Like all fast-food companies, KFC, home of the eight-piece chicken bucket, may not be widely associated with positive health outcomes. 

But Andrea Zahumensky said her experience as the brand’s chief marketing officer has helped her in the same role at Cityblock Health, a startup that provides care to Medicaid and low-income Medicare beneficiaries. 

“One of the biggest lessons I learned is that you can’t fully understand your customer, member or consumer from reading a report,” said Zahumensky (pictured below), who also spent two decades at Procter & Gamble, via email. “At KFC, we spent time in the restaurants and were able to see customers engage with the brand – and you could definitely find me in the dining rooms of our competitors, too! Because of this lesson, I’ve prioritized spending time with Cityblock members during my first few months.”

Zahumensky started in October 2021 at the Brooklyn-based company, which was founded in 2017 and has been valued at more than $1 billion. She is the company’s first CMO and “responsible for building the first ubiquitous brand to meet the health and social needs of underserved populations and deepening engagement with members,” the company said in a statement. 

To improve beneficiaries’ health and reduce costs, Cityblock uses care teams that include physicians, nurses, mental-health providers and community-support staff that help with access to food, transportation and stable housing.

Before joining Cityblock, Zahumensky supported what she and others have described as KFC’s “turnaround” by “modernizing the brand and becoming more relevant with a new, younger audience,” she stated. At Procter & Gamble, Zahumensky took the same on-the-ground approach as at the fast-food company.

“I spent time in the store aisles, watching and asking customers questions. I participated in in-home interviews where we went through our customers’ medicine cabinets or watched them interact in their home with their baby,” she stated.

At Cityblock, Zahumensky is focused on engagement with members and “making sure we are meeting members where they are so that we can provide them with the best care.”

To do that, Zahumensky joined a care team visiting with members. In one case, she talked with a woman who was in serious pain and “shared a deeply personal testimony, and I was able to hold her hand while she cried,” she stated.

“These experiences have been life-changing for me. You simply cannot build that kind of empathy from a spreadsheet,” Zahumensky said. “I am driven by impact, and I believe there is no greater impact I can have than to put my more than two decades of experience to work to solve this [healthcare] challenge.”

This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.