Automation Leaders Share Insights Surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic & Its Impact on the Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has had drastic affects to people and businesses across the United States and the globe. As we all navigate this together, Direct Recruiters would like to extend a message to clients, candidates and their families to be healthy and safe during this challenging time. Our Automation team has been connected with multiple Automation organizations and leaders who are willing to share helpful information, advice and insights regarding the initiatives their organization is taking in the pandemic to manage the uncertainty, assist in the fight against COVID-19, how to keep employees engaged right now, and more. Thank you to all participants for the helpful information you provided.

Jump to interviews: Patrick Coakley - Plant Automation Group 

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Patrick Coakley, Regional Sales Manager
Plant Automation Group

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your company is doing differently either to assist in the fight against Covid-19 or generally how your leadership is handling the situation?

Patrick CoakleyOur company, Plant Automation Group (PAG)  is actually just as busy as we were before. Some clients have slowed, but few projects are on hold while some have picked up, as many are considered an essential manufacture. Many of these companies would rather look at automating facilities than hiring more employees at this time. We have also seen some manufacturers pivot to help support hand sanitizer applications which has been strong this last month.  At PAG, we are always supporting automation requirements across a number of industries and within any segment of line automation.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We don’t hire people who aren’t motivated, so our people are staying motivated through this as always. Since our sales and engineering teams need to be highly skilled across multiple platforms of equipment and combinations of industry segments, we have a unique talent of industry professionals.  We are a smaller company and haven't had issues keeping employees engaged.

What message would you like to share with our industry as a whole in regards to the pandemic?

We sent an email to many of our clients on Friday and that message basically was to encourage them, if they have previous projects going on and they’re looking to expand automation requirements from a customer-based need, to do it now, be proactive and plan next steps for automation. If customers are not planning and waiting to see what happens, they will fall behind those who are already carrying out projects. Equipment will be out of stock, and lead times will increase. Our message was around those points,  clients should push ahead in our opinion. We predict that the third and fourth quarter will be huge for the economy, and although some people have paused purchasing, they should not pause from reviewing projects.  Manufactures need to be prepared when we come out of this shortly.

Anything else you would like to add:

This whole pandemic has shown us within the US that we have an issue, number one, our supply chain, but also that we are manufacturing too many products overseas, which we are seeing just in the pharmaceutical industry alone right now. Many companies assemble products in the US relying  on third party suppliers, but they are not manufactured here. We need to bring that back to the United States and we have seen this happening in 2019. The pandemic has only reinforced the need.

COVID-19: How Healthcare IT Industry Organizations are Managing

As we experience a global pandemic, COVID-19, Direct Recruiters would like to wish all clients, candidates, and their families health, wellness, and safety during this time. In this unprecedented period of time, we are connecting with successful Healthcare IT companies and individuals to provide helpful information and tips regarding how their business is responding to the pandemic, how to keep employees engaged right now, and more. Thank you to all participants for the helpful insight for the HIT industry and Healthcare Industry as a whole.

Jump to interviews: Matthew Sappern - PeriGen, Amie Teske and Brian Fugere - symplr, Rich Waller - VisiQuate,Miriam Paramore - OptimizeRX, James Hoover - Medarcus,  Lee Shapiro - Livongo Health, Dev Singh - AiRo Digital Labs,Nicole Rogas - Experian Health, Pat Murphy - Interlace Health, Todd Helmink - Qliqsoft,Marc Camm - Careport

Matthew Sappern, CEO
PeriGen

https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-sappern-75b57b/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

It isn’t so much a pivot on our products or services as it is a pivot to our daily operations. We have closed our offices and moved to a virtual workflow. Key to this has been our separate teams, such as development, services and support teams, enacting a daily video conference to start each day and keep initiatives on track and customers in focus. As far as assisting the industry, we are updating and increasing the number of online resources we create, especially for sys admins and bedside clinicians. We are also reaching out proactively to some “frequent flyer” support customers to check in. such that we are as responsive as possible to issues that they might face are providing online training courses for users and sys admins, monitoring the frequent flier questions.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

When COVID-19, I focused on three critical constituencies: the Board, the Team, and the Customers. For all, regular and transparent communication is critical. The board needed an immediate baseline assessment on implications to plan, especially relative to cash. Proactive and a go-forward schedule of communication to the Board frees you up from incoming queries. Customers need to know that you want to help and if you have made anything exceptional available for them. Team is the most critical and hardest. Personal engagement to the extent possible has been important for me and it this continues to be an important time to reinforce the company’s mission and what it means to me personally. I immediately issued a video where I discussed how we might have to change workflow and I gave a reasonable assessment of our business and its ability to weather a storm such as we face. I join as many video conferences as possible – even if just for a minute to say hello and joke around. We have fielded a number of contests around video interactions with clients and each other as well; all designed to stimulate engagement with each other. I certainly have met a few family members of my colleagues, which has been great!

