Josh Robinson (Host): Hi, this is Josh Robinson with Sanford Health Innovations podcast. I’m joined today by Nate Malloy who is our vice president of Profile at Sanford to talk about the innovative ways that Profile is driving healthy living with our members. Nate, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Nate Malloy (Guest): Thanks for having me.
Host: So, your background is an interesting one. You went to law school. You practiced as an attorney for some time. And have spent quite a bit of time in the fitness and healthy living space more as an entrepreneur. What brought you to Sanford and what drew you to this role?
Malloy: I think that might be the first time anybody has ever talked about being an attorney as interesting. So, thank you.
I think for me it was the growth opportunity. From the very first interaction I had with anybody from Sanford Health, specifically the leadership at Sanford and in Kelby (Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health), I could see that there was a passion for innovation and growth.
And with my background in franchising and in the fitness space, I just saw a unique opportunity to do something different with an organization that was doing it the right way.
Host: That’s great. I don’t know what the exact number is, I’m sure it changes by the hour but say with close to 500 stores either open or in some capacity in a version of development, it’s probably hard to imagine someone not having some exposure to Profile. But let’s assume, someone listening to this doesn’t have a lot of experience in what Profile is. How do you describe it? What is it? What’s your elevator pitch?
Malloy: Well our core, at our core, we are a health coaching business. We provide solutions to our members to help them in really three core areas — nutrition, activity, lifestyle — with the ultimate goal to provide them with a path and a journey that leads towards living a healthier life.
Host: Sanford Health, one of the largest integrated health systems in the country, potentially in the world; it is really interesting that Profile is a part of that system and my experience talking to peers in the industry are just people over the backyard fence. It almost seems a little schizophrenic at times.
What is Sanford doing? Why is Profile a part of that? How does it fit in? How do you see that as driving us as a health care delivery organization?
Malloy: Well I think in one aspect, it’s about innovating and doing things differently and meeting the customer and the patient in the medical world as it’s referred to where they want to be met. And doing things that will help them live a healthier lifestyle is one of those components.
And how that fits into the broader strategy is it really allows this arm of Sanford Health to deliver a program that all physicians would like to have the time to be able to do themselves. It’s just not currently the way that the system is designed and the way that we handle things like obesity.
And so our approach to deliver one on one coaching in an environment that is inviting, it’s convenient and it’s relatively simple to follow, I think is a big part of it. And I see it as a tool that our physicians and care teams can utilize to enhance the experience for their patients to provide them with a holistic wellness solution.
Host: So, when you talk about innovation and I always love to hear people’s ideas about what that means. How do you define innovation? What has that meant for you and for the Profile team?
Malloy: I think to me, it’s really, it means problem solving and approaching problem solving from the standpoint with some speed and some urgency and being first is somewhat important in innovation, not always.
But the speed in which you move on an idea and a solution to a problem is important and I think that’s something that Sanford Health has proven to be pretty good at in driving innovation and moving quickly to get to at least 80% and then going, maybe sometimes a little less and then figuring out the rest on the way forward.
So, to me, that’s really what innovation is all about. It is identifying a problem, finding a solution and maybe approaching that problem differently than others have in the past and then moving quickly.
Host: You have one of the — maybe a challenge, maybe it’s a really good thing — but you’ve had this opportunity to build this from the ground up and so you talk about the speed and the culture of innovation. How do you go about building that when you kind of have a blank slate to start with?
Malloy: I think the first, probably the biggest key is being very focused on what you really can accomplish at any given time. And so having a narrow focus. That’s been simple, effective, sustainable has been sort of our mantra since we started.
So, there’s a lot of things that we could be doing in this space, but we’ve been pretty focused on some core principles and making sure that we can execute those and repeat that with some scale. So, that’s been really important to us.
Host: How big does it get do you think?
Malloy: Profile as a whole?
Malloy: I think there’s endless opportunity for what we’re doing. I mean right now our focus is on taking great care of the Sanford Health footprint in North America. There is interest internationally for what we’re doing.
I think it’s something that people from whether it’s Canada, China, Costa Rica, a lot of the places that our World Clinics team has been successful in creating relationships. Profile is part of that conversation and they are very interested in it and so, I think that we’ve got a huge opportunity to expand this globally. There’s a need for what we do.
Obesity and healthy lifestyle solutions are not unique to the United States. So, I see a vision of expanding around the globe someday.
Host: What are some of those key lessons you’ve learned as you grow into what you are doing today that you think apply as you grow globally?
Malloy: Well it goes back to making sure you have some structure around your approach to growth. And so, we talk a lot about within our organization, of building kind of the core, stabilizing and then growing and then you got to stop.
