Listen, Learn, Act

September 12, 2011

Not long after I joined MPTF as CEO, I had lunch with Dr. Janice Spinner, the Medical Director of our 8 health centers in Southern California and a wonderful doctor/diagnostician in her own right. In the course of conversation I asked her, “What are you and the other docs hearing from your patients in terms of their biggest concerns?” Dr. Spinner paused for a moment and answered “nervousness about losing their insurance eligibility” and “inability to see a doctor when they need to because they’re working and don’t want to lose the hours.” From those two very basic observations, over the course of a few months and with the extraordinary help of our management team, MPTF developed, defined, named, and then introduced two services – Health Wheels and Bridge to Health — that are already becoming major pieces of our offerings. I can talk about Health Wheels in a later blog. It’s time for Bridge to Health.

What MPTF knows best is the uncertain, precarious nature of employment in the entertainment industry. From the beginning our founders understood this basic fact and created a charity that would support workers through the hard patches. If you’re a guild/union member, this uncertainty might translate into maintaining insurance benefits, and we’ve all seen the recent data from the unions/guilds acknowledging a growing number of workers who are falling out of eligibility. Sadly, this frequently translates into lack of good medical care – bad for the industry member and his/her family and bad for the industry health plans whose main goal is to keep members healthy. MPTF understood this need and from it the concept of Bridge to Health was born. Our incredible staff took the concept and ran with it; working in 2 teams, in 2 weeks they came back with an operating plan. That plan was refined with the support of our 40+ primary care physicians who had their own very useful input, including volunteering their time to see Bridge to Health patients.

For $25 a visit, an industry member who has lost insurance eligibility doesn’t have to sacrifice needed medical care (for details of the Bridge to Health program and eligibility criteria click HERE). Since its inception in March, we’ve seen over 800 industry members in the program. Over two-thirds of the Bridge patients are dealing with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and thyroid problems. Low cost, easy access to doctor visits at MPTF enables these uninsured patients to manage their conditions and avoid acute flare-ups that might otherwise result in expensive emergency room visits or the need to see a specialist.

What’s my point in telling you all of this? There is always great value in listening and then taking action. I’ve learned two important things in 30 years as a senior executive: listen and listen carefully to your customers, and most of the best solutions can be developed by your staff if only you ask. We have great doctors! They know the problems of our industry members because they are their only patients and they see them, talk to them, listen to them, and try to heal them day in and day out. We also have great staff! They are compassionate and creative professionals who, just like our founders 90 years ago, work to find solutions and provide services geared to the most important needs of our entertainment industry community.

I’m very proud of what MPTF has accomplished with Bridge to Health and I hope you all are as well.

About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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One Response to Listen, Learn, Act

  1. Charles Westfall on September 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information. I had no idea this existed. This situation did not have to happen but our wonderful union has extended the amount of hours for us to qualify for insurance. This action is a non factor for those that are working on Television shows, but people like me who work on only commercials, this is a rough go. The bump up to 400 hours per two quarters is simply too much for most people in the commercial business. What a shame. The I.A. should be ashamed. Thank you for creating this program to help those in our business.

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