What message would you like to share with the Healthcare IT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

First of all, I hope everyone is as safe as possible. Second, this is clearly a call to action to progress clinical technology that helps to improve standardization and scalability of care. I have a great respect for how far RCM technology has come in the last few years, and hope that clinical innovation will experience the same surge in innovation and adoption by health system leadership.

Amie Teske

Brian Fugere

Brian Fugere, Chief Marketing and Product Officer
symplr
Amie Teske, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Provider Management
symplr

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfugere/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/amiesmithteske/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to COVID-19? 

symplr’s mission is to make healthcare GRC simpler. As such, we’ve been actively engaged with our customers in a wide variety of activities to help them through the pandemic. Some examples include: best practices around vendor and visitor access/management, implementing new pay policies and flexible staff schedules, emergency credentialing of new providers, etc. We’ve published new white papers and instructional videos to enable our customers to take action quickly. All of these resources can be found on our COVID-19 Resource page. More solutions are being discussed daily and the one’s with the most potential and positive impact will be launched as frequently as possible. 

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated? 

Our company culture supported a “work from anywhere” approach long before the country went into a work from home mandate. As such, we were well prepared for the transition from an IT infrastructure and employee operating basis. Making the physical transition was the easy part – now, the engagement and motivation part kicks in. Our leaders encourage the use of video when communicating over Teams or Ring Central. We host virtual happy hours to ensure teams talk to each other about something besides work. And, our kids and dogs make frequent appearances on our conference calls! 

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole? 

Our message is simple: we’re all in this together. Whether those on the front lines or those, like us, who provide support from behind, we’re all in this for the patient. We’ll do whatever we can to help the patient, and to help the staff deliver timely and appropriate care to that patient. 

Rich Waller

Rich Waller, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer
VisiQuate, Inc.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rich-waller/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

At VisiQuate we are always developing new plays for our playbook that address specific things our clients are dealing with right now. Our role, on a daily basis, is to provide our clients with insights, guidance and analysis.  So in many ways this is something our organization was built for, in terms of being a trusted resource from a partner perspective. Our clients always have insights during any type of crisis or difficult times like this.  We have turned up the volume on research and our team is getting dashboards up and running that give not only COVID-19 specific analysis, but how this is having an affect on their organization overall. Most clients in central business office settings are moving workers to work from home; being a cloud-based solution provider, our solutions can be leveraged working from home and we can make sure clients have the access, tools and everything needed to keep their process and productivity running.

VisiQuate has also taken the initiative to create a COVID-19 Revenue Cycle resource site to help provider organizations during this difficult time. Stay up to date as information develops here: https://www.visiquate.com/COVID-19  

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We get out of bed every morning with the mission to help improve cost and overall effectiveness of healthcare processes, so our team by nature is leaning into this. Our services model is white glove and fanatical, so our team has adopted a “whatever it takes attitude” to be there for our clients and organizations newly partnering with us to make sure everyone understands we have their back.  The current situation is amplifying the type of operating mantra we try to push on a daily basis, and is reminding us how in awe we are of our clients and the efforts they make to keep patients healthy.  Our respect for their mission has never been deeper.

What message would you like to share with the Healthcare IT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

It's times like these that can bring us together as an industry and society, as we all work to tackle this issue.  It's encouraging to see our best and brightest coming together in creative and innovative ways to keep our healthcare system supported during this difficult time.  At VisiQuate we are encouraging all of our team members to stay safe and double down on all efforts to help our clients manage their current challenges.

Miriam Paramore

Miriam Paramore, President and Chief Strategy Officer
OptimizeRX

https://www.linkedin.com/in/miriamparamore/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to COVID-19?

OptimizeRx is a digital healthcare  platform  focusing  on digital communication between the life sciences  industry, providers  and patients.  We’ve worked hard to pivot quickly and turn on our communication capabilities for specific COVID-19 purposes.   For example,  we released  our direct-to-consumer free text service for COVID-19 alerts. Here’s how it works:  Simply text the word “VIRUS” to 55150 and we will push to you  the  most recent updates sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This is a simple solution,  but we hope it can help in some way.  We use  our CareSpeak automated patient engagement tool to do this. Typically, CareSpeak is used to support  patients who are on complex drug therapies. In response to COVID-19, we have expanded  CareSpeak  to a  general-purpose  tool to push CDC  alerts to the masses.

In addition, we  are rolling out  the COVID-19 version of CareSpeak  to our  EHR partners  who do not  have patient  engagement  tools. A lot  of smaller  EHR  systems  don’t have texting capability and don’t have  a  patient portal so CareSpeak can be a useful plug in for them.

Another example is from our RMDY engineering team in Tel Aviv.  We are collaborating with Dr. Shay Faitelzon who leads the digital health lab at Sapir College, and Eshel, Israel’s not for profit think tank focused on the aging population.  The goal is to provide a tool to remotely monitor, guide and support elder people self-isolated in order to avoid COVID-19 infection.

Another Israeli example is our work with Sabar who provide at-home hospitalization, hospice and rehabilitation services.  A current client, we are updating RMDY to support at-home hospitalization for patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms.

