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Key Takeaways and Memorable Moments from #SHSMD18

Posted on October 12, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

It’s been two days since SHSMD18 ended and my head is still spinning with ideas from the event. The keynote speakers were incredible, the sessions informative and the exhibit hall was fabulous. I can honestly say that this was the first year I felt at home at the annual SHSMD conference.

As the conference wound down, I asked several of my fellow attendees for their key takeaway and/or their most memorable moment. Below is a collection of some of the responses. Enjoy.

Rose Glenn – SHSMD President Elect and Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer at Hackensack Meridian Health

Key Takeaway: Re-emphasizing that healthcare is all about human-to-human connection. We get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we sometimes lose sight of that. It’s up to us to be an advocate and a champion for what is right for the consumer. It’s all about making sure your organization connects with people as people. If we don’t, then the consumer giants who do this extremely well, will take over.

Ben Dillon – SHSMD President and Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Owner at Geonetric

Key Takeaway: I think the quality of the sessions and keynotes has been excellent. For every session that made it onto the agenda there were at least 10 submissions that were not selected. That is an indication of the quality of the material. I also think the networking has been outstanding. I have seen so many connections being made at the various mixers, in the exhibit hall and just in the lobby of the convention center. In fact, I heard a story from an attendee today that they met someone in the elevator of a SHSMD conference 14 years ago and they have now been married for 11 years.

Memorable Moment: I would have to pick the opening. That moment is something I have dreamed about doing for a long time. It was just incredible to stand in front of 1,500 people and kick things off. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd is something I will never forget.

Priya Bathija – Vice President of the Value Initiative at American Hospital Association

Key Takeaway: Everyone I’ve talked with and all the sessions I’ve attended demonstrated how passionate we are about making things better for the communities we serve. It’s refreshing to see the level of energy everyone has for Value in healthcare and how we are all coming at it from different angles yet all moving the needle.

Kelly David – Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Spectrum Healthcare Partners

Key Takeaway: Health care is a challenging business. I think it’s easy to get stuck in cruise control, essentially dealing with one problem after another. #SHSMD18 was filled with information on ways to shift your perspective. The keynotes from Johnny Cupcakes and Erik Wahl, for example, highlighted that you can meet your challenges by being different, trying new things and stepping outside of our typical boxes.

Memorable moment: – hands down watching Erik Wahl create beautiful paintings before our eyes, while telling a story through video and music. It was amazing and powerful.

Amy Jose – Integrated Marketing Strategist at Spectrum Healthcare Partners

Key Takeaway: The importance of meeting our consumers where they are in order to remain relevant. If the services we offer aren’t there for them and easy to access in their time of need, they will go elsewhere. And creating a unique experience for them that differentiates us against our competitors will encourage them to share the story.

Memorable moment: Erik Wahl’s presentation. I loved his perspective on the use of creativity and courage and feel that it can be applied to several parts of life not just professional. And dancing and hanging at the museum with so many colleagues and friends is something I’ll also remember. I think there’s a value to peeling away from work to spend time with each other like that.

Scott A. Samples – Director, Marketing Communications at Martin Health System

Key Takeaway: This year the thing that seemed to resonate over and over again in every session I attended was: we need to start treating healthcare consumers as consumers, not as hostages. We need to meet them where they want us to meet them, make the experience as easy as possible for them throughout the entire process, and offer the tools and resources they need so that they want to use us as they have more choices come available. In short, we need to make healthcare convenient for them, not for us. Obviously healthcare isn’t retail. And there can be a disconnect from the promise made from marketers and strategists, and the care provided on the frontlines. But we have to work harder than ever to help align the promise with the practice. Because if we don’t, consumers will find someone that will.

Memorable Moment: For me, the best memory of the event is perhaps a little unusual. On Monday night I spoke with a team from Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. A hurricane was bearing down on their community and they were working with their teams back home to prepare as much as they can. They were cutting their conferences short, to return home and be there for their health system and their community during a challenging time. It spoke to me of the dedication and unswerving commitment that people in our profession have to their constituents. And it was a reminder of the critical role we play in ensuring healthcare is delivered with compassion and hope. I’m still thinking about that team and what others across in the path of Hurricane Michael are doing to keep their communities whole.

Brian Griffin – Senior Editorial Specialist at SHSMD and American Hospital Association

Key Takeaway: The importance of the customer relationship in healthcare and how we are finally moving from talking about it to actually doing something about it. Organizations are realizing that we need to take action to deliver on the promise to patients. Many have presented their successes this week.

John Lynn – Editor and Co-Founder at Healthcare Scene

Key Takeaway: Creativity is not something that you are born with. Creativity is a learned skill that you can improve through practice. I really loved this message from Johnny Cupcakes, the opening keynote speaker. Simple yet profound.

Memorable Moment: Erik Wahl talking about the value of being fearless and confronting your fears. That was a powerful moment that illustrated how some of the most memorable and lasting experiences we can have in life come when we choose to confront our fears and do something that scares us.

Me

Key Takeaway: Inspiration, ideas and creativity can come from anywhere. The SHSMD18 keynotes demonstrated that you don’t have to be a healthcare insider in order to impart knowledge. Johnny Cupcakes (outsider) taught us to push beyond our comfort zones and try something different. Erik Wahl (outsider) taught us that being fearless can lead to beauty. Liz Jazwiec (insider) taught us how powerful a positive outlook can be in healthcare.

Memorable Moment: Gifting #pinksocks to Johnny Cupcakes, Erik Wahl, William Rosenberg, Jason Skinner, Mariah Obiedzinski, Lorraine McGrath and Mollie Staniewicz at SHSMD18.

Can’t wait for SHSMD19 in Nashville!

Reflecting on SHSMD18 – An Interview with President Ben Dillon

Posted on October 10, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Ben Dillon, President of SHSMD, spoke to Healthcare Scene about this year’s conference (it was the largest ever), key trends that have emerged in healthcare marketing in 2018 (be frictionless) and what the future holds (marketers have to be nimble).

At the end of the last full day of the 2018 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Conference #SHSMD18, I had the chance to sit down with SHSMD President Ben Dillon. Dillon is also the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Owner of Geonetric, an agency that provides technology, hosting, consulting and creative services exclusively to healthcare clients.

Below is a summary of our wide-ranging conversation.

It is rare to see an association or professional society elect a president who is from a vendor/sponsor company. Why is SHSMD so vendor friendly?

