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: 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

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 a 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! 

Brian Silverstein Interviews Florence Hudson

Brian Silverstein, Director of Life Sciences recently had the opportunity to ask Florence Hudson, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer, former IBM Executive, and Editorial Board Member for Blockchain in Healthcare Today a series of questions. She shared insights regarding her impressive career, trends in the tech and healthcare industries, and advice for up-and-coming STEM professionals.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer, and that interest started when I was about 3 years old. I was brought up by my maternal grandparents because my mother died the day I was born, so my mother’s brothers and sister became my brothers and sister. My oldest brother loved space. He used to get me up at 5 or 6 in the morning to watch the Apollo missions take off. I remember thinking it was so cool and wondering how they do that, and how they get up there and back to earth safely. They say that’s when you become an engineer - when you start asking ‘how.’

From there, I got a number of scholarships out of high school and ended up going to Princeton to be a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer. I worked at Grumman and then NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab, so I’ve always worked on things that are the leading edge and the future. I was able to work on the space shuttle program and met Sally Ride; she was going to be flying in the space shuttle, and I was building the space shuttle. At the end of the 70’s, the aerospace world was really in a decline, so I took a look around and thought that computers were going to run the world someday, so I interviewed with HP and IBM, and took a job with HP in California. I was there for a little over a year then my grandfather got sick, so I moved back to NY and got a job with IBM. They called me an early identifier, which means I was on track to be an executive, and I was fortunate enough to have a 33-year career at IBM, including Vice President and Director roles.

When I got to the point in my career where I wasn’t going any higher, I decided to look for roles that met my goal to become a Senior Vice President and C-level executive as I had documented in my 1-page lifetime strategic plan created in 1983. At that point, my friend introduced me to a Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer role at Internet2, which was a really fun job. From there I joined the Blockchain in Healthcare Today Editorial Board, which I still do now. In addition, I am the Editor in Chief for a book on women and the Internet of Things and this framework called TIPPSS – trust, identity, privacy, protection, safety and security for the Internet of Things. I’m focused on this area to increase awareness of the need to improve trust and identity of things, people, software, and cybersecurity to keep people safer in this hyper-connected world we live in. There are about 15 women writing chapters in this book from different parts of my life; research, industry, government, academia and more. I am also Special Advisor for Next Generation Internet for the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University, a very cool role. I also speak at many events regarding Internet of Things, smart cities, Women in STEM, Blockchain, and more.  Now I’m looking for the next cool thing I can do whether it is board positions, or new roles where I can make things better – that’s what engineers do.

You have a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. What led you to get involved with healthcare in your career?

When I was at IBM in Corporate Strategy, Lou Gerstner as the CEO inspired us to look at some of the newer markets we should be participating in. Healthcare and Life Sciences was one of them. At the time I was a VP in Corporate Strategy and my team led the development of a number of new strategies, including creating the analytical structure to understand and operate in new markets that weren’t really defined yet, as documented in a Harvard case study about the IBM EBO (Emerging Business Opportunities) program. We created a framework to assess market potential and value creation, then developed a range of uncertainty for the new markets including everyone’s opinion to help us move forward together. We did that for healthcare and other markets. I also worked on the IBM Watson cognitive computing strategy which included choosing healthcare as a prime opportunity for cognitive computing.

As I started getting involved more with Internet2, Healthcare and Life Sciences came up as a key focus area. As Chief Innovation Officer, I did a community survey to find what areas of open collaboration we should work on together, and came up with distributed big data and analytics, the Internet of Things, and end-to-end trust and security. Within big data and analytics, one of the use cases that came forward was Healthcare and Life Sciences. When the Cancer Moonshot came along I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the summit at Howard University in Washington, DC to discuss how the scientists and technologies can support the acceleration of cancer research and data sharing. I was fortunate to be appointed to the program committee for the computational approaches for cancer workshop at the annual SuperComputing conference as another way to leverage different types of scientists, technologists and researchers together to apply their cumulative thinking to cancer. Healthcare is a huge space with so many opportunities to improve outcomes, so much to figure out, and so many challenges. We can bring brilliant people together, leveraging existing and new technologies, to work together and use their unique gifts for good.

Being a Special Advisor for Next Generation Internet at the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities you see in the world of data?

One of the biggest challenges is cultural; people have to choose to share their data. In research environments your research is your intellectual property, it’s your identity and it’s what helps you get tenure, so we need to get to thinking that data needs to be shared. The other challenge is protecting against other people changing your data. We have to apply new technologies to areas where people aren’t used to sharing data and give them protection.

The opportunity across the board is using the data for good. We need to look at data holistically to get key insights and make the right decisions to change things. Another thing as we look across the world is working together to come up with what we want to accomplish and how we can make things better by improving collaboration within data science globally.

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

A trend I see is the need for this TIPPSS idea; trust, identity, privacy, safety and security. More people are becoming aware of the threat of physical and financial harm from the connected devices and systems on the planet. We need to build in TIPPSS for new devices, and add more security to existing devices and systems. I think there will be more and more awareness and regulation in these areas. The issue of ethics will also increase regarding how we use the vast amount of data available about people and things, relating to data science, IoT, privacy, and security. There are so many aspects of making tech more safe and secure as it becomes more integrated into our daily lives. For example, quantum computing is going to be very real and provide opportunities and challenges; if you make something really smart it can be good and bad so figuring out the ethics of data and tech are more and more important as we move forward.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

The Blockchain world is very interesting. My position on the Editorial Board of Blockchain in Healthcare Today allows me to look at how new blockchain technology, which tucks under the TIPPSS umbrella, can provide better integrity, trust and security of data, whether it’s data about the pharmaceutical supply chain to make sure counterfeit drugs don’t enter, or provenance of medical or clinical research data as it is transferred between devices, institutions, people and networks in the eventual pursuit of precision medicine and precision cancer care. We focus on figuring out how to maintain integrity of the data since all devices which house the data are hackable. Blockchain can help with this, as it tracks who and what creates or changes data. It’s exciting to work with doctors, the editorial board, and medical schools to make things better by marrying technology with healthcare.

I am also involved in a number of things related to TIPPSS, which we need to get more women involved in. The way I look at diversity, until we are at human population parity in STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - we aren’t leveraging all the resources on the planet; if 50% of the planet is women, then 50% of everything should be women. We need to encourage women and let them know that they can do it and they should get involved.  

What types of mentor or mentors have you had throughout your career?

My first was my brother who woke me up to watch the Apollo missions when I was 3 years old. He provided me the opportunity to see what’s out there so I could see what I was interested in. My parents were also always very supportive of me. My first real mentor in the aerospace engineering field was Yvonne Brill, who passed away a couple years ago. I met her when I was at Princeton University and president of the Society of Women Engineers section. When she passed away, her NY Times obituary called her the first female rocket scientist in the US. She connected me to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as my summer internship and she was on the NASA safety advisory board after the Challenger disaster. She was incredible. I always show pictures of her when I do my Women in Tech talks. Whenever I went back to Princeton I always tried to go and visit her at her house and give her a hug. Last time I saw her, she showed me the medal President Obama had just presented her on Technology and Innovation. I also had a number of mentors at IBM when I was on the Executive path. Now a few other women and I who were VPs at IBM have started doing peer mentoring and ladies dinners to help each other in work and life. We invite the EVP from IBM who mentored us all to join our dinners too.  He is still there for us even though we have all retired from IBM.

What do you believe are the traits and qualities of a great leader?

I think a great leader needs to care. They need to care about the business, their team, clients, people, partners; people can tell if you do or don’t care. You can show that you care by listening. I used to present to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when I was at IBM, and I’d speak to them about our strategy, and they gave me this ornament I still have that says, ‘It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen’ – Oliver Wendell Holmes. So as leaders it is our job to listen, respond, and lead, inspiring people to look forward, look up and think of what more they can be or do, and help them reach for the stars.

You were recently featured by the New York Hall of Science with your STEM profile. How do you encourage STEM careers among your network?

I’m approachable and friendly, but I’m a geek; I worked on future missions around Jupiter, cognitive computing, next gen internet, and helping cure cancer. I say if I can do it, you can do it. I had very humble beginnings, with my mother dying and my father leaving, and I was an orphan, so if I can do it, you can do it. I encourage anyone to find what inspires them and do it. It could be boys, girls, robots, anything; I’m flexible, we just need more thinkers and doers in the STEM field.

Based on your LinkedIn profile, you have earned various honors and awards. To what or whom do you attribute your success?

My parents were my core. They were so supportive of me – they lost their daughter and then took care of me. I was first in our immediate family to go to a 4-year college and they supported that. I also had teachers who were supportive of me. You need personal cheerleaders in your life that believe you’re great. My parents, siblings, friends, daughter, have all been personal cheerleaders for me and I’m very lucky that they support me.

What advice would you give to up and coming technology professionals to be successful?

Figure out the unique gifts God gave you and use them for good. If people say you have a gift, ask them for feedback about it and what the good part was. When I was looking at how to portray myself, my mentor from IBM said that my unique value is that I’m technical and a business executive, and it’s the unique combination that really differentiated me, so that’s what my CV says at the top now. Getting feedback from other people, listening, and leveraging that can help you on your way to success. Find things that really inspire you, listen to the market, continue to pursue your ideas, and don’t give up. Look at how to leverage ideas for good and watch out for those who use their ideas for bad.

Brian Silverstein
Director of Life Sciences
440-996-0877
bsilverstein@directrecruiters.com

Norm Volsky Interviews Tim Coulter, COO at PreparedHealth

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile Healthcare IT had the opportunity to interview Tim Coulter, COO of PreparedHealth. Mr. Coulter shared insights about his career in healthcare, as well as the interesting initiatives PreparedHealth is taking to help people get well faster in the comfort of their own home.

 

 Please tell us about yourself and PreparedHealth.

My name is Tim Coulter and I’m currently the COO of PreparedHealth. I’ve been working in healthcare for the last 15 years or so. PreparedHealth was founded by my good friends, Ashish Shah and David Coyle who I met at our last company, Medicity. David was also the co-founder of Medicity and Ashish was the CTO while I ran various departments in finance, professional services, and account management.

 PreparedHealth is focused on helping people get well faster and stay well longer in the comfort of their home. We believe there’s a better way to coordinate care that happens outside of the hospital, a way that empowers the patient, connects personal caregivers and care providers, and enables payers to keep their members healthier, safer and happier at home. With the enTouch Network, everyone stays connected in real-time, receiving care updates as they happen, and improving the odds a patient's in-home care will be a success. From home-based providers to hospitals and health systems to health insurance plans, we’re transforming the industry by leveraging technology and data to optimize care and improve outcomes for patients.

 What led you to pursue healthcare in your career?

 Like most people who work in healthcare, I was motivated to pursue this career based on a number of personal experiences. I spent most of my 8th grade year in and out of hospitals due to a bacterial infection which would lead to several open-heart surgeries. I was able to make a full recovery but would spend the next several years trying to coordinate follow-up care between a variety of specialists with the inability to share medical records. Every time I showed up at a new specialist after starting college, moving for work, etc. I would have to essentially start over. This experience initially drew me to the healthcare field and ultimately led to working at Medicity to help solve this problem – I instantly connected with the idea of using my career to not only provide for my family, but also help others solve the various inefficiencies of our healthcare system.

 Fast forward about 25 years from my childhood experience and I would run into another medical scenario which connected me specifically to PreparedHealth’s mission - which was my father being diagnosed with liver disease. Trying to coordinate communication between my mom, my brother, and myself was difficult enough, but then throw in the complexity of trying to coordinate with the actual doctors, nurses, home health aides, etc. along with my dad’s confusion from his condition and we had a horrible time knowing how to help. Even just getting clarity on what the actual initial diagnosis was, was extremely difficult.

 The other difficulty we experienced was knowing what options were available once the diagnosis was treated and he was being discharged from the hospital. Even though I had worked in healthcare for years, most of the post-acute world was still a mystery for me. Very quickly I had to learn the differences between home health, home care, hospice, palliative care, rehab vs skilled nursing, etc. - an experience which is common to many of us when our parents arrive at this stage of life. My dad really wanted to just go home and receive care there. Which ultimately, he has been able to do, and he is recovering wonderfully right now.

 PreparedHealth focuses on how to get people well faster and stay well longer in the comfort of their homes. How do you connect with this mission?

 90% of people want to age at home just like my father did. PreparedHealth’s mission is to provide a platform that allows for post-acute providers and family caregivers to work together in a way that makes this desire possible. Ashish and David formed PreparedHealth based on similar personal experiences to mine and when I reconnected with them I was extremely excited to work with them again.

 What are the biggest challenges you are seeing in the industry right now?

There’s a lot of noise within healthcare right now making it challenging to get our message across. The industry is inundated with constant policy updates from Washington to every vendor shouting many of the same terms - interoperability, big data, lowered readmissions, etc. Most of the discussion is focused on the hospitals and large health systems, but there aren’t a lot of people talking about the home. We believe in the power of helping people age in the home and making the transition from hospital to home as seamless as possible, helping to make sure they don’t head back to the hospital for an unnecessary reason. With this, we’re trying to reach the post-acute providers, including home health, hospice, home care, geriatricians, skilled nursing facilities, and more. This area has historically been fragmented and lacks the data that the hospitals are just now figuring out how to use. We’re excited to empower these providers by bringing more transparency and more coordinated care.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

 Our main focus is building our enTouch™ network. We’re seeing some incredible results the more it grows and the more service lines that join across the post-acute spectrum. Our home health partners like BAYADA Home Health have helped lead the way for new upstream partners with skilled nursing facilities like Genesis Powerback locations and hospitals like Centegra in Illinois.  As more partners join, they are completing the care continuum and making the transition from hospital to home more coordinated. At the same time, we’re investing heavily in DINA, our digital nursing assistant. She uses data-driven AI and machine learning to push proactive care recommendations so that no patient falls through the cracks. She’s also leveraging data to help our providers make evidence-based care transitions.

