Community values guide the Product and Vendor Management Lead as he serves plan members.
For Keith Dickey, equity and the gifts of hope, safety, and confidence are the community values in healthcare. As Product and Vendor Management Lead on the Benefits team of the Board of Pensions, he pursues those values.
“We all need aspirational goals to find meaning in our lives,” said Keith, who is focused on elevating the health of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) community as he works to meet the healthcare needs of members and their families. “I love getting to investigate how our vendor partners operate and, ultimately, define and measure their value within a big, complicated, and expensive system.”
Keith joined the Board three years ago from the global benefits consultant Mercer, where he was a lead consultant in the firm’s startup division, Mercer Marketplace 365. He assisted companies in updating their health plans while maintaining financial feasibility. But as someone rooted in community values of health, he was looking for a way to make a difference in the health of individuals.
The Board defines health as holistic well-being and provides support in four areas of wholeness: spiritual, health, financial, and vocational. Keith’s work with its vendor partners is aimed at devising benefits solutions that ensure the Board’s values are integrated throughout its benefits.
“In this role, I’m working to influence our vendor partners to better understand what community values mean in healthcare,” Keith said. “This is a fundamental change in the way they view their relationships with medical providers, with the Board, and with our members. We aren’t driven by profits. Our goal is to empower our community to be healthy.”
When Keith arrived at the Board in 2017, the Benefits Plan was in its first year of a dramatic redesign, which launched an era of growth in plan participation that continues today. The agency built its selection of benefits so it could compete with offerings on the commercial marketplace.
“It was fast and furious at the start,” said Keith, who was immediately thrown into designing and implementing new products and services. “Throughout my first year here, I supported the design and implementation of the high deductible health plan, the Livongo for Diabetes Program, flexible spending accounts through Further, and the eyewear benefit with VSP.”
Collaboration with colleagues from other church plans, professional consultants, industry leaders, trade groups, and other nonprofits is part of the work Keith and others on his team do on behalf of employers and members. In these relationships, Keith sees hope for a growing acceptance of a vision of healthcare that has community values as its guiding principles.
“This kind of perspective, I can see it passing to our partners,” Keith said. “These ideas have started to develop throughout the industry and there are leaders beginning to emerge. Small steps of progress.”
Keith traces his interest in health and community to his family background. On one side of his family are coaches of youth sports and Catholic Church elders. A community park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, carries his grandfather’s name, honoring his community service. The other side is rooted in Southern Black Baptist traditions, providing the guiding principles by which he was raised: support, equity, hope, and faith.
“For me, these are principles I’m pursuing in my work at the Board,” Keith said. “We ensure that all members are treated equally and have the support they need to be healthy. We support and lift up those who are most ill and burdened with disease. To me, these are the values a health plan should pursue.”