First of all, I have been very fortunate. I have been on the Board of Directors of SHSMD for 8 years now. SHSMD has always embraced the full spectrum of people involved in the marketing industry. The organization understands that internal marketing teams work closely with external agencies to build programs together. Often the relationship is so strong that vendors are seen as an extension of the internal team. To exclude vendors from SHSMD leadership would be incongruent with how the industry works.

Also, I think SHSMD is stronger because we have both perspectives on the Board. We get the insider’s perspective from the people who work in healthcare organizations. We get the outsider’s perspective from people who work across the industry. The blend is powerful.

Lastly, I think that people have become more fluid in their job roles. We’ve had so many people from across the association and on the Board who have moved from a role in a health system to an individual consultant, then onto an agency and come back full circle to a role at a different health system. If we had a rule that prohibited people who were not employed by a healthcare systems from contributing to SHSMD then we would lose the knowledge, talent and energy of these people for a few years. That doesn’t really help anybody.

I think this is why SHSMD has been so welcoming to vendors and external agencies becoming part of the leadership of the association.

What are some of the initiatives or tools that SHSMD has produced that you are most proud of during your time on the board?

The Bridging Worlds study was one of the most comprehensive looks at our industry that had ever been done. That study helped us answer a key question that our members had been asking – in 10 years, what will healthcare marketing look like and what skills or expertise will I need to still be successful and relevant when we get there?

SHSMD Advanced is a self-assessment tool that came out of our work on Bridging Worlds. Members can go online and answer questions to get an evaluation of their skillset. Based on that evaluation, members can then sharpen their skills in areas that will help them achieve future success.

Both of these assets are helping our members in their career journey.

What trends have emerged in 2018 that has surprised you?

The concept of being “frictionless” has been something that I have heard a lot recently – as in: how do we make things easier and more frictionless for patients. This encapsulates the mind-shift that is happening in the industry where we don’t think of patients just as patients anymore, they are consumers as well and they have consumer expectations.

Marketers are being asked to consider questions like: How do we keep patients healthy? How do we make it easier for patients get access to the care they need? This is partly because of new competitors entering healthcare and partly a recognition that if they don’t do something about the experience patients have in their facilities – they might not come back at all.

Another trend that has emerged is building out the marketing technology stack. In the past you heard marketers talk about implementing a CRM tool, or a physician matching tool or a content management system in isolation. Now I’m hearing more and more people talk about the entire ecosystem of tools and how they work together. It’s now about the entire stack and not just one-off applications.

Lastly, I’ve heard a lot about the “fun stuff” in marketing. Things like voice search, AI chatbots, etc. These new technologies are really changing how patients interact with health systems. It will be interesting to see how these technologies evolve in the next couple of years.

As SHSMD18 draws to a close, what are your takeaways from the event?

From the association perspective I think SHSMD18 has gone very smoothly. There we no major hiccups and attendees are saying they have had an excellent experience. SHSMD18 was a bit of a risk for the association. We booked a much larger space than we have traditionally used. We chose a city that isn’t on the regular healthcare conference circuit (Seattle). But it looks like that risk paid off.

For me personally, I think the quality of the sessions and keynotes has been excellent. For every session that made it onto the agenda there were at least 10 submissions that were not selected. That is an indication of the quality of the material.

I also think the networking has been outstanding. I have seen so many connections being made at the various mixers, in the exhibit hall and just in the lobby of the convention center. In fact, I heard a story from an attendee today that they met someone in the elevator of a SHSMD conference 14 years ago and they have now been married for 11 years.

What has been your most memorable moment of SHSMD18?

If I had to pick just one moment from SHSMD18 I would have to pick the opening. That was when I was able to walk on stage and welcome everyone to the conference. That moment is something I have dreamed about doing for a long time. It was just incredible to stand in front of 1,500 people and kick things off. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd is something I will never forget.

Where does SHSMD go from here?

Things have been going very well for SHSMD, but we can’t stand still. While we have resources, while we have bandwidth and while we have the capability – we need to ask ourselves what are the things that are coming down the pipe in our industry that we need to be aware of and plan for. What we realize is that SHSMD as an organization needs to be ready to change and adapt quickly as our industry changes. We need to be nimble and flexible.

Above all, we need to keep listening to our members and continue to build the tools, services and offer the opportunities to them that they want/need.

What advice would you give to SHSMD members as we enter the last 3 months of the year?

First, for anyone that attended SHSMD18 I would strongly encourage them to watch a recording of a session they missed. We had so many concurrent sessions this year that there were bound to be at least two in each timeslot that they wanted to go to. Take the opportunity in the next few months to watch those sessions you missed. In fact, why not arrange a little lunch-and-learn and watch one with your entire team. I am planning on taking one lunch hour each week to go through a session from SHSMD18.

Second, for those that didn’t attend the conference, I would recommend going through the latest edition of Bridging Worlds to understand the concepts and challenges that our industry is facing. I would then suggest they take the SHSMD Advance self-assessment (free to any member) and get a plan for areas they need to work on. There are hundreds of resources available from SHSMD to help them develop the necessary skills to succeed in the future.

Third, I would like to see our members take the time to look outside their organizations to assess what is happening from a competitive standpoint and think about what they will have to do to adapt to that. Since it’s budget time, they should then make sure they allocate the necessary funds to do the things that they will need to do to stay competitive.

Websites, Youth and Humanity. Oh My! SHSMD18 Hallway Conversations

Posted on October 9, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The hallway conversations on Day 2 of SHSMD18 revealed many hospitals want to revamp their websites, SHSMD is trending younger and humanity is being injected into healthcare in a surprising place.

One of the most fascinating parts of a conference is not what is presented in sessions (although those are great too), but rather the discussions that happen in the hallways between sessions. To me, there is no better way to learn what is trending and what challenges people are most concerned about.

The hallway conversations I had on Day 2 of the 2018 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Conference #SHSMD18, were fascinating. Hospital consolidation was a concern for many attendees who worked at agencies – especially since they now had to compete to become the agency-of-record for the newly combined entity. I also overheard many #SHSMD18 attendees complain about their inability to fill open job postings as candidates opt for higher paying and higher profile roles at tech companies vs hospitals.

From all the conversations I had, three themes stood out:

  1. A lot of hospitals are looking to revamp their websites right now
  2. There is a youth movement within SHSMD
  3. Agencies are pushing/being asked to help humanize physician profiles online

Websites

I had a lengthy conversation with Bryan Fentress, Digital Solutions Director at Geonetric – a marketing, web design, content and SEO agency based in Cedar Rapids, IA – about the number of hospitals that seem to be in the midst of revamping their websites.

