Mr. Szostak joined Toshiba in 2005 as a business-operations
analyst and was assigned to Ms. Gillen shortly after she joined
Toshiba in 2013. The move was made at Ms. Gillen's request, spurred
by a desire to turn the company into a resource for its customers
-- physicians, hospitals, imaging centers, among others -- as they
navigated the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.
At first glance, you might think there's little benefit for a
producer of medical equipment such as X-rays and MRI scanners to
have a full-time economist on staff to break down public policy for
its customers. But the economics of health-care reform are
influencing customers' decisions, especially as they potentially
deal with millions more patients and replace equipment less often
due to financial pressures. "They're utilizing their technologies
longer than they ever have before," said Ms. Gillen. Toshiba isn't
using Mr. Szostak's work to influence purchase decisions outright,
but rather to educate customers in the near term and benefit
Toshiba over time.
Mr. Szostak "says he is [an] employee but then he doesn't talk
about Toshiba, he talks about health-care reform," said Ms. Gillen.
"We didn't want it to be a Toshiba commercial."
On top of giving talks at industry conferences, Mr. Szostak has
written a five-part series on health-care economics, produced video
content, written white papers and published studies. One study on
reducing costs in the management of stroke patients was published
in conjunction with the Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo,
"Health reform is more than just a few acronyms and buzzwords
that most health-care companies use to convince their customers and
consumers that they understand the change that's taking place,"
said Mr. Szostak.
Tying work like Mr. Szostak's back to revenue will likely never
be easy. "It's more top-of-funnel, early-stage activity that needs
to happen in order to build your brand value," said Forrester
analyst Laura Ramos. "This isn't middle-funnel, later-funnel stuff
that creates the customer opportunities."