What strategies do you use at PreparedHealth to retain top talent?

We are a young company that is growing quickly, so it’s a balance of putting a focus on retaining our people, not just on recruitment. We are really picky about who we bring on, and not just from a talent perspective, but from a culture fit. You spend a lot of time with your team, so make sure they are kind, genuine people that want to make a difference. We also make sure that we invest in our employees, making sure that PreparedHealth is a place you can build a career.

 What exciting new trends and changes do you expect to see in the industry in the next 5 years?

 Healthcare is on the cusp of making some exciting changes. It’s an old, slow moving industry that is apt for change. Artificial Intelligence is going to make a big difference across the board from diagnosis and care to care management and will help put all of the data being collected by EHRs to use in interesting ways. There will be a greater transparency and communication in healthcare including caregivers and family members being a part of the conversation. Large corporations are already joining forces to make changes in how care is paid for and delivered.

 But, the biggest trend will be for healthcare to move back to the home. The growing boomer population wants to age in their home and more care providers are switching to that same mentality - they just need the tools to make it efficient and transparent.

Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

 

 

Norm Volsky Interviews Adam Kaufman, President & CEO at Canary Health

December 15, 2017

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile HIT interviews Adam Kaufman, President and CEO of Canary Health. Mr. Kaufman shared the mission of Canary Health, interesting trend news, and a multitude of insights from his HIT career. 

Please tell us about yourself and the mission of Canary Health.

I’m an Engineer and a Health Economist who came to Digital Health out of a passion for solutions and technology-enabled services that rethink approaches and improve people’s lives; and I have a real commitment to making sure that those solutions and services work. Canary Health is the perfect place to blend my first career as an engineer with my work in economics. We’re dedicated to the mission of empowering individuals to better self-manage and to understand how their health impacts their lives. It seems like an obvious thing, but for a lot of us we don’t stop to realize that our emotions, daily habits, and relationships are impacted by having one or more chronic conditions.  It’s a really exciting mission to be empowering people to have the health they need for the life they want.

What is Canary Health’s key differentiator in the industry?

Our key differentiator is our focus on helping people determine what matters to them and working towards what’s important to them. I think a lot of the industry has an important, but over-reliant belief that better data and analytics are going to solve the problem. We are certainly big believers in helping people see the trends in their data and leveraging analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve our service, but there is something missing in those processes that helps someone understand what matters to them. We are differentiated by this unique approach that comes from intellectual property developed at Stanford University around how you engage someone in their own health and support their self-management. That is our foundational approach to helping them understand how to better care for themselves and drive towards improved condition management.

What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?

Two reasons why healthcare is the most exciting place to think about how technology can improve people’s lives: One is that it’s a great mission to know that every day we are working on impacting people’s lives in one of the most basic ways; their health and their ability to do the things they want.  Second is that the healthcare industry has lagged far behind in terms of the adoption of technology and the way that technology has disrupted the traditional service patterns. It’s an exciting place to be able to work on both a great mission and to make impact given how much opportunity there is to rethink care delivery and patient engagement.

What trends do you expect to see in the HIT industry in the next 5 years?

The most talked about trend, and I certainly agree, is Healthcare’s connection to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the ability to now leverage data to speed the processes, feedback loops and intelligence. I think that’s really interesting. What I think is less talked about, although maybe even more impactful, is how we are finally past the early adopter stage of health technology permeating the rest of our lives. I’m particularly interested in the extensions of health into other areas of our lives – like some of the innovative work with Alexa, and the rapid adoption of monitoring devices.  In the normal course of how individuals buy and shop for things, or interact with technology, health is often front and center. There have been some false starts in some of the bigger consumer technology companies into healthcare but I don’t think they’re giving up. Apple is taking another stab at it and Google is very involved, so I think that hopefully in the next 3-5 years we will start to see health as an element of our life that fits into the way we think about all the other things we’re doing.

How is your company getting into AI and Machine Learning?

We think that regardless of how great the technology is, healthcare is still a human delivered service, so a large part of our service is the technology, the experience on the app, and the experience with the devices we ship, but an important part of it is also the interaction with our coaches. We have a network of almost 90 coaches who interact with participants of our services. One of the first places we are applying AI and intelligent feedback loops is into what this coaching element. We look to help them learn about the personalities and the demographics of participants, not just whether they’re male or female, but how it all rolls up into a personality type, and how we can then help them be smarter about the way they respond to questions. Clearly there’s a lot of gain in getting the right answers, but we make the connection of who the user is as we know about them through the technology and through their consumer profile with our coaches’ engagement. We think it’s a really exciting application that can make our coaching more effective and more efficient while driving towards a more tailored and custom experience.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

A big project for us, and for us it’s the whole reason we’re here, is to further embed self-management support into condition management approaches.  We see that as focusing on what matters to an individual and empowering him or her to set goals to own that process. What I mean by condition management is the more clinical element of medications, physiological measures and clinical care related to a consumer’s disease. We want to connect that experience, which is primarily a disease management experience, with the self-management experience. That’s our big push and our reason for being; to humanize those programs that historically have been too clinical and not focused enough on what matters to the individual.

Have you had a mentor or mentors throughout your career?

I have had a number of mentors. I think some mentors are people who are in your life forever and some play particular roles.  My first boss at my first job out of college was just an incredible mentor professionally, but also showed at that stage how you could run a business, be friendly with the people you work with and care about them, but at the same time lead your own life, have a family and be committed to them, and be committed to other elements. He was such an important mentor because he was a good example of how to make a successful professional career fit with a successful life. My advisor in grad school was incredibly important for helping me think about some of the more intellectual challenges, and the Chairman of the Board at my previous company is someone that I deeply respect and continue to look to for guidance.  And in addition to bosses, a number of colleagues have been incredibly mentors. I have also had an executive coach off and on for a decade and that has been incredibly valuable as well.  I think sometimes we can use the word mentor too hierarchically and would encourage a broader perspective.

What strategies do you use at Canary Health to attract and retain top talent?

The easy answer is we do what everyone else would say; we make sure compensation is competitive and work towards ensuring delight in our team’s roles. I think that’s table stakes. For us we focus on a culture and approach of real transparency; we are incredibly honest with people as we’re hiring them.  We’ll openly discuss topics around our corporate trajectory and growth for example.

This, for example, has been very valuable in Digital Health to level set expectations that might be brought from consumer technology companies around the pace of growth.  I have stressed with candidates that if they’re here for a quick win in terms of equity liquidation, we’re not the right place. We’ve lost some candidates to folks who are seeking more of the Silicon Valley cycle, but it has allowed us to attract great people who are aligned with our mission and aligned with our approach to focusing on impact and growth at the same time.

Participant Engagement in your program are at high levels and a 90% satisfaction rate. What do you attribute this success to?

