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It’s been a while since we took a few moments to check in with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Shonk.


As Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shonk is a core member of the executive team, providing senior executive leadership to the Programs & Services division of The Health Collaborative.


He supports the goals and objectives of the organization by providing accurate and timely medical and technical consultation to all of our operational areas. He is the longest-standing champion of our claims data aggregation tool now known as hb/insights, and is an early promoter of the Comprehensive Primary Care efforts to pilot pay-for-value care models.

Q: Hello, Dr. Shonk! Let’s start with a current activity or project you’re working on, or involved in.

A: I’m currently working to get claims data from 12 different health plans representing about 85-90% of all the healthcare delivered in the state of Ohio — and putting that information at the disposal of primary care doctors so they can see how what they do impacts the care that is delivered. More importantly, so they can show the health plans how what they do improves healthcare and reduces its cost. Which in turn gets them paid better and paid for what counts.


Q: Tell us a little about your role, and what is your favorite part of your job?

A: My favorite part is telling Keith what to do, which he ignores. My role is really “Chief Translation Officer, ” from doctor to health plan; informatics to clinical; government program to medical practice; bureaucracy to practical application, etc.


Q: Where did you grow up, and how has it shaped who you have become?

A: In a small town in Lancaster, Ohio. There were 14 kids (12 boys) in a one-bedroom house. Chores were required. The only way out of them was to get a job so I started delivering papers at age eight and haven’t stopped working since.


Q: What’s your favorite stress-relieving activity outside of the office, and why?

A: Mowing the grass, planting flowers, and landscaping. I was going to say golf but with my game one, I could not really classify it as stress-relieving.


Q: What are you most proud of, personally or professionally?

A: Personally: Four sons – a doctor, an artist, a lawyer and a priest. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?  Professionally: 1.) Practicing solo family medicine for 12 years including delivering babies until the bureaucracy of government forced me to quit. 2.) Working on projects to change the way primary care gets paid so more doctors can continue to work at what we love.


Q: What book are you currently (or most recently) reading?

A: I am reading three at the moment. Denial of the Soul by F. Scott Peck, MD; The Price We Pay by Marty Makary, MD; and Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed.


Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?

A: When people don’t think logically; they deny consequences of actions.


Q: Did you play any sports in high school or college?

A: After sitting on the bench my whole senior year (the only year I made the basketball team), during the last game with 30 seconds to go the coach had the sudden realization that my friend and I had never been in a game. He looked down the bench at the two of us and told us to go in.  We looked at each other and looked back at the coach and said, “No thanks.”


Q: What are your favorite songs from your teenage years that you still rock out to when nobody is listening?

A:Lady” by Kenny Rogers. After 49 years of marriage whenever my wife and I are at a reception/party and this song starts playing she knows I will be looking for her to dance with.


Q: What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve received?

A: It was from my older brother who had a lot of kids himself and a rather demanding wife. I asked him one day how he managed it and he said, “Take what they give you.”


Get in touch with Dr. Shonk for more of his innovative approaches to healthcare transformation, or tips on how to make it in a house full of children: