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Origin Story: Mark McCloskey, President of Oneview Healthcare. Living Up to Commitments.

Posted on May 29, 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.

Right from the start I knew Mark McCloskey’s origin story was going to be special.

McCloskey, President and Founder of Oneview Healthcare, agreed to meet while we were both traveling through Chicago. We booked the meeting well in advance, but it turned out that we accidentally picked a date when Oneview was hosting several key customers at its US headquarters in Chicago. It would have been completely understandable if McCloskey postponed our meeting, but he and his team insisted keep it on the books. They had made a commitment and they wanted to make good on it.

Making commitments and living up to them is something that permeates McCloskey’s origin story and makes it special. In fact, this commitment is something that McCloskey has infused into the company he founded. Oneview has a strong reputation as a company that listens to its customers and delivers on promises made. This is partly why their customers are such strong advocates.

McCloskey’s story begins as many Irish tales do, as a young man leaving his beloved home to seek his fortune abroad. In McCloskey’s case, his journey began with a commitment made to a dress-maker friend of his. He took five dresses designed by his friend with a promise to sell them in London. Armed with nothing more than determination to succeed, he sold those dresses to a local London fashion retailer, Next PLC and convinced them to let him have space in one of their stores in return for a percentage of his dress sales.

With no experience in either fashion or retail, McCloskey focused on listening to what customers wanted and then tried it. Eventually he found a winning formula and in short order, he grew the business from one location to several dozen. He hired staff, took care of marketing and worked with his dressmaker friend to ensure a steady supply of dresses for the sprawling retail operation. By the tender age of 22, he had 84 people working for him and he was selling dresses all over England.

Unfortunately, it all came to abrupt end in 1988 when his dressmaker friend decided to retire from the business in order to start a family. McCloskey wound down the operation and returned to Ireland.

Back at home, McCloskey became a successful sales executive at a telecommunications company that was later acquired by British Telecom. He then went on to co-found a company that ran Ireland’s first independent ATM networks because he thought people should be able to conveniently access their own money from any ATM. That company was acquired by Ulster Bank in 2004. Two years after that acquisition, McCloskey found himself in hospital for knee surgery and it was his experience that ignited the flame that would become Oneview Healthcare.

“They put me in a ward room after my surgery,” recalled McCloskey. “The room held 4 people in total and had just 1 TV. The biggest guy in the room had the remote so no one was going to argue with him about what to watch. So for three days I watched what he wanted to watch.”

During those three days, McCloskey began to take note of the odd and inefficient processes at the hospital. “I noticed that everything was paper based,” recounted McCloskey. “Whenever a nurse or doctor came in the room, they asked the same questions over and over. It became very repetitive. On top of that, I got woken up every morning at 6am when a lady from food services came in the room to hand us slips of paper with that day’s menu on it. We had to check what we wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then the lady would collect all the papers. I would come back after physio and the lunch that I ordered would be on the tray and it would be cold because it had been sitting there for an hour. They hospital delivered the meals according to the kitchen’s schedule and not the patient’s schedule. Then after almost 4 days in the hospital, they gave me an A4 sheet of paper with some instructions on it and said ‘there’s your physio’ now off you go.”

Following his hospital stay, McCloskey found himself on a plane to New York City with his wife. With the less-than-stellar healthcare experience still fresh in his mind, McCloskey was pleasantly surprised by much better experience he had as an airline passenger – especially with the in-flight entertainment system. [Editor’s Note: It is never a good sign when the customer experience in the AIRLINE industry is superior to your own].

During that trip, McCloskey committed himself to bringing that same airline experience to healthcare and Oneview Healthcare was born.

It was here that his early experience selling dresses helped him. Once again, McCloskey found himself in an unfamiliar industry (healthcare) attempting to sell a product he knew very little about (patient entertainment systems). Taking a cue from his past, he started by finding out what customers actually wanted and then incorporating that into his offering.

One of the first organizations he showed the product to was Epworth HealthCare, the largest private hospital group operator in Australia’s state of Victoria. They were impressed, but had numerous suggestions to improve the product which the small Oneview team added to the product. This virtuous cycle repeated itself over and over as McCloskey continued to show the product to healthcare organizations around the world including: UCSF Mission Bay, Chris O’Brian Lifehouse and  Maimonides Medical Center.

