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Afia Asamoah, Head of Legal and People at Waymark

Afia Asamoah, Head of Legal and People at Waymark

August 18, 2022

Tell us how you got into, and what you love the most about your legal career in healthcare? I got into law by following my love for healthcare. Like many interested in health, I entered college believing that working in healthcare was limited to being a doctor. Time spent in Ghana working on public health the summer after my sophomore year followed by a fellowship at the nonprofit, Medicare Rights Center, after graduation introduced me to law, regulation and policy as levers I could use to impact and improve healthcare access and technology.

What I love most about my legal career in healthcare is that I am able to use my legal skills to partner, and work with, mission driven people to impact healthcare in communities. As part of the team at Waymark, a Medicaid provider enablement organization, partnering with providers, patients, and communities to improve healthcare access and quality for patients with Medicaid benefits, I am so privileged that I am able to do that every day.  My legal and regulatory background has gotten me into rooms, and around tables where I have been able to shape products and services to increase healthcare access. I am grateful for, and loving the ride.

What are some trends you see emerging in your specific area of the healthcare industry in the next five years? Healthcare is constantly evolving, as we search for means to achieve better outcomes, quality, and equity. In the next five years, I see a couple of trends evolving around changing how healthcare is paid for and how care is delivered that are relevant to our work at Waymark. I mention three below.

One is around paying actors in the healthcare system for results, rather than for provision of services. Movement toward paying for results allows new entrants into the market who can scale up new services that currently aren’t paid for in a fee-for-service system. Another trend is around recognizing that the majority of what keeps people healthy happens outside of the clinic walls. With this recognition, designing systems and tools that meet people where they are as well as empower patients with information to better manage their health is another trend I see accelerating in the next five years. I believe that technology will play a significant role in this trend, specifically.  Last, there is the trend around enabling providers in communities to provide whole person care, by providing those providers tools and partners that allow them to better manage patient care in a manner that results in better outcomes, lower costs, and higher patient/provider satisfaction.

Waymark is addressing and incorporating these trends in our model, in service of improving access and outcomes for patients with Medicaid benefits. I am excited to see these trends evolve through our work in this field.

How has your role as a lawyer in healthcare changed in recent years? My role as a lawyer has increasingly shifted to the business side of healthcare in recent years.  I have found that my legal training is just one skill I bring to the table to help build businesses and help them achieve goals to improve, and sometimes fundamentally reshape how healthcare is delivered. My learning is that business-minded lawyers bring the most value to businesses, and for me, is a more fulfilling, fun, and impactful way to practice law.

What are the top three attributes that you look for when you hire?

Curiosity. The joy and challenge in working in healthcare is that it is an industry that continues to evolve. I look for candidates that have demonstrated learning agility.

Humility. I have accomplished big, significant goals only through collaboration and working with others. It is important for team members to be open minded, realizing that there may be different and better ways to achieve a goal, and be willing to seek diverse perspectives and learn new things.

Passion for improving healthcare. This work is hard, and in my experience, passion for improving healthcare provides motivation to get through hard times, and an ability to weather those hard times gracefully.

If you could go back and give advice to your newly graduated self, what advice would you give? Lots of advice and learning over the years, but will keep it to three.

  • Step outside of your comfort zone, and give it your all -- whether you succeed or fail, you will learn something.
  • You will never please everyone, so stop trying.
  • Trust yourself and people who have earned your trust, ignore advice from everyone else. Your gut and faith will serve you incredibly well.