Bright Health CEO hopes to help radiologists reduce clinical variation, advance evidence-based medicine

Doctor looking at X-ray
Radiologists are taking a more active role not only in diagnosing patients but also in recommending treatments. (Getty/bernardbodo)

It’s not every day that the CEO of a startup insurer decides to join the board of the largest physician-owned radiology practice in the country.

But the way Bob Sheehy explains it, the move makes perfect sense.

Sheehy’s path to joining Radiology Partners’ board of directors began when President and CEO Rich Whitney invited him to the group’s annual meeting.

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Bob Sheehy

“They were looking for ways to have better understanding, a better focus on the payer space and how to better think about developing stronger relationships with payers,” says Sheehy, who is the CEO and cofounder of Minneapolis-based startup insurer Bright Health.

“I was not particularly looking to get on additional boards,” he says. 

But during that meeting, clinicians from across the country discussed subjects that caught Sheehy’s attention.

For example, radiologists are taking a more active role not only in diagnosing patients but also in recommending treatments. Depending on the diagnosis, that might mean recommending no further treatment—which helps reduce overtreatment and healthcare costs.

“I thought that was really fascinating and that really piqued my interest, that a group of doctors are looking for ways to better use the capability, knowledge and professional expertise of the specialty to positively influence healthcare,” Sheehy says.

He was also intrigued by the fact that Radiology Partners is focused on developing evidence-based medicine and adopting clinical best practices across multiple markets.

“One of the biggest issues payers have is there is tremendous geographic variation in healthcare,” Sheehy says. “The way care is provided in Salt Lake City, Utah, is different than the way it’s provided in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

Despite his involvement with Radiology Partners, Sheehy says he doesn’t have any plans to create formal ties between the organization and Bright Health. His company has built its business model on partnering with provider organizations to share data and promote better care quality.

Rather, Sheehy said he hopes to use his role on Radiology Partners’ board to help support radiologists as they make treatment recommendations that promote lower costs and higher quality. He also aims to explore how the group can leverage technology and its clinicians’ presence across the country to adopt clinical best practices.

“That’s always been something that’s high on my list of things that really need to happen—having more consistent, evidence-based practices across multiple geographies,” Sheehy says.