Fast forward to the end of 2012. At this point Oneview was a company of eight and without any customers, McCloskey had to make a tough decision. The company needed an infusion of cash in order to ensure it could make the Christmas payroll. McCloskey went to his wife and explained the situation. Together they decided to sell both their cars and put the money in the company. His wife had just one condition – that when the company “made it” that she would get the car of her dreams. McCloskey agreed and the cars were sold quickly.

And then the call came.

Alan Kincade, CEO of Epworth HealthCare called McCloskey to ask him to come to Australia to make a last presentation to the selection committee who was looking at new patient entertainment systems. McCloskey flew down to Australia and met with the Epworth team. The product’s vastly improved feature set, which went well beyond a simple entertainment system, impressed the committee. After the presentation, Kincade asked to meet privately with McCloskey.

“At that meeting Alan told me that we had the best product he’d ever seen,” said McCloskey. “But before we could move forward, he wanted me to answer a few questions from their financial controller. At that point he invited Liz into the room and she asked me three questions which I answered as honestly as I could.”

“How many employees do you have?”

“Eight”

“What’s your revenue?”

“Our revenue is zero right now.”

“What’s your balance sheet look like?”

“Not that good actually. Right now we’re $5 Million in debt.”

According to McCloskey it was at that point that the controller turned to Kincade and said: “Honestly Alan you can’t sign a contract with a company from Ireland with eight people who are 5 million in debt.”

OOF.

But just when all hope seemed lost, Kincade said the magic words that would set Oneview on a path to success: “Mark, can you sort out your debt problem? If you can get back to me in 6 months and prove to me that you have the money and the balance sheet sorted out so that I can sign a contract for 5 years, I’ll do business with you.”

McCloskey committed to Kincade that he would.

The meeting happened on a Wednesday and by Friday McCloskey was home in Ireland getting ready with his wife for a dinner party with some friends. By cosmic coincidence, one of the other guests at the dinner party just happened to be a financier from Australia who helped companies raise capital. Over dinner, the two of them agreed to meet at the Oneview office on Monday.

During that meeting, McCloskey and his team impressed the financier who agreed to help Oneview raise money and restructure its debt. That financier was James Fitter, who is now Oneview’s Chief Executive Officer.

Together McCloskey and Fitter raised $8 Million from family, friends and angel investors. They bought back the company’s debt from the bank and in a few short months they got the balance sheet in order. A week after they completed the financing, the company inked its first deal – from Chris O’Brian Lifehouse in Australia. A week later, UCSF called to negotiate a deal.

“Joe Bengfort, CIO of UCSF Medical Center called me up and told me ‘You have a great product and you are one of two finalists’,” said McCloskey. “He then told us that the other company was installed in 40,000 beds compared to the zero that we had. Despite that, he let us know that we had won the contract because ‘UCSF has not gotten to where it is without making brave and bold decisions’”

To secure the deal, McCloskey had to make several commitments including: handing over Board of Director notes to Bengfort so that he could read about the technical direction and financial health of the company (something that Fitter had implemented as standard company practice earlier in the year) and to allowing a member of the UCSF team serve on the new customer advisory board for the Oneview product (which they did).

With these two new customers in the fold and having met the conditions outlined by Kincade at their last meeting, McCloskey returned to Epworth and signed the deal. In just a few months Oneview went from zero revenue to having three large hospital clients. It was just the boost the company needed.

Today, Oneview is a successful company with offices in Dublin (Global HQ), Chicago, Dubai, Melbourne and Sydney. The company recently announced a further global expansion with customers in Thailand and the rest of UAE.

As McCloskey told his story, I was struck by the number of times he was asked to make a commitment and was impressed by his effort to make good on those commitments. Whether it was a promise to sell a certain number of dresses, to address the company finances or to buy a car of his wife’s dreams, McCloskey never waivered in his commitment.

In this day and age, it is easy to make a verbal promise and even easier to break it. Verbal agreements simply do not have the heft they once did. To me it is rare and special to you hear a story like McCloskey’s – of promises made and kept.

Over this past year I have gotten to know a few members of the Oneview team and I can tell you firsthand that the company has a culture of living up to commitments. When they say they will do something, they do it. It’s not hard to trace this culture back to McCloskey. It is one of the reasons why the company is succeeding.

EPILOGUE: McCloskey did buy his wife the car of her dreams. He never did get around to replacing his vehicle and now uses Uber instead.