Overall, our  team is  grateful for anything we  can  do to help, and these are just the  tangible things we are doing with our  solutions  but pivoting  them  to be COVID-19 specific.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

Everybody is under different  stress  at this time. Here in Nashville, at the beginning of March we just had a huge tornado that leveled three of our neighborhoods, and some people in the OptimizeRx family  were affected by that.  The next week, COVID-19 really began to ramp, and HIMSS was cancelled. It was an emotional gut punch for many of our team who had worked so hard to participate in HIMSS and not get to do so at the last minute.  Of course, both of those things have faded completely given the global pandemic, but the layers of stressors are still there.

With all of this going on, we are pivoting to keep employees motivated.  With regards to  HIMSS, we quickly changed all of our HIMSS meetings and showcase into webinars, and we now have added a COVID-19 spin. We were able to have our team feel like their work hadn’t gone to waste, and we were able to service the industry with support and a knowledge base at the same time. Another focus is just spending time with our team on the phone and talking with them daily to simply ask how they're doing and to support them as people.  And we use video conferences now more than ever – cameras on!  It really helps with morale and motivation.

What message would you like to share with the Healthcare IT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

With  HIT  in particular, I  think this is a real tipping point for a couple sectors, especially  telehealth.  We now will  be more accepting  and  more comfortable with  telehealth as an adequate  way to deliver and receive care.  Now that we  are forced to use digital tools, we as the HIT industry can show more value in terms of the  telehealth  model. Digital health  technology  tools and platforms  like our patient engagement platforms will continue to grow.  It’s a digital world and we  have to  be connected digitally even in healthcare – and perhaps especially in healthcare as we are seeing now.  I’ve spent my career in this space to help us get automated and serve a purpose, so this puts a spotlight on  the  fact that digital tools need to be  normal course; using  digital connections for delivery of care, payment of care, patient engagement,  treatments,  and other parts of the system.  I am glad we have  the  industry groundwork and the technology  to do this.

My message is one of hope and  encouragement  for  the healthcare  IT industry.  This is an  opportunity  to really show value and so many companies are leaning in and doing that. It's  hope  for adoption, broader use,  interoperability and things  that are  important  to those of us who work in HIT. For  the  healthcare  industry  my message is it’s ok to take  advantage  of tech to assist with  delivering  clinical  care,  assisting  patients, and communicating. Technology is a  flexible and innovative  tool we need right now  to help us fill the gaps. The world will be very different  on  the  other side of this in terms of openness  to  adoption of tools and  changing the rules a little bit.

James Hoover, Co-Founder
Medarcus

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimhoover/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19? 

Because we can’t travel to customer sites, it’s given me a lot of time to think of our suite of solutions and the growing pandemic. We have a tool; a fault-tolerant search technology that’s able to find medical records no matter how bad or corrupt the data is in hospitals. I have been thinking about how to use that to help healthcare professionals avoid infections from exposure to unknown COVID-19 carriers.

Loosely based on the social science theory of six degrees of separation, it dawned on me that we could use our technology to give caregivers, registration professionals, clinicians, and staff some type of alert or early warning indicator that a patient presenting has some sort of exposure risk through one or two degrees of separation from known COVID-19 patients or pending cases. We can look into a presenting patient’s medical record and infer who they know, who their family is, who they work with, where they work, where they live - essentially any proximity measurement available - in an effort to locate any possible  COVID-19 exposure. We can then use infection rates, degrees of separation and other known COVID-19 factors to build a risk score for each presenting patient so our healthcare workers can act accordingly. I am calling this a “reverse COVID-19 search”, for brevity.

Please note, most all medical data quality is very low and EHR or other search tools can't handle this sort of record linkage I am describing - the data is too full of errors to make ALL the necessary links. The idea of linking patients to known COVID-19 patients through several degrees of separation only dawned on me because our search tool can find most any record in any medical database or MPI. So far, no one is looking at the problem this way. And to respond to the pandemic, we have retooled our search product, SurePatient Search, to make these links and created new workflows to help protect our healthcare workers.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated? 

We use several common tools to stay connected. Zoom is our number is our primary for customer presentations and I've noticed their stock is rising in the market because of how ubiquitous Zoom has become. We also use Slack as an internal communication tool for our sales, marking, implementation and technology teams. And of course, we use the old fashion cell phone for calls and texts. Because most of work remotely, there is not much difference for internal communications. The difference is in direct, face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers. It is much harder to build relationships remotely but everyone is trying extra hard on both sides until the meeting restrictions are lifted. We all just  have to soldier through it.

What message would you like to share with the Healthcare IT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

First off, we have to continue to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve to prevent healthcare workers and hospitals from being overloaded. Italy shows us what happens if we don’t. We really have to follow the advice of public health professionals, not the politicians. There is a lot of hope - scientists working across the globe are racing to find treatments and vaccines and many healthcare companies like ours adapting their products to do whatever we can as well.