“Normally websites have a 36-48 month shelf life,” said Fentress. “But lately more and more hospitals are wanting to update their websites earlier. I think this is partly because competition is heating up and partly because the pace of change in web design has accelerated.”

Fentress also pointed to a change in the way hospitals approach website updates: “7 or 8 years ago, hospitals were asking ‘can you help me redesign my website?’ and ‘are you familiar with healthcare?’ – and that was it. Now websites are much more complex. They need to be integrated with social media, have patient engagement tools embedded in them, include searchable physician profiles, etc. This demonstrates how hospitals are more sophisticated on their needs for a new site, as they should be.”

I agree with Fentress and find it encouraging that many hospitals are looking to invest in making their websites more useful to patients and not just “prettier”.

Youth

One of my personal highlights of SHSMD is getting the chance to sit down with Dan Dunlop, Co-Owner and Principal at Jennings. Today, Dunlop and I spoke about the youth movement that seems to be happening at SHSMD.

“It’s really encouraging to see the number of young people here at SHSMD18”, said Dunlop. “It’s really noticeable how many fresh faces there are in attendance this year. We need this. SHSMD was never supposed to be an echo chamber and the only way to prevent that is by attracting new people into the fold. I was so happy when Jhaymee Wilson Tynan was announced as one of the new SHSMD board members. She’s a young, brilliant marketer who is going to bring a lot of new ideas to the table.”

Dunlop has been involved with SHSMD for a long time (he didn’t want me to publish exactly how long) and I trust him when he says that the crowd is getting younger. Having attended a number of SHSMD conferences myself, I agreed with Dunlop that this year there was a noticeable difference in the age range of attendees.

Time for SHSMD to ditch sodas in favor of kombucha.

Humanity

At the end of Day 2 I had the most fascinating conversation with Eric Mello, Marketing and Communications Manager at St. Mary’s Medical Center which is part of SCL Health. I was captivated by Mello’s story of the project they had been working on to humanize the online profiles of their physicians.

“Patients and potential patients want to know more about physicians than just where they went to school and what papers they may have published,” said Mello. “Today, patients are looking to connect with their physicians on a much deeper level. They want to get to know them as people. They want to know if they believe in the same things, play the same sports, enjoy the same activities. We had to respond to this by adding additional information to our physician profiles.”

At first, physicians were reticent to provide this “personal” information on their public profiles, but a few forward-thinking physicians agreed. The resulting positive feedback from patients was enough to convince other physicians to do the same. Today, most of the physicians have personalized profiles on the website.

Here is a link to an example profile: https://www.sclhealth.org/find-a-doctor/r/robbins-sarah-a/ When you read it you will see several things that are not typical of physician profiles. First, there is a quote from Dr Robbins that talks about how she approaches the well-being of her patients.

“I believe the health of the physician-patient relationship affects the health of the patient. Active listening, trust-building and partnership with my patient helps nurture our relationship. My job as a physician is to try to understand my patient as a whole so that I can offer individualized education, guidance and evidence-based advice that allows my patient to make important decisions about their health.”

Second, there is more than her medical credentials and past positions in her background profile: “Dr. Robbins always loved learning about science in school and wanted to have a career where she could directly help people.”

Third, Dr. Robbin’s activities outside of work are listed “When she is not at work, Dr. Robbins enjoys skiing, hiking, and exploring Denver with her husband, friends and two dogs.”

According to Mello, all these elements help to humanize Dr Robbins and transforms her from being a two-dimensional profiles on a website into more fully three-dimensional human being. I applaud Mello and the team at SCL Health for using something so small – physician profiles – to inject a little more humanity into healthcare.

I can’t wait for more hallway conversations on Day 3 of SHSMD18.

SHSMD Report Shows Healthcare Marketing Budgets Growing Despite Hospital Consolidation

Posted on October 8, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

According to the latest SHSMD By the Numbers report, 25% of respondents who have gone through a hospital merger said their Marketing and Communications budget increased vs 15% who said it decreased.

Today is the first full day of the 2018 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Conference #SHSMD18 here in Seattle. In preparation, I thought it would be interesting to dive into the 6th edition of the By the Numbers Report recently published by SHSMD and the AHA Data Insights team.

This report is based on survey results collected from almost 2,700 respondents by SHSMD from August 2017 to January 2018. It provides a detailed snapshot of marketing & communications (marcom) at hospitals in the US. Overall, the report paints a rosy picture for marketing. The size of marketing teams is increasing, use of digital marketing tools/techniques is growing and the scope of responsibilities for Marketing departments is expanding.

Here are some of the interesting findings in the report.

Growth in Marketing & Communications Despite Hospital Consolidation

Consolidation is rampant. According to By the Numbers, the number of independent hospitals has dropped from 50% of respondents in 2013 to 30% in 2017. Selection bias was not a factor.

50% of respondents that had gone through a merger said that the marcom function had been centralized (multiple marcom departments merged into a single one). You would expect that this level of consolidation activity would have a negative affect on marcom budgets, but that wasn’t the case. Of those that had been through a merger:

  • 25% said their marcom budget increased
  • 20% said their marcom team grew in size

This is in contrast to:

  • 15% said their marcom budget decreased
  • 5% said their marcom team decreased in size

Hospital Marketing Budgets Growing, but Remain <1% of Overall Hospital Budgets

By the Numbers shows that the average hospital budget in 2017 was $875M – an increase of 39% over the 2013 average of $533M. In that same time period, marcom budgets have grown 65% (adjusted for inflation) to an average of $5.4M.

While it is impressive that marcom budgets have increased at a faster pace than overall hospital budgets, at $5.4M it still represents less than 1% of the overall budget. For most other commercial entities, spending less than 1% on marketing would lead to slower growth and eventually to stagnation.

In 2017, Deloitte published a report that showed the average marketing budget as a percentage of overall budget for a variety of industries:

The Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals category included medical device makers, healthcare software companies and pharmaceutical companies – all of which have much larger marketing budgets compared to hospitals.

I asked Anne Feeney, Research and Data Analytics Specialist for SHSMD and one of the key people behind By the Numbers, why hospitals spend <1% on marcom.

