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Geisinger CEO: Risant Health 'Can Accelerate Our Mission'

Analysis  |  By John Commins  
   May 08, 2023

Jaewon Ryu, MD, will transition to become the first CEO of the value-based KP affiliate when the deal is finalized.

The top executive at Geisinger Health says his Danville, PA-based system's planned affiliation with Kaiser Permanente's newly created Risant Health division will bolster and "accelerate" the nation's transition to value-based care.

In this interview with HealthLeaders, Geisinger President and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, discusses the goals and community health benefits of Risant, where he will serve as inaugural CEO, transitioning from Geisinger when the deal closes.

HealthLeaders: Why is Risant Health needed?

Ryu: Nonprofit, community-based health systems play a pivotal role in the health of their communities and especially for those that aspire to accelerate on their "value-based care" journey, there's an opportunity to have an even larger impact.

But value-based care doesn't happen easily or quickly. It requires investments and capabilities to redesign the care model to deliver more services upstream as an alternative to delivering that care in downstream environments like the hospital and the ER.

By building a platform that can house these capabilities, these like-minded and mission-oriented systems can access the right expertise, tools for patients or members or providers, state-of-the-art technologies, sophisticated data and analytic insights, etc., all enabled through a more digital channel.

For us at Geisinger, this is a way we can accelerate our mission – to make better health easier for the communities we serve. We realized that when it comes to value-based care, there is no one better in the industry than Kaiser Permanente – a best-in-class organization spanning health plan and care delivery operations across 8 states and the District of Columbia.

Being part of Risant Health will allow us to access the tools, expertise, and capital required to accelerate our charitable mission and strategy and expand our impact to our communities across Pennsylvania and beyond.

HL: What do you hope to achieve regionally, nationally?

R: Kaiser Permanente has stated Risant Health's vision is to improve the health of people and communities by increasing access to value-based care and coverage. For mission-aligned organizations that are committed to advancing care models that aim to address people's care needs as upstream as possible, in as easy a way as possible, Kaiser views Risant Health as a way to fuel and accelerate their efforts with the right capabilities.

HL: How will you measure success?

R: Through Risant Health, Kaiser Permanente has shared its desire to seek out like-minded entities that are committed to quality care and improving access and affordability by promoting value-based care models in different geographic areas.

Kaiser will evaluate its success through better measures of health in the population, for example things like lower blood sugars in diabetic patients or fewer ER or hospital visits for those with congestive heart failure or detecting cancers earlier through more effective preventive screening rates.

HL: Are you worried about a potentially hostile reaction from state and federal regulators?

R: We look forward to addressing all questions that the regulating agencies may pose as they review the transaction and are hopeful for a positive response. As we have shared, we believe that the transaction with Risant Health will enhance competition and provide beneficial options to consumers by improving access and affordability of healthcare services to more people in more communities.

HL: Can you assure Geisinger patients and the community that this deal will not result in higher healthcare costs? 

R: Following closing, patients will continue to access care as they do today. Geisinger will continue to accept non-Geisinger health coverage for its care, operate its health plan, partner with non-Geisinger provider organizations, and work with non-employed physicians, just as it does today. And Geisinger's 600,000 health plan members will continue to receive coverage from Geisinger as they do today.

Longer term, we believe Risant Health's efforts to advance value-based care will result in Geisinger members and patients experiencing enhanced quality and experience, as well as more affordable care, all at a better trajectory than would be otherwise.

“For us at Geisinger, this is a way we can accelerate our mission – to make better health easier for the communities we serve.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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Two systems describe Risant as a 'nonprofit organization... to expand and accelerate the adoption of value-based care in diverse, multi-payer, multi-provider, community-based health systems.'

Geisinger President and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, will be Risant's first CEO, transitioning from Geisinger when the deal closes.

Geisinger will keep its name and mission, and will continue to work with other health plans, employed physicians, and independent providers.

At the same time, Geisinger will tap Risant's value-based platform to maximize practices in care model design, pharmacy, consumer digital engagement, health plan product development, and purchasing.

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