Need a pick-me-up? What better way to get your thoughts percolating than by reading a stimulating conversation with a talented Cedar employee. Today’s featured Cedarian is Cheryl Cho, a former field hockey star who now excels in another team sport: product creation. As product lead for Cedar’s strategic insights group, Cheryl helps Cedar conceive and create new digital tools for healthcare providers.
Hi, Cheryl! It’s warming up a bit in NYC and the spring fever is hitting hard. Where should we go?
Yeah, let’s do it. It’s just a short jaunt from Cedar’s new West Village office to Merriweather Coffee + Kitchen. (Cheryl orders a simple latte but rumor has it that the turmeric latte with macadamia nut milk is a treat worth going out of your way for. Somehow we manage to find a table in this bustling and bright little cafe.)
Can you share a bit about your background? Where were you before you joined Cedar?
I started my career in investment banking, doing financial modeling for mergers and acquisitions at Lazard. However, it quickly became clear to me that this was not my ideal path. I really wanted to drive change and create tangible results, which led me to a product role at Investopedia, a platform that provides financial content and definitions of financial terms, such as P/E ratio.
Working at Investopedia was a great fit for me because I’d long been an avid user of the site and knew the product like the back of my hand. I began to add value and shift the product in many ways. For instance, I helped them create a new product called Advisor Insights, a Q&A platform for financial advisors to answer questions and write content that helps the everyday person—you and me— understand our personal finances better. In that first year alone, we created more content than had been created in the history of Investopedia.
In 2018, when Dotdash acquired Investopedia it felt like a natural inflection point for me to come to Cedar.
Financial services is a complex and highly regulated industry but still an entirely different experience than healthcare. How does what you’re doing at Cedar compare to your prior work?
The main difference is that Cedar has to focus a lot of attention on integrations, which typically isn’t a concern for the consumer-focused companies I worked at in the past. At Cedar, we integrate all of the patient electronic health record data with other sources of data. Data and integration are key to our success, and it’s often what differentiates us as a company.
Okay, so tell me about your role with the product group.
I’m product lead for the strategic initiatives team, which has the goal of growing Cedar’s business. I make sure that anything that’s a strategic opportunity for our company is tackled and successful. One of the key things that we are specifically focused on right now is expanding our product offerings from covering just the post-medical-appointment functions (like bill resolution) to also addressing the pre- and at-appointment needs as well (such as cost estimates, co-pay collection and insurance capture). We want the entire healthcare episode to be one holistic journey for both the providers and patients.
Why is creating that holistic journey for patients so critical right now?
A congruent, seamless journey is critical to an easier, more transparent payment experience for the patient. From early on, we knew that providing cost information up-front to patients would help patients better plan to pay for care. For example, if at the outset of multiple treatments, a cancer patient knows the total cost of the treatments, the patient can financially prepare for that expense.
Our efforts to improve price transparency for patients is one of the things that excites me the most. In every other industry, it’s unthinkable to ask consumers to be on the hook for paying prices that they have no visibility into up-front.
So, are you focused more on improving the experience for the patient or the provider?
We focus on both. Just as patients experience fragmented billing, many providers are experiencing severe fragmentation in how they have to interface with multiple programs, each generating its own data. Most providers don’t have the ability to accurately track how they’re doing and any improvements they’re making. We’re working to build out a more holistic, integrated experience for providers and reduce that fragmentation, so that we can give providers better business insights.
You’ve been at Cedar now for 18 months. How has your experience here been so far?
I love how diverse Cedar is, and I think that really helps how we think about products and how we build them. We have folks from many different professional experiences and different walks of life — that diversity of perspectives helps as we essentially rebuild the healthcare financial experience for patients.
Obviously, it’s also important that we have deep healthcare expertise. Bringing experts from healthcare, technology and consumer industries together is critical to fixing what’s broken in the healthcare system.
That’s a great point. Do you have a favorite Cedar memory?
Definitely our company retreats, which are a great opportunity for colleagues to become friends. That’s something really special about Cedar that I haven’t experienced with other companies. I also love that Cedar pays for its employees to go out together to coffee shops (like this!). Getting to know one another better really helps us work well together as teammates.
Cheryl Cho is the product lead for Cedar’s strategic initiatives group. Interesting facts: while in high school, she was part of an Olympic Development program for field hockey, and earned All County, All League and All State titles. Her spirit animal is the sea otter, which, just like her, loves the ocean.
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