I also see a wonderful sense of community coming back to America that has been missing for a long time; we aren’t there yet but we are getting there. If there is any silver lining at all, it’s sense of community that may be restored in America as we come together to defeat this pandemic.

Lee Shapiro

Lee Shapiro, Chief Financial Officer
Livongo Health

https://www.linkedin.com/in/leeshapiro/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

Livongo’s mission is to empower people with chronic conditions to live better and healthier lives and we remain dedicated to supporting our Member populations who are at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. Our ability to provide timely and relevant clinical and behavioral health information to our Members through a range of channels can accelerate delivery of helpful guidance when the usual option of an office visit is not available. Members with chronic conditions are not more likely to be infected with COVID-19, but they are more at risk when they get it, given their underlying health conditions. As such, we have been proactive in sharing information with this group on how best to handle illness. In addition, we have our Members’ real-time biometric data and are able to give very specific advice.

We are providing Members with information on the virus and equipping our health coaches with the latest information from the CDC and insights from industry experts including the ADA, AHA, and JDRF. To support our Members and their behavioral health needs, Livongo for Behavioral Health powered by myStrength solution is now offering specific coronavirus and social isolation modules to manage the stress and anxiety during these challenging times.

Our existing offerings also align perfectly with current needs of people with chronic conditions. These include:

  • Free supplies delivered to our Members’ doors.
  • 24x7 telehealth access to our certified diabetes educators, health coaches, and behavioral specialists.
  • Personalized Health Nudges and insights, delivered when it matters most – at the time someone is thinking about their health. Remote population health management through Member monitoring, and without a physician visit, can be shared with their doctors to allow them to monitor progress.
  • Community connection, by allowing Members to share their results, especially in cases where they are ‘at risk’ or need assistance, with their virtual care team including family, friends, co-workers, and professional care givers.

One of Livongo’s greatest strengths is our ability to meet the needs of our Members and deliver health and care in a way that is convenient and remote – especially important during the coronavirus pandemic.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

Alongside our Members, Livongo employees are of the utmost priority. We have enacted a work from home policy for the foreseeable future. More than one third of our employees already work from home and are distributed across the country, which made implementing this policy a seamless transition. For our employees who are parents and caregivers, we are supporting flexible work hours. It is more important now than ever before to take care of our Members and our own People. We are well equipped to do both.

To keep our employees informed and motivated, our leadership team has made regular communication a top priority. We are frequently sharing important messages with the company. These include workplace updates, tips and ideas on how to manage these challenging times, business updates, and highlights on we are empowering our Members. We have received fantastic feedback on these regular communications and, despite the fact that our team is distributed across the country, we are maintaining a strong sense of teamwork and pride in our achievements together.

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

We believe that the coronavirus pandemic will prove to be an inflection point for remote monitoring platforms like Livongo that are able to meet people’s health needs outside of the traditional healthcare system. By keeping people healthy, safe, and managing their health at-home, we can support our overburdened healthcare system, and reduce the risk of further spreading COVID-19. It is more important than ever that we work together to create the best possible healthcare experience, keeping people healthy, safe, and supported during these challenging times.

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Dev Singh, Founder & CEO
AiRo Digital Labs

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dev-singh-059334/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

First of all, the pandemic obviously is forcing everyone to adapt and rethink their business strategy and their transformation. This crisis has made all industries, not just healthcare, wake up and realize how important Technology modernization is in ensuring the health of current operations and also adapting to changing scales and dynamics. We as a company, because we focus completely on digital solutions for healthcare, pharma and life sciences are able to adapt quickly. We foresee a situation that once the crisis is under control, then the economy is going to snap back, and it will snap back hard with a lot of pent up demand coming back. We realize that the shape of that demand from healthcare industry will be very digital-oriented and we want to be well positioned to solve that demand and absorb that. Therefore, we are doubling down on some of our investments in people and the Digital platforms we have been creating. All digital programs will accelerate, hospitals will look into remote monitoring, and pharma will have to look into their supply and logistics platforms. AI, Machine Learning and RPA will be top of the mind transformational technologies. Digital is no longer going to be discretionary; it’s going to be essential and will drive momentum to businesses like us.  We believe that when that happens in the course of next few months, then each of these sectors will need partners and companies like us need to be well prepared to help the industry at that time.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We are in a people business. We believe if we take good care of our people, they will in turn take care of their clients and the company. In times like these, small things matter. The first thing we have done is that the management teams check on every single employee regularly at a personal level to ensure emotional wellbeing. The second is, although we have also shifted completely to remote work from home, the one thing we want is for everyone to be on video since the human connection should be maintained like it used to be in the physical work space. The third thing we did was in regards to our salary increment cycle. We will be moving forward with our salary increments and promotions internally, quite contrary to some of the other companies in our space that have stalled those plans. Additionally, we also announced we would do a stock option cycle for everyone, and by end of June every employee will own stocks. These things have helped inspire a lot of confidence in our people about AiRo and our employees love the fact that we, in the face of crisis, are doubling down and supporting our people in a way contrary to everyone else.  ]

What message would you like to share with the Healthcare IT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

I have been involved in the US healthcare IT industry for more than 15 years now and continue to see that we are decades behind other industries in terms of adopting modern technology, processes and systems. There are of course exceptions, but most healthcare organizations are just keeping the lights on and have traditionally considered such transformation as secondary to their mission. This crisis has exposed us as very underprepared and everyone is realizing that we should have invested in modernizing our health infrastructure many years back. Therefore, the message to healthcare industry is clear - the time to go Digital! Now is the time to Digitalize your technology, and automate your non-core processes thereby making the system far more agile, transparent and scalable, thus ensuring that your consumer and patients receive the quality of care they deserve, whenever and wherever they may be.

