Beth Keyser webBeth Keyser (EMSHA 37) says the advice she gives to people in her field is, “Don’t limit your exposure to ‘traditional’ health care roles.”

In January 2013, Keyser followed her own advice once again, leaving Nashville after 15 years to become president of Healthways Hawaii. She is in charge of the market and operations of a unique partnership with Hawaii Medical Service Association-BCBS (HMSA). Through 2021, Healthways is responsible for health management, promotion and prevention for the approximately 700,000 HMSA members. Definitely a non-traditional set up.

“Health coverage of the past has focused on treating sickness with little to no support to prevent poor health from occurring,” said Keyser, a native of Laurel, Miss. “In our unique market, I hope to advance and apply what I learned at UAB with new models in the physician, hospital, employer, and community settings to advance a ‘health’ vs. ‘sick’ system.”

Keyser says healthy people cost less and perform better. She points out that roughly 75 percent of the 2.8 trillion dollars spent nationally in health care costs are due to chronic diseases, most of which can often be prevented by changing diet and lifestyle habits.

She chose the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) because of the top rated health care programs. Plus, the Executive Master of Science in Health Administration program allowed Keyser flexibility that she did not find in traditional programs. This was a huge bonus because she worked for a health care startup company in Nashville at the time.

And then there were key lessons learned at UAB that helped her improve her personal mission and herself.

“My degree has allowed me to have a better understanding of the key players in healthcare and their interdependencies, which in turn led to the opportunity to pursue greater responsibility,” said Keyser, a lifetime member of the UAB National Alumni Society.

Keyser has spent the past 18 years working to demonstrate that healthy people cost less and perform better. Her passion and commitment has taken her career in many exciting and rewarding directions and she urges others to recognize, and capitalize upon, opportunities to make a difference.

“Understand the market power in your region and determine how you can use that power in a positive way to reshape the industry of healthcare,” said Keyser. “There is great opportunity ahead to drive behavior change in all aspects of healthcare.