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Manik Bhat is one of 13 up-and-coming health leaders featured in this annual Managed Healthcare Executive series.
Manik Bhat, co-founder and CEO of Healthify, a health-tech company based in New York City
I grew up in Ohio and earned a B.S. in molecular and cellular biology from Johns Hopkins University. In 2013, I co-founded Healthify to help vulnerable people access nonclinical services such as food, transportation and housing, which play critical roles in health outcomes.
Shortly after I started Healthify, the company was accepted into Blueprint Health, a program that helps health startups meet business goals such as gaining customers, raising capital, building marketing and sales collateral, and refining investor pitches. After completing Blueprint Health’s program, my team and I successfully raised $500,000 to continue growing our technology platform and signed our first set of clients, which included Johns Hopkins HealthCare.
Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
My parents, who were both physicians. They sacrificed their careers and parts of their lives to move to the United States from Kashmir in 1995to provide more opportunities for myself and my brother. They wanted to ensure that I had every opportunity to pursue my passions. This self-sacrificing act significantly influenced how I think about work and serving others.
Why did you pursue a career in healthcare?
During college and after graduation, I worked as a coordinator and volunteer at the Harriet Lane Clinic for Health Leads, a group associated with Johns Hopkins Hospital. I worked with families to understand their social needs and connect them to social services. From this experience, I decided to rescind my offer to attend medical school and was inspired to help create Healthify to address the socioeconomic barriers facing many Americans.
While working at the pediatric clinic, I met many families who had significant social needs involving food, housing, and transportation, which impacted their overall health and well-being. Clinic employees spent hours calling service organizations to provide assistance, but there wasn’t any clear process for following up with the families. It was clear that the system was broken.
Which career accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?
Healthify was recently acquired by WellSky, a health and community care technology company. Through this acquisition, Healthify and WellSky will help payers and providers across and within communities to better identify social needs, search for social services and coordinate care with an accountable network of community partners. Building a social enterprise, raising venture capital and then being acquired to produce a positive outcome for everyone involved was an amazing journey that I’m proud of.
What has your organization’s role been in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines?
Healthify has not had a direct role in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, but we recognize that racial disparities continue to exist in this country’s vaccine rollout, and we believe that minority and vulnerable communities should be prioritized.
What would be the best way to reduce healthcare inequities in the U.S.?
The best way would be to expand initiatives and funding to address social determinants of health. Nonclinical factors such as housing stability, economic status and access to transportation have a significant and long-lasting impact on one’s health. As payers, providers, community-based organizations and policy makers continue to recognize this impact and work closely together to improve health outcomes, we’ll be able to mitigate many of the healthcare disparities that exist in the United States.
Name a book or article that everyone in healthcare should read.
I recommend the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, which made me consider how someone’s leadership and service can enable innovation in healthcare.