8 questions with True Health Diagnostics CEO Chris Grottenthaler on how the company is 'setting the pace' for diagnostic testing

Patient experience can often be tainted by ineffective communication regarding the patient's condition and best next steps for effectively managing his or her disease. True Health Diagnostics, a healthcare services organization based in Frisco, Texas, is working to eliminate the knowledge gap in the patient care continuum by combining comprehensive diagnostic testing with personalized health management.

Serving as the company's founder and CEO, Chris Grottenthaler spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about the importance of educating patients on chronic disease management and how True Health is bolstering the experience for providers and patients.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and style.

Question: What prompted you to found True Health and how has the company evolved since its inception?

Chris Grottenthaler: I started True Health because I saw an opportunity to improve the experience most people have in healthcare. Diagnostics is in an area where a critical amount of knowledge about the patient enters the healthcare system, so I decided that if we wanted to improve the patient experience, this was the best place to begin.

We began offering diagnostics for the most commonly occurring disease states — cardiovascular, diabetes and autoimmune — and rapidly worked our way into tailoring entire diagnostics management programs for health systems. True Health's ability to bring together the existing capabilities at a hospital-based laboratory, with our expertise in upgrading the equipment, expertise and patient experience, positions us as a better alternative to the typical big-box laboratories.

Q: What do you wish you would have known when starting True Health?

CG: I wish I better understood early on that companies create better solutions when they partner with experts in complimentary areas. In our work with health systems, we support their legacy knowledge with our laboratory and health management expertise. The magic occurs when we form a team and channel all those skills and knowledge toward one thing – a better experience for each patient and the doctors who treat them.

Q: What are some of the challenges patients with chronic conditions face daily and how does True Health help them improve their health?

CG: The CDC has reported that about half of adults over 55 years have at least two chronic diseases. The knowledge required to effectively manage something like diabetes, for instance, can be overwhelming. We can help patients in two distinct ways. First, the way we present the results helps the patient and his or her doctor home in on the root cause of the disease faster than commodity diagnostics, soon enough to help prevent advancement of the disease. Second, we help them navigate the health system and find the right course of treatment and the right behavioral modifications. We can help them find a physician, work with them to create a daily diet, an exercise program or give them tools to quit smoking. We want patients — not just their doctors — to understand their diagnostic results, so they can really take responsibility for getting healthier.

Q: What progress has the U.S. made in preventive health and what milestones are there to overcome?

CG: I think there has been significant progress in the past decade, but to be honest, I would like to see a greater industry focus on longer-term incentives through commercial insurance. Right now, the health insurance industry as a whole is focused more on short-term outcomes, and less on the prevention of chronic disease. If we focused on long-term strategies to help people manage care over their lifetimes, I truly believe the results would be powerful. We would improve lives and save the healthcare system millions of dollars.

Q: What differentiates True Health from its competitors and what would you say contributes to your company's daily success?

CG: We create a package of improved diagnostic technology and processes that we make easy for a health system to establish in-house — and we don't just help them get up and running, but guide them going forward as much as they need us to. The services and the tools we can build for a health system are standard procedures to us, but we're seeing that they are difficult for others to match. At the core of this, True Health makes diagnostics simpler to understand and easier to use, and we focus on the experience between physicians and patients. We do our best to make sure physicians don't just say, 'I'll call you if something's wrong,' but engage with the patient to build a program to prevent things from 'going wrong.' Yes, we want to help high-risk patients prevent a catastrophic event like a heart attack, but we also do our best to make sure lower risk patients or rising-risk patients are not falling through the cracks.

Q: What career accomplishment are you most proud of and how has this shaped your leadership style today?

CG: I've been fortunate and had some successes, but I am most proud of what we are doing right now at True Health. We're not where we want to be yet, because I know there are more people to reach and help to understand our work. I am proud of that and thrilled we have helped hundreds of thousands of people live longer, healthier lives.

Q: Are there any exciting projects or initiatives True Health is working on?

CG: We're excited to be working with hospitals, which are looking for better ways to engage physicians and provide patients easier access to the highest level of quality diagnostic testing at their local health system.  Our consulting and outreach program enables this by creating a process that engages physicians and brings them to the hospital laboratory for diagnostic services, and creates virtual front doors for patients. Patients can get more personalized, lifelong care than with other diagnostic laboratories, while their physicians stay enmeshed in their closest hospital system. It's an integrated program that keeps the patient connected.

Q: Where do you see healthcare trending moving forward and how is True Health keeping pace with the changing healthcare landscape?

CG: We're not looking to keep pace; we are setting the pace. If you look at the diagnostic laboratory industry three years ago and where cardiovascular disease assessment was, or diagnostics at large, we've helped to make real, concrete advances. So many people in this space are focused on fee-for-service diagnostic testing, not thinking forward to how most clinical decisions are driven by diagnostics — and how a patient's progress in addressing chronic disease should be periodically assessed with diagnostics. Is the patient on track to better health, or is the patient at a standstill and clinical adjustments should be made? We've mapped out a system that shows the appropriate integration of diagnostics into patient care is paramount to minimizing chronic disease or even preventing it from developing. To me, that's major progress.

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