AS YOU TURN INTO THE PARK-LIKE SETTING OF HEALTH BY DESIGN'S OFFICES, YOU KNOW IMMEDIATELY THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL CLINIC. SOMETHING IS UNIQUELY DIFFERENT–YOU CAN FEEL GOD'S PRESENCE ALL AROUND. IT STARTS WITH A GLISTENING POND, HOME TO GEESE AND TURTLES, AND THE CANOPY OF LIVE OAK TREES PROVIDING SHADE AS YOU WALK THROUGH A MINIATURE GARDEN OF EDEN.
San Antonio-based Health By Design (HBD) was founded in 1982 by Dr. David Player, who began his career caring for patients with kidney disease. HBD’s team of thirteen physicians successfully blend medical care, physician knowledge, and personalized care to provide innovative health care for corporations, small businesses, and individuals. They serve some of the most prominent leaders of business and government in the region, including some of San Antonio's largest employers, like Valero Energy, USAA, NuStar, Clear Channel and Rackspace.
HBD's evolution is a three-decade journey down a rocky road that included two Chapter 7 bankruptcies and tremendous criticism, Dr. Player explains. “We did not invent Health By Design with forward intentions. I entered this realm by a side door. I am a nephrologist and learned internal medicine. My group and I were involved in over 2,500 kidney and 300 heart transplants. It is wonderful that we can transplant these organs, but it would be a lot better if we could save them before the organs die. Every one of our dialysis clients was a type 2 diabetic as a result of being young and overweight. That problem leads to type 2 diabetes, which in turn leads to kidney disease. Working with so many sick people, I developed a love affair with trying to teach people how to avoid unhealthy lifestyles in the first place. God did not let my vision of healthcare education die. God took the pieces of this business plan and sent me Dr. James Ogletree and Barney Randol who knew we could offer effective, preventative health care and education solutions to our patients. It just took awhile to figure out how to make it all work!”
Good Medicine Means Everybody Must Win
Dr. Player believed that many of his patients could live longer and healthier lives by providing access to a health care system that focused on prevention as well as meaningful and caring patient/physician relationships. Today, HBD offers personalized, on-site clinic care to larger corporations and their executives, as well as to individuals. They perform comprehensive evaluations of a patient’s current condition and then develop programs that maximize the quality of their care, health and lifestyle. Care is focused on five critical components: body composition, nutrition, fitness, toxins/poisons, and spiritual health. By taking better control of these pieces of health, we can all live longer, higher quality lives.
A seasoned entrepreneur, Mr. Barney Randol, HBD's President and Chief Operating Officer, explained, “What makes us unique is the way God has allowed us to develop a culture that allows us to be servants."
"We serve our clients, employees and patients, and that makes for a great work environment. The employees have a servant’s attitude and Godly hearts." Barney Randol
When Mr. Randol joined in 2005, HBD employed a staff of ten, and the company was not profitable–actually losing money. Like many mission-motivated founders, the leaders had wrestled with appropriately pricing their products and structuring the business to thrive and extend the mission. A great mission dies without correct capitalization, and, “Cash flow is critical to do the mission,” Barney explained.
Dr. James Ogletree, the CEO/Medical Director, has witnessed the business blossom from extremely humble beginnings. “Dr. Player and I knew we had a calling to press on and make this business work. We started growing our practices and visiting with the executive leadership of major companies like Valero Energy. Our thought was, we are helping with education and wellness for the executives of this company, but what are we doing for the employees? People didn't go to the doctor to get preventative care or basic care like having their blood pressure checked, because it is expensive and not convenient. Until you secure good primary care for your people, you're going to continue to have big problems with health care expenses and lost productivity. Companies that genuinely care about their people want to make it a great place to work. This is how the concept of the on-site clinic idea was created,” says Dr. Ogletree.
How it works: HBD provides the guidance, physicians, and care at on-site company clinics, and comprehensive executive physicals for key leadership. The employees have access to board-certified physicians and the convenience of not having to leave work. On-site care includes educational programs for better health, smarter eating and life style choices, and modifying behavioral risks such as smoking, obesity and diabetes. This model is saving some companies up to 20% on overall health costs and producing a loyal, healthy, productive and motivated workforce.
Mr. Randol explains, “What differentiates us is that we will not take insurance, don’t use debt and we will not compromise on our values, ever. We need to remove all the barriers of taking care of patients. We are about early detection, prevention, wellness, behavior modification and quality visits–not quantity of visits. We believe our values call us to create a model to help patients truly experience wellness and do it in a way that helps our employer clients be good stewards of all resources. Relentless pursuit of this has proven it works!”
Operating a God-First Company-Extraordinary Pursuits Shaped By Their Faith
A God-inspired mission requires a God-shaped culture and rigorous business discipline to deliver good results to customers. This is why the company has long anchored its culture in prayer and constant learning. Staff-led Bible studies occur all over campuses. Marketplace Chaplains minister to employees at all 9 locations in Texas and Louisiana. Mr. Randol and Dr. Ogletree are both members of The C12 Group, and multiple key staff members are active in C12 Key Players groups. Mike Sharrow, their C12 Chairman says, “Jim, Barney, David and the entire team are inspiring examples of what years of diligent pursuit of mission-without-compromise and crafting a culture of Godly values can mean. By building their business for the glory of God, not only have they served customers, but transformed the lives of their employees as well as their own!”
With a diverse workforce serving public sector companies, HBD has a vision to operate in a way that honors Christ in every aspect of the business. Their mission: “We are called to heal people and to bring transformational leadership to the way healthcare is experienced, for the glory of God.”
Dr. Ogletree states, “We think for anyone who has faith that they should be able to live that out, not just on Sundays, but 7 days a week. We encourage prayer among our staff members and have a prayer group every Tuesday morning. Additionally, we have hired a chaplain service to support our employee’s spiritual needs. HBD runs on a priority of God first, family second, then work. It comes naturally, and our employees appreciate that we want them to have balance in their professional and personal lives.”
“What’s beautiful is that God has allowed this little company to care for top executives at some of the nation’s leading enterprises and then deliver this faith-fueled model directly to the employees. Jesus modeled bringing healing and truth to the marketplace in the Gospels, and HBD is a modern day illustration,” says Mike Sharrow.
"I know that God often creates goodness out of our brokenness. The things that often seem so bad, like bankruptcies, criticism and hardships, can develop into a plan B, a new insight and a new vision,” says Dr. Player. With the Affordable Care Act adding strain to the American healthcare system, communities are desperate for a different model, and the team at Health by Design believes God has led them to build one example of “the way healthcare should work.”
From a struggling experiment with ten employees to nine locations in two states with dozens of clinicians, they have realized that if you wait on God's plans, you can live your values in business and medicine. Their vision is to see physicians and entrepreneurs around the country become inspired by their story and replicate the model in every major metro area of the country! Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” What would the country look like if more leaders resolved to do business based upon Godly values, regardless of industry norms?
Lisa Victoria Cone is a staff writer for The C12 Group, America’s leading roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners dedicated to building great business for a greater purpose. She resides in Austin, Texas and provides marketing and communications strategic support for companies nationwide in a variety of industries.Read More Articles by Lisa Victoria Cone