Cultivating a Healthy Culture

Patty Varona is drawing upon her seventeen years with Femwell Group Health to create a productive environment for its employees and the physicians they serve

Not everyone becomes a physician to be a business person. Often, all the paperwork and books piling up on their desks only serve to distract them from what brought them to medical school in the first place: helping people.

That’s where Femwell Group Health Inc. comes in. Located in Miami, the company provides management solutions that help physicians run the business side of their practice so that they can focus on the health and well-being of their patients. But it’s not just managing the day-to-day business operations for its clients. Femwell keeps its doctors ahead of the curve by bringing meaning to acronyms, such as ACO, MACRA, and PCMH, and offering a suite of innovative services through its patient-facing brand, TopLine MD Health Alliance.

As vice president of corporate services, Patty Varona, MHSA, makes it her main priority to ensure Femwell’s physician clients and state-of-the-art imaging facilities remain at the forefront of healthcare technology and patient care. “There are so many different facets to the business side of medicine that would require a physician to spend hours on each week,” Varona says, “so we try to take that portion away from them so that they can just focus on practicing medicine with the best technology and resources available to them.”

Patty Varona, Femwell Group Health

But physicians aren’t the only ones she’s concerned with keeping happy. Because Femwell’s mission is to keep doctors working toward quality, not quantity, it only makes sense for that philosophy to also extend to its own staff, all of whom are given a great deal of flexibility when it comes to balancing work with their responsibilities at home.

“We especially have a sensitivity to working mothers,” Varona says, adding that Femwell is short for “female wellness” and that the company itself was started by a group of OB-GYNs in 1997. “It’s important to give our employees the same opportunities for advancement and leadership, while also being supportive of their responsibilities at home. We pride ourselves on having a culture where employees can take time off when needed while ensuring they are empowered with talented teams to take care of the needs of the business.”

Varona says Femwell is careful not to enforce stringent hours in the office, noting that many of their staff have the ability to work remotely. For employees that work out of the corporate office, Femwell ensures that there is a designated quiet room where employees are able to schedule a thirty-minute massage or acupuncture treatment as a means to relieve stress from the busy work day. For Varona, these types of perks aren’t benefits so much as appropriate resources for anybody looking to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Femwell also works to keep its employees motivated by clearly outlining the necessity of every individual’s contribution to the company. “I think them understanding the role they play in our success is extremely important,” she says.

Education is also key to that sense of support and inclusion. “We’re constantly offering training sessions and educational seminars in healthcare and leadership,” Varona says, listing a series of topics that run the gamut between coding and billing to programs centered around particular healthcare initiatives.

Through education and familiarizing herself with the entire spectrum of a practice, Varona was able to make the transition into leadership at Femwell. She’s been with the company for seventeen years after having climbed the ranks from an administrative assistant to a team leader to her current role as a vice president of corporate services. During that time, she’s worked as a billing collector, overseen the benefits process, hired staff, and helped open the company’s twelve ancillary centers, among countless other duties.

That variety of experience is part of what’s kept her there for all these years. “It’s constantly changing, so I’m always learning,” Varona says. “The healthcare market as a whole changes depending on the political climate, so the fact that it’s never going to be the same year after year has made it interesting.”

And just as the job changes with the times, so too does Femwell. That’s why education remains a focus for Varona, who says she’s “never been turned down” when it comes to introducing new educational programs. Other changes are on the way, too. Varona says the company’s TopLine MD initiative is the vehicle that will catapult Femwell and its physician clients into the future of healthcare. Simple conveniences such as paying bills online or scheduling virtual visits with your doctor are just some of the ways the company is keeping up with times.

“Healthcare is usually the last to implement these kinds of changes,” she says with a laugh, “but we’re making a real effort to stay ahead of the game.”

With Varona at the helm, it’s a safe bet that Femwell will stay that way.

Photo: Lynn Parks Photography, Inc.