Lifespark Taps Former Optum Leader to Lead Company’s ‘Aggressive Growth Goals’

There are several trends in the home-based care industry that are colliding all at once.

The baby boomers are getting older, seniors want to age at home more than ever, and families who have typically cared for their loved ones are moving away, which is creating a need for digital integration.

Those are all macro trends that Matt Nyquist, Lifespark’s chief population health officer, has his eye on as he steps into a new role with the Minneapolis-based senior care provider.


It will be his job to lead the company’s division that oversees its global risk products and market expansion efforts.

When deciding to join Lifespark, ​​Nyquist said his first priority was culture.

“Lifespark has a great culture with great people who are really empowered to make decisions,” he said. “The second thing was finding some place that had a really consumer-centric model. That’s really at the center of what Lifespark does. They always put the members first, and they create experiences around everything that they do.”


Lifespark, formerly branded as Lifesprk, is an innovative senior care provider with both in-home care and senior living operations. The company was founded by CEO Joel Theisen in 2004.

After working for the national health club Lifetime Fitness, ​​Nyquist moved to UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) Optum, where he led teams on the business and technology sides. He then moved on to become Optum’s CIO for its population health business and eventually the center for digital health.

At Optum, Nyquist said that learning to hone in on the patient at the center of the health care services being provided was one of the key lessons he took away.

“The other thing was the importance of technologies,” he said. “Most of our consumers use technology in [their daily lives], so leveraging technology in a modern way to create good experiences and to be available for our consumers when they need us [is important].”

Implementing and integrating technology will be one of the main focuses for ​​Nyquist in his new role with Lifespark.

“A lot of times, digital technology and health care is created as a separate thing,” ​Nyquist said. “I really view health care [as being] enabled by digital technology. That’s really what we’re trying to do at Lifespark: create a consumer experience powered by great people and technology in an integrated way. When you try to approach health care with a technology platform, or you try to approach it as a services platform, you can’t really enable consumers to achieve what they want to achieve.”

Lifespark is known in the industry as one of the more advanced home-based care providers, specifically when it comes to value-based care models. It has also been ahead of the curve with direct contracting.

​​Nyquist plans to continue that trajectory with the implementation of digital health systems and by scaling the company’s services.

“Lifespark has done an amazing job of finding that sweet spot,” he said. “When you look at the populations they’re managing, they are getting fantastic outcomes. When you try to take and scale that — this is where I think my background comes in. In order to scale it, you’re using the insights from things that you’ve captured digitally to make sure that you have constant innovation and improvement.”

Specifically, Nyquist wants to build processes that can be replicated easily.

“We have really aggressive growth goals and we think we have a really unique value proposition,” ​Nyquist said. “With the background that I have, being able to scale it in a predictable and reliable way, [is something I’m looking forward to].”

And if Lifespark continues to see “undeniable, great clinical outcomes,” then scaling and growing should naturally come soon enough, ​he said.

HHCN editor Andrew Donlan also contributed to this report.

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