2021 Excellence in Healthcare Honoree: Joseph Caruncho

Meet Joseph Caruncho, CEO at Genuine Health Group

Prior to serving as CEO of Genuine Health Group, Joseph Crunch was chairman and CEO of Preferred Care Partners, a Medicare Advantage plan he co-founded in 2002. He and his partners grew Preferred into a $750 million enterprise with more than 600 employees before UnitedHealthcare acquired it in 2012. Previously, for more than a dozen years, he practiced corporate healthcare law.

Favorite Quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

Fun Fact: I actually wanted to be a jazz trumpet player and own a jazz bar!

What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? Leaving a successful law practice to start Preferred Care Partners involved risking everything and spending two years and three months without income, while we created the operating model and got licensed by the state and Medicare, while many people questioned the decision and urged me to stop being crazy and go back to practicing law. Overcoming those challenges despite the delays and setbacks required focusing daily on the reasons why I made the decision and the impact that being successful would have on the lives of my family and team. The above quote sat on my desk during that time.

What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? Successfully launching Preferred Care, closing on the sale to United, successfully launching Genuine Health Group, are all big moments. But I tend to focus more on the current challenges and celebrate each as they occur rather than focusing on past accomplishments.

How is the healthcare industry important to you personally? Quoting a cliche, succeeding in the healthcare field provides the opportunity to do good while doing well. Our focus in both Preferred Care and Genuine Health has focused on enhancing patients’ wellbeing through preventive care, home-based care while also assisting physicians to transition successfully to value-based care, which improves both quality and eliminates unnecessary expenses. In doing so, you can literally impact and change peoples’ lives.

How did the pandemic disrupt your specific role in the healthcare industry, and how did you adapt? The lockdowns and general fear on the part of patients in seeking medical care (particularly preventive care such as cardiac and cancer screenings) resulted in those patients deferring care. As a result, there has been a real chance for the health of those patients (particularly chronic patients) to take a dramatic turn for the worse. We have avoided those negative results by (i) encouraging and facilitating the use of telehealth by our physicians, and (ii) using our advanced analytics to identify change in utilization patterns by our patients, and then referring those patients to our physicians to get them the needed care. As a result, we have been able to sustain our patients’ wellbeing during the pandemic.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? “Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence!”

What do you love most about working in healthcare? As stated above, healthcare gives you the unique opportunity to work in an ever-changing and dynamic industry while positively impacting the lives of our employees, physician partners, and patients.

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