You got to understand what’s not working as well as you thought might work and stabilize again. Refine it and then you grow again. And so, I think being disciplined in staying focused on doing a few things really well is important in order for us to grow long term.
Host: There’s a lot of truth in that because there has been a lot of discipline around that. I remember Profile was at probably 30 to 40 stores for a number of years and some people listening to this may not realize Profile has been around now for gosh how long has it been?
Malloy: Almost eight years.
Host: Yeah and so, it’s just recently that there’s been this massive explosive growth to the hundreds of stores. So, there’s been a lot of discipline there which is cool to hear that. So, what if anything, can you share, what’s next for Profile?
Malloy: Well I think we really are focused again on growing our franchise system within the U.S. I expect that will expand beyond the U.S. within the next 24 to 36 months easily.
But really, it’s — we’re just scratching the surface on what we can do within our own organization and then other organizations like Sanford Health to be that population health tool that everybody is seeking. I think we are uniquely positioned to be able to — from the data that we collect, from the results that we’ve been able to achieve for our members consistently — to do a lot more even just within our own system.
And that’s going to be our focus over the next 12 months, is making sure that we find those opportunities to deliver more value to Sanford Health first and foremost. And then take that model and expand it into other organizations whether that be large employers, other health care systems or insurance companies.
Host: There’s a lot here that you could argue is unique to Profile relative to all the other competitors in the space. Would you say that our ability to integrate in that way with a health system is probably the biggest differentiator that we bring?
Malloy: I think it is. Just having the – starting with the expertise that we have within this organization to build this program in the first place, but then the passion that the organization has to truly deliver an integrated solution for patients is something that nobody else is really doing with the component that we deliver in Profile for sure.
Host: So, talk about that for a minute, that medical expertise that we have because we do bring to bear this entire almost 2000 physicians and their practice, I know you have got an advisory board that has got some incredibly smart people on it that come from the medical field. How does that play into the everyday what a member would experience in Profile?
Malloy: You know, a number of things. Trust and confidence is important in this space especially if we are talking about weight loss in particular. There’s a lot of gimmicks and fads out there, has been for many, many years. What the expertise of our physician advisory board has been able to help us avoid is just that. So, everything that we’re doing is based in real science and research, years and years of research on best practices for how to help somebody lose weight and then most importantly, sustain that weight loss. So, I think that’s a big factor.
And also, it’s a group that we interact with regularly. So, Dr. Allison Suttle helped us create the Mom Program that we just launched this past October and you’ll hear a lot more about in the months to come. So, she’s been directly involved with us. I think even has referred to Profile as the easy button for physicians and that it’s a tool that can really compliment their practice and help their patients. So, not just the science side and the expertise but understanding from a physician’s perspective on what patients really need, what our care teams need is a unique perspective that having our physician advisory board allows us to have.
Host: Yeah, it’s too bad, Staples probably already has it trademarked, that easy button. So Profile branded only and have that be part of your messaging to the docs. I would suspect, through the years that you’ve been in this role, that you’ve come across a lot of really touching member stories. Is there one that comes to mind that just sticks out from all of those?
Malloy: I’ve been asked that a few times and for me, every day I start my day and we have a members-only Facebook page and there is story after story after story of everything from people who were told if they didn’t change their lifestyle they wouldn’t be around in a couple of years, you know middle aged people to we call them non scale victories.
People weighting what they actually — actually weigh what they have on their driver’s license. But at the end of the day, to me, it’s the stories that are more about changing confidence, truly changing their perspective on life and their outlook on life that are the most touching to me.
Because it’s not about the pounds. It’s not about the weight loss. It’s about them living a better life and we have those stories every single day.
The one if I had to pick one story that is really meaningful to me: it’s our very first member, also one of my very first employees joining Sanford Health and that was our former director of finance. He’s retired now. But he was literally member number one. Wayne Crosby. Member number one. And the entire time he was here, it’s just day in and day out whether I came in on a Saturday or a Sunday, because he never left the building I don’t think. A constant reminder that our program is the best program and that it works and that it helps people sustain that weight loss. So, I like to lift Wayne up as my favorite member story.
Host: I didn’t realize he was member number one. He reported to me for a couple of years. He never mentioned that fact. But now that you say that, I mean you can just see that in the way he operated. That’s a really cool story.
Well Nate, thank you. I appreciate it very much. This has been — you got some really cool things going on here. It’s fun to watch.
Malloy: Yup, I appreciate it. Thank you.
- Nate Malloy: ‘Profile changes lives’
- The Wrucke family’s weight loss journey: In it together
- Meet with a Profile coach