Chief Operating Officer — Chentelle Lane

Chief Operating Officer — Chentelle Lane

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This week’s spotlight is on Chentelle Lane, PT, DPT, a non-clinical physical therapist who is now Chief Operating Officer for Karoo Health!


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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Chentelle Lane, PT, DPT — Chief Operating Officer, Karoo Health

Where are you located?

North Canton, Ohio.

Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?

Walsh University, 2010.

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

My first role was in an inpatient rehabilitation setting. I did this for approximately two years.

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In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I worked in all settings you can as a physical therapist, ranging from:

  • Pediatrics
  • Acute care
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient
  • Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs)

I was able to work with a full range of patients who suffered from complex conditions.

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

In my earlier roles, I found great fulfillment in patient interactions. As a black woman in a rural community without many doctorate-level physical therapists, I aimed to showcase our capabilities. While some patients welcomed me warmly, others judged solely on skin color.

It was gratifying to prove to colleagues that black women can excel in healthcare in Tuscarawas County, Ohio.

However, I grew disillusioned with the management aspect of physical therapy work. The pressure to meet minute quotas and G-codes, especially with patients who didn’t require such services, became burdensome. Concerns about jeopardizing my license prompted me to seek personal changes.

What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?

Before assuming my current position as Chief Operating Officer at Karoo Health, I held various roles, including:

  • Utilization Review Coordinator
  • Utilization Manager
  • Director of Clinical Implementations
  • Director of Clinical Operations
  • Market President
  • Vice President of Market Clinical Operations
  • Senior Vice President of Operations

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

In 2013, I transitioned to a non-clinical role at naviHealth, a remarkable startup based in Brentwood, TN.

I made this shift because I felt that adhering to the demand for “100 ways to 100 days” in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and the misalignment between management requests and patient needs.

What are you doing these days?

As Chief Operating Officer of an innovative startup cardiovascular value-based care enabler, I oversee operations.

We recognize cardiovascular disease as the primary financial burden on healthcare. Our mission is to revolutionize care delivery for cardiovascular patients through technology and cardiologist partnerships, ensuring comprehensive, supported, and efficient care.

I’m tasked with translating my co-founder’s vision into actionable strategies. Collaborating with cardiology networks, health systems, and health plans, we aim to enhance patient satisfaction, cardiac outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs.

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

I am solely non-clinical.

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How long have you been in your current chief operating officer role?

I have been in my current role since October 2022.

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

I didn’t pursue specific certifications or formal training, but I seized every chance to learn from mentors in healthcare. Their guidance was invaluable in shaping my career.

I opted out of an MBA because direct, hands-on experience provided the necessary business insights. I wouldn’t change that decision for anything.


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How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

An ad on Facebook caught my eye—believe it or not. It asked: 1) Are you a physical therapist? Check. 2) Do you want to work from home? Check!

Despite having a young child and being one month pregnant, I took the chance and reached out to the recruiter. Once I connected with the HR department, I was hooked. The individual who hired me for my first non-clinical role remains one of my closest colleagues.

In my current role as Chief Operating Officer, I connected with the CEO a few years ago.  We stayed connected, even after I went to another company before joining Karoo Health.

What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?

To progress within a company, I understood the need to take charge in almost every situation. Relocating my family from Ohio to Nashville, TN was a strategic move to immerse myself in the corporate world, where I believed I could excel.

Learning was paramount—I seized every opportunity. Prior to my role as UM Manager, I had no experience in managing people. I observed my leaders closely, learning how to lead a team effectively. Despite many failures, I turned each one into a chance to improve.

Lateral moves were also part of my journey. Contrary to popular belief, climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t always require a promotion or a bigger title with each move. My goal was simply to learn something new in every role I undertook, eventually leading me to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

Mentorship played a crucial role—I sought guidance from individuals across various business sectors, not limited to healthcare. Surrounding yourself with diverse perspectives, challenging minds, and individuals who advocate for you in your absence is invaluable.

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

When I transitioned away from patient care, I vividly recall my colleagues telling me, “You’re going to the dark side.” Their response was intriguing.

Since then, the light in my career has only grown brighter. Initially, I questioned my decision, but I’ve since observed those same colleagues reaching out to explore opportunities in the non-clinical space.

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?

