The Heartbeat in Conversation Interview Series, with Kristie Servais.

By Brett Jansen

In this ongoing interview series, we’ll be talking to leading clinicians, tech leaders, and entrepreneurs about their life, careers and professional experiences in the fields of heart care, cardiology and heart health as a whole.

Heartbeat in Conversation interviews are conducted by Heartbeat’s Chief Growth Officer, Brett Jansen.  

This past month, we spoke to Heartbeat’s Director of Operations, Kristie Servais. The following is an edited transcript from an email conversation on April 27, 2023..

Hi Kristie. Thanks for making the time on this beautiful spring day. Can you catch us up briefly on your career journey to date?

Kristie Servais
My professional path has been a unique one. I’ve always been interested in helping people so I initially pursued a degree in Social Welfare with an emphasis on gerontology. Unfortunately, after experiencing both a professional and personal loss as I was completing the degree, I quickly decided to change directions. I ended up working for a security company where I worked my way up to be the one and only National Account Manager for the organization. I enjoyed the experience and had an opportunity to influence a variety of organizations, including working on an installation project with Sprint and their retail stores nationwide.

Personal realities (this time for a very positive reason) again influenced my next step. In order to be with my now husband, I relocated from Kansas City to Minneapolis, where I continued to work in the security industry. But after seven years, I knew it was time to venture out and see where fate would take me.

After a stint at Target as part of their PMO team helping expansion into Canada, I embarked on my first healthcare opportunity and joined United Healthcare, as a Project Manager on the Clinical Business Enablement team. I learned about the complexities of health insurance – and after several years, I transitioned to the Medicare & Retirement Clinical value team where we worked to reduce the cost of United’s Medicare Advantage plans.

In 2022, I received a call from a friend who said she had an open role that would fit me perfectly. I told her I wasn’t interested in leaving United but after 30 minutes of hearing what Heartbeat was doing, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to become part of the team. To this day, I am so appreciative that she thought of me, and I’m thrilled to be working at Heartbeat and helping change the way cardiovascular care is delivered. My days are an array of activities that include problem solving, client launches, staffing, process improvements, workflow creation, capacity planning and platform management, just to name a few.

How would you describe your approach to customer service — which in the Heartbeat context – essentially translates to patient and provider experience?

Kristie Servais
My philosophy on customer service is based on the saying “treat others the way you would want to be treated”. Our team of Clinical Care Coordinators are called “Heart Heroes” because along with our providers — they are the face, voice and heart of patient care. The team’s interactions and care are based on the premise that the person they are interacting with could be one of their family members and are treated as such with a personal touch. It is such a pleasure working with this amazing team and watching their care and compassion for our patients.

Do you believe technology is making things easier or harder for individuals and how they navigate their health care choices and the care they need?

Kristie Servais
Technology in healthcare is a double-edged sword. Technology allows patients to be seen by providers in the comfort of their home and at convenient times, which can improve their engagement in their care. Unfortunately, those who need the most care and easiest care path sometimes don’t have access or a comfort level with technology which can create a barrier to utilizing tech-enabled clinical care support services. I believe it is imperative that emerging healthcare technology be built with an inclusive spirit so that diverse sets of populations can access and utilize these new services.

At Heartbeat, you are also now in charge of client implementations (that is working with Heartbeat clients to set up the processes and tools required to deliver virtual heart care for their populations). What do you think are the top secrets to a successful health-specific technology implementation?

Kristie Servais
Success for any type of implementation is dependent on details and relationships. In the Heartbeat Health context, launching a new client requires planning an end-to-end implementation that includes staffing, technology, credentialing, contracts, finance among a host of other details. A detailed roadmap is imperative to take into account upstream and downstream impacts and related inter-dependencies. Roadmaps can only get you halfway — you also have to have partners to support the effort. Building relationships cross-functionally is as important as determining the details and checking all the boxes. We’re lucky to have a great team of partners at Heartbeat who strive to achieve great things without ego.

Do you have an example of an implementation in your career that is memorable that you’d like to share?

Kristie Servais
At a previous employer, I was selected to create a National care program to reduce hospital readmissions. There were no blueprints and no rules so our team had to make it up from scratch. We worked tirelessly to design and implement a program in record time. It was challenging but I definitely learned a lot and I am proud of what we created. This program was unique because it placed nurses in hospitals to work with patients to create post discharge plans and reduce readmissions. Building programs from the ground up is my forte and something I always enjoy, which is why coming to Heartbeat was such an exciting career choice and continuing adventure for me.

Thanks again for your time today. Anything else you would like to share?

Kristie Servais
I’ve recently celebrated my one-year anniversary at Heartbeat. I am so thankful to be part of this team. Cardiovascular health impacts everyone, either directly or indirectly – and I believe we can change the script on care delivery and outcomes for years to come. Our challenge as a growing organization is to select a strategic path that will have the greatest impact for patients everywhere — and thereby enabling a friction-free delivery of services that produces great outcomes for patients, providers and at-risk healthcare organizations alike.