Jon Montanaro Troublemaker at BridgeHealth

On the surface, healthcare quality and surfing have little in common. But if you study each just a little more, you discover that in reality each is highly complex, requires a significant investment in training and research to get it right, and mistakes with either can be literally very painful.

The other thing they have in common is that Jon Montanaro, Vice President of Enterprise Sales at BridgeHealth, cares deeply about both.

The Backstory

According to the blog,, “For a surfer, learning to recognize which waves are rideable is an important and difficult skill. Each surfer must learn, through trial and error, how to ride the waves. Nevertheless, there are technical manuals and masters who can advise you what to look out for.”

In healthcare, it’s much the same. Most of us know what to look for generally when selecting a doctor or a pharmacy, but once we get into the more technical aspects of healthcare, like choosing the best physician or hospital for a surgical procedure, we need those technical manuals and masters to advise us.

That’s what BridgeHealth does. “It’s really about guiding the member to the best possible location and physician for their personal needs,” Jon said.

Jon got into healthcare after the orthopedic surgeon who set his broken ankle years ago introduced him to a medical device rep. “A role I didn’t even knew existed.” He’s been in healthcare ever since.

The Industry

That healthcare can be intimidating is the understatement of the year. Managing costs, quality, and outcomes is a multi-million-dollar industry with many players.

BridgeHealth has unique role within that system. They help unions and employers – and, most important, their employees – find the best locations and physicians for surgical procedures.

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The Solution

Through an exhaustive process, BridgeHealth has built a network of 155 centers of excellence, facilities that score in the top 25 percent in national health outcomes measures, for the procedures that BridgeHealth helps to manage.

“It matters very much where you go, and who you see when you get there. There’s nowhere that does everything well. It’s really [about] finding what your specific need is, and connecting you with the right person.”

BridgeHealth boasts some pretty impressive numbers. All of the facilities they direct members to are ranked among the top in the nation. BridgeHealth’s narrow network can generally provide savings of 35 to 50 percent on a per case basis, and an 80 percent reduction in complications.

But what’s most important to the BridgeHealth team and to Jon is the member experience.

“When people come talk to us, it’s generally spurred by cost, right? ‘How do I drive down the costs of my benefits?’ But once you start talking, what’s really most important to them is their member experience.”

That’s where BridgeHealth does the really heavy lifting. A care coordination team guides members who need specific surgical procedures to those centers of excellence – doing everything from making travel arrangements, facilitating the transfer of medical records, and ensuring proper follow up care.

How is that Troublemaking?

As Jon says, sifting through all of the healthcare information that’s available to us is confusing. And we make choices based on our physician’s recommendations or based on the experience of friends or family members. Or, we think that just because a facility has a great reputation in one arena, it translates to all.

That’s not the case.

“Look,” he says, “quality is a moving target. There really is no perfect way to measure it. But we’ve come up with a really good start. We feel that it is accurate, defensible, and we’re constantly looking at different inputs and different ways to evaluate that.”

That’s a lot like surfing. It’s about knowing what makes a good wave, evaluating each one, and making adjustments to ensure a high quality, enjoyable ride.

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