Cesar Herrera, MBA, MPH, chief executive officer and co-founder of Yuvo Health, a technology-enabled administrative and managed-care solution for federally qualified health centers based in New York City, is one of the 10 up-and-coming healthcare leaders featured in the annual Managed Healthcare Executive feature.
Cesar Herrera, MBA, MPH
After immigrating to the United States from the Philippines at age 3, I grew up in working-class neighborhoods in and around Detroit. I have an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business and an MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before starting Yuvo Health in 2021, I was the head of existing business for Zocdoc, a platform that allows patients to book appointments for medical care, and the chief solutions officer at Healthify, which provides access to networks of social service organizations. My family resides in the Washington, DC, suburbs.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare?
I grew up knowing I wanted to work in healthcare, although I didn’t figure out the specifics until my college years. As a former patient of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), I was significantly influenced by the healthcare industry at a young age. FQHCs, which provided care to historically underserved communities, gave my family care, support and dignity, regardless of our health insurance status.
Which career accomplishment are you proudest of and why?
I’m most proud of launching Yuvo Health with my three co-founders. Collectively, we share a deep-rooted mission: to be an advocate and protector of people in historically disenfranchised and low-income communities that may be struggling to access care.
What is the most challenging part of your current position?
The lack of access to healthcare in the United States goes far beyond healthcare itself. Our country’s health inequities are a function of institutional racism and classism — issues that are deeply rooted. Although we’re tackling health inequities through our work, there is so much more to be done on a broader scale by policymakers to improve access to care.
What is your organization doing to address healthcare equity?
FQHCs are the “boots on the ground” in underserved communities, providing care to those who need it most. They also face unique operational challenges that prohibit the growth needed to meet demand. Yuvo Health is helping FQHCs serve more members of their communities by connecting FQHCs to value-based contracting and administrative services so they can elevate their revenue models into something more sustainable. FQHCs are then empowered to extend their reach to more people who need access to care.
If you could change one thing in US healthcare, what would it be?
I want healthcare to be equally accessible to everyone, regardless of their geography, socioeconomic status, race, culture or language. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there are 20 million low-income individuals across the United States who don’t have access to an FQHC and need primary care. If we continue to create a healthcare ecosystem where providers are paid significantly less for Medicaid patients than for commercially insured patients, then this access gap will never go away.
How do you avoid burnout?
I avoid burnout by spending meaningful time with my three children and wife, during which I am fully present. Because it’s easy to feel that we should always be available, I add personal time blocks to my calendar that cannot be scheduled over. For example, I have time blocks for workouts and school drop-offs each morning, as well as a family dinner time each evening. If I don’t take control of my calendar, it can easily take control of me. Truly unplugging from work, even if just for short windows each day, helps me be more present when working.