December 16, 2021

Why we Founded Waymark

written by
Rajaie Batniji and Sanjay Basu
Why we Founded Waymark

waymark: (noun) an object serving as a guide to someone traveling

Too often, our healthcare system fails our most vulnerable populations. As physicians providing care for patients on Medicaid – the government’s safety net  healthcare insurance program for those with limited income and resources – we have seen this failure, and we have been a direct part of it, many times.

We have had patients wait months for a medical appointment, and even suffer a heart attack while waiting for a prescription. We’ve seen people whose care was denied because paperwork was lost between fax machines. And we’ve struggled to care for those who have given up on the healthcare system altogether.

These failures are frustrating because they are avoidable. They could be avoided if we made care more accessible, more streamlined, and more focused on what matters most to patients and their health. We can do this by listening to patients and members of their community who have experience, context, and understanding of the care system — these individuals set the waymarks for navigating healthcare in our communities.

At Waymark, we are building the systems for care guided by the community.

We are training and employing people to become health workers in their own neighborhoods, providing care through mobile teams, and meeting people where they are. We are not replacing the existing primary care system. We are bolstering existing primary care, and creating paying, benefited jobs that promote health and well-being.  Our multidisciplinary, roving teams of community health workers, pharmacists, social workers, and medical assistants work with existing primary care providers, and deploy technology to coordinate care and help Medicaid patients achieve better health experiences and outcomes.

We started Waymark because we believe that people who face the greatest barriers to being healthy deserve the best healthcare. We incorporated as a public benefit corporation because we want to be held accountable for improving care access and outcomes for our patients. We are deploying a model of care that is sustainable and can be adopted across our country with the support of our communities, health plan and provider partners, and investors.

Our technology-enabled community care approach helps us to bring evidence-based interventions and value-based care to Medicaid patients and providers. When we looked at the universe of effective interventions for improving outcomes in Medicaid, we saw very little overlap with what is covered by fee-for-service healthcare payment systems. In contrast, the Waymark team will earn payment based on how well we keep patients healthy – not based on how many patients visit our office each day, or how many tests and procedures we perform. Nothing simplifies a business model quite like this does. When we improve outcomes for our patients, our business works. When we do not, we fail.

Our care model takes center stage, and all our technology is in service of improving our care delivery: amplifying our ability to identify and engage the patients whom we can serve, enabling our care teams with software that allows them to have the pattern-matching of someone with years of experience, and allowing us to efficiently scale to serve patients covered by Medicaid across the country. We are not building shiny objects. We are building the tools to enable care to reach the patients who stand to benefit most.

At Waymark, we are creating a company that approaches our work with humility, focus and inclusivity.

We are deeply focused on building a culture that celebrates the wisdom of lived experiences.  Who better to help a patient manage a complicated hospital discharge than someone who has helped their own family member be discharged from that same hospital?

We are not claiming to have answers to all healthcare problems. Answers will come from our patients and the community-based organizations and primary care providers with whom we partner. Our job is to enable them, building solutions and trust wherever we partner. In our view, a humble team is a results-oriented team, one that values results over rhetoric.

We are building a focused company. We are focused on Medicaid. We are focused on interventions that – based on independent, validated studies – can be of great benefit to many communities in our country. That focus is clarifying. We adapt, experiment, and learn with a sharp focus on improving access and outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries.

We are building an inclusive company. We design our products and our service delivery specifically for communities that have been historically excluded, because of language, race, poverty, substance use, or sexual identity. We promote access to healthcare when English is not spoken, technology is not used, and traditional care delivery is not trusted. We build and design with the communities we serve in each geography. And, we learn with and from our partners, from managed care organizations to providers to community-based organizations.

It is time that the creativity and capital directed at other segments of healthcare be directed in service of the one in four Americans covered by Medicaid. We hope you consider bringing your creativity, your energy, and your curiosity to Waymark. We are hiring. We are partnering. We are building with our communities. Join us.

- Rajaie and Sanjay