Mark Ganz Advice to Health Care: Leave Your Campsite Better than You Found It

June 1, 2017

Earlier in his career, Mark Ganz promised his dad, a family doctor in Spokane, WA, he would be a force to drive a focus on the consumer.

Now President and CEO of Cambia Health Solutions, Mark’s passion for making health care work for the people it serves is unwavering, as he shared at the May 25 Portland Business Journal Power Breakfast.

Passion for Transformation

Before a packed ballroom of local business leaders, Mark touched on how his childhood experience as the son of a doctor and college studies led him into a career in health care – not as a physician but as a leader driven to transform the industry back to its roots of people helping people.

“Fourteen years ago we defined Cambia’s Cause, and I’ve never felt such a mission as the one we’re on to transform health care, Mark said.

When asked how he got to where he is today, Mark explained the secret is to not only do your job – but also to play big. During his interview for the job of CEO, Mark told the board that he didn’t just want to run the health plan, he wanted to help the company pivot beyond its current business model.

100 Years of Legacy

Today, Cambia is a 100-year-old startup, investing in next-generation companies and building solutions that Mark predicts will supplant the current health care system. Cambia’s 100-year-old legacy (the anniversary is June 2, 2017) is the wellspring of this innovative spirit, he said.

“Our company grew out of the timber industry, which was very dangerous, and the idea of workers pooling their money together to help each other in case of injury or illness,” Mark said. “They didn’t even have a name for it at the time. One-hundred years later, what Cambia is doing is based on the spirit of what they did. We’re applying this idea of innovating to something entirely new.”

Advocating for Industry Change

When asked how the industry can change, Mark encouraged health care leaders to start with human-centered design principles – asking questions like “How do people go through disease? What’s their health care journey?” The health care system tends to be more controlling than curious, and that’s one thing that needs to change, he said.

Mark is leading Cambia to transform health care to be more person focused, but he is also an advocate for the industry to change. During the discussion, he pointed to the pharmaceutical industry as an example of what can be an often-mysterious and costly experience for consumers. On the one hand, over-the-counter drugs offer a consumer-oriented retail experience with full transparency on pricing, while the process of filling a prescription is not transparent at all to most consumers, including what’s covered and what’s not.

Hope to Change the System

“The health care system we have today is not one that we have to accept,” Mark said. “It can change, and it will change because of people who have hope to change it. Health care is ripe for disruption.”

In closing, Mark drew on his experience as an Eagle Scout, saying the idea of leaving your campsite better than you found it drives him to improve health care for the next generation.

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