PX2018: The Line Between Patient Experience and Patient Engagement Continues to Blur

Posted on May 4, 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 2018 Patient Experience Conference, #PX2018, hosted by The Beryl Institute, was a wholly different than previous incarnations. In prior years the central focus was squarely on patient experience. This year, there was significant emphasis placed on patient engagement and activating patients. It was a welcome change.

The Beryl Institute’s annual conference is one of the events I look forward to each year. It is a positive, upbeat, and reaffirming event that brings together healthcare professionals involved with improving patient experience. Attendees come from around the world including: Canada, UK, Sweden and Asia. This gives the event an international flavor and brings together many different perspectives on patient experience.

In 2004, I attended my first patient experience conference. Back then the event was organized and hosted by the Society of Healthcare Consumer Advocacy (SHCA) – a society within the American Hospital Association. In those days, the annual gathering was designed specifically for Patient Feedback professionals and Patient Advocates that worked inside hospitals. The event, was dominated by sessions about patient surveys (later becoming HCAHPS) and timely responses to patient complaints. For many years the annual SHCA event remained operationally focused.

In 2013, SHCA was integrated into The Beryl Institute and things began to shift markedly. Instead of an annual SHCA conference that was narrowly aimed at patient complaints, the new conference from The Beryl Institute was much broader and covered the whole of patient experience. The sessions became less operational and more strategic in nature. Words like “empathy” and phrases like “meeting patients where they are” became part of the hallway chatter.

Fast forward to 2018. “Patient Experience” has become an even broader term and perhaps slightly overused. All sorts of HealthIT companies and consulting firms now boldly state they are in the patient experience business. The term is now used to refer to everything from patient advocacy to patient rights to online reviews (and reputation management) to patient engagement/activation. As the definition has changed, so too has The Beryl Institute conference.

The first hint that something was different came when I scanned the program agenda a few weeks before the conference. There were several sessions that I did not expect to see:

  • Engaging Families and Teams in I-PASS to Improve Patient Safety and Experience
  • OpenNotes: Breaking Barriers, Changing Culture, Engaging Patients
  • Building Operational Capacity for Patient Engagement

I was also pleasantly surprised by the depth and breadth of vendors in the exhibit hall. Companies like OneView, TVR Communications, Relatient and eVariant each had demonstrations of products that educated patients, reminded patients about their care plans and directed patients to the most appropriate service line or physician based on an analysis of their needs. All of these capabilities are focused in the world of patient engagement yet judging by the busy traffic at these booths, it is clear that patient experience professionals are stakeholders and influencers for the purchase of those solutions.

Even consulting companies like Cast & Hue (who did a fun design-thinking exercise in their booth) talked about how they can help healthcare organizations build better processes and workflows to encourage more patient involvement.

I welcome the blurring between patient experience and patient engagement. Although it is possible to be good at one without the other, the goal should be to improve one alongside the other. To me, patient engagement is tangible and measurable – something which was becoming increasingly difficult to do in the world of patient experience pre-2010. I believe a good patient experience is a prerequisite to engaging patients in their care which leads to better outcomes – which is ultimately the goal we are all striving for.

Is EMR Use Unfair To Patients?

Posted on April 24, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

As we all know, clinicians have good reasons to be aggravated with their EMRs. While the list of grievances is long — and legitimate — perhaps the biggest complaint is loss of control. I have to say that I sympathize; if someone forced me to adopt awkward digital tools to do my work I would go nuts.

We seldom discuss, however, the possibility that these systems impose an unfair burden on patients as well. But that’s the argument one physician makes in a recent op-ed for the American Council on Science and Health.

The author, Jamie Wells, MD, calls the use of EMRs “an ethical disaster,” and suggests that forced implementation of EMRs may violate the basic tenets of bioethics.

Some of the arguments Dr. Wells makes apply exclusively to physicians. For one thing, she contends that penalizing doctors who don’t adapt successfully to EMR use is unfair. She also suggests that EMRs create needless challenges that can erode physicians’ ability to deliver quality care, add significant time to a physician’s workday and force doctors to participate in related continuing education whether or not they want to do so.

Unlike many essays critiquing this topic, Wells also contends that patients are harmed by EMR use.

For example, Wells argues that since patients are never asked whether they want physicians to use EMRs, they never get the chance to consider the risks and benefits associated with EHR data use in developing care plans. Also, they are never given a chance to weigh in on whether they are comfortable having less face time with their physicians, she notes.

