Our team member spotlight this month shines on Zahid Rathore, Senior Vice President. We’re excited to share some highlights from a recent conversation with him:
Tell us about your path to Healthlink Advisors.
I am a career consultant, having worked since graduate school in this industry. I grew up in a healthcare-centric family surrounded by physicians. When I was really young, I remember leaning back in my chair at the dinner table; my mom, who is a radiologist, would look at me and say, “you’re going to crack your occiput and get a subdural hematoma.” I was five at the time, so…on one hand it was traumatizing, but on the other, it has proved to be helpful later in life! When I was in middle school, I worked in my dad’s medical office practice. In addition to being responsible for the back end revenue cycle (stuffing bills into envelopes), my dad trained me on instrument sterilization techniques. My dad was also big into gadgets and technology – he invested early in EHR software and associated peripherals – which later proved to be bleeding edge.The first scanner he bought weighed close to 50 pounds!
After college and grad school, it felt natural to blend my love of technology with healthcare by focusing on health IT consulting. While I was at PwC I met and worked with Lindsey Jarrell for several years. His vision to create a company that is laser focused on high quality, results driven work spoke to me, and I wanted to be a part of it.
In April 2016, when an opportunity presented itself to join Healthlink Advisors, it was a no-brainer to be a part of it. We’ve worked incredibly hard to build a company that attracts the best consultants in the industry and work with high profile clients to solve complex problems.
What keeps you motivated in our industry?
There have been two big events in the past 5 years that have changed how I view healthcare, healthcare delivery, and my perspectives on being a consultant and leading a fulfilling career. The two big events were the passing of my father and the birth of my daughter. My dad passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016. It was a quick progression, as is common with pancreatic cancer – 54 days from diagnosis to his death. During his illness, I was exposed firsthand to complex care management and all of the challenges of mitigating his care plan. Even with both of my parents’ being physicians, it was still so difficult to interpret next steps and what was needed. I’ll always remember how my family’s interpretation of hospice was a different expectation than of the care team and it took several conversations to clearly plan what my dad desired. We heard very different perspectives from surgeons and medical oncologists – sometimes at complete odds with each other, which made it difficult to navigate decisions for my dad’s care. These are the experiences I think about every day that drives the work we do. As emotionally devastating as it was at the time, it also taught me greater empathy, patience, and appreciation for living a fulfilled life while we can. Fast forward 3 years later to 2019 and the birth of my daughter, I have learned many lessons through fatherhood; that time is precious, the power of patience, and sleep as I once knew it is gone never to return. When I reflect on these experiences in totality, I’m reminded to live life with meaning and purpose.
This has been really cemented in my recent work with a pediatric research hospital. When I was traveling there on campus, I would see patients and their families in the hallways. The patients look like my daughter; the parents look like my wife and me. I could recognize the grief and anxiety on their faces. Interacting with clinicians and leaders through our project work at that client and other health systems around the country constantly remind me of the awesome power of our healthcare systems. This motivates me and keeps me grounded – it’s emotional and personal. I find myself often reflecting on doing the best we can will help those families receive the best care they can. Our work is my way of contributing to making healthcare better.
Tell us about the parallels between consulting and flying.
Healthlink Advisors has several pilots on our team, and it’s a lot of fun to discuss the parallels with what we do, and how we do it, with flying.
Before flying anywhere, there’s a good bit of planning that takes place; checking the weather where we are, where we are going and in between. Once you’re in the air, everything is changing like the weather, oncoming traffic, etc. You need to take in what’s happening at every second so you can adapt as needed but still remain focused on finishing the flight. There are three key principles all pilots are trained on: aviate (keep the wings level and fly the plane), navigate (know where you are going), and communicate (talk about what you are doing with ATC or other pilots). These same principles apply to the consulting work we do. Political winds, data moving around, stakeholders to manage, strategic change in direction, etc. During the busy, heated moments of a project, I’m reminded to keep the team level, remind ourselves of the project scope, and let the project team and client know what we are doing and how we are going to get to the finish line.
The advances in flying brought upon by innovative technology can also be compared to the fast paced technology growth we have in healthcare. It’s been very cool to see the advances in health IT tools that make a difference in how caregivers provide and deliver care. As this has accelerated, it reminds me of the tools that pilots have, like ForeFlight, as we’ve moved from a paper-based cockpit to a digital one. There is so much data at our fingertips as pilots, but there’s a fine line between being overwhelmed by data and using it to make better, faster informed decisions. It seems clinicians may feel the same way. We must remember to focus on flying or care delivery in new ways but maintain the fundamentals so we don’t get lost in the data!