“Some hospitals are the only player in a particular market,” said Feeney. “In those cases there is less need to spend marketing dollars attracting new patients. Also, healthcare has not yet experienced the same competitive pressures that dominate other industries, like consumer packaged goods. In healthcare it’s been as competitive as it has always been, but as an industry we have not risen to the levels of competition we see in other parts of the consumer world.”

Traditional Media Still Dominates Hospital Ad Spend

According to By the Numbers, hospitals are still spending the majority of their advertising budgets on traditional media – TV, newspapers and outdoors.

  Median Average
TV $90,000 $270,859
Newspaper $84,500 $143,810
Outdoor $70,000 $153,278
Electronic ads $56,000 $185,095
Pay-per-click $51,050 $316,112
Radio $50,000 $114,261
Content marketing $33,500 $72,675
Magazines $30,000 $55,227
Direct Mail $30,000 $98,237
Brochures/print collateral $30,000 $73,809
Search engine marketing $22,000 $101,495
Mobile ads $20,000 $108,846
Email $18,500 $21,468
Social media $15,000 $54,584
Location-based ads $15,000 $21,289

 

What I found most interesting is the difference between the Pay-per-click median ($51,050) and average ($316,112). This large delta suggests that the data is highly skewed – meaning that there are some hospitals that are spending a lot more than their peers on Pay-per-click. I believe these high-spending hospitals have discovered something that B2C companies have known for a long time – pay-per-click advertising works. With this knowledge they are exploiting an advantage that their competitors have failed to recognize.

Other Highlights

  • Marketing Departments are watching review and ratings sites. 50% of respondents said they actively monitor existing ratings and review sites on behalf of their hospital
  • Hospitals spend very little on marketing professional development. By the Numbers found that the median spent by marcom in this area was a paltry $6,500 per hospital
  • Social media is still used mostly for broadcasting messages vs patient engagement.

“Among our respondents, the social media stalwarts—Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter—were the most commonly used platforms,” said Lisa Isom, Assistant Director of Digital Content and Social Media, Montefiore Health System. “However, few survey respondents report use of these platforms for engagement and development of the types of conversations that build and/or enhance brand awareness. YouTube was most commonly used as a broadcasting medium for one-way communications. Facebook, on the other hand, was far more likely to be used for two-way communications, which saw respondents taking advantage of its capacity both to share information and engage in interactions. Twitter, the third most commonly used, was used primarily to broadcast news.”

For Feeney, the key takeaway from By the Numbers was the movement towards ROI metrics in marketing: “Marketing used to be seen as a fixed cost. Hospitals are doing so much more now to measure the ROI of marketing & communications. It’s good to see this focus on marketing efficiency, even though as a % of revenue remains small compared to the overall healthcare budget. ROI means marketing is more strategic and can grow if can show ROI.”

For me the report’s key message is it’s time for healthcare marketers to seize the moment and become more strategically relevant in their organizations. The SHSMD data clearly shows that healthcare Marketing departments are being asked to take on more and more responsibilities – from managing the hospital’s reputation to operationalizing patient engagement. This expansion in scope is a perfect time to shine.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of these shining examples on Day 2 and Day 3 of #SHSMD18

Dreamforce 2018 – More Healthcare Than Ever

Posted on September 25, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The annual Dreamforce event starts today in San Francisco. This year, more time on the agenda has been dedicated to healthcare and life sciences highlighting Salesforce’s continued investment in these industries.

I have never been to Dreamforce, but every year I find myself enviously reading the tweets that fly past. There are always great quotes from the high-calibre keynote speakers and a lot of interesting talk about new technologies from attendees.

What I found noticeable about Dreamforce 2018,  #DF18, is the number of HealthIT companies that will be speaking and exhibiting at the event. I have seen more tweets and received more notices about companies participating at #DF18 than in any other year. Some of the Healthcare presenters this year include:

For the full list see this handy Dreamforce TrailMap for Healthcare and Life Sciences:

I remember when Salesforce first appeared at the annual HIMSS event. I spent a lot of time in their booth learning about their healthcare initiative. Back then their solution was focused exclusively on care coordination. Patients were entered as “customers” and health information from different source systems would flow into Salesforce. This data would be associated with the patient record and accessible to different members of the care team to help coordinate care. It was pretty rudimentary.

Company executives that I spoke to did not have answers to my questions about the future direction of their healthcare initiatives. They simply did not know. Fast forward to today and it seems clear that Salesforce is pursuing a healthcare strategy that is like what they have used in other industries – build a few apps on their own to prove it can be done, then be open to others building apps using Salesforce as the backbone and connective tissue.

Judging by the number of HealthIT companies that have chosen to partner with Salesforce, I would say the strategy is working.

“Our patient experience platform is built on the Salesforce platform,” explains Sunny Tara, Co-founder and CEO of CareCognitics. “EHRs are the operational systems for hospitals. They were well suited to replace healthcare’s fee for service billing system. However, as we move to a value-based system focused on improved care, hospitals need the power and personalization that comes from a true CRM system. What we have done is built a platform that bridges existing EHRs with advanced patient loyalty capabilities built on top of Force.com. Doctors and patients love it.”

“Our partnership with Salesforce and integration with Health Cloud is further proof of PointClickCare’s commitment to creating intelligent care coordination between health systems and post-acute providers,” says BJ Boyle, VP Product Management at PointClickCare. “With two-thirds of the skilled nursing market using PointClickCare, we’re uniquely positioned to help LTPAC providers across the country be great partners with health systems. Leveraging Salesforce’s Health Cloud offers us new and exciting ways to do this even more effectively.”

Over the next few days I will be watching for healthcare announcements and tweets from #DF18. I am hoping to see further proof that Salesforce is building an ecosystem of partners to help bring better personalization, interoperability and cloud capabilities to healthcare.

Looking to Improve Patient Experience? Simple Options Can Yield Big Results.

Posted on September 18, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Improving patient experience is a top priority. Instead of grandiose new programs, hospitals and practices would see better results by focusing on simple options that have a big impact – like an eConsent solution. eConsent makes it easier for organizations to treat patients with respect and gets patients involved in their care.

Over the past several years more and more attention has been placed on improving the patient experience. This is partly due to a recognition by healthcare organizations that experiences could euphemistically be called less-than-ideal and partly because of changes to reimbursements that tie $$$ to patient satisfaction (specifically HCAHPS scores). From a patient and patient champion perspective this attention has been a welcome change.

There is a tendency, however, for healthcare organizations to gravitate towards large-scale projects to improve patient experience. Although projects like renovating patient suites and implementing AI chatbots can indeed have a positive impact, these initiatives are resource-intensive and can take a long time to yield results. Instead, hospitals and physician practices should focus on doing small things better and reap the benefits of improved patient experience sooner.

According to a study published by BMJ Open in 2016, positive patient experiences were “closely linked to effective patient-health professional interaction and logistics of the hospital processes”. The authors of the study also found that “positive aspects of the hospital experience were related to feeling well informed and consulted about their care”.

In 2014 a study found that delays in healthcare (wait times) impacted the perceived quality of care received. The longer the delay, the more that confidence in the care provider eroded. Having confidence in the care provider is a key factor in the online ratings patients give to healthcare organizations. Online ratings are the new real-time way to gauge patient satisfaction.

Taken in combination, these studies tie patient satisfaction/experience directly to (1) interactions between patients and their health professionals; and (2) smooth hospital processes.

Interactions with Patients

So what can hospitals do to improve interactions between health professionals and patients? They could implement new communication tools (like real-time chat). They could renovate offices so that patients and clinicians can look at screens together. They could even hire navigators to help patients interact with health professionals. All of these are fantastic initiatives, but all of them will take time and in some cases, a lot of resources.

There are, however, a number of simple things that hospitals could do that do not require significant investments of time or dollars. One would be to train clinicians to ask patients: “Is there anything we have covered today that I can help clarify or that you have questions about” rather than the standard “Do you have any questions?”. Another would be to implement electronic forms during the intake process so that patients only have to enter their information once. There is nothing more annoying than having each department ask for the same information over and over again.

Along these lines, an often overlooked yet quick-hit improvement area, is the informed consent process. The American Medical Association defines it as follows.

“The process of informed consent occurs when communication between a patient and physician results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention. In seeking a patient’s informed consent (or the consent of the patient’s surrogate if the patient lacks decision-making capacity or declines to participate in making decisions), physicians should:

(a) Assess the patient’s ability to understand relevant medical information and the implications of treatment alternatives and to make an independent, voluntary decision.

(b) Present relevant information accurately and sensitively, in keeping with the patient’s preferences for receiving medical information. The physician should include information about:

  • The diagnosis (when known)
  • The nature and purpose of recommended interventions
  • The burdens, risks, and expected benefits of all options, including forgoing treatment

(c) Document the informed consent conversation and the patient’s (or surrogate’s) decision in the medical record in some manner. When the patient/surrogate has provided specific written consent, the consent form should be included in the record.”

The informed consent process is a golden opportunity for hospitals to improve the patient experience. It is a chance for health professionals to engage patients in their care. This engagement has numerous benefits including:

  1. Reducing the anxiety patients have about the upcoming procedure, which in turn helps improve patient outcomes. This study published in the British Journal of Surgery, shows patient who are less anxious have fewer post-procedure wound complications.
  2. Demonstrating that the health professional (and by extension the hospital) care about the patient as a person.
  3. Mitigating the risk of malpractice. Lack of communication and feeling like clinicians didn’t care about them are common reasons cited by patients who decide to sue for malpractice. This New York Times article has an excellent summary of various studies into this phenomenon.

A simple way to improve the informed consent process is to move away from paper-based consent forms, which can be lost and are often confusing to patients, to electronic consent forms (commonly referred to as eConsent).

According to Robin McKee, Director of Clinical Solutions at FormFast, which offers an eConsent solution, “It’s the right time to be having the conversation about the costly risks associated with a paper-based process. Over 500 organizations recently experienced compliance issues due to missing informed consent forms according to the Joint Commission). Adopting an electronic solution is an easy and quick way to offer a better patient experience during the consent process.”

With an eConsent solution like FormFast’s, hospitals would be able to:

  • Have patients fill out forms on a user-friendly tablet
  • Pre-populate information on the forms with EHR data
  • Link to educational material that explains the procedure and risks in more detail
  • Quickly recall consent forms prior to the procedure by scanning the patient’s wristband
  • Provide a copy of the consent form (and links to the educational material) to patients

Smooth Hospital Processes

Feeling respected as an individual is key to a good patient experience. In fact, a 2015 Consumer Reports Survey found that patients who said they did not feel respected by the medical staff were 2.5 times as likely to experience a medical error versus those who felt they were treated well.  One of the easiest ways to show respect for patients is to value their time and prevent long delays during their hospital stay.

For patients, it is a horrible feeling to show up at the appointed time for a procedure, only to be carted to a waiting area in nothing but a flimsy robe and left to wait with no explanation. Now imagine how it would feel after 20 minutes of waiting to have a member of staff come and ask you to fill out another set of consent forms because your originals had been lost. Of course, while the patient is filling out the form, the staff member must review all the risks and implications of the procedure before you can sign the forms again. I know I would be about as calm as a palm tree in a hurricane.

This situation is referred to as “gurney consent” and is something that many hospitals are trying to eliminate. The National Center for Ethics in Health Care has a special guideline that prohibits gurney consent – VHA Handbook 1004.01 – Informed Consent for Clinical Treatments and Procedures. That handbook states that “Patients must not, as part of the routine practice of obtaining informed consent, be asked to sign consent forms ‘on the gurney’ or after they have been sedated in preparation for a procedure.” This clause was meant to ensure the consent does not occur “so late in the process that the patient feels pressed or forced to consent or is deprived of a meaningful choice because he or she is in a compromised position.”

Sadly, gurney consents are an all too common occurrence in hospitals that use paper-based consent forms. JAMA reports that missing consent forms cause 10% of procedures to be delayed, costing each hospital over $500K each year. This of course does not count the emotional toll it takes on patients.

It would be remiss not to point out that members of staff equally hate the need to have patients re-sign consent forms. It’s not comfortable to be the bearer of bad news and stand there while an upset patient vocalizes their displeasure. After all, the staff member is not the one that lost the form. Medscape’s recent National Physician Burnout & Depression Report found that the top contributor to physician burnout was excessive administrative tasks. Asking for another consent form from a patient certainly qualifies as an excessive administrative task.

“By modernizing document workflows, FormFast gives patients, their family member and clinicians the information they need, when they need it,” says Rob Harding, CEO of FormFast. “Digitizing the informed consent process helps ensure procedures go according to plan – no one is running around trying to find a paper document or asking for forms to be filled out yet again. A frictionless workflow makes for smooth operation which helps both patients and health professionals. eConsent is really a win-win.”

Conclusion

There are a myriad of ways to improve the patient experience. Big, bold initiatives and small, simple changes to existing processes. Although it is not an either-or situation, in the current economic and regulatory environment, hospitals should look for “small wins”, like eConsent, as an affordable and pragmatic way to improve the overall patient experience. As an added bonus, clinicians and administrators will also reap the benefits of lower stress and smoother workflows.

No matter what initiative, a hospital takes, ANY effort made to improve patient experience is a step in the right direction.

FormFast is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

Patient Safety Market Heating Up with Mergers and New Product Announcements

Posted on July 26, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

For the past few years the patient safety software market has been stable with little in the way of new products and company activity. That has changed with a flurry of recent announcements:

  1. The merger of two market leaders: Datix and RL Solutions
  2. Health Catalyst entering with their new Patient Safety Monitor™ Suite: Surveillance Module
  3. VigiLanz expanding their platform to include Dynamic Safety Surveillance

When something goes wrong in a healthcare facility it is referred to as an adverse event or a medical error. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins, 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. The Journal of Patient Safety estimates that non-lethal adverse events happen 10-20 times more frequently than lethal events. This puts the total number of adverse events somewhere between 2.5 – 5 million per year. The financial cost of these events is enormous. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the financial cost of adverse events in the US and Europe will reach $383.7 Billion by 2022.

Traditionally, adverse events have been recorded and logged in incident reporting systems (sometimes called risk management software) – like those offered by Datix and RL Solutions. These systems rely on voluntary reporting of events by staff members and patients. Once entered, these events are reviewed and analyzed by specially trained risk managers to determine root causes. When patterns emerge, changes are made to policies, procedures and physical environments to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

The most recent Research and Markets report estimates the global patient safety and risk management software market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 10.9% over the next decade to reach $2.22 Billion by the year 2025. I believe there are three key drivers for this this growth:

  1. Hospitals transitioning away from traditional after-the-fact adverse event reporting systems to real-time surveillance platforms that take advantage of the data being collected in EHRs and other electronic repositories
  2. The movement towards value-based care where a focus on patient safety has meaningful impact on reimbursements
  3. Realignment of patient safety as part of overall patient experience vs a function of compliance and legal.

According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), it is estimated that less than 6% of adverse events are reported voluntarily. This means that healthcare organizations are potentially missing out on 94% of events that are happening within their four walls. In addition, very few organizations have effective ways to capture near misses – adverse events that did not occur because they were stopped BEFORE someone was harmed. There is a better way.

With the exponential growth in the quantity of healthcare data and the rapid increase in computing power, it is now possible to mine medical data to detect adverse events and near misses in real-time. For example, it is possible to look at EHR data to determine if the wrong medication was given to a patient based on their diagnosis. It is also possible to track the number of times the drug-drug interaction warning message is displayed to clinicians (each being a near miss). Justin Campbell of Galen Healthcare Solutions recently wrote an article about mining EHR audit log data to uncover workflow bottlenecks that touches on this same approach – commonly referred to as “real-time surveillance”.

Stanley Pestotnik, MS, RPh, Vice President of Patient Safety Products at Health Catalyst had this to say about this detection methodology: “The current approach to patient safety is like doing archaeology – digging through ancient safety events to identify the causes of harm, which does nothing to help with the patient in the bed right now. Our patient safety suite, along with our quality-improvement services and the Health Catalyst PSO, turns the current paradigm on its head. Unlike other approaches to using analytics within a PSO to identify and address episodes of patient harm, we monitor triggers in near real-time to reveal whether a patient is currently at risk for a safety event, so clinicians can intervene to prevent it. And we provide constant vigilance; no patient encounter goes unnoticed.”

Real-time surveillance of adverse events is the approach that Health Catalyst and VigiLanz have incorporated in their product offerings.

“The RL+Datix merger comes at a time when patient safety events are surging,” states Erik Johnson, Vice President of Marketing at VigiLanz. “It is not surprising that consolidation is happening as companies try to address the needs of the market.”

Johnson points to a recent Frost & Sullivan report that predicts further market consolidation. The report states that by 2022, adverse patient events will lead to 92 million hospital admissions and 1.95 million deaths in the US and western Europe. These avoidable hospital admissions will be a drag on financial performance – especially as we move to a value-based system.

Under the value-based models, healthcare organizations are reimbursed based on patient outcomes and satisfaction scores, not on treatment volume. This means organizations are no longer compensated for patients that are re-admitted or stay longer due to an adverse event experienced at the facility. This has put a spotlight on patient safety initiatives and is a key reason why healthcare organizations are once again investing in this aspect of their operations.

“We are seeing organizations take the opportunity, as they transition from volume to value, to renew their patient safety protocols and technologies to ensure they are capitalizing on the lessons learned from incident data,” continues Johnson. “It’s not just patient incident data either. Adverse events can happen to guests and employees as well. Hospitals are looking to get a better handle on all their events – not only to capture them, but to derive deeper insights on root cause and even further to automate the detection of events through surveillance technology.”

A request for comment from Datix and RL Solutions on their recent merger was politely declined. A company spokesperson pointed back to the press release announcing the merger which states: “the combined company will contain the largest repository of patient safety data in the world, enabling the creation of data-driven insights for healthcare stakeholders across the continuum of care.”

The final driver for growth is the recognition that patient safety is closely linked to patient experience. In the past, adverse event tracking fell to the Risk Management team inside a hospital which typically reported up through the CFO or legal counsel. It was seen as a compliance and back-office function. In recent years, however, there has been a realization that the patient safety function is a better fit under the umbrella of patient experience since the two are closely linked.

“From our perspective at The Beryl Institute, if we approach healthcare from the lenses of those that use the system not only safety, but also quality, service, cost and more are all part of the experience someone has within healthcare,” says Jason A. Wolf PhD CPXP, President of The Beryl Institute – the world’s leading community of practice for patient experience. “To differentiate safety from experience diminishes both, relegating safety to processes and checklists and experience to satisfaction or amenities. Rather, experience is the integration of all the above.”

Wolf cites the recent State of Patient Experience from The Beryl Institute where healthcare leaders acknowledged quality and safety as essential to overall experience. A parallel study, the Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience mirrored the provider result with 68% of global healthcare consumers agreeing that safety is part of the healthcare experience.

