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article imageBubba Sparks talks about pole vaulting, healthcare and technology Special

By Markos Papadatos     Feb 4, 2019 in Sports
Acclaimed pole vaulter Bubba Sparks chatted with Digital Journal about his outlook on the sport for 2019, and he opened up about his work in the healthcare industry, and how technology has shaped and molded the field.
On his plans and goals for 2019, Sparks said, "For the most part, I am training seven days a week to regain as close to my Auckland World Championships fitness level I can get. I am jumping on June 16 at the National Senior Games, but otherwise, I will train through the entire year with minimal vaulting."
When asked about his outlook on the men's and women's pole vault for 2019, he said, "I think on the men's side, it is the usual suspects with Mondo Duplantis, Sam Kendricks, Renaud Lavillenie, and Piotr Lisek, but there are others hot on their heels. On the women's side, of course, you have Sandi Morris, Katerina Stefanidi, Katie Nageotte and Eliza McCartney leading the way but others can and will explode at any minute. When I judge levels at the elite level, if an athlete starts at or near your PR, then you are still elite but not at the highest level. That doesn't mean that can't change rapidly."
Bubba Sparks has been avidly involved in pole vaulting for over five decades. On the key to longevity in the sport, he said, "It has to do with fitness. My college anatomy and physiology professor used to say that whatever you wish to do in the sport, it's easier if you are stronger. The great author and coach, Alan Launder used to say, 'That which is technically desirable must be physically possible'."
He continued, "My dad used to say that you can kill a fly with a flyswatter or with a sledgehammer, and I prefer the sledgehammer. My great friend and former coach, Dave DJ Johnston always says, 'You're either the bug or the windshield.' Bob Fraley used to say that once you learn how to vault that 70 percent of your success will be based on improvements in strength and speed."
Aside from his pole vaulting career, Sparks also works in the healthcare field. "In 1987, after eight years on Wall Street, I moved into healthcare on the advice of my mentor, who represented companies to Wall Street for 45 years. By the fall of 1988, I was the chairman of a publicly traded physical therapy company. I then grew my private chain from zero to giant over the next eight years," he said.
Sparks continued, "Since 2002, I have created proprietary and compliant management revenue programs physicians, groups, hospitals, ACOs, and IPAs. Last year, our company, DPT Healthcare Partners, won the Top 10 Innovation and Technology Companies in Healthcare at the prestigious Smarthealth Conference at Bally's in Las Vegas."
Digital transformation of the healthcare industry
On the impact of technology on the contemporary healthcare industry, Sparks said, "Right now, we just started a new division where we are working in three sectors to create education and functional platforms that convert the 2D images from MRIs, CT scans and heart scans into 3D Virtual Reality experiences. This allows surgeons to plan and even practice complicated surgeries without killing the patient."
Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine, in the field of healthcare, Sparks said, "We use technology to identify and provide medical necessity for services ordered to avoid over-utilization. In addition, we use it to provide provable outcomes via the value based care measures of MACRA/MIPS. For decades I have used technology to both manage and prove that our techniques and programs perform far above current industry metrics."
For people who wish to go into the healthcare and marketing field, Sparks encouraged them to "find a mentor." "I was so fortunate to have a Wall Street legend help me along the way. We had made money together in oil and gas until that market faded. I offered to do his grunt work for free if he would help me learn what made a workable deal. He mentored me for four years and we were partners for four, completing two $1 billion offerings from original ideas that I had that he helped me to develop, package and present," he said.
"You know you are old when you find yourself mentoring 40 and 50-year-olds, but I am always happy to help anyone in any position where they feel they would benefit from my experience," he admitted.
Sparks remarked, "People who really know me, as well as those who meet me, very quickly find out that what you see is what you get. I will always do my best to help or encourage anyone. I feel that I have a responsibility to carry on the culture of our sport that I found when I fell in love with the sport 54 years ago. I don't do negativity. I will always encourage and offer solutions."
"Anybody can identify a problem, give me solutions," he said. "In fact, my first lesson from Jerry in New York was to remind the attorneys that they work for us. I told them to never give me a problem without three possible solutions. The attorneys loved it. It was like permission to draw outside the lines. I know nothing but we know everything. Celebrate every success of your friends. It drives you to your own and you feel great about both."
For more information on esteemed pole vaulter Bubba Sparks, check out his official website.
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