Nicole Rogas, Senior Vice President
Experian Health

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-rotunno-rogas-6a66141/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19? 

From a client perspective we  have  encouraged  our entire client-facing organizations; sales, relationship management, client success, customer support, to reach out proactively to clients. Every small gesture and extension of support will go a long way right now.  We want to  let  our clients  know we are thinking of them  and thank them for the work they are doing on the front lines of this pandemic.  We also want to be sure they have the support they need as far as  obtaining access to our technology remotely.

With the rise of TeleHealth visits, Experian Health is also uniquely able to assist our provider clients with information we have gathered from the payers on what service type codes are needed to obtain TeleHealth medical benefits by payer.  Each payer today is returning this information differently and requires different information from the provider to return the benefit. This is our area of expertise and our way of helping our providers ensure accurate billing and payment for services at such a critical time.

In addition, we have circulated an open letter to clients letting them know that we understand they’re on the front line, we support their mission and want to help them keep their day-to-day operations going. The letter addresses our robust business continuity protocol; 40% of our employees are already remote with most of the client-facing teams as well as help desk being remote, so we are prepared to provide clients with the access and help they need. We are 100% focused on system stability for our clients and are throttling back non-essential code updates such as new features and new enhancements.

Our priorities for the fiscal end of year have shifted, and we are completely focused on providing clients with whatever it is they need to operate.

 How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated? 

When it comes to employees, I have spent most of my career leading remote teams. The key is keeping the team engaged and connected through frequent and transparent communication and messaging. Host a town hall, share personal stories of what your own personal new normal is, and ensure the teams know you are there. 

 For those not used to working remotely the secret is routine.  Get up every morning like you are going to work in an office, designate a workspace – and make it feel like a workspace; put a picture frame or vase of flowers on your desk or table. Make sure to get up from your space at the end of the day. Block your calendar for a couple 15-30-minute breaks throughout the day. 

 Our President, Jennifer Schulz sends updates almost every other day. Additionally, we are gathering stories from our employee base and sharing, encouraging virtual happy hours, and making sure that employees know where they can go to find mental health care if needed during this time. On top of keeping our clients operating, our biggest focus is to keep our employees well and in place throughout all of this.  

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole? 

The time is now; we are all in this together. As a senior leader, there’s no special weapon, we just need to be putting people at the center of every decision. If we can do anything to help the providers, hospitals and physicians continue to operate, then we should do that, whatever that means.  We all yearn to make an impact – and this is one of those unique times when we can. 

 

Patrick Murphy

Pat Murphy, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Strategy
Interlace Health

https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-murphy-b8a2694/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

Yes, we have moved into a full support capacity for our 1,000+ hospital customers to ensure that they have essential services to cover the management of our patient care applications if any of their key staff are sick or unable to work given the crisis. We are offering those services free of charge. Additionally, we have seen a number of our customers use our platform to provide digital Covid-19 screening forms and therefore we are offering free services to convert customer’s screening forms – again free of charge. We are also deploying a hosted pre-registration solution to enable customers to quickly stand up screening forms that can be completed remotely in advance of their visit to their facilities or as a part of a tele-health encounter. That solution will be offered at no cost until new Covid-19 cases flatten out and our customer’s operations return to more normal levels.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated? 

Our entire company is now 100% dedicated to customer outreach and customer support operations to ensure our customers are aware of the no-cost services currently being offered.

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole? 

We are encouraged and inspired to see how quickly our customers have shifted their operations to meet the Covid-19 crisis. Many customers have already converted their hospital or clinic administration and support staff to a fully remote-based working environment in a very short amount of time. They have shifted to cancel thousands of elective surgeries and to source critical safety supplies and equipment to provide care at levels never before anticipated. As an organization, we are working to follow their lead and support them in any way that we can as we all work to overcome this challenge.

Todd Helmink

Todd Helmink, Chief Revenue Officer at Qliqsoft
Qliqsoft

https://www.linkedin.com/in/todd-helmink-6b07503/

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19?

At Qliqsoft, we are taking both proactive and reactive steps in a couple specific areas during this time. As a patient communication software company, we have clients in the acute and post acute spaces. We are proactively communicating with the patient population seeking info on COVID-19 and/or thinking they might need to get tested or present at a hospital. Our product is a conversational, AI-driven chatbot and we just completed a deal with 700 hospital locations with one vendor going to roll out to every one of them. This is a way to alleviate inbound phone calls by putting a chat bot on the hospital website that answers questions about COVID-19, walks them through screening, and eventually escalates them to a nurse or doctor call if needed.

