Principal for Transformative Impact, Health Leads
I’ve always looked for meaning in my career. Tuck put me on a path to find the work that was so important to me.
With all the miracle pharmaceuticals and high-tech gadgetry available to modern medicine, it’s easy to forget that health starts with the simplest things: good food, transportation, a place to live. Often the most effective way to improve outcomes and reduce costs is to make those basic needs available to more people, says Lea Tompsett T’06, whose role as principal in the Transformative Impact Group at Boston-based Health Leads is to scale a model that does just that.
“If a patient comes in for medical care but does not have the food they need to be healthy or the electricity to keep the refrigerator on or the transportation to do follow-up appointments, that medical care cannot be as effective as it should,” she explains.
Tompsett came to Health Leads in 2014, just as the company was beginning to think seriously about how to broaden its impact. “We realized that we were not going to change the health care system doing all of the work ourselves, and since I’ve been here we’ve gone through a pretty rapid evolution to a model where we are accelerating and enabling the work of others,” she says.
Health Leads operates as a facilitator between patients, providers, and social service agencies, working to make health care organizations aware of resources available to their patients, Tompsett says. “We’re really selling the health care system on both the why, and at the same time helping them with the how.”
When Tompsett started at Health Leads she spent time shadowing one of the company’s help desks, and visited a number of other desks to see how they function and how conversations with patients go. “That was extremely valuable to me, and it really brought my focus back to the reason that I and others do this work type of work in the first place,” she says.
Tompsett began her career in biotech and knew she wanted to stay in health care, though she wasn’t certain which sector she would focus on. She came to Tuck searching for an answer to that question, and found far more.
“I’ve always looked for meaning in my career, and Tuck put me on a path to find the work that was so important to me,” says Tompsett, who was initially attracted to Tuck’s close-knit network and focus on general management. She participated in a joint program with Tuck and the Fletcher School at Tufts, earning her Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy concurrently with her MBA. She had spent two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, and initially thought she would go into global health. Later she realized there is plenty of important work to be done domestically.
“Tuck was really the starting point of that for me,” she says. “It gave me the skills and the confidence in the network not only to find meaningful work, but also to have a big impact.”
After Tuck, she worked as a health care consultant at Bain & Company in Boston, gaining real-world experience across several health care sectors—payers, providers, medical technology, as well as pharma. That breadth of experience helped prepare her for Health Leads. Though a nonprofit, Tompsett says the company often feels more like a 20-year-old startup, full of purpose and innovation. There’s a premium on staff versatility, particularly in Tompsett’s position.
As a principal in the company’s Transformative Impact Group, her charge is to expand the scale and impact of Health Leads. The role requires her to do everything from product development and management to marketing and sales. She also plays a strategic role in the company as a member of the operational steering committee. It’s a big job, but Tompsett says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When I heard about Health Leads it was such an obvious place for me to go. The vision just made so much sense to me in terms of what I thought was important in health care,” she says, “and the organization was also in a place where I could have a real impact.”
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