Bill Oldham, Co-Founder, Chairman & CFO, AscellaHealth LLC
Today’s U.S. healthcare sector is mired in challenges, with costs that are largely unsustainable and less than optimal patient outcomes.These and parallel concerns persist worldwide and may be further complicated in some countries by restricted access to timely, quality care or the availability of advanced technology. For Bill Oldham, these problems have served as the impetus to bring about visceral changes that transform the industry, both domestic and global, into a more cost-effective, patient-centric model of care that yields positive results for different communities.
This passion for improving people’s lives has guided his entrepreneurial career and contributed to the development of companies and not-for-profit organizations that can successfully tackle some of the most critical, troublesome issues facing our entire healthcare system.Capturing this commitment is the mission of Oldham Global (www.Oldhamglobal.com), a development company with a broad range of corporate interests including private equity fund development and the development of operating company interests in technology, health, pharmacy, logistics and fintech. “We believe in a better world” is the overarching theme of the organization, signifying the collective dedication to simultaneously making a profit and doing good.
While the struggle to effectively address serious threats to individual health and wellbeing are ongoing, with many becoming magnified over the years, Bill has been tirelessly working on solutions.His multiple business journeys and entrepreneurial healthcare ventures have touched the lives of military personnel, public employees and private citizens, with meaningful contributions to virtually every segment of society and the economy.
Even the onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic introduced opportunities for health improvement, as local communities sought support for building neighborhood resilience to these types of crises. Under his stewardship, for-profit companies and charitable organizations have spearheaded programs to focus uponthe fall-out of the pandemic, the opioid epidemic, the obesity crisis and mental health/behavioral healthissues. The goal is to provide innovative solutions to resolve these concerns while closing disparities intrustthat plague public healthcare services.
Sensitivity to thedilemmas facing underserved communities and “forgotten populations” is a hallmark of his service. This includes healthcare workers of every typethat have been dealing with never-ending stress and burdens, creating their own set of critical problemsconfronting our entire healthcare system. Collectively, these concerns result in high expenses, poor outcomes, failure of governmental rules, regulationsand policies as well as poor application of technology — especially healthcare information technology.
On the brightside and as a catalyst for change, Bill has pursued targeted, consistentand intensiveefforts that are applied in steady increments. These activities weave a fabric of experience that position him as a very successful entrepreneur, investor and consultant to multiple healthcare businesses, with a career that spans more than four decades and a track record of enhancing the health and quality of life for millions of people.
For example, as the founder and driving force behind his company ‘Evolvent’, programs were introduced to significantly improved the quality of care for U.S. soldiers within the Department of Defense.
Additionally. the development and implementation of an electronic medical record system to efficiently manage crucial images and data, as well as the creation of an information management program for Obamacare to efficiently bring together vast amounts of Medicare and Medicaid data, changed the healthcare landscape and outcomes of care for millions of Americans as well as active and retired veterans.
Bill also leads AscellaHealth, a national specialty pharmacy benefit management company, serving commercial, Medicare and Medicaid segmentsto improve patient outcomes while drastically reducing expenses for drugs, specialty medications, biologics and gene therapies. Ascella approaches these challenges holistically by looking at cost, patient engagement, compliance as well as Social Determinants of Health, such as food insecurities, transportation and housing.
At the same time, he steers the direction of the ‘Thought Leadership and Innovation Foundation’ (TLI), a non-profit organization that he founded to focus on driving innovative thinking and action on global issues relating to health, education and economic empowerment. With his leadership, the organization is committed to fostering transformative change and improving the health and well-being outcomes of communities around the world.Today, TLIexplores and presents ways tomake healthcare more sustainable with better patient outcomes in the long run.
These tenets transcend the international marketplace, where Bill remains committed to developing economies and boosting opportunities for people across all cultures to enhance the impact of globalization and empower local companies and entrepreneurs. As an example, he has managed the development of a $200m regional telehealth network spanning six different hospital systems and integrating world class EMR and telemedicine technologies to improve care in remote regions.
Understanding Bill’s Background
Bill comes from a simple, idyllic background in Arkansas. Both his parents were educators and they believed in his potential. As he grew, he appreciatedsome of the blessings in his life: wonderful role models like his parents and many mentors. He also loved reading stories of entrepreneursthat helped to make large, positive and long-lasting change in various fields. Soon, he studied business, economics and entrepreneurial studies at Harding University and Manchester Business School.He has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Latin America, supporting the growth of multiple companies across energy, fintech, and healthcare.
Throughout Bill’s education and beginning of his careeron Wall Street, he picked up priceless life lessons. His favorite one is that we need to genuinely care for other people and find great value in noble causes that help people live better. He identified the healthcare industry as fertile territory to bring about tangible improvements and discovered that he loved working in this sector.