We take design very seriously and we take the user journey very seriously. We put participants at the center to decide what they want to commit to and what matters to them. Our design philosophy is about them first. We never make a recommendation; we give tips or examples but really everything participants are doing is something they’ve committed to. It’s all about them inside of a framework of support, tools, coaching, and nudging that we know they need to be successful but they’re the ones setting the way it works. On top of that, our cultural honesty permeates the way we act with our participants. Our service is not a single transaction, so it’s about engaging folks long term. We’re honest with them about how fast we think things will happen, and honest with them about what they need to put in to get there. The participants know what to expect and that helps keep them engaged.

What do you believe are the traits and qualities of a great leader?

I think I would start by saying I don’t know if I know. I think leadership evolves. What people need evolves and different qualities are needed at different stages of a company so I don’t think there’s a single answer. It depends on the situation and depends on what was promised to the people you’re leading. It comes back to authenticity; it’s different in each setting. Leadership in a video game company would be different than if you’re a coach of a sports team, and different than in our business. Our team, extended team and participants know we believe what we are saying, and we’re clear about it. That’s really critical.

Your LinkedIn profile mentions that you are active in a number of organizations with a primary focus on defining and measuring the health and economic impact of technology. What steps are you taking to achieve this within your organization?

That passion and commitment comes from my graduate work. My PHD is in Health Economics and Health Program Evaluation. To me, it’s a commitment to rigor around evidence. We’re about building long-term sustainable impact, while also building a big company. This takes time.  We could fool ourselves in the short run, but eventually it’s going to catch up to us and there’s no long-term value in that. To say we’re data driven is easy, but what is harder is building the culture data and insights that matter.   Some of the ways we do this are simple – like closing not only our financials, but participant engagement milestones regularly and with rigor and holding a weekly meeting that is attended by the whole senior team and all team leaders to review, look for correlations and drive upcoming behavior. We also work with our clients to match the outcomes we have in our programs with what they’re collecting, which allows us to connect the participant experience to utilization and expense. The third thing we do is build rigorous clinical trials, often with our academic partner. For example, our colleagues at Stanford and Anthem have run a major trial in which they’re looking at clinical outcomes and utilization, and they’re doing it in a very rigorous way because they are committed to publishing the information out to the public.

What advice would you give professionals looking to break into the HIT industry?

The biggest piece of advice I would give is that it is very multidisciplinary. HIT is often, although not exclusively, not deep foundational technology, but it’s technology that needs to be utilized and integrated with clinical care. For a technologist, having some sense of the business case and use cases is helpful and for the business side to know how technology is utilized and where it goes. Just within our company we’ve got clinicians, designers, product people, and economists. Because HIT is still an emerging field, there’s no core curriculum just yet – I think we’re getting closer, so you cannot just train yourself for just that. Being open to the reality that we are still figuring out how these different disciplines fit together is going to be critical for anyone who wants to get into HIT.

Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

Brian Silverstein Interviews Bruce Brandes – CEO, Founder of Lucro

December 1, 2017

Brian Silverstein, Director of Life Sciences recently had the opportunity to interview a Healthcare IT industry leader, Bruce Brandes - CEO, Founder of Lucro. Mr. Brandes shared the background of Lucro, thoughts about trends and innovations in the industry, and other helpful insights. 

Please tell us about yourself and the company you founded, Lucro.

I’ve spent 28 years in healthcare IT, first with IBM and then with a series of growth-stage software and technology companies.  

We started Lucro in 2015, in partnership with a network of leading health systems, to help them decrease costs and save time by simplifying their buying process.  As a byproduct of our digital platform, Lucro delivers a new marketing channel that improves efficiency and lowers sales costs for vendors.

What was your motivation and the background behind founding Lucro, and where did the name come from?

My entire career as a vendor, I thought the sales process in healthcare was nonsensical.  While I was managing director at Martin Ventures (with longtime hospital operator, Charlie Martin), we realized the long, expensive sales cycle was just a symptom of the root problem – that the hospital buying cycle was broken for complex, collaborative vendor selections.  Through our collective relationships, we aligned with health systems that collectively operate 20% of all the hospitals in the country, and added financial backing of HCA and Heritage Group, to develop a solution.

Comically, the company name was about our 20th choice, as all the other names we liked were already taken by an overcrowded universe of unknown, new digital health companies.  “Lucro” is from the Spanish root meaning “to gain” or “to profit.”

Given the success of Lucro – How will you disrupt the healthcare market?

The healthcare organizations using Lucro are collectively retraining the vendor community on their preferred way to discover, evaluate, and choose new products and services.

For buyers, Lucro manages their vendor selection process, replacing antiquated RFIs and RFPs, fragmented spreadsheets and documents, and an unmanageable volume of emails and meetings.

For sellers, the platform redirects ineffective sales and marketing spend, to focus on more relevant, qualified opportunities – while offering unprecedented market insights regarding industry needs and positioning their solutions.

With innovation as a common theme throughout your career and Lucro, how do you make sure that your company is always driving innovation?

I believe for us to be successful, there are three key elements:

  • a deep understanding and singular focus on the problem we seek to solve
  • imagine a solution without being constrained by legacy thinking or incentives
  • recruit and empower a team of complementary talents within an aligned culture

When did you feel that your business model was going to be a success and you were solving the problem you set out to solve?

We are never too complacent regarding any successes we achieve, but our team is particularly encouraged when we see examples of virality – our current clients proactively sharing our solution with their peers to encourage them to actively engage in the network.

What advice would you give to up and coming entrepreneurs in the industry?

Going to market in healthcare is unique from other industries – neither be naïve nor discouraged – there is meaningful opportunity for passionate entrepreneurs to make a difference in people’s health and wellness.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the healthcare industry at this point?

Amid transformational clinical and technical breakthroughs, the underlying business model of healthcare has created misaligned financial incentives to common sense solutions.  Established and emerging stakeholders face unprecedented change and uncertainty, clouding the path forward for all.

What trends do you expect to see in the healthcare industry in the next 5 years?

The consumer will begin to be in charge of how, when, and where care is delivered, as the individual will realize meaningful incentives for making healthier, fiscally responsible choices regarding their care.

They will seek care based on cost, convenience, and quality, the rational way most consumers make every other purchase decision in their life.  More care will be managed by loved ones in the home, supported virtually by clinicians that come to you, with a shift away from hospitals.

Unfortunately, I do not believe these changes will happen nearly as quickly as many predict.  Healthcare is complicated for many reasons, and many current stakeholders that stand to be disrupted will slow this inevitable shift.

As a leader, what traits do you think define leadership?

Well, there are lots of leaders – with both good and bad intentions.  Vision, integrity, and selflessness characterize those who lead for good.

What made you choose healthcare as a focus in your career path?

I always imagine my mother, my wife, my daughter as the person in need of care and want to help empower the passionate clinicians and supportive organizations to do the best jobs they can to systematically provide the best healthcare possible.

What new technologies or innovations are you most excited about in the industry?

There are so many innovations that hold great promise – and I believe the most encouraging ones are those that are insanely simple solutions to big problems.

