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Life as an Associate Principal

Lauren | Associate Principal | Virginia, USA | 9/23/2023

Lauren, based in Virginia, US, is an Associate Principal in the Financial Services sector of our Policy team. Here, she discusses the impact her work has made to the healthcare policy industry and why she remains so passionate about value-based care.

How did you end up in your current role?

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy and began my career at a government contracting firm focused on quality measure and alternative payment model development. I then found my way to Avalere (part of Avalere Health) in 2017, where I honed my research and data analytics skills and curated my expertise in alternative payment models—becoming even more passionate about what is fondly referred to as “value-based care.”

As I approached my fifth anniversary here, I knew I was ready for a new professional challenge, but also knew I wasn’t quite ready to leave the organization. I had a fateful conversation with a colleague and friend in our Financial Services practice who mentioned they had a new opening they would love to fill internally, and I knew the stars were aligning. One year later, I find myself thriving in what still feels like a challenging new role at a company that I love working for.

Why work for Avalere (part of Avalere Health)?

I think it’s the combination of working with an incredible group of individuals and operating on the front edge of healthcare that keeps me motivated every day. I love our people, the work, and the focus on employee well-being and flexibility—it’s really a tough culture to beat!

What does it take to succeed in your role?

Firstly, there must be a passionate drive to be the essential voice in healthcare that the organization strives for. Whether you choose to focus on a specific set of policy issues or you’re more of a generalist, you have to be ready to roll your sleeves up and jump in headfirst to get to the core of an issue and figure out why it matters to our clients. Secondly, the ability to manage both “up” and “down” is critical when you are collaborating with various teams. Finally, it’s important to be able to laugh and have fun—even when challenges arise—because ultimately, it’s the connections with colleagues that get you through the day.

What impact has your work made to the organization and wider healthcare policy industry?

I am incredibly passionate about value-based care, which centers on the idea that healthcare delivery should be paid for based on the outcomes achieved versus the services provided. I have educated my colleagues and my clients on innovative payment systems that have the potential to lower healthcare costs while improving quality, and I have supported groups in building their value-based-care strategy from the ground up. It feels like I am on the front lines of a systemic change, and through even the smallest incremental changes, I feel I have been able to make progress in the movement toward value.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It’s a great feeling when we are able to help a company tell its story to potential investors by synthesizing the complex policy and reimbursement environment in which it operates. Those “aha” moments when we, as a team, get to the root of an issue and are able to defend a company’s hypothesis with rigorous data analyses are really gratifying.

Why pursue a career in healthcare policy?

There is no better place to “learn by doing” than in healthcare consulting. With a policy environment that is constantly changing and with real-world, life-changing implications to the work we do, I am learning something new every day while simultaneously making an impact on the US healthcare system.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

Flexible working hours and mobile locations are so important to me. I’m not a person who says “no” to many things, so being able to work hard and deliver for our clients while not having to sacrifice travel and life experiences has been incredible. My team is really supportive of one another’s calendars, always making sure we take our scheduled time off, and trust one another to get our work done even when we have competing personal responsibilities. I also enjoy breaking up my day by taking my dog, Gus, on long walks while listening to podcasts and exploring the city of Richmond, Virginia.

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