We Want Answers: LeRoy Jones

The CEO of GSI Health on moving his company to Center City, foosball, and how health care is changing

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

You go by Lee. Is that to avoid confusion with jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones? No. [laughs] I’m actually named after my father.

I feel like “LeRoy Jones” is a really good CEO name. No one has ever said that. I’m going to go tell people that.

GSI has won accolades for its “population health management” software. What the hell is that? Is that going to be in the interview?

Yes. Well, health care operates as fee-for-service—every time somebody goes to a doctor, the doctor gets paid. That doesn’t really incentivize the doctor to keep you from coming in. So there’s a movement called fee-for-value where if you come in too much, the doctor gets penalized. Population health management encourages providers and the community to band together to manage patient outcomes according to fee-for-value. Our software helps them organize that.

So it’s about efficiency. You want to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and emergency department visits. Ultimately it’s about saving money, but also about patients having a better experience and getting well faster.

When you had your ribbon-cutting ceremony for your new Center City office in April, Technical.ly Philly reported that you “gave a stirring speech about opportunities for young black men.” Were you given opportunities when you were younger? I don’t think I had the same kind of opportunities I was speaking about that day—no role models who were doing professional things. What I was really trying to say was that I want to make sure I stay here in Philadelphia and that people who know me, who would not otherwise have access to a CEO or have access to a company like ours, can have access.

Where did your alma mater, George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science, fit in? Back then—you know, the ancient days—engineering was just starting to be big. In eighth grade I entered into a program called PRIME—Philadelphia Regional Introduction for Minorities to Engineering—that exposed me to what engineering was.

Then you went to Carnegie Mellon. At this point, do you consider yourself a tech guy or a business guy? I’m always going to be a technologist, but business is much more interesting.

A lot of people in the tech scene say that local venture capital money—or the lack of it — is the biggest impediment to growing and retaining start-ups in Philly. Certainly, the farther west you go, the bigger the money. However, I think the investors here are really helpful to their companies and interested in the region growing.

One of your biggest investors, Rittenhouse Ventures, is based at the Navy Yard. Did you consider moving there? They encouraged us to look. We got a pretty good deal here. I didn’t think moving downtown was going to be that big of a deal — I thought it would be more of a pain. But now I love it.

Is it true you have a four-day workweek? Four days in the office, one day remote. We had small offices in Chestnut Hill and Manhattan, but everyone else was working remotely. The change of coming into the office — it’s been a little disruptive to our culture.

How is the new place? Do you have any ping-pong tables? Waterslides? We have bungee jumping. Not really. It’s interesting. We set up a Fun Committee to decide what kind of things people want — foosball or whatever — and so far, everybody’s just been content to work.

Published as “We Want Answers” in the July issue of Philadelphia magazine.