Two of my favorite examples to which I’ve recently become introduced:

Accendowave – a small device worn by a patient that uses EEG technology to remove the subjectivity from the assessment of pain – this can lead to happier, more comfortable patients while preventing overuse of opioids.

IRIS (Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems) – empowers primary care doctors to offer a simple test in their office to end preventable blindness in diabetic patients.

What is on your pizza?

I am a pizza snob – I make my own at home every Friday – a family favorite!  However, I confess that I get my toppings from the hot bar at Whole Foods – so it varies every week depending on which veggies and meats look best that day!

Brian Silverstein
Director of Life Sciences
440-996-0877
bsilverstein@directrecruiters.com

Norm Volsky Interviews Brenda Schmidt, Founder & CEO at Solera Health

November 13, 2017

Brenda Schmidt, Founder/CEO of Solera Health, recently spoke with Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile Healthcare IT about her company, goals, trends in the HIT industry, and much more as a part of our Thought Leader Interview series.

Please tell us about yourself and the company you founded, Solera Health.

I started my career in Science, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and a Master’s degree in Immunology, and then flipped over to Business.  I worked for Baxter Healthcare for about 15 years, the last 6 of which I was responsible for the Clinical Nutrition Market in Latin America. I really wanted to break out of a large company and start something on my own, so I looked around at where the market was going in the early 2000s when health management was going high tech, high reach. I thought there was a real opportunity to impact the health of service workers who didn’t have a computer and required more of a community-based focus. I bootstrapped a company, Viridian Health Management, for about 10 years and the experiences with Viridian led me to Solera’s business model. Solera has created a new category as a preventative care benefits manager. We connect individuals to non-medical prevention, coping and support services that meet people’s unique needs and preferences, paid by their health insurance company. We have initially focused on the Diabetes Prevention Program to prove our business model.

What was your motivation to start Solera Health?

I purpose-built Solera’s business model through several experiences at Viridian that identified the need for a marketplace or integrator in healthcare for non-medical services, delivered by community organizations and digital health solutions paid through medical claims. At Viridian, we focused on employee health management for organizations that had very diverse employee populations. These employers required a creative approach to monitoring the health and productivity of their employees, primarily through program delivery by local community resources that delivered evidence-based, culturally competent programs, which was unique in the market in the early 2000s. After that, we won a large CDC population health demonstration project that leveraged community resources to deliver evidence-programs as a health management strategy for small and mid-sized employers. We then worked with a national retail pharmacy chain to manage patients with multiple chronic conditions, referred from a local accountable care organization, to keep them compliant with their care plan between their doctor visits. Based on these three experiences we realized that there was a real need and opportunity for a technology platform and business model that could connect patients, health plans, and physicians with non-medical prevention, coping and support services, delivered by digital health solutions or community organizations, that could impact cost and quality through a high-access, low cost network. That was the motivation for Solera. I pivoted the business model from Viridian Health Management and purpose-built Solera’s business model to address that market need.

What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?

I was always interested in Science in high school and in college, getting my degree in Microbiology. Disruptive companies in genetics and tech were starting to enter the market.  I thought there would be growth in careers focused on genetics or microbiology, and I applied for a position as a microbiologist. I’m pretty outgoing and I remember the guy in the lab saying, “this job is not for you.” After that, I thought about medical school but got my Master’s degree in Immunology partly because my parents said I either needed a job or I would have to come back home. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t want to go back home, so I went to Grad school. At the end of my Master’s I realized I didn’t want to get my PhD and spend my career in research. I wanted to go out and see if I could make a difference in healthcare through product, technology and innovation. My first job out of Grad school was as a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep and that was probably much better suited for my personality. After a few years in sales, I joined Baxter Healthcare and had a variety of roles in Global Marketing, Product Management, and Quality.  Those experiences in a world-class company served me well when I started my own company. From the very beginning, the vision was to create an innovative company that solved a big healthcare problem with a culture of compliance and quality as opposed to a technology – driven company that develops a product and then looks for a buyer. Solera purpose-built our business model to solve a problem with a large financial impact for payers. This has led to Solera’s quick market adoption and growth.

What are your goals for Solera Health in the next 5 years?

Five years from now I want Solera to be a global platform for integrating non-medical services into medical care at a lower cost to improve quality of care. As a first step, Solera chose to integrate the hundreds of Diabetes Prevention Program providers to prove our business model - that health plans would see the value of non-medical providers to prevent and better manage their members, and would pay for non-medical services delivered by community organizations and digital health solutions. The Diabetes Prevention Program was the first prevention program that we launched in an ecosystem that includes prevention, coping and support.  Solera’s technology platform supports value-based non-medical network designed to keep people compliant with their care plan between doctor visits by connecting them to an ecosystem of community and digital providers.  Solera guides each patient to the “best fit” program provider based on their unique needs and preferences. For example, a physician might tell a patient to lose a few pounds, eat healthy and exercise more and then send them out into a world where that’s not very easy. Solera can help the patient by matching them to a program, paid for by their insurance company, where they live, work, play, pray and shop and provide them the needed resources whether that’s prevention programs or social support, resilience, sleep or healthcare related social supports. All of those things have a direct positive impact on healthcare costs, but they’re not appropriate services to provide within the four walls of a clinical setting.

What trends do you expect to see in the HIT industry in the next 5 years?

A trend we are already seeing is market consolidation of digital apps. There are hundreds of apps, and individual point solutions have a difficult time gaining traction with payers and employers who are looking for single-source platforms. The other trend we’ve seen is collaboration among a wide variety of stakeholders to integrate their various technology and digital solutions into a patient-focused strategy where those things, in concert, can provide holistic care to a patient. In general, people are realizing that a single technology is not going to solve an end-to-end problem in healthcare, so collaborative partnerships and integrated technologies help streamline both the contracting process and the patient experience. Another trend is that demonstrated clinical effectiveness is becoming more and more important. Payors want proof that these things work in broad populations, and certainly, the FDA is moving in that direction around pre-certification of digital apps. Another trend is just the recognition that human interaction and accountability is an important driver of behavior change, and that digital apps that use data and even provide feedback using artificial intelligence haven’t shown that they can drive sustainable behavior change. We have seen several hybrid models where content delivery and data collection can happen digitally, but when you want to provide effective support for sustainable behavior changes, we believe that takes human interaction, accountability and motivational interviewing - which is very difficult to do with technology.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

