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When Mark Ganz officially steps down from his role as Cambia’s chief executive at year’s end, he will be retiring from the company but not, in his words, “spiritually retiring.”

Rather, Ganz intends to focus his energy on continuing to work on his “vocation” of transforming health care into a system that is more person-focused and economically sustainable for everyone.

Health Evolution Editor-in-Chief Tom Sullivan interviewed Ganz about how he led the company for 18 years, the need for leaders to stay attentive to the seduction of power, why CEOs should not tolerate the tyranny patients experience in the health care system, his advice to the next generation of chief executives, and more.

Health Evolution: How have you led Cambia over the 18 years you’ve been CEO? What have been your guiding principles?
Ganz: The most important principle is that we’re a people business. What makes Cambia go is not machines or technology, it’s every one of our 5,000 employees. My job has been to serve them by being clear about our company values and Cause – to serve as a catalyst to transform health care, creating a more person-focused and economically sustainable health care system. If I’m doing my job well, every employee should feel a personal connection to the company and our Cause. If they don’t feel that sense of connection, I’m not doing my job, our senior leadership has not done its job, and our board of directors has not either. That is the difference between servant leadership and the cult of personality in business.  A servant leader puts the needs of employees first and exists to serve the people rather than people working to serve the leader.

Health Evolution: What is your advice for other CEOs earlier in their careers?  
Ganz: Another principle is to stay attentive to the seduction of power that comes with a position. The moment you lose awareness and get caught up in it, that’s when people make mistakes, and act like they’re invincible. When CEOs make big mistakes, it’s almost always because they thought they could get away with it. So, my advice is to be really attentive because the temptations come in the most subtle ways and can lead you astray.

Health Evolution: If we consider those two — servant leadership and staying attentive — what other principles have guided you?
Ganz: A third principle is that our company is about serving people not populations. I think population health perpetuates a culture of arrogance where people in health care think we’re smarter than the people we serve, and we know better what they need. We should not tolerate that thinking for one more day. We serve people and their families by understanding and providing personalized services and solutions that meet their individualized needs – not the needs of a population.

Health Evolution: Many people would agree with no longer tolerating health care’s problems. What have you done at Cambia to change those? 
Ganz: I am proud that Cambia has been a leader and advocate for creating transparency of cost and quality of care. Early industry initiatives resulted in a lot of discussions and measures but no clear way to judge quality or address cost. Instead, why not talk to real people, to find out what they want and then deliver it? It gets simple very quickly. Any hotel or restaurant chain can tell you this. Health care is not so mysterious and different. It starts with the experience you want to serve and is based on data about what people want. If you do that, you’ll deliver.  

Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan brings more than two decades in editing and journalism experience to Health Evolution. Sullivan most recently served as Editor-in-Chief at HIMSS, leading Healthcare IT News, Health Finance, MobiHealthNews. Prior to HIMSS Media, Sullivan was News Editor of IDG’s InfoWorld, directing a dozen reporters’ coverage for the weekly print publication and daily website.