ABL Healthcare and Technology Insights

ABL: Where Healthcare CEOs Go for “Business Therapy”

Earlier today, as I previewed materials provided by Kim Darling Kim Darling, CEO of Competitive Healthcare (pictured at right) and an expert on all things Telehealth related, I was struck by the astounding growth in behavioral health costs – even before COVID-19, and how they’ve mushroomed since. Unfortunately, marked increases in depression, up 30%, and anxiety, up 38%, have been noted among adults according to The National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. And, the numbers are even higher for college students.

Little wonder that telehealth company MDLive reports that in 2020, virtual behavioral-health visits increased 50% from February to March, and 72% from March to April. No doubt, even in the C-suite.

For over 30 years, in recognition of the “loneliness at the top” many CEOs feel, one of ABL’s key slogans has been “What’s Keeping You Up Nights?” Well, particularly during this time of COVID, there’s plenty to keep up the most stout-hearted of CEOs – particularly in healthcare.

But that’s what makes ABL so valuable…

Bob Funarieven for Members like Bob Funari, the Executive Chairman of Patient Care America (pictured at right) – and Chairman of ABL’s Healthcare Division. Bob first joined ABL in 1989, when he was President of Baxter’s Paramax Systems, then their Pharmaseal division. He then went on to head Syncor International, which he sold to Cardinal Health; he was then named CEO of Crescent Healthcare, which he sold to Walgreens; and later, chairman of NxStage, which he sold to Fresenius. There’s definitely a pattern here. Fortunately for all his fellow Members, Bob has remained an ABL Member for over 31 years, not just sharing the wisdom of his experience, but, as he says: “The draw for me is the ability to connect with people who are grappling with the challenges that we face in healthcare and an opportunity to bring your problems to a knowledgeable group of people and get good advice and counsel.” Little wonder why he’s been so successful.

Eliott JonesWhat’s refreshing is that Members who have only been in ABL for a few months, like Eliott Jones, CEO of Biospectal SA (pictured at left), which will soon be making the way we’ve measured blood pressure obsolete, also are energized by the “very stimulating perspectives and open, intimate conversations.”


Debbie TothWe joke about being under Maxwell Smart’s “cone of silence,” but frankly it’s knowing that everything that’s shared of a confidential nature in the Round Tables – and now Zoom Tables – will remain in the room (much better than Vegas) that propelled dynamo Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging (pictured at right), to exclaim, “I am not alone!”


Cecile CurrierIn fact, time and again it’s been said that it’s the lively environment that keeps Members like Cecile Currier, the CEO of CONCERN (pictured at left), the largest employee assistance program in Silicon Valley, and VP of El Camino Hospital, engaged. As she says, “Dynamic attendees, energetic discussions, and a lot of varied and unique perspectives, which really provides thought-provoking dialogue and challenging insights” are most valuable.


Al GilbertTo which Al Gilbert, President of the Felton Institute (pictured at right), an organization that provides life-transforming social services, echoes, “ABL offers a wonderful opportunity to engage with a broad range of industry professionals that otherwise we wouldn’t encounter.”


Grace LiWhile not exactly a stretch out on a shrink’s couch, as Grace Li, CEO of On Lok Lifeways (pictured at left) – the nation’s oldest PACE organizations, says, “ABL provides an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and expertise on the most current issues in the healthcare industry. Setting aside time from my daily responsibilities at the office allows me to learn and think about trends in the industry and how they may influence or impact my organization.”

Oli ThordarsonA cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert in his own right, Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka Networks (pictured at right), which provides managed services to some of the southlands’ largest health systems, comments that “ABL is a wealth of information, knowledge, and camaraderie. You really get to trust the other Members, and you become more than business associates that meet once a month – you become friends.”

Abbie YantAnd, as Abbie Yant, Executive Director of the San Francisco Health Service System (pictured at left), says, she’s also learned “new ways to lead from my fellow ABL Members.”


Tom MoneAs Tom Mone, CEO of OneLegacy (pictured at right) – the world’s largest organ, eye, and tissue recovery organization, explains, “ABL Round Tables help me to stay informed in this era of remarkably rapid change in healthcare service and payment.”

Dave SayenObviously, one of the largest payers of healthcare claims is CMS. And the man who’s been a font of knowledge about the direction of government payment for the past 15 years is Dave Sayen (pictured at left). When Dave joined ABL, he was Region 9’s Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Always candid about CMS’s inner-workings, his expertise in the area of government programs has never abated as a national government programs expert, who relates, “I got my MBA at university and my PhD at ABL. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met at ABL. It has opened the door to parts of the Healthcare world that would have been closed to me!”

Bob RoseA newer Member, Bob Rose, President of MedWand Solutions (pictured at right), has found “The incredible contacts, new friends, and other business opportunities that ABL has brought to us make it one of the best investments I have ever made. ABL meetings cause me to both learn and think about issues that are not necessarily in my lane. The contacts and opportunities that have come from our first year at ABL have been worth many times the dues.”

Larry BlitzLarry Blitz (pictured at left), first joined ABL when his company managed hospital post-acute services, and now he’s a turnaround CEO for troubled facilities, like Tulare Regional Medical Center. And, after 26 years, he reflects that “ABL has been a wonderful association of truly bright, exceptional and caring professionals who do make a positive societal difference.”


The Adaptive Business Leaders Organization truly is an antidote for CEOs suffering from “loneliness at the top,” as the relationships forged in the Round Tables extend way beyond the circle of the Table.

Particularly during this time of COVID, when more Members than ever – thanks to zero commutes – are able to attend their Zoom Table. They’re also following-up with each other in record numbers, both within their own Table and into the other four ABL Healthcare Executives Tables as well.

In fact, Healthcare Members have also been reaching into our Technology Groups for guidance and to exchange business opportunities.

In all, while ABL can’t make COVID go away, the exchange of best practices, insights into innovative ways to continue providing care and maximize productivity, and the opportunity to make rich connections within and across our Round Tables has provided much more than the “therapy for business” that many of our Members claim ABL has been providing, for over 30 years!

By Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Healthcare and Technology Companies