We looked at all the reasons why our business model was successful for the Diabetes Prevention program. There were 3 key factors that drove the success of our business model. The first was a highly fragmented set of program delivery providers that required integration into a network. The second was the need for a standard set of quality metrics across a disparate group of program providers to document quality, performance and outcomes. Third, we look for programs where there could be an engagement strategy dependent on consumer choice. Even though many program providers may be delivering the same program or addressing the same problem, the intervention methodology and patient experience can be very different. Solera is like Match.com for non-medical service providers - we match people to the program provider that best meets their unique needs and preferences.  The delivery modality could be telephonic, telehealth, digital, online, community, in person, group, or individual. There are several different variables that can impact a person’s success. Because behavior change is so personal, it is important to meet people where they are and provide programs and program providers for them where they feel that they’ll be most successful. As the business model has expanded beyond Diabetes Prevention to other non-medical services such as sleep, resilience, tobacco cessation, and healthcare related social support, we look more like Expedia.com when you think about a wide variety of different types of programs and services that we can bundle together. For example, if your trip includes a car, a hotel and a flight, in our world that might be diabetes prevention, stress and a food prescription as a custom bundle for each person from among our variety of programs and services that’s unique to each person. That analogy makes a lot of sense for our technology platform and the business we’re building. The next market we are launching is an integrated network of sleep and resilience program providers. There are so many different digital apps addressing sleep and stress management that deliver their programs in very different ways that there is even more of an opportunity to identify and match people with a program that meets their needs than diabetes prevention. Improved sleep and resilience also have a direct clinical correlation with obesity and chronic disease. As we’ve talked to employers, consultants, plans and even the providers and vendors in our network, most agree that our model makes sense. If Solera can identify the people that are the “best fit” for each one of our network providers, it benefits both the program provider and the patient. We have dozens of solution providers in our network. They are not competitive with each other, even when providing the same program, because they don’t want the most people using their app or program, they want the people who are going to be most successful using that app and program. If Solera can help make that match, it benefits everybody.

You are the President of the Council for Diabetes Prevention and the Board of the Arizona Bioindustry Association. What new initiatives are you accomplishing on these boards?

Each board has very different missions. Here in Arizona, there’s a recognition that Phoenix and Tucson have the assets to support and fuel an innovation economy and become a medical and technology innovation hub. The Arizona BioIndustry Association was critical in pushing the angel Investment tax credit through the legislature, paving the way for tax breaks for people investing in young entrepreneurial companies. The organization is a catalyst for bringing capital to Arizona life sciences and healthcare technology companies, and supporting technology transfer to commercialize the innovative technologies being developed at our state Universities. The group is also creating collaborative partnerships with the Arizona Technology Council and other economic development stakeholders to attract companies to Arizona, making sure that we have adequate talent and socializing the assets that can support a vibrant start-up community.

The other organization that I’m very passionate about is the Council for Diabetes Prevention, a new non-profit that was started just about a year ago at a Congressional briefing. The Council was created with the recognition that the Diabetes Prevention Program was going to become a required preventive benefit for all Medicare members. The program is delivered by highly fragmented community-based organizations and digital health solutions that didn’t have an advocacy voice in Washington. The Council provided the opportunity for these providers and other diabetes prevention stakeholders to come together, share best practices, and establish quality metrics for program delivery for the industry.  They also needed an organization to advocate on behalf of non-medical providers that could deliver these evidence-based programs in a quality way without licensure, credential, or certification. We now have almost 100 Council members, an independent 5-member board. The Council is very active in advocacy and working with CMS and CDC to ensure the effective implementation and administration of the DPP. It was fun to be involved in something from the very beginning that could make a big difference in a new national benefit.

As an accomplished healthcare entrepreneur, what advice do you have for up and coming entrepreneurs?

Breaking through the noise in healthcare is really hard. There are literally hundreds of healthcare startups pitching to the same buyer. When introducing a disruptive technology or new product, it is important to focus on the problem you are solving, and the industry will look to you to solve it. Grow through thought leadership and clinical evidence as opposed to marketing.  It is also important to identify and sell to the person who is financially motivated to buy your solution to solve a problem that impacts their bottom line. Health Plans and employers are very fatigued with point solutions and are looking for platforms that offer an integrated solution or end-to end patient experience. There are certainly a lot of problems to solve in healthcare but I think the other important strategy is collaboration. There isn’t a single company that has an end-to-end solution for payers. A good strategy for new market entrants is to partner with a more established company that already has clients and revenue. Find partners where your solution helps them add more value to their existing client base as a way to gain revenue and traction to avoid the very long sales cycles. This has been an effective strategy for benefit integration platforms and consumer engagement companies. Once the new company has established credibility as a partner to one of these larger organizations, it’s easier for them to sell directly to payors and scale their businesses

What drives you to succeed?

I just really want to make a difference. When I leave the house in the morning I tell my husband, “I’m going out to change the world one pre-diabetic patient at a time.” We just did a series of testimonial videos for people who have participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program that highlighted their journeys.  Solera has made a difference in people’s lives even though we don’t deliver any of these programs. Sometimes I play these videos to focus on our mission because it is a privilege to have the opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life, and it is very motivating. There is a tremendous opportunity to scale non-medical programs delivered in communities and the world can’t move fast enough for me to scale prevention and support programs and services that I believe can transform healthcare. I see such a huge opportunity to impact patients outside of clinical settings. While I am focused on innovative business models to transform healthcare to improve costs and quality, it really comes down to helping individuals improve their health. The personal stories of people struggling to improve their health and the feedback that we have made it a little easier for them drives me to do more.

What strategies do you use at Solera Health to retain top talent?

I have purpose-built a mission-driven organization with a great corporate culture. Solera benchmarks our corporate culture against industry and national benchmarks, which we exceed in all categories. We recently won the “Best Places to Work” award in Phoenix.  We also hire self-driven people and then give them the freedom to excel.  I have a no-jerks rule, a rule to not have stupid rules, and we really focus on mastery, autonomy and purpose in a collaborative environment. Solera is a very mission-driven organization and it’s important to me that everyone can tie their job with both the business objectives but also the purpose of the organization. Corporate culture and focusing on the importance of our culture has really helped us attract and retain top talent. People want to work here. We consistently get inbound inquiries about coming to work for us because people believe in our mission and believe that we can make a difference.

How has government regulation and policy affected your niche in the healthcare industry?

Government regulation was the driver for us selecting the Diabetes Prevention Program as our initial market and product. The Centers for Disease Control was authorized by Congress back in 2010 to scale the Diabetes Prevention Program. The CDC built an infrastructure of community organizations using non-clinical providers as trained Lifestyle Coaches who were delivering the program through grant funding. The CDC developed a standardized curriculum that was public domain and established quality and fidelity metrics for the program. That standardization and CDC oversight made it a good market for us to start because we could assure our health plan clients that we had a quality delivery network as opposed to Solera curating our own network. The Center for Disease Control has an existing infrastructure and framework. We saw a line of sight on reimbursement for two reasons, the first being that the US Preventative Services Task Force made a recommendation that the Diabetes Prevention Program was the Gold Standard to address cardiovascular risk reduction. It became a mandate for health plans to cover cardiovascular risk reduction through a 12-month intensive lifestyle program that really wasn’t applicable to deliver by higher-cost clinical providers. The second reason was the Diabetes Prevention Program was being evaluated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center as an expanded model. We anticipated that the Diabetes Prevention Program would become a covered Medicare preventive benefit around the 2017-2018 timeframe. Back in 2013 we knew it was an interesting market for us to enter based on regulation and prove our business model, and not have to go to health plans and ask them to cover services without documented impact and outcomes.  The health plans felt that they had to cover the DPP and we provided a business model that made it very easy for them to administer and offer the program to their members and employers.