“I see the movement towards aligning patient safety and patient experience as acknowledgement of all that impacts the overall experience,” adds Wolf. “That first and foremost to consumers, their health matters to them and how they are treated both clinically and as a person is essential to their healthcare experience. This too reinforces the expectations patients and families have always had, that their care will be delivered in a safe and reliable manner.”

lt will be exciting to watch the patient safety space as the three drivers of (1) changing technology, (2) value-based care and (3) realignment under patient experience, continue to push investments in this market. I’m curious to see if the Datix + RL merger is a one-off or if other players like QuantrosRiskonnect, Origami Risk, Ventiv, Policy Medical and The Patient Safety Company will merge or be acquired. This market is definitely heating up!

PESummit Day 2 – Being Vulnerable Opens Us to Deeper Connections

Posted on June 19, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Whether it was planned or by cosmic happenstance, Day 2 of the 2018 Patient Experience: Empathy and Innovation Summit (#PESummit) reinforced a theme from the prior day:

  • Making yourself vulnerable opens us up to deeper connections with others

On Day 1, Cleveland Clinic President and CEO, Tomislav Mihaljevic MD @TomMihaljevicMD shared a story of a patient that died in the OR (see my Day 1 summary for details). It was a very personal story. By sharing it Mihaljevic made himself vulnerable and instantly forged a connection with the thousands of attendees in the hall.

Most people find it difficult to share stories that make them uncomfortable – especially ones where we are at the center of the story. We don’t like to talk about our fears, our failures or our losses because we are afraid of what other people may think (which is another way of saying that we fear that we will be rejected). Yet paradoxically by making ourselves vulnerable in this way, we actually make it easier for others to connect with us. Adrienne Boissy @boissyad, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic stated exactly that after Mihalijevic shared his story.

Day 2’s opening keynote speaker, Kelsey Crowe PhD, founder of Help Each Other Out, articulated how the fear of being a burden or being seen as needy, holds patients back from asking for help. In other words, its hard for patients to admit to being vulnerable:

Crowe went on to share how small gestures of kindness and empathy, made at the times of vulnerability made a tremendous difference in their care. A unique “gesture wall” that she deployed at a healthcare facility allowed patients to capture these wonderful moments for staff to read.

This theme of being open, honest and vulnerable as a way to connect with people was reinforced by the next keynote speaker, Michael Hebb, founder of Deathoverdinner.org, and Drugsoverdinner.org.

In fact, Hebb’s entire keynote featured story after story about how sharing the fears about the end-of-life opened up the conversation, providing families and loved ones with the chance to better connect.

Vulnerability was also featured by Day 2’s closing keynotes: Brennan Spiegel MD @BrennanSpiegel, Director of Health Services Research, Cedars-Sinai Health System and Zubin Damania MD @ZDoggMD

At the end of Brennan’s fascinating presentation on the clinical application for an efficacy of Virtual Reality, he shared a failure that counterbalanced the exceedingly positive stories that he had showed the audience. Like Mihaljevic, talking about a failure helped the audience connect with Brennan and the patient that had suffered a panic attack as a result of the VR simulation.

Vulnerability was also featured by Day 2’s closing keynotes: Brennan Spiegel MD @BrennanSpiegel, Director of Health Services Research, Cedars-Sinai Health System and Zubin Damania MD @ZDoggMD

At the end of Brennan’s fascinating presentation on the clinical application for an efficacy of Virtual Reality, he shared a failure that counterbalanced the exceedingly positive stories that he had showed the audience. Like Mihaljevic, talking about a failure helped the audience connect with Brennan and the patient that had suffered a panic attack as a result of the VR simulation.

As is normal for Damania (aka ZDoggMD), his session was energizing and entertaining. However, in the midst of live renditions of his favorite medical rap parodies and fun stories of his parents, Damania shared the story of Turntable Health – the novel practice he was forced to close in early 2017. “No one was more pissed off about it than me.” said Damania.

By sharing this painful part of his journey, Damania made himself vulnerable and judging by the body language, many in the audience could relate to his do-everything-right-yet-still-not-work-out feelings. That story gave context to Damania’s impassioned plee to join him in ushering in Health 3.0 – a vision for care partly based on the best parts of his Turntable Health experience.

Day 2 of PESummit even better than Day 1. I can’t wait for the final day tomorrow. Follow the conference hashtag – #PESummit for real-time updates!

PESummit Day 1 – Empathy is Hot in Cleveland

Posted on I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

With the mercury hitting an incredible 90+ in downtown Cleveland, it was only fitting that the speakers and attendees at the 2018 Patient Experience: Empathy and Innovation Summit (#PESummit) turned up the heat on the passion for more empathy in healthcare WITHOUT a corresponding increase in burnout.

Day 1 at PESummit kicked off with Cleveland Clinic’s dynamic duo of Adrienne Boissy @boissyad, Chief Experience Officer and K. Kelly Hancock @kkellyhancock, Executive Chief Nursing Officer. Boissy issued a challenge to the audience in her opening:

They were followed by Cleveland Clinic President and CEO, Tomislav Mihaljevic MD @TomMihaljevicMD who shared a number of things that we could each do to increase empathy in our daily work. The clear favorite was eating lunch with someone you don’t know, and get to know them:


But the most poignant part of Mihaljevic’s time on stage came when he shared a failure from his past – the time he lost a patient in the OR. He spoke about how he and his team was unable to repair the damage to a patient’s heart and how devastated the team was when despite their best effort, the patient died. As the leader Mihaljevic held himself accountable and not only did he have to support the patient’s family in dealing with their loss, he had to help his own team deal with the death as well.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear Mihaljevic talk about the feelings he had in the moment and how he learned lessons that he carries with him today.

The highlight of the breakout sessions was the panel discussion on “When Patient and Healthcare Innovation Meet” that featured Grace Cordovano @GraceCordovano, Julie Rish @julie_rish, Christine Traul MD @traulc and Michael Seres @mjseres.


My favorite was Cordovano’s tip for patients to go into the doctor appointments PREPARED – with questions they are seeking answers to.

Day 1 ended with Thomas H Lee MD @ThomasHLeeMD, CMO of Press Ganey talking about “grit” (aka resilience) at the individual and team levels.


Lee’s most provocative statement was when he cited his research that found that it is ineffective to use financial incentives to motivate behavior that is inherently non-financial in nature. This punched a hole through the concept of paying people to sleep more than 7 hours that was mentioned by one of the morning keynotes and other gamification techniques that have become popular over the past few years.