In my daily routine, I engage in planning, organizing, problem-solving, strategizing, executing, and forecasting within operations. I oversee a team of brilliant individuals, comprising both clinical and non-clinical experts. My role entails removing barriers to ensure their success.

What are some of the rewards of your chief operating officer role? What are the biggest challenges?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is witnessing individuals surpass the expectations of their initial positions. At this stage in my career, my priority lies in facilitating the success of others.

Also, it’s seldom that you have a clinical person in a chief operating position. 

In fact, it was quite astounding for me to witness some of the ways people thought about clinicians—as those leadership positions were primarily held by non-clinicians and men. 

I get great satisfaction from seeing people like me in operations roles throughout many organizations these days. 

My primary challenge usually revolves around managing the pace of our work. Given the dynamic nature of my team and the extensive opportunities for improvement in the cardiovascular field, I prioritize pacing our efforts and resources to ensure the impact we envision.

How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?

My clinical background and degree instilled in me a perpetual quest for understanding and a habit of questioning “why.” Moreover, the innate desire to assist others has permeated every role I’ve held since leaving patient care.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

The hours are quite different because the work is different. I have great flexibility in my role to manage both my family and work life. Balance is subjective, but my balance suits me exceptionally well.

As far as compensation, it’s quite different, in a great way! As a PT, I only knew a world of cash compensation (paycheck). Since leaving clinical care, there are so many other ways to obtain a full compensation package!

What type of person do you think would do well in your chief operating officer role?

To excel as a chief operating officer, one must grasp the significance of collaboration across diverse functional domains. My daily interactions span finance, technology and product, analytics, clinical, and beyond.

Effective communication, assertiveness when necessary, and a relentless focus on solutions are crucial. One of my mentors emphasized the importance of not just highlighting problems, but also presenting ideas for solutions to drive meaningful change.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

I work remotely but travel to meet the needs of the business when necessary.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?

We hire people based upon their skill set, no matter their licensure.

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

I read the following books that helped me get to where I am today:

  1. Learning to Lead by Ron Williams. If you don’t know Ron Williams, you should! I really needed a better understanding of how to lead, and I constantly refer back to this book.
  2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. Whew…this book was amazing for me, especially being a young leader in a new world of corporate structure. 
  3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz. Just read it…it was what I needed as I was joining Karoo Health!

What is a typical career path for someone in your chief operating officer role?

For someone looking to become a chief operating officer, the good news is that there are so many different paths. 

For me, it was a path of obtaining:

  1. Entry-level roles focused on operations, management, and finance 
  2. Management-level roles to learn to lead diverse teams and make impactful decisions (do not forget, lateral moves to learn a different skill set are absolutely okay)
  3. Senior management roles with broader responsibilities 
  4. Executive roles, specifically in close proximity to the CEO, current COO, and CFO, with a focus on overseeing a business unit
  5. Lastly, becoming COO, with complete responsibility to translate the organization’s strategic vision into operational reality

What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

What an intriguing question!

If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d be spearheading operations for a value-based care startup in cardiovascular health, I wouldn’t have believed it!

My primary aim is to assist individuals in achieving their life aspirations. Throughout the week, I dedicate significant time to mentoring and offering advice to those seeking guidance—I find immense joy in this aspect of my life!

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?

Do not let fear stand in your way! Take the leap, and just go for it!

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

Another great question!

My focus would center on the perception of clinicians—encompassing therapists, nurses, physicians, and APPs—by their business counterparts. Countless times, my thoughts and ideas were disregarded due to my clinical background. In my early days, I attempted to distance myself from this background, a notion I now find ludicrous. Clinicians are multifaceted!

I grasped the intricacies of business operations while maintaining my clinical expertise. This dynamic wasn’t feasible for my former business partners, who would have needed years to acquire a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Now, I find it amusing to reflect on those experiences.

What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?

If given the chance to instruct graduate physical therapy students today, I would emphasize the myriad of opportunities within our profession. While I cherished my days in patient care, my journey has led me across the United States and through various healthcare sectors, experiences I wouldn’t have encountered solely as a staff physical therapist.

It’s crucial to instill in students a sense of excitement about the breadth of impact and possibilities within the physical therapy space.

Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?

Do not let anyone deter you from your dreams. I recall being informed that I would never make it past a VP level role…and we see how that played out! Keep it moving, and keep pushing.

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