When did you feel that this business model was going to be a success and you were solving the problem you set out to solve?

A very meaningful moment for me was the day we reached out to health plan members to inform them of the Diabetes Prevention Program as a new health benefit. We could actually watch and see the statistics of people matching and enrolling in the Diabetes Prevention Program. We celebrated the number of people who may not become diabetic. We’ve enrolled more people in the Diabetes Prevention Program in 2017 than the entire industry has enrolled combined over the previous 4 years, so we have solved for consumer engagement and scale. This is tens of thousands of people who may now not get diabetes. It’s really thrilling to see our model and technology working.

Norman Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

Norm Volsky Interviews Evie Jennes, President & Chief Commercial Officer, swyMed

June 6, 2017

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile HIT at DRI recently had the chance to interview Evie Jennes, President & Chief Commercial Officer, swyMed. Evie shared information about swyMed, their latest solutions, her career, and insights into the telemedicine industry.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and swyMed.

As the President and Chief Commercial Officer, I am ultimately responsible for the sales, partnerships and marketing direction at swyMed. When it comes to working with a company, I am particularly attracted to young organizations that need to grow. I also love to travel and have been working internationally for more than 20 years including 7 years in Eastern Europe and more specifically, Russia. My time there included working at a number of start-ups in that region as well as for larger multi-nationals in the early 1990’s. In terms of my career, I have spent about half of my time in Healthcare, and the other half in FMCG, VC Funding, and various manufacturing projects.

As far as swyMed goes, a major barrier for telemedicine to date has been the bandwidth, or I should say the lack thereof.  More specifically, there is simply often not enough, in both rural and urban settings, to reliably conduct video encounters for real-time telemedicine outside the four walls of a hospital. At swyMed our whole business was built around solving this problem. We believe that we have addressed these issues head on with our truly unique video software which has a patented data transport protocol that overcomes latency, and our latest  solution, the DOT Telemedicine Backpack, which leverages this software.  Between the two technologies, we are able to deliver reliable connectivity, and a video encounter from basically anywhere which is a huge differentiator in the market.

What is swyMed’s key differentiator in the Telemedicine market?

I think what people need to realize, and they slowly are as telemedicine moves outside of the hospital, is that even if you are the most sophisticated telemedicine vendor in the marketplace, with the most robust virtual care platform, if the end user doesn’t have the bandwidth to reliably conduct video encounters outside of a hospital or clinic, the technology is limited. When we founded swyMed, we made the decision to focus specifically on providing the necessary solutions to make telemedicine possible in rural areas as well as urban areas with congested networks. Today, our patented data transport protocol allows users to get around traditional networking challenges, to deliver on-demand video telemedicine encounters in even the most rural and remote locations, where they need telemedicine the most. Day in and day out we work with our clients offering a Mobile Integrated Healthcare solution that enables them to reach places and patients where it was never before possible.

Tell us about your DOT Telemedicine Backpack.

The DOT Telemedicine Backpack is swyMed’s most recent and largest product launch to date, which we scheduled around this year’s HIMSS 2017 conference. The offering is the industry’s first lightweight, mobile telemedicine solution that truly gives care providers the ability to connect to doctors for real-time video encounters-- anytime, anywhere,  even in the most remote areas, or on the go. Truly, a “Doc-on Tap.”

For example, say you live in a rural area where communications infrastructure is limited or in a city where networks get congested -- telemedicine will likely be challenging, potentially having a significant impact on the speed and quality of care and ultimately outcomes. Not to mention it is extremely frustrating not to be able to connect when we want to.  We have likely all experienced this with our home internet, Skype, FaceTime, etc. But in this situation, these challenges can ultimately lead to care-givers choosing to forgo using the telemedicine technology they have, which in turn limits care.

Armed with swyMed’s DOT Telemedicine Backpack, users can now leverage even the faintest whiff of a network signal and elevate it to a level where high quality, reliable, virtual care is possible regardless of location or infrastructure challenges.  And for the areas that have zero networks, we have satellite built in, thus offering a connection literally everywhere on earth. The DOT Telemedicine Backpack is an ideal solution for mobile telestroke programs, community paramedicine, remote triage, disaster response, and critical transport as it extends the reach of providers and care-givers.

What are the biggest challenges on your plate right now?

As a leader at a young company, driving visibility and sales of our software and the DOT Telemedicine Backpack will of course remain a top priority for me throughout 2017. One of the biggest challenges right now is that our prospective customers need to find a way to pay for the DOT Telemedicine Backpack. The excitement around the DOT Telemedicine Backpack is palpable in virtually every meeting we have.  Our customers very quickly see the many challenges we solve, but purse strings remain tied, and budgets tight. Health systems need to change the dynamic in how they view the price for our (and other) solutions.  It would be helpful if the ROI, which in our case is quite significant, was weighed against the initial investment in the DOT Telemedicine Backpack a bit more. It is being done, but not consistently as of yet.  We as an industry need to continue educating our customers on how we are ultimately saving them money and improving patient outcomes.

The pace of telemedicine adoption can also be a challenge. The industry recognizes the obvious benefits and value that telehealth brings to care, but these findings need to be backed up by legislative changes that reimburse for telemedicine visits. The good news is that every day telemedicine is growing in terms of reach and impact, and with this success we do see some movement on that front. We hope to see that trend continuing.

Other than ATA, what conferences and trade shows do you attend?

Besides ATA, HIMSS is another big event for us obviously as it’s the biggest healthcare IT show of the year. We also make the EMS State of the Sciences Conference (dubbed by media as "A Gathering of Eagles") a priority as it has become one of the most progressive and important EMS conferences nationally. Given our business model, the emergency management community is a top target for us so it’s great to be able to be part of the conversation related to the most cutting-edge information and advances in EMS patient care.

In the coming year we will also focus on particular states that would be best served by our solution and attend conferences there.

How do you manage your geographically dispersed team?

We get asked this question a lot despite all the technology we have at our disposal today, many people still feel as though you should be in the same room or same building to be successful. At swyMed we challenge this belief by having a team that’s dispersed over two continents.  And it works because first and foremost we have colleagues that work exceedingly well together. I have been part of many organizations and this is one of the absolute best teams, if not the best, that I have been a member of. We complement each other’s skill sets, we are completely frank with each other so there are no politics, and we genuiunely really like each other as people, which is so important.  We also use our own video software platform for weekly management meetings, sales meetings, and spontaneous meetings.  The technology allows us to still have the ‘watercooler chat’, but on video vs. in person. Then of course we do see each other at customer visits, conferences, etc., which is always fun, and fruitful.

On your LinkedIn page, you mention having the entrepreneurial spirit. Since this isn't something you are taught, how did you develop it within yourself?

I think that I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit and it was then encouraged by my parents, and especially my father.  I was the kid with the lemonade stand, who was canvassing the neighborhood for babysitting jobs until I turned 16 and could get a ‘real’ job.

