Emerging Health Leaders: Matthew Bennett of Evernorth Care Delivery

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MHE Publication, MHE October 2021, Volume 3, Issue 10

Matthew Bennett is one of 13 up-and-coming health leaders featured in this annual Managed Healthcare Executive series.

Matthew Bennett, senior vice president of Evernorth Care Delivery at Cigna.

I grew up in upstate New York and always dreamed of studying abroad. After working two jobs at age 16 to earn enough money to make this dream (come true), I attended high school in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands. I went on to attend Duke University, where I studied public policy and economics.

I started my career as the special adviser of strategy and planning for Plowshares Institute, an international nonprofit organization nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. A few years later, I co-created and led The Purpose Project, a nonprofit designed to address the growing generation gap in the social sector.

Taking my passion for leading organizations through change from the nonprofit world to healthcare, I joined Cigna Medical Group (CMG). Over the past 11 years, I’ve held various leadership roles across strategy, technology, operations, clinical and care delivery.

Who has had greatest influence on your life?

I can honestly say my parents. They instilled in me the importance of a strong sense of self, humility, generosity, an open mind, a sense of curiosity and an orientation to learn. Individually, my dad gave me the gift of an analytical and problem-solving orientation, and my mom’s gifts were empathy and emotional intelligence.

Why did you pursue a career in healthcare?

I was drawn to healthcare because of the sector’s transformative nature, and because of its unique ability to improve and save lives. Although there is much to appreciate about the American healthcare system — scientific innovation and research, skilled care and passionate professionals — we also have a need and opportunity to do better. As a nation, we spend a tremendous amount of money on healthcare, yet achieve subpar quality outcomes.

Which career accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?

I’m extremely proud of CMG’s response through COVID-19. Our team of 1,200 clinicians, staff and leaders came together with a laser focus on driving rapid change and innovation to ensure patients had ongoing access to care and services. As a team, we consolidated locations to concentrate resources and staff into our 14 largest centers, ensured an ongoing supply of PPE, launched a telehealth solution in five weeks and introduced same-day medication delivery to patients’ front doors. We also provided community support through a COVID-19 hotline and testing including drive-thru locations and vaccine administration. We were one of the first nonhospital settings in the nation to offer monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.

What has your organization’s role been in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines?

CMG has proactively partnered with local health departments to administer more than 16,000 vaccines at our centers and an additional 25,000 vaccines at a mass vaccination site we managed in partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services, bringing the total provided by the Cigna Arizona team to more than 41,000.

What would be the best way to reduce healthcare inequities in the U.S.?

I believe one of the best ways is to improve access to affordable care for everyone, especially those in underserved communities. We can do this by closing the digital divide and making it simpler to access and use virtual and home-based solutions that provide individuals with high-quality care when, where and how they need it.

Name a book or article that everyone in healthcare should read.

“The Incentive Cure: The Real Relief for Health Care” by François de Brantes,* which sets forth a practical vision for the critical role that all stakeholders — individuals, healthcare providers and health insurers — have to play in improving healthcare.

*De Brantes is a member of the Managed Healthcare Executive® editorial advisory board.