement that we’re talking about in health care is really a market movement.  The proverbial train has left the station and market principals are already starting to disrupt the industry.

I was participating in a recent panel about innovation in healthcare, and the moderator asked the panelists, “what one thing would you do to change the status quo, to drive innovation ?”. My colleagues, all experts, but all practioners in the “old health economy” shared all the conventional wisdom; all the responses were, at best, representative of incrementalism.  I had the luxury of answering last, and used the time to my benefit for once.  I suggested that completely privatizing Medicare would be my choice.  Privatizing or “Marketizing” Medicare would expose one of the world’s biggest monopolies (short of true single payer government plans) to market forces.  From a budgetary perspective, privatizing Medicare from its current defined-benefit approach to a defined budget, or defined-contribution model would allow CMS to more predictably budget for growth in the program, and leverage the market of many willing sellers of insurance and services. 
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Topics: Value-Based Healthcare, medicare, Healthcare Innovation

It's All About The Doctors

Posted by Don McDaniel on Aug 3, 2017 11:00:00 AM

I recently attended a great health care industry “futures” conference, a chance to get the pulse of the industry through discussion with key thought leaders.  Despite all the noise around ACA, “repeal and replace”, “skinny repeal”, etc., there were two take-aways that reinforced what I’ve already been feeling.

The first is the need for much better, much deeper, much more transparent payer and provider collaboration.  Call this “joining the dark side”, coopetition, etc. – the demands of new health care consumers and their surrogates will demand more seamless collaboration.  Collaboration is a vague, over used phrase; in my estimation, both those paying for and financing care (purchasers and their payer representatives; often health insurers) and those delivering and (increasingly – see high deductibles and higher co-pays) financing care (providers) must be more willing to work together to solve problems.  This requires compromise, and a long-view.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Pigs go to feed, hogs go to slaughter”; we have too many hogs and not enough pigs. 

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Topics: ACA, Payer Provider Collaboration, Physician Success, Community Based Physicians

The Trump Healthcare Market

Posted by Don McDaniel on Dec 13, 2016 11:10:00 AM

What a more capitalist approach to payment reform could uncover in the new administration

The healthcare industry is facing a new kind of unknown with the incoming Trump administration. As President-elect Trump lays out his plans and makes his appointments for key roles, we’re beginning to get more clarity into what we should be able to expect in the coming months and years in terms of how healthcare policy, regulations, and payments may change. 

At this point, the healthcare future is unpredictable. In general, however, I think there are some things that are going to be increasingly important to the state of the healthcare economy.

Here are the four things I'm most interested in watching over the coming months:

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Topics: payment reform, Affordable Care Act, ACA, healthcare policy

What's the better innovation investment—process or technology?

Posted by Don McDaniel on Nov 8, 2016 11:00:00 AM

In our recent white paper, “Industrial Strength,” I mention one of the most interesting and powerful players in the global healthcare landscape, Devi Shetty. In that white paper, we examine the causes of the pre-industrial state of the U.S. healthcare industry, and discuss how we can most effectively repair it. 

One of the biggest factors hindering us is a seeming misunderstanding over the role of innovation, particularly in terms of technology. I’ve talked to so many people who believe that there must be some sort of magic bullet—be it a new platform, new software, or new way of understanding data—that technology will develop to solve all of our problems. I argue that this is the wrong way to think about innovation, and the wrong place to focus our efforts. 

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Can a hospital build a sustainable, high-performing physician organization?

Posted by Don McDaniel on Oct 11, 2016 11:17:43 AM

Last week, I was at yet another healthcare industry forum focused on value-based care. 

The sessions were decent, but I zeroed in on one session. Pairing a health plan executive and a physician leader – a “how to” on collaboration between health plans and physicians, only the millionth one of these. This one, however, felt different. The plan represented was a big one, (one with that "Indicia"), and the physician leader has been a dynamic champion of changing our broken system. So what was different? The bold transparent representation about the importance of independent physician networks and the now well-documented data that patients seen by non-employed primary care physicians generate lower aggregate growth in medical spending than patients seen by employed physicians in hospital-controlled ecosystems.

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