The seven years I spent in Russia and other Eastern European countries really developed my ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ as it was the ‘Wild, Wild East’. If you were not creative with problem solving, resourceful, and entrepreneurial you were not going to make it even with large multi-nationals budgets.

What are the traits or qualities of a great leader?

I managed fairly large groups of people when working for multi-nationals and this is when I developed my management skills.  As a leader I had a few rules that served me well and I still follow them today. Hire people that are smarter than you are, ask good questions, and listen to the answers.  Treat the people you work with, and those that work for you with respect. The people that work for you should feel and know that you have their back. Do what is ‘right’ even if in the short term it is not in your best interest.

 Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
Direct Recruiters, Inc.
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

Brian Silverstein Interviews Kimberlie Cerrone, Founder and Executive Chairman of Tiatros

TiatrosBrian Silverstein, Healthcare IT Project Manager at Direct Recruiters, Inc. had the opportunity to interview Kimberlie Cerrone, Founder and Executive Chairman of Tiatros, a digital therapeutics company that offers online, clinician moderated, peer group psychotherapeutic programs for patients with treatable mental illnesses. Kimberlie shared about her interesting background, advice for entrepreneurs, the digital health industry, and more.

Please share a little about your background and the company you founded, Tiatros. What was your inspiration behind this endeavor? What was your “aha” moment?

I’m a Silicon Valley dealmaker and IP strategist by background. I’ve made hundreds of deals for technology companies around the world over the past 35 years, many of which helped tiny startups grow into very large companies. I founded Tiatros after my sons came home from military service with PTSD. I saw that they both needed the community and support of other veterans. The only people that they would share their stories with were other veterans, who shared their military values and understood their stories because they had also served.  My “aha” was that healing is a social activity – that the therapeutic power of peer groups to support healthy behaviors and to improve patient compliance could be harnessed using social media-styled tools inside secure private social networks. That led me to found Tiatros.

What is the origin behind the name “Tiatros”?

Tiatros’ first engineer came up with “TIATROS.” Being an IP attorney, I had a list of specific requirements including that the name had to be a completely made up word that didn’t already exist in any language; it had to be 5-7 letters long; spelled phonetically; look spatially balanced; and be available as a primary .com URL, a corporate name in California and Delaware, and for use as our primary product name and trademark. He made up a new word based on a Greek word that derived from an ancient Sumerian word, IATRO, which refers to "physician, medicine, and healing”. He added a “T” for technology and “S” for Social, both of which are concepts key to our mission, and voila, it met every one of my requirements. I loved it immediately, and still do.

You are an extremely accomplished entrepreneur. What drives you to succeed?

It’s really simple: I want to see Tiatros’ products widely available in the marketplace, providing safe and affordable evidence-based treatment to every patient with a treatable mental illness that seeks help.

What are your goals for Tiatros in the next 5 years?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the gold standard for the psychotherapeutic treatment of most major mental illnesses. It’s used all over the world to treat anxiety, depression, trauma, panic, and even eating and sleep disorders because it consistently works very well provided patients complete it to the best of their ability. UCSF psychiatrists piloted the first programs for sexual assault- and combat-related trauma, with everyone of UCSF’s first 300 patients showing post traumatic growth and recovery. My colleagues and I are now working with our business partners and collaborative customers to leverage cognitive computing and AI to see if we can make effective peer group psychotherapeutics available to tens of millions of Americans and ultimately to hundreds of millions of people around the world that have treatable mental illnesses. That's a big ambition, but we believe it's possible to achieve. I particularly want every veteran who is struggling with PTSD and TBI to have access to effective treatment starting now, because I saw in my own family that it is life-changing. These are my 5-year goals for Tiatros.

With your experience as an entrepreneur, and being involved as judge for Cartier Women’s Initiative, which supports and encourages projects by women, what advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs?

When asked, I tell women entrepreneurs to work on solving a problem that is important to them, that they care about and know about, and that a few other people that they think are smart are already working on. I give myself as an example. My original thought process in deciding to work on developing scalable therapeutics for behavioral health was that a handful of companies were already focusing on the market opportunity, but with different proposed solutions; that I am deeply concerned about preventing another generation of homeless veterans and destigmatizing mental illness; and that healthcare is the responsibility of women around the world. That’s what made Tiatros a good fit for me.

What interesting new projects are you currently working on? Or would be interested in exploring?

I recently started to serve on outside corporate boards, which I am enjoying very much. Last year I joined the Board of a premiere engineering design and consulting company that has a significant focus on the healthcare sector. I bring an important and different perspective to its Board, and I’ve learned a great deal. I’d like to do more of this type of work with other companies in the global healthcare sector over the next several years.

What challenges do you currently see in the digital health industry?

The United States needs to innovate business models for reimbursing digital health as much as we need new digital health products and services. I would go anywhere, anytime, to participate in meaningful discussions about how the broad healthcare sector and the government can collaboratively develop innovative revenue models for digital health.

What or who do you attribute your success to?

I have broad interests and a multi-disciplinary educational background. I’m often the only person at the table that understands the science, the legal, the business, the IP, and the international aspects of a proposal. I write very clearly, and have become a better speaker. That’s created a lot of opportunity for me to work on great projects with excellent people, and to get useful experience in complex and important projects.

Have you had a mentor(s) throughout your career?

After 40 years, I consider my husband to be my most important mentor. He’s a psychiatrist who is one of the country’s leading experts on trauma in adolescent and young adult populations. It’s an amazing thing that after all these years our professional interests have aligned and we can collaborate now.

Your background is very diverse. How have you balanced your roles as a Founder, an attorney, IP Strategist, entrepreneur and more?

I don’t try to balance them. I try to integrate them, using them all in combination. Tiatros is a great project for me because I get to use pretty much everything I know, and I still need to learn a great deal more.

What advice do you have for up and coming HIT professionals?

The great American philosopher Cyndi Lauper says If you learn, you earn. She’s right. My advice is work on learning continuously, acquiring whatever knowledge, skills, and credentials you need to get the chance to work with good people on great projects. That’s how you get valuable experience that enables you to advance in your career. You need to bring something to the table. At various points in my life, I taught myself to code, about trademark law, Norwegian-styled knitting, neuropeptide chemistry, and a wide range of international business practices. Now I want to learn about Chinese history. I expect that this knowledge will somehow qualify me for an interesting opportunity at some point. It certainly gives me pleasure. Keep learning always.

What strategies do you rely on to retain and attract top talent at your company?

Hiring is always a challenge for startups. I think that I’m better at motivating and retaining great people than I am at hiring them. I do work hard to ensure that everyone who works with me understands how important it is that our mission succeeds, and that they are respected and appreciated for the role they’re playing in our company’s progress.

If you could have dinner with anyone from Present or Past, who would you want to dine with and what would you eat? Why?

Fun question! I like people who show vision, ambition, leadership, and a high tolerance for ambiguity and change. Pearl Buck, Shirin Ebadi, Jeanne Bare, Nellie Bly, Thomas Jefferson, Ann Richards, Cardinal Wolsey, Winston Churchