Healthcare Leader: David Henley, Passport Health Plan

David HenleyDavid Henley

Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Risk Management Leader and Culture Leader at University Health Care, Inc. dba Passport Health Plan.

Hobbies: Exercise (mainly running), music and volunteer activities.


How do you approach management and leadership Passport Health Plan?

My management and leadership style can best be characterized as servant leadership. Servant leadership is a term loosely used to suggest that a leader’s primary role is to serve others, especially employees. Therefore, I focus on what I call the 3 Ps: People, Purpose and Passion. This means that as a leader, I protect and support the People (employees), make sure they understand our Purpose and I inspire Passion for what we do.

What is your very best skill—the thing that sets you apart from others?

I am always looking for ways to bring value to the organization for which I am affiliated whether that affiliation is through employment, serving as a board member or being a volunteer. I think I best bring value as an idea generator. I often find that one of the most important skills organizations lack or do not pay enough attention to is strategy. Therefore, I primarily focus on generating ideas about strategy. The other area I focus on is challenging best practices. My thought is that if we settle for the best practice, we will slow down an organization’s ability to find innovative solutions to the challenges of their business.

Where do you do your best thinking?

I do my best thinking at church. Some of my best ideas and solutions to problems have come while singing hymns, listening to the message or sitting quietly.  

What was the most significant event/development at Passport Health Plan in 2015?

The most significant event for Passport Health plan in 2015 was our decision to reenter the Medicare Advantage market. We recognize that a significant segment of our members are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and that these members represent a large portion of healthcare costs because they tend to be the sickest of the sick. Therefore, in order to truly make an impact on the health of Kentuckians, we are making available a Medicare Advantage Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP). 

How do you revitalize yourself?

I revitalize myself through exercise (mainly running), music and volunteer activities. I have been running for most of my life and have run eight marathons. Also, I really enjoy listening to music especially Brazilian style music. But what really revitalizes me is my volunteer work. There is a saying that you get back what you give. I find that my volunteer work with kids helps me unplug and that helping them takes my mind off the challenges in my own life. Making children and teens smile…now that’s revitalization. 

What was your first job in healthcare? What did you take away from that job that you use today?

My first job in healthcare was at the Missouri Department of Insurance (MDOI) where I managed an investigations unit and later led a market conduct examination team. This experience helped me understand regulation of the insurance marketplace and taught me the process and methodology for auditing companies. I use the skills from my first job in healthcare when I interact with regulators and when Passport Health Plan oversees and monitors subcontractors and vendors.

As a leader, we all face many challenges. What challenges do you face in your role that are unique because you work in healthcare?

Passport Health Plan is a provider sponsored organization. It was designed this way because of the belief that the most effective and efficient way to improve the health and quality of life of Kentuckians is to work with providers to find innovative solutions to healthcare issues. This structure also presents a unique set of challenges — finding ways to work collaboratively within the current regulatory framework, developing tools and methodologies that make providing care more cost efficient while leaving decisions about care to the medical professionals and quite frankly, getting two or more organizations to agree that the investment in time and money is beneficial, not only to their respective organizations, but for the patients and members they serve.

If you could eliminate one of your healthcare industry’s problems overnight, which would it be?

I would like to see the elimination of the high cost of healthcare. Of course, I recognize that eliminating the high cost of healthcare is the ideal and that a more realistic goal is to significantly reduce the cost of healthcare. If we could significantly reduce the cost of healthcare, more Kentuckians would have access to the care they need and this in turn would ultimately positively impact Kentucky’s economy. Passport Health Plan believes it is on the right path to the reduction of healthcare costs by collaborating with providers to develop innovative programs with a focus on preventative care and diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer and HIV/Aids.

What opportunities do you see for Passport Health Plan in 2016? Challenges?

Passport Health Plan will be launching its Medicare Advantage Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan named Passport Advantage on January 1, 2016. As such, Medicare Advantage presents another opportunity for Passport Health Plan to positively impact the health of Kentuckians. The challenge we face in launching this product involves change management. Launching Passport Advantage represents a change in important aspects of how we currently approach our business. In particular, it involves redesigning   Passport’s culture so that our employees understand that change is necessary if we want to obtain our goals and improve the health and quality of life of our members. Also, we want our employees to know that any changes we make will continue to align with our mission, vision and values.   

What’s one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

The career advice I remember most clearly is that you should design your career not let it just happen. With that advice I decided to focus on three items that I felt would help me with my career – (1) being a continual learner; (2) being a risk taker; and (3) being a purposeful leader. Below is a brief explanation of some actions I am taking in regard to these items.

#1 Continual Learner

I continue to earn certifications in my field and actively seek seminars and conferences that will help me be a thought leader.

#2 Risk Taker

I want to be fearless. I try not to be afraid to try new things or take on new challenges.

#3 Purposeful Leader

I have learned and experienced many things and believe I have a responsibility to share this knowledge. Adopting the philosophy of a servant leader is one way I am trying to be a purposeful leader. I believe giving back to others will make me a better leader and a better person.