Bill’s wisdom, “Healthcare really can’t both drain the national economy while growing individual careers. We have this dichotomy, and we need to address healthcare challenges more creatively. I chose healthcare as my focus because there were tremendous opportunities for an entrepreneur but as an entrepreneur with a conscience. Let’s do something to really make a difference, save lots of money and help patients live much better.”
Presenting Proactive and Innovative Ways to Make Healthcare Sustainable
At TLI, Bill directs a group of strategic thinkers and experienced professionals from private and public healthcare sectors in striving for a more sustainable healthcare industry. They encourage thought leadership and innovation spanning five special areas of interest: chronic disease, care design, education, environment and economic empowerment.
A prime example of their work is to better support people suffering from limb loss. They began working with the National Institutes of Health and Mayo Clinic to create a National Limb Loss Patient Registry.
“This project addresses the challenges facing patients who have suffered catastrophic limb loss as well as how are they treated and what works or what does not work for each person,” Bill says.
One of the big challenges for this project ishow insurance companies view this community and Medicare’s approach to denying payment for good quality but expensive treatments — largely because they want to save money. But TLI discovered that providing good quality healthcare initially is always the best answer: it saves money in the long-run and ensures better quality of life for patients. With this in mind, TLIprovides community and information solutions to raise some awarenessabout how healthcare and money really work together.
On the issue of chronic infection, TLI has been helpingto advance the state of science so that it is more productive in supporting providers, patients and payers. Bill explains,“We have done a lot of work in supporting Lyme disease research, and those projects and efforts are leading to a better understanding of the causes of underlying infection or inflammation. We’ve made lots of progress in both the diagnostic as well as the imaging capabilities needed and the understanding of how to monitor the various tests that are involved,”
Learnings on the Journey
These are only a few examples of Bill’s contributions to improving healthcare today and into the future. Personally, one of the surprising and painful catalysts came from his own family. About a decade ago, two of his younger sons were unfortunately diagnosed with severe autism. The boys’ conditions and frightening prognosis led Bill andhis wife to seek help and solutions. But after a long struggle, their efforts were fruitless. Their sons required continuous care with many interventions, challenges that required the coordination of data which was not forthcoming at their healthcare systems.This pain provided the burning motivation to help make healthcare better.
Throughout all of Bill’s efforts, he has been particularly interested in healthcare information technology and the ability toanalyze large quantities of data with a goal to distill meaningful answers.To showcase the bright potential of health data, he wrote a book called ‘Transforming Health Care: Better Data for Better Care’ to illustrate that the US healthcare could be dramatically improved through technology.
But Bill’s entrepreneurial journey has been through various other fields too: finance, IT, cybersecurity, and philanthropyand community services, both domestic and international. He enjoys a long history of international partnerships and project development at large scale — from $700m power plant projects to the development of fintech and healthcare infrastructure projects that help grow markets and employment.
He’s a well-published author, speaker and frequently donates to marginalized communities. This has taught him a lot of valuable lessonsand broadened his understanding that healthcare organizations are varied, slow to incorporate technology and resistant to change. He has concluded that the only way to introduce change is through a close working relationship. Thankfully with time, there have been many healthcare organizations developing a positive attitude to the potential of technology.
“What has this taught me as a leader?” he queries. “It has taught me two lessons. First, you’ve got to work with people and meet them where they are and help them through the challenge. It’s all about people.Second is persistence in the face of all this resistance. Persistence is key.”
Creating a Better World
On the nature of today’s professional world, Bill says that we live in a ‘Twitterverse’ environment. Everyone is obsessed with money, everything becomes transactional and we risk becoming short-sighted.He’s deeply fascinated with today’s youth, acknowledging millennials as the first digital generation and having different perspectives. He encourages them to try and make positive change, but he still hopes that they can listen to the experience of the older generation with an open mind and respect. He also urges them to stay cautious of using phones addictively and to learn the fine art of having a conversation with people in real life.
Throughout his career, Bill’s contributions have been proactive, innovative and long-term oriented. He believes success as making positive and long-lasting change. Through his ventures, he hasshed light on many serious concerns in US and global healthcare, never solely wanting to make a profit butmaking a profit that helps more people.
He founded TLI with the intent to look into diverse areas, including infusion therapies, inter-osseous devices, better data, advanced technology and regenerative medicine, just to mention a few. But the vision to make healthcare better is still far from realized.
Bill sums it up saying, “One of the things moving forward that I’m most excited about is our ‘TLI Innovation Hob’. This takes ideas out of non-profit projects, partnerships with universities or commercial companies and helps to build new solutions. As an entrepreneur, what excites me is all the different great ideas that continue to emerge, whether it’s just a product or it becomes a full-fledged business. So yes — stay tuned. Lots of interesting things are about to happen.”