In addition, she says that since EMRs prompt physicians to ask questions not relevant to that patient’s care, adding extra steps to the process, they create unfair delays in a patient’s getting relief from pain and suffering.

What’s more, she argues that since EMR systems typically aren’t interoperable, they create inconveniences which can ultimately interfere with the patient’s ability to choose a provider.

Folks, you don’t have to convince me that EMR implementations can unfairly rattle patients and caregivers. As I noted in a previous essay, my mother recently went to a terrifying experience when the hospital where my brother was being cared for went through an EMR implementation during the crucial point in his care. She was rightfully concerned that staff might be more concerned with adapting to the EMR and somewhat less focused on her extremely fragile son’s care.

As I noted in the linked article above. I believe that health executives should spend more time considering potentially negative effects of their health IT initiatives on patients. Maybe these execs will have to have a sick relative at the hospital during a rollout before they’ll make the effort.

UW Medicine, Valley Medical Center Reduces Medical Errors With Better Clinician Communication

Posted on April 20, 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 safety while simultaneously reducing clinician workloads, increasing efficiency and elevating the patient experience is an almost impossible task. Yet the team at University of Washington Medicine, Valley Medical Center found a way to do just that. Using a secure communications platform from Voalte, the Valley Medical Center team implemented processes that not only reduced the occurrence of pressure ulcers but also improved staff morale.

It is not obvious that improving the communication between patients, clinicians and administrators can lead to better outcomes, but for James Jones (BSN, MSN, NEA-BC), Vice President PCS & Nursing Operations at UW Medicine, Valley Medical Center, he believed it could:

“Being a nurse I realized that if you want patient care to be successful, better patient outcomes and improve the patient experience, you need to start with clinicians first. Without the clinicians, you cannot be successful. They are the entryway for the patient into the organization.”

Jones felt that by investing in clinicians and reducing their workload, they would have more time and energy to focus on improving patient experience as well as patient outcomes. To verify his theory and to gain buy-in from the organization, Jones and his team met with clinicians to ask what they wanted and how THEY would go about improving patient outcomes.

After many meetings, the Valley Medical Center team found that improving internal communications was high on everyone’s priority list. Many clinicians truly believed that better communication would lead to safer patient care – especially in the area of skin-integrity related adverse events (medical errors).

The impact of adverse events and medical errors on US Healthcare are staggering:

  • 10% of all US deaths, approximately 250,000 per year, are due to medical errors [1]
  • $20.8 Billion annually in additional (direct) healthcare costs [2]
  • $250 Billion annually in additional (indirect) healthcare costs [2]

One of the best ways to improve patient outcomes is to reduce the number of preventable adverse events. Pressure ulcers, skin wounds that are caused by sustained pressure on area of the skin – usually as a result of sitting or lying in the same position for long periods of time, are classified as a preventable adverse event.

“Prior to the implementation of Voalte there was a 10-step process to document and assess a pressure ulcer,” explained Jones. “With Voalte we were able to streamline the time and workflow related to pressure ulcers by 40%. Our Wound Care NRP is now able to be anywhere in the hospital and still be able to help patients and clinicians.” Something that would have been impossible with their legacy processes and communication technologies.

The streamlined process and improved communications not only improved patient outcomes, it also had an impact on staff morale and clinician burnout in two specific ways.

First, clinician workload is often cited as a leading cause of burnout. According to a JAMA study published last year, the 25% of physician that felt burnout cited the following contributing factors:

  • 1 percent felt their job environment led to symptoms of burnout
  • 1 percent felt a lack of time for documentation
  • 4 percent reported stress as a common factor
  • 1 percent reported spending time on electronic medical records (EMRs) at home was a significant contributor

When clinicians feel burnt out, it has an impact on patient safety. A Swiss study published in 2014 found a linkage between burnout and adverse events. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued the following comment on the study:

The investigators propose that the linkage between burnout and safety is driven by both a lack of motivation or energy and impaired cognitive function. In the latter case, they postulate that emotionally exhausted clinicians curtail performance to focus on only the most necessary and pressing tasks. Clinicians with burnout may also have impaired attention, memory, and executive function that decrease their recall and attention to detail. Diminished vigilance, cognitive function, and increased safety lapses place clinicians and patients at higher risk for errors. As burned out clinicians become cynically detached from their work, they may develop negative attitudes toward patients that promote a lack of investment in the clinician–provider interaction, poor communication, and loss of pertinent information for decision-making. Together these factors result in the burned out clinician having impaired capacity to deal with the dynamic and technically complex nature of ICU care effectively.

Second, by reducing the occurrence of adverse events at Valley Medical Cetner, Jones and his team were helping to reduce clinician anxiety and improve mental health. A report published in 2007 measured the emotional impact on physician that were involved in an adverse event or near miss (adverse events that were caught BEFORE harm came to a patient). The findings were stark:

Source: The Emotional Impact of Medical Errors on Practicing Physicians in the United States and Canada

This study, combined with the prior body of work, shows that there is a “virtuous cycle of benefit” when it comes to burnout and adverse events. Reducing workload and improving morale means clinicians are less likely to feel burned out which in turn means they are less likely to be involved in an adverse event, which means they are less likely to suffer the deep negative emotions associated with medical errors…and round and round it goes.

The team at Valley Medical Cetner is beginning to reap the benefits of being in this cycle. By focusing on improving communications, streamlining documentation requirements and reducing skin-integrity related adverse events, they are directly impacting a key contributing factor to burnout.

“Our goal is to help make it easy for clinicians to do the right thing for patients,” said Jones. “Clinicians are on the front lines. It’s the job of IT to give them the tools and the resources they need to be successful.”

For Valley Medical Center, one of those tools was the Voalte Platform which simplifies care team communication and collaboration. Deployed through smartphones, the Voalte solution gives physicians, nurses and administrators a secure way to communicate via voice and text within the walls of the hospital – eliminating the need for pages over the PA system.

Jones disclosed that Valley Medical Center chose the Voalte Platform because they believed “it was the best platform to help clinicians” and that culturally the team at Voalte was the one most closely aligned to Valley Medical Center’s patient-first approach.

“Voalte was really great to work with,” Jones stated. “They helped us through the transition and through the change management process. They were there in the command center, working alongside us during the initial roll-out. That was huge. It really helped with buy-in and with addressing the small changes that came up during that roll-out.”

In the three months following the roll-out, Valley Medical Center saved more than $50,000 just on their Renal Respiratory Unit and their patient satisfaction scores climbed to the 99th percentile.

Better patient experience. Improved patient outcomes. Lower costs. Reduced workloads. Valley Medical Center has definitely scored a quadruple-win.

You can watch my interview with James Jones on the Healthcare Scene YouTube channel or the embedded video below.

Voalte is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

Hospital Uses Disney Magic To Improve Patient Satisfaction

Posted on December 26, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Ideally, patients come away from their hospital stay not only healthier, but happier too. So how about taking a page from the Happiest Place On Earth?  Yes, I mean Disney Land.

Dissatisfied with its patient satisfaction scores, one Florida hospital has struck a partnership with Walt Disney Co. to pick up some of that Mouse Magic.  Since then, the hospital’s scores have shot up — and patient volumes, too.

Back in 2009, satisfaction was at rock bottom at 200-bed Florida Hospital for Children. To change its luck, the 200-bed hospital decided to make sure of a pioneering program run by Disney, laying out about $200,000 in consulting fees to bring the entertainment company in.

Not only did Disney help the hospital improve its presentation, it also got tips on improving staff morale and treating patients as customers. (The “staff morale” thing is a bit amusing, since, as all former Florida residents know, Disney’s own employee policies have earned it the title “the Rat.” But I digress.)

These days, when little patients and their parents enter the Walt Disney Pavilion, they’re greeted by a “park ranger” who offers directions, a Disney-theme play area and a ukelele-playing greeter in character costume, according to USA Today.

Behind scenes, some staffers have been tagged as Disney-style “cast members,” and work areas have been renamed “back stage” and “front stage” areas.

While some of this may sound a little silly, it’s generated big results.  Florida Hospital’s patient satisfaction scores have climbed to the 80th percentile of all children’s hospitals nationally. Even better, patient volumes are up by nearly half, administrators told the paper. You can’t beat that with a stick.

Though I’m sure kids are more focused on the fun, park-like attractions, my hunch would be that the back-office changes were as important to Florida Hospital’s transformation as the cosmetic fixes. After all, when it comes right down to it, the parents who pay for care are more worried about things like working with staffers who are upbeat and happy with their jobs.  Still, it’s an intriguing approach overall.