Q&A: New Health Evolution President Richard Schwartz

Schwartz discusses what excites him most about joining Health Evolution, the role he will be playing in the company and something that colleagues might not otherwise know about him (hint: it involves tractors and chainsaws).

Tom Sullivan | January 6, 2021

Richard Schwartz joined Health Evolution as the company’s new President at the beginning of January 2020 with the charge to continue innovating and iterating its events and digital offerings to best serve the provider, payer and life sciences CEO community and the organizations they lead.

Prior to Health Evolution, Schwartz served as Chief Operating Officer of the Advisory Board Company’s health care practice, which he helped lead from 2002-2018, during which the organizations expanded from fewer than 100 employees serving several hundred customers to more than 2,000 employees serving several thousand clients and generating more than $500 million in revenue.

To introduce Schwartz to the Health Evolution readership, we inquired about his background, what his charter is as President and, on a personal note, an interesting aspect of his current life that just might surprise colleagues. 

To begin with the basics for our readers, please tell us about your professional background.
Schwartz: My principal professional experience is with the Advisory Board Company. I came there straight out of business school when the health care practice was still in its early stages. Across my tenure – spanning more than two decades – I had the opportunity to run the original research and insights business, launch the Advisory Board consulting division, integrate and grow strategic acquisitions, and oversee the firm’s build-out of the leading data and analytics software suite for hospitals and health systems, before running the entire health care business as COO in my latter years there. In doing so, I had the privilege of working with an extraordinary set of colleagues on behalf of thousands of member organizations. 

There is no better platform for CEOs tackling the biggest challenges. And there is no more important time to do so, with COVID-19 exacerbating mental health, disparities, and affordability while spotlighting the extraordinary power of breakthroughs such as expedited vaccines and care model innovations.

Richard Schwartz, Health Evolution

Based on that previous experience, what excites you about joining Health Evolution? 
Schwartz: Since leaving the Advisory Board Company when it was acquired by Optum, I have been consulting for private equity companies, health care startups and tech companies, media enterprises and others. This has afforded me the opportunity to keep current with the most important issues confronting the health care industry and to look for an enterprise worthy of committing to full time. While I had some exposure to David Brailer and Health Evolution previously, across the past 3 months I have had a chance to run deep with the organization and its leadership team. There is no better platform for a cross-section of leading CEOs to gather and exchange worthy ideas for tackling the biggest shared challenges. And there is no more important time to do so, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating such critical issues as mental health, disparities, and affordability while spotlighting the extraordinary power of health care breakthroughs such as the expedited vaccines and care model innovations.

As the new President, what are your principal responsibilities? What will be the initial areas of focus? 
Schwartz: Health Evolution has already established its Summit as the preeminent gathering of cross-industry health care CEOs and shown leadership in the drive for greater diversity through its companion Confab conference. Across 2020, Health Evolution adapted remarkably quickly under COVID-19 to provide a fuller suite of services. Namely, Health Evolution launched the Forum, which has more than 200 Fellows in its inaugural year organized around three Roundtables: New Models of Care Delivery, Next Generation IT in Health Care and Community Health and Advancing Health Equity. The company also produces the Insider, which has become a must-read for thousands of health care executives and launched the Innovation Lab profiling emerging practices in a series of special reports and webcasts across the year. My role is to ensure we drive as much value as possible through this expanded set of channels and continue to innovate and iterate ourselves in order to best serve the CEO community and the organizations they lead. What a worthy charter!

What is something people in the professional world might not know about you?  
Schwartz: I suppose it is fair to say I live somewhat of a split life. Most of my professional colleagues know me as something of a mission-driven workaholic, but the truth is I am even more dedicated to my family and close friends. My wife and I recently bought a waterfront farm property on the Chesapeake Bay, which while it is a spectacular setting, had fallen into disrepair. As such I have been spending much of my free time on a seemingly endless set of projects, though my former colleagues are having a hard time picturing me on a tractor bush-hogging, clearing brush, using a chainsaw, and the like! Amid so much hardship for so many, COVID-19 brought our family together – our three adult children and one fiancé – for months of “found” quality time out there this year that we will forever cherish, making the purchase and renovation efforts all worthwhile. I look forward to the opportunity to host folks from the Health Evolution community out there in the new year and beyond.

About the Author

Tom Sullivan, EVP & Editor-in-Chief of Digital Content

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.