Many of our clients and prospects do not have a simple video chat capability. Our services at Qliqsoft do not require IT involvement, so as large hospitals don’t have the time right now to do anything require an IT project, we are able to get them up and running quickly to help.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We are very virtual to begin with. Being so spread out across the country; Dallas, Chicago, Florida, we are used to teleconference, Webex, video etc., so communication is easy and normal right now. Our motivation is that we see an opportunity to help be a solution for the pandemic and whats going on in our country. Intrinsically we have a morning call at 8 AM everyday and everyone is excited to talk about what use cases we are seeing, what happened the day before, and how we can tweak product to meet demands. We are asking employees to work extra hours, and many are working through the weekend. As a small company, we just roll up our sleeves and get it done. We feel very fortunate to be able to provide customers with what they need during this time.

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

First off, I want to give a thank you to all the medical professionals and caregivers on the front line battling COVID-19.

Second, Qliqsoft is here to help in a time of need. As hospitals are being overrun right now, it is great to see how technology can help streamline communication. The investment into technology will prove to be worthwhile in this situation and in the future. We are giving away software for free, so if you need easily deployed video chat and patient engagement tools, you know where to find us.

Marc Camm, SVP & COO at Careport Health
Careport Health

 https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcamm/ 

 Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to Covid 19? 

https://careporthealth.com/resources/blog/supporting-our-clients-during-covid-19/ 

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated? – We provided them some work at home best practices. 

We are a technology company so working remotely should be easy for us! However, here are some best practices to make sure that we can all be productive during this time: 

  • Be highly present! Stay up to date on emails and respond quickly to people. 
  • Be constantly accessible via Slack/Skype/iMessage etc. It’s important that we can all reach each other quickly and easily. 
  • Utilize Webex. Be active and present during meetings. That means focus during the meeting and participate! I know this is challenging as we all like to multi task. Change the default for Webex to turn on your Video camera when you connect to the meeting. This will help keep you focused and more connected with the team and discussion. 
  • Stay in close contact with your team members via txt chat, email and video chat. 
  • Do you best to try and be as productive as possible during the work day. Try and not let other distractions take you off course. 

 What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole? 

Our communities are depending on us to keep our systems up and running so they can do their jobs at this trying time! 

Human Resources

The Benefits of Hiring Contract or Interim Talent… Even in Uncertain Times

March 31, 2020

By Frank Myeroff, Managing Partner and Director of Hospital IT 

As companies across the globe adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on their business operations, the question of hiring has been a topic of considerationCertain sectors and specific organizations are ramping up hiring to meet demands during COVID-19, while others may have put a pause on hiring. Regardless, business leaders need to be planning ahead for the future, and weighing out the routes to take to be successful. In uncertain times like these when companies want to be flexible and keep their options open, a route to consider in regards to hiring is interim, temp-to-perm, and contract roles 

Whether during a global pandemic or not, below are benefits companies find in hiring interim or contract employees.  

Cost Savings 

In terms of both project-based and budgetary savings, contract/interim work can save employers money for a few reasons.  

  • Employers are able to ramp up or down staffing levels as needed and/or use small quantities when needed 
  • Offloading staff will reduce employers FTE count, which will in turn reduce operational costs and office infrastructure space needs and costs 
  • Defined fixed costs are easier to budget 
  • Organizations are able to reduce operating labor spend 

Shorter Hiring Process and Project Completion 

By hiring contract or interim work, employers are able to bring in experienced workers who do not require training or extensive onboarding, saving time and resources. Temporary workers are able to get to work right away and complete the project at hand since they are only there for a short period of time. This helps to ensure that the work the organization needs done will get done quickly and effectively. 

Industry Experience 

No matter the industry, contract or interim workers have skillsets to accomplish what the organization needs. Whether IT, Robotics, Supply Chain or another industry, contract workers are well-versed and likely are backed by years of experience doing the specific industry project many businesses need. This allows for instant impact and helps businesses thrive.  

Should I Still be Interviewing During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

March 25, 2020

By Leo Golubitsky, Director of Consumer & Professional Technologies

We are no doubt facing an unprecedented time in our history. With so many questions and so many unknowns, we are all taking it day-by-day and figuring things out as we go along. One of the questions I have received from both Candidates and Hiring Managers alike is, “should we still be interviewing?”.

Here are my thoughts:

The quick and simple answer is YES!

Interviewing or filling a position is a process that normally takes 4-6 weeks if all things go well, sometimes longer. Even if you are not ready to hire or change jobs now, there are a lot of steps in the process that can be completed during this time so you can be ready when things begin to normalize. Finding candidates, phone interviews, Video Conferencing interviews, taking references, background checks, etc. All of which can be completed during this period of time.

Furthermore, now might be an even better time as many have more time to spend on this process. Between working from home, canceled meetings, canceled trips, canceled tradeshows, etc. we have more time to schedule interviews, update our resumes, and take calls from recruiters!

Hiring Managers- Questions to ask yourself:

  • How is the current climate affecting our HIRING PLANS?
  • Short-term? Long-term?
  • How critical is it for us to fill these roles?
  • Do we need these roles filled now? Or when things do return to normalcy?
  • How is the current climate affecting our HIRING PROCESS?
  • Can we hire without an in-person interview?
  • Can we substitute an in-person interview with a Video Call?

Many companies and candidates are continuing with their hiring plans and job searches, adjusting their process to adapt to the current situation. Even those who are delaying the actual hiring are still working their process so they are prepared to act quickly when the time is right. If you stop now you will miss out on top candidates or great opportunities.

This too shall pass, and when it does, will you be ready?

Please let me know how I can be of help. I am happy to get on a call to discuss this with you!

Leo Golubitsky
Director of Consumer & Professional Technologies
440-991-1063
lgolubitsky@directrecruiters.com

How to be Successful Working from Home

By Kasey Kaiser, Practice Partner – Healthcare Technology & Life Sciences

3/18/2020

Remote work has grown exponentially over the years with statistics showing that 3.6% of the US workforce works from home at least half of the time - prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all focus on stopping the spread of the disease globally, a large amount of businesses are encouraging employees to work from home if possible. For some, this is completely new territory and an unexpected ‘trial run’ for remote work options, and if that’s the case, below are five key objectives to ensure success while working from home.

1. Manage Expectations

The number one priority while working from home is to keep working at the same quality with modifications in place. If there are regular KPIs or timeframes for your work, aim to keep them and redesign how to get there if needed. Ideally, outcomes will remain the same even if the process alters. If you or your team are not accustomed to remote work, create a daily or weekly plan as to what is expected and the timeline for achievement.

2. Create a Routine

If you usually start your day with meditation, coffee and a shower, then still start your day with that! If you’re accustomed to working out during lunch, go for it. If you’re used to working specific hours each day, keep to them. Minor adjustments can be made (for example, find an online workout or get moving outside if you are able). Just because your location has changed does not mean everything has to change. Although you may now have the luxury of not having to be as presentable and polished and can pare down aspects of your regular routine!

3. Plan/Batch Schedule

Working remotely can be more productive with better ability to focus or it can be largely distracting based on your plan. Crafting a plan at the start of each day and batch scheduling tasks will minimize the risk of distraction. Even if they are seemingly small administrative tasks, plan for them so they don’t derail your other planned blocks – (hello, overflowing inbox – wait your scheduled turn!)

4. Control Your Environment

It is tempting to tackle other projects if you are home and they are staring you in the face. While sometimes impossible or difficult at the very least, finding a space that is conducive to focused work is important. If you’re able, carve out a quiet, uncluttered area as your at-home workstation so your attention can turn to your work and tackle other projects outside of working hours.

5. Overly Communicate

Regular check ins must go on. When remote, the ability to pop your head into someone’s office and update them that you’ve taken care of something or vice versa, is a little trickier when remote. Create a touch base plan with team members or managers at the beginning of the day and/or end of the day so you’re relaying your plan and priorities at the start of the work day and then circling back on them at the end of the day to communicate the progress updates. Make sure the technology you’re using supports collaboration (video conferencing, team chat threads, email groups, screen sharing, etc.) and that each team member has the phone numbers to reach everyone.

Executive Search Firm Specializing in Human Resources

Software Sales Recruiters and Executive Search

Speed in Hiring

By Rachel Makoski, Director of Food & Beverage and Foodservice E&S

As the 2019 job market continues to stay strong, candidates have the upper hand. Top talent has the ability to pick and choose the companies they want to interview with, so the hiring and interview process is extremely important. With that, there’s a need for speed in your hiring practices and in order to keep pace, your company must be fast moving, flexible and nimble.

The main reason for speed in hiring? In-demand talent doesn’t wait. Companies need to realize that top performers lose interest if their hiring process is too slow and drawn out. According the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Benchmarking Service, the average time to fill a job vacancy is 36 days. Not only does a long process drive away top performing candidates, it can also be costly to your organization.

With this in mind, here are 5 tips to speed up your hiring process:

  • Use your internal network. Start by posting the open position in-house and give your employees who may want to make a move or change jobs a chance to apply. You will reduce time by identifying candidates already within your organization who are top performers and already fit the company culture.
  • Write a clear job description. While this might seem like common sense, many organizations do not clearly specify required competencies i.e. skills, motivations, behaviors, etc. for the job at hand. Every hiring manager needs to take time to put some real thought into creating the job description. An accurate description will help to identify qualified candidates from the start will yield a faster hiring process.
  • Streamline steps in your hiring process. Eliminate unnecessary screening and multiple rounds of interviewing. In fact, schedule a block of interviewing time and have the required personnel and hiring managers schedule their time within the block. This will avoid having to bring the candidate back for additional interviews.
  • Utilize technology advances. To accelerate your search process, allow job seekers to use video interviewing to provide a more comprehensive profile of themselves beyond the traditional resume. For hiring managers, this is both efficient and collaborative as well as enables them to gain a truer sense of the individual before inviting them to interview in person.
  • Use a recruiting firm to help fill those urgent and critical positions. Reputable recruiters find that “needle in the haystack” by having networks and resources in place to find the passive candidate market. In addition, they go far beyond the customary process of finding candidates and typically present 3 to 5 pre-qualified candidates saving you the time of filtering through job boards and piles of resumes.

