A childhood fraught with illness, loss and uncertainty drove Torrie Fields to an adulthood focused on making these experiences better for others. Torrie sincerely believes that we are all here for a reason and that her reason to is help people have more dignified, less painful experiences at the end of their lives.
Having learned early in life that you could take nothing for granted and that you really need to show up when things are going in the right direction. Torrie has parlayed these guiding principles into an accelerated and notable career, culminating in the founding of Votive Health, which she views as a company in the business of making better memories – by that she means, “There is an intimate tie between how you die and how people remember you.” Votive Health is also a company focused on using data and people to help manage the care of patients with serious illnesses. The company, which is now launching, also works firsthand at the intersection of illness, insurance and employment, which is clearly a critical confluence at this currently challenging time of COVID-19. Notably, we recorded this show well before we knew what was coming on the plague front. This show seems particularly relevant now.
Torrie’s early career you focused on emergency preparedness and epidemiology with a special focus on systems design. This skill set served her well through her time at McKinsey and then later, when she somewhat randomly applied for an actuarial program at Cambia Health Solutions, the parent of Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield and several other companies. The wonderfully kind and very community-minded CEO of Cambia, Mark Ganz, encouraged employees to seek a special project that was meaningful to them – ultimately this led Torrie to found and ultimately lead Cambia’s palliative care program. She later joined Blue Shield California to start a similar program. She later joined Blue Shield California to start a similar program.
Torrie discusses the challenges at the intersection of palliative care, end of life vs. the traditional medical and insurance systems, where there are no standard definitions of palliative care, few appropriate payment models, bad program packaging and low prioritization. Given the current COVID-19 environment, perhaps we will see some changes in that.
We loved having Torrie on the show, as despite what can be a dark topic, she is a perennial ray of sunshine. To listen to the show, please use the audio player below or find it on the Connected Social Media website or on iTunes.
- A useful article about COVID-19-related advanced care planning from the Kaiser Family Foundation can be found HERE
- A prior post by Lisa on end of life is HERE.
- Lisa’s Wharton Pulse podcast interview: here
- Lisa’s Three Essential Questions Every Investor Must Ask: here
- Lisa’s Three Essential Questions That Entrepreneurs Must Ask Investors: here
- David’s NYT, 2000, op-ed, “Right To Live”: here
- David’s Forbes, 2012: “End-of-Life Medical Advice: Devaluing Patients in Name of Greater Good?”: here
- David’s Forbes, 2013: “‘But Doctor, I Want To Live’: The Other Side Of The ‘Dignified Death’ Debate”: here
- Peter Bach’s 2014 NY Magazine: “The Day I Started Lying To Ruth”: here