Day 1 at PESummit was fantastic and I’m looking forward to a equally great Day 2. Follow along on Twitter #PESummit

 

 

 

 

Healthcare Prominently Featured at Information Builders Summit

Posted on June 6, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

It was a pleasant surprise to see healthcare clients prominently featured at the 2018 Information Builders Summit (#IBSummit) in Orlando FL. Best known for their work in financial services, government and retail, Information Builders has recently carved out healthcare as an industry of focus. That focus was on full display with presentations from: Floyd Healthcare, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the Healthcare Association of New York State.

According to experts at GE Healthcare, the average US hospital generates in excess of 50 Petabytes (PB) of data each year. That’s inclusive of all images, lab results, EHR data, financial information, and every other bit of operational as well as clinical information. To help put that amount of data in perspective:

  • 1GB = 7min of HDTV video [1]
  • 1TB = 1024 GB = 130,000 digital photos
  • 1PB = 1024 TB = 3.4 years worth of HDTV video, or about the size of the movie Avatar
  • 50PB = The entire written works of mankind from the beginning of recorded history in all languages [2]

With this much data, it’s no surprise that many companies are putting energy behind Big Data and Machine Learning (ML) initiatives to help wring value from this growing mountain of information. Companies like IBM Watson, Health Catalyst, Caradigm and Optum all offer advanced data analytics platforms that use various forms of ML to discern patterns within healthcare data. However, most healthcare organizations do not have the technology infrastructure, funds or executive buy-in to adopt these heavy-weight solutions.

Luckily, Information Builders (IB) offers healthcare organizations a way to ease into advanced analytics that does not require the hiring of a data scientist as step one.

According to Grace Auh, Manager of Business Intelligence & Analytics at Markham Stouffville Hospital (located north of Toronto, Ontario), IB provided a smooth on ramp to data analytics. “Instead of trying to go from zero to 100 KPH (MPH for those in the US) in a single step, we adopted IB’s webFOCUS tool to whet the appetite of internal stakeholders” said Auh. “We started with ED pay-for-performance metrics that are tied to reimbursement bonuses here in Ontario. We created a series of reports that executives could drill-down into for deeper analysis. We update the clinical data monthly and the financial data quarterly.”

Auh and the team at Markham Stouffville opted for simple reports/charts rather than fancy data visualization in order to help gain executive buy-in. By keeping things simple, Auh was able to quickly convince executives that the data within the IB reports were indeed accurate (something that had been a challenge with previous data initiatives).

“The goal,” explained Auh. “Is to have a fully integrated and real-time system that is the single source of truth for the hospital. We want to empower program and hospital leaders to self-serve their data needs. It’s our job to build the platform so that they can get the data they want in the format they need it whenever they want. It’s got to be clean, simple, complete and easy to consume. We even want physicians to start using it.”

Floyd Healthcare, an independently-owned community hospital network in Georgia, had a similar goal.

“We have a vision to roll out our dashboards to directors, supervisors and even front-line staff,” said Drew Dempsey, Director of Planning & Business Intelligence at Floyd Medical Center. “We already have a data-driven culture at Floyd because of our lean six-sigma work. The appetite for metrics is high and our level of data maturity grows each day. The data we are able to get through IB is helping us achieve our goals and drive operational efficiencies.”

Using IB’s new Omni-HealthData platform, Dempsey and his team put together a surgical volume dashboard for their CEO. It showed surgeries by speciality, by surgeon and by location. This type of report was a regular part of executive meetings. It used to take days to compile this information by hand and required 120 PowerPoint slides to present it to the level of detail needed for the meeting. The entire report is now automated within Omni and offers executives multiple ways to slice the data.

“We used to spend a lot of time compiling data,” recalled Dempsey. “But now with Information Builders we are able to spend more time analyzing and interpreting the data – a far better use of everyone’s time. We build everything once and it gets used many times.”

The team at Floyd is now working to expand into other reports that provide Service Line and Operational leaders with clinical as well as financial reports that will allow them to make better strategic decisions. From there they plan to tackle revenue cycle reporting, quality metrics, population health indicators and PCMH reporting.

It would be fair to say that Floyd and Markham Stouffville are both fairly early in their analytics journey with IB. St. Luke’s University Health Network, however, is highly advanced in their use of IB’s tools for clinical and operational insight. A ten hospital system centered in Bethlehem PA with over 300 sites of care, St. Luke’s is a top performer on the Truven Top 100 (now IBM Watson Top 100) hospital analytics list.

St. Luke’s codeveloped the Omni-HealthData platform in cooperation with the team at IB. Many of the out-of-the-box report objects and visualizations are the refinement of the reports that St. Luke’s created for their internal users. These reports include:

  • Department/Service Line Performance
  • Patient Safety Indicators
  • In-patient Quality Metrics (ALOS, SSIs)
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Value-based Contract Metrics

In total there are over 90 self-service reports (called applications in IB vernacular) available.

“We borrowed proven tactics from the retail industry,” explained Dan Foltz, Managing Director at Parnassus Consulting, who helped St. Luke’s with their IB implementation. “With IB we were able to do targeted patient outreach based on cohorts of interest. Using data from multiple systems we were able to determine which patients might benefit from education and special programs. For example, the hospital wanted to make early stage Parkinsons patients aware of a deep brain stimulation program. We were able to achieve an 80-90% uptake – something unheard of in healthcare. It was amazing.”

The St. Luke’s electronic data warehouse consolidates information from six main (and silo’d) systems:

  1. Find-a-doc
  2. Allscripts
  3. McKesson
  4. EPIC
  5. Enrollment
  6. Credentialling

Over the next few years they plan to consolidate all their source systems into the warehouse and use their IB portal to provide insights. They currently have 40 data sources integrated within IB.

You can read more about the St. Luke’s implementation of IB in this success story.

I came away from IBSummit impressed by the success that Information Builders has helped its healthcare clients achieve. Every healthcare client that I spoke to raved about how the IB team helped them avoid project traps like diving too deeply into data specifics, losing sight of overall strategic goals, and not gaining sufficient executive buy-in.

“We’re sticking to what has made us successful in so many other industries,” said Jake Freivald, Information Builder’s Vice President of Product Marketing (Healthcare). “We are here to help healthcare organizations collect information faster & easier, and providing tools that allow them to present that information in valuable ways. The one thing we see our healthcare clients needing is more help in the data consolidation step. That’s where we are focusing more attention.”

It will be interesting to revisit IB’s early-stage healthcare clients at next year’s Summit to see how much progress they have made.