A View From the Top: Brent Korte of Frontpoint Health

April 11, 2024

The interview below is part of a McGuireWoods series featuring interviews with C-suite leadership of private equity-backed portfolio companies. To recommend a leader for a future interview, email Holly Buckley at [email protected] or Tim Fry at [email protected].

Brent Korte is the CEO of Frontpoint Health, a direct provider of high-quality home care and hospice services.

Q: What was the mission behind the founding of Frontpoint Health, and how do you use your role as CEO to drive that mission forward? 

Brent Korte: Frontpoint’s mission is to disrupt the home health industry and provide care where care is not being provided. The home health industry focuses a majority of its care on traditional Medicare patients. As of the end of 2023, about 51% of all Medicare-eligible patients had a Medicare Advantage plan. If you translate that to the home health industry, that means 51% of the patients are being largely ignored by the majority of providers. The reason providers don’t take care of these patients is because the payers pay significantly less — up to and exceeding 50% on the dollar of what Medicare would pay.

Frontpoint’s goal is to provide value to patients, health systems and payers by accepting patients who most home health companies leave behind. Our role is to provide access to home care where these patients have not had access to keep them at home and out of the hospital. We challenge every norm of the traditional home health vernacular and keep sacred two things: take excellent care of our clinicians so they can take excellent care of our patients.

As CEO, I emphasize the importance of innovation in all things. If we are approaching this problem with the same answers that got the industry into this situation, then we’re never going to change anything. We must fundamentally think differently about the work we do. That notion has translated in everything we do from a leadership perspective and in every way we approach care.

Q: Frontpoint offers several distinct but related services such as hospice care, palliative care and personal care. Are there any services you would like to see Frontpoint add in the near future, and how does your business effectively manage these different lines of service?

BK: A mentor recently said to me that you shouldn’t provide new types of care unless you are the best in class for the care you are currently providing. I believe we provide excellent care.

With that said, we don’t have interest in walking much further outside the home health and hospice arena. We have an interest in palliative care. Palliative care largely happens through home health. The ability to help patients navigate the most difficult healthcare time of their life, which is generally the last couple of years of their life, is something that home health really can and should be doing. In that regard, we view our home health as largely an extension of the provision of palliative care.

We want to continue to be great at home health and provide great end-of-life care. There’s so much need for an innovator and disrupter in these areas, so we’re not interested in necessarily trying to diversify. Where I think some companies have succeeded but many have tripped up is going outside their area of expertise. We don’t see a need to take this risk.

We effectively manage our different service lines thanks to excellent leadership. Our leaders are national experts in the types of care we provide. The way to support human resources for a mobile workforce like ours is very different than an on-site workforce. There is no water cooler like there would be at a hospital. Our hallways are highways in Texas. When everyone is always deployed, that creates a different dynamic around how you build a cohesive culture and an organization where people want to work. We provide 250,000-plus visits per year coming on half-a-million visits a year probably in the next 18 months. We have a lot of moving parts, and those parts naturally move far from each other. Fortunately, we have the right people in place to keep those parts moving successfully.

Q: You spoke in a 2022 interview about plans for expanding your business outside of the Dallas market. How has that expansion progressed since then, and what other markets do you have your eyes on?

BK: We have our hands full in Texas. We’ve grown so significantly in the 18 months or so since Frontpoint started that we’ve decided in the very near term to continue to grow throughout Texas. We just closed a partnership with High Plains Senior Care, an Amarillo-based home health and hospice provider. We now care for more than 4,250 patients in Texas and provide that care in over 165 counties.

We are gearing up for continued growth within Texas while looking for the next right partner to help us grow further. It would be logical for us to look at surrounding states, such as New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, yet we’re not going to limit ourselves to providing contiguous care. We’re looking everywhere. With our model and proof of concept, the larger we get, the more we can test a model we feel is deeply scalable outside of Texas.

Q: What are the most important traits you look for when hiring somebody to join your team at Frontpoint?

BK: It’s funny the things you learn versus the things that stick with you from school. During my master’s program, a CEO of a company told us there were three simple things we should look at when hiring someone. I love it when people take a complex action and simplify it, so that lesson stuck with me, and I’ve since added a fourth quality. Can they do the job? Will they do the job? Will they be good to work with? My contribution: Are they a good person?

Everything has come back to those four qualities. If you can check those boxes with great confidence, I have found the employee won’t fail you. As basic as those qualities sound, they’re largely what we’re looking for. We recently hired a new regional vice president of hospice, April Wilson. We had a conversation about those four items and whether she covered them. She earned a thick check mark on every “yes.”

Q: You spoke in an earlier interview about a significant experience you had as a hospice volunteer in India. What lessons from that experience guide you to this day?

BK: This concerns one of the formative moments in my life. I’m in my very early twenties, and I go to Kolkata in India and a place called the Kalighat House for the Dying and Destitute. It was me and another kid from Kansas. We were walking around the country and had a guidebook that said if we wanted to learn what was really happening in a developing country, volunteering at this facility was the best way to do it.

We walked into this place very naively. It was essentially a facility that houses dozens of people nearing their end of life. It was shaped like a big U. On one side were those people who were brand new there and probably going to live longer. On the other side of the U were those people who were dying. There’s a shower room and a place where you serve the food. In America, it would essentially be a large, general inpatient unit or hospice house, but it was all in one big room. It was unforgettable seeing what I saw, and it changed my life.

At the end of that experience, there was a gentleman from Argentina also volunteering. He beckoned to me in Spanish and told me he needed my help. He sat me down at the head of a bed situated at the very end of that U with the higher acuity people. In that bed was a man who was dying. My heart was racing, and his heart was racing too because generally right before you die, you’re deeply tachycardic. I positioned this man’s head on my lap, and I looked at him. I asked the volunteer what to do. He placed my hands on the man’s temple and told me to rub the man’s head and help him. I found myself staring upside down into this man’s eyes and then he died.

You often hear people say that when you die, you experience a transfer of grace. I witnessed this in a man I knew nothing about, and it has stuck with me. My takeaway is you only die once. I hope when I’m dying that I have someone like the man from Argentina to direct another person to spend some time with me and help me through my final moments. I’m eternally grateful to this person for putting me in that situation. It has deeply guided my approach to this vocation and the work we do. It’s sacred work.

Brent Korte Headshot
About Brent Korte

Brent Korte is the CEO of Frontpoint Health. He is an accomplished executive, strategist and nationally recognized thought leader in home care. Driven by a passion for people and endless determination, Korte has built, improved and turned around seven home-based care businesses in his career.

He began his career with a home care leadership position at Maxim Healthcare in Seattle. Less than a year later, he was promoted to start his own agency in Colorado. Sixteen months later, Korte had built a highly profitable and reputable business, and then returned to Seattle to rebuild Maxim’s Seattle location.

Returning to the workforce in 2010 after spending two years with his wife exploring 56 countries and climbing mountains on five continents, Korte rebuilt operations at two national home care companies before being recruited to EvergreenHealth. He grew it to become the largest home health and hospice provider in the Pacific Northwest.

Korte earned his MHA from Cornell University’s Sloan School. He recently served as secretary on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. He also is the immediate past president of the Home Care Association of Washington, serves on the advisory board of Axxess Technologies, and is a guest lecturer at the University of Washington and Cornell University.