Implementing a speed in hiring strategy will decrease the cycle time for making a hiring decision and improve your chances of landing your candidate of choice. In addition, you will edge out your competition. You will have already hired your candidate before your competition even has had time to entice them.

Food & Beverage and Foodservice E&S video:

Contact:

Rachel Makoski
Director of Food & Beverage and Foodservice E&S
rmakoski@directrecruiters.com
440-996-0871

Attorney Recruitment and Staffing for U.S. Legal Industry Firms

Alexa Milkovich Interviews Ken Kontowicz, VP of Business Development at Topaz Information Solutions

July 12, 2019

Alexa Milkovich recently had the opportunity to ask Ken Kontowicz, VP of Business Development at Topaz Information Systems to discuss the healthcare technology industry, his career, and the goals and new projects coming up for Topaz.

How do you find and retain top talent at Topaz?  

Topaz Information Solutions operates in the healthcare vertical with a large proportion of our business in Arizona.  As a partner of NextGen Healthcare we give preference to trainers and support staff with NextGen experience.  That being said we will hire top talent with experience from vendors other than NextGen Healthcare.

TopazIS is highly focused on organizational chemistry and we spend a great deal of time during the interview process insuring that the candidate meshes well with other members of the team.  As we are competing with large healthcare providers for talent it’s important that we be highly competitive on salary, perks and benefits with advancement opportunities.

What are your goals for Topaz over the next few years?

TopazIS recently entered into a partnership with Open Minds, the premier strategic advisory firm in Mental Health business.  Our partnership has TopazIS overseeing the Open Minds Integrated Care Community.  With many Mental Health organizations transitioning into integrated care, our partnership with Open Minds will provide TopazIS a venue for expanding our customer base into new markets.  Arizona has been at the forefront of Integrated Care with Medicaid behavioral health providers and our expertise and reputation is this space was a big part of why Open Minds selected TopazIS over significantly larger vendors.

You’ve been in the healthcare technology industry for 20 years, what is the most exciting change you’ve seen take place?

Behavioral Health organizations were late comers to the adoption of Electronic Health Records and other HIT that the medical community had aggressively adopted due to Meaningful Use and other Federal mandates.  What helped speed the adoption of HIT and in particular Electronic Health Records with the medical community were subsidies extended to participating providers.  These Federal subsidies generally were not available to mental health organizations which delayed the adoption and limited the sophistication of the technologies adopted by these organizations.  A transition to value based reimbursement models has forced many health care organizations to adopt sophisticated fully integrated electronic health records, billing systems and analytics that allow for a higher degree of care coordination and population management.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities you see in healthcare right now?

Unrelenting pressure on the bottom line due to declining reimbursements is forcing a high degree of consolidation.  Organizations that have the capability of adapting to changes in the reimbursement models will not only survive but will find a way to thrive.

What technology trends do you expect to see in the next 5 and 10 years?

Where to start!  For me the technology trends that excite me is how artificial intelligence is beginning to change the face of healthcare particularly around diagnosis.  Robotics would be the other and how it’s impacting a variety of specialties including surgical specialties.  I expect both will have a significant impact on healthcare and will ultimately change the role of a physician as we know it.

What advice would you give to up and coming healthcare technology entrepreneurs?

There’s a lot of noise in the space with a great deal of innovation but it makes it hard to be noticed and heard.  Find an established partner or health system to pilot your technology and work the kinks out.  Be certain to create a business plan with achievable financial assumptions and bring on an experienced operation, marketing and sales team to help commercialize your technology.

What is the most important quality a leader must have to be successful?

I don’t believe there is one single quality that makes a successful leader.  There are many attributes such as having vision, being charismatic, an excellent communicator, being able to delegate and to effectively manage those responsible for executing the leaders vision.

If you could meet anyone from past or present, whom would you choose?

Buddha

What originally led you to pursue a career in healthcare technology?

Many years ago I oversaw a project for a bank I worked at that provided financing for the healthcare community.  That was my entry into healthcare. I was shocked by the lack of IT and computerization and ultimately purchased a small software development company in the healthcare space.

What interesting new projects are on the horizon for you?

We are working closely with the Arizona Medicaid plans and behavioral health providers on an aggressive move into population health and care coordination.  Similar to the dynamics in the medical world a good portion of reimbursements will be tied to quality.  It’s simply not possible for organizations without adequate technology to meet the new payor mandates.