This week’s spotlight is on Angela Diaz, PT, MBA, who is RVP, Head of Providers Solution Growth at Sword Health!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Angela Diaz, PT, MBA – RVP, Head of Provider Solutions Growth at Sword Health
Where are you located?
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
My first job was in acute care at Mercy Hospital in Miami, FL. After a year, I began doing contract home health work which led to me opening my own private practice in 1993.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
I treated pediatrics to geriatrics, sports/ortho, neuro (stroke/ALS/MS) in the outpatient setting, and in the home.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I absolutely loved helping my patients achieve optimal functional levels and where they were able to live a life they deserved! It was always so nice to see a patient out in the community, especially those that had suffered a stroke and were unable to walk, and with my assistance were walking and functional again!
It was frustrating that the reimbursement model for PT was unsustainable for providing the right care to patients so they would stay functional and avoid other more costly services or medications.
PT is so valuable, not only promoting wellness, but avoiding low-value costly care. The reimbursement model does not align to offer this much needed service for people across this country. I am hopeful that this is changing in the near future. This misalignment also leads to PT burnout, compounding the problem of access to care.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current RVP role?
After I sold my private practice in 1999 due to the challenges in the reimbursement model, I obtained my MBA at FIU. I wanted to better understand why our healthcare system was so broken, so I went into leadership positions in outpatient service settings (e.g. imaging, ambulatory services, home health).
After that, I worked at Duke Orthopedics as a Service Line Director, leading practice change (transformation)–in other words, the discharge of patients to their home instead a SNF, when appropriate, and lowering the cost of implant devices. I had a passion for delivering “value-based care” before it was a thing. It made so much sense to provide the best care, to the right patient in the right setting.
I also worked at the Quality Improvement Organization for NC and SC, supporting primary care with the adoption of quality programs, meaningful use, PQRS, MACRA, and began my work with Accountable Care Organizations (2014-2015). At the QIO, I worked with an ACO CEO and developed an analytic solution where we worked with Duke ACO and Coastal Carolina ACO.
Here began my population health work, with hopes that PT would one day be recognized and have a seat at the table for the value they bring to managing health.
My next roles at NC Department of Health and Human Services on the Medicaid Transformation team, then Aledade (PCP aggregator into ACOs), all lead me to Sword Health, a clinical-grade virtual PT offering, providing access and amazing health outcomes. PT is now at the value-based care “transformation table.” I am so thrilled to be back “home”!
The time has come for PT to be valued. It’s an exciting time for our profession, and I am blessed to be part of it!
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
In 2004, when obtained my MBA.
What are you doing these days?
Today I am living my passion of driving the value of PT to payers, orthopedic and neurological surgeons, primary care, ACOs, and hospital systems. I am also re-engaging with the APTA in hopes to do more advocacy locally and nationally.
I’m also planning to work closer with PT schools to share the work we are doing in the digital space and how this is a space to truly work at the top of the PT license.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
Solely non-clinical, except for the occasional family or friend member who needs some PT.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your RVP role?
MBA, Change Management, PMP
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
Tiffany Shubert, PT, PhD, a colleague and friend, knew I wanted to re-enter the PT sphere. She recommended a few companies, with Sword Health being one of them.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
Spoke from my heart about my passion and journey and how I believed I could “marry” both my value-based expertise with my profession.
What was the interview like for the role?
Friendly, yet thorough. Great questions, drilling down to assess personality, knowledge, professionalism, and ability to work within a startup atmosphere.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Initially, it was a mix. Some folks understood my skillset to grow business and drive for a better healthcare delivery system, and others didn’t understand the “why”.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you as RVP?
Lots of business development work, learning from the market and building on partnerships. Goal is to deliver patient-centered, team-based care, with superior cost/quality outcomes in PT driving MSK care pathways.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
PTs are masters at problem solving, and the healthcare delivery system is a HUGE problem we are trying to solve!
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
Depends on the role, though I would say mostly comparable.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
Vision, organized, focused, results-oriented, empathetic, drives strong relationships.
Do you work remotely or onsite?
Does Sword Health hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles?
Yes. Sales and growth, primarily.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
- Lots and lots of reading on value-based care
- Michael Porter
- CMS ACO and QPP website
- Participated in population health collaboratives
- Built strong relationships with medical societies and other medical associations
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
Well, not sure that exists…I sure took a lot of twists and turns to get here, but it all made sense in retrospect.
Follow your passion and vision and you will find your way. Enjoy the journey!
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
Be recognized as an expert in value-based care for the PT profession, become a speaker in this space, advocate on the hill, and attain a leadership role in the APTA.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours?
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why?
I would like PTs to embrace the wonderful changes that are taking place for our profession…PTs as primary care for MSK makes perfect sense, but I also know there are many PTs that are fearful of this change. If we don’t embrace this opportunity, some other profession will come in and take on this opportunity.
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
Let go of people that are unscrupulous…we can’t change them. Move on!
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
This is the secret sauce…patients are the reason we do what we do! They deserve the best care…it is our duty!
Feeling stuck? Want a non-clinical role of your own?