Executive Spotlight: Dave Nelson, Principal at HealthScape Advisors
Dave Nelson currently serves as principal at HealthScape Advisors, where he guides the company in healthcare consulting initiatives surrounding client growth, government procurements and value-based care models. Prior to joining HealthScape, he founded multiple healthcare-focused organizations, including Inovacus, the Veterans Accountable Care Group and xG Health Solutions.
In a recent interview with the Potomac Officers Club, Nelson reflected on his career background, discussed his leadership approach and shared his suggestions for improving the federal contracting landscape.
Read the full interview below:
What can you tell us about your background and how you’ve been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape over the course of your career?
Many years ago, a college professor shared with me that healthcare is one of the most dynamic industries in our country— and he was right. Over a more than 25-year healthcare career in both military service and the private sector, I have witnessed and participated in sweeping changes and reforms in numerous government healthcare programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and Veterans Health initiatives. These programs have evolved and will continue to be altered as we address challenging issues such as the total cost of care, health equity, use of artificial intelligence in healthcare decision making and healthcare workforce shortages. I feel very fortunate to have been at the center of a number of these issues from a C-suite role and be able to continue to learn from others in leadership capacities and adapt my own solution designs as these matters continually evolve.
What do you believe are your core strengths as a leader and what lessons taught you the most about driving success?
Many of the core strengths I possess were forged on the field of play and early in my career serving in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps. From childhood, I participated in team sports and very much enjoyed the competitive spirit exhibited in these forums. There is nothing like the sense of team accomplishment of a big win and nothing as personally humbling and motivating as a loss when all predicted otherwise.
Having been mentored by several highly accomplished military leaders, CEO’s and athletic coaches, I learned early on that each team member responds differently to various motivational techniques, so it is critically important to recognize the individuality of persons on any leadership team. I have also learned that oftentimes, the successful completion of work efforts is only accomplished because of a total team effort. It has been my experience that a sense of connectedness to team members and the formation of a culture emphasizing ownership of ideas and company initiatives is vitally important for a leader to communicate throughout the organization.
If your career came to an end tomorrow, what would you say have been the most significant accomplishments of your career? Where do you feel you made the most impact?
If my career came to an end tomorrow, one of the achievements I would be most proud of is identifying, hiring and working with four executives who have become CEOs as they advanced in their own careers. Each has had a distinguished career in various healthcare delivery and technology entities. I believe the opportunity to mentor and mold early-stage management talent is the single most important role an organization’s leader contributes to the enterprise.
If you were given free rein to enact changes in the federal landscape, what are the first three changes you would implement and why?
First, I would alter our annual federal budgetary process. The current environment of last-minute legislative gymnastics to achieve a stable funding environment does not support thoughtful, and economically rational long-term funding for critical federal government programs.
I’d also require agency leadership to have mandatory weekly exposure to business leaders in their domain to gain an appreciation of the daily challenges facing their vendors/suppliers – the Beltway can be a long way from Main Street America.
Third, I’d ensure that persons who serve this country in public service roles, be it military service, public health service or other citizen-support roles be provided competitive compensation and benefit structures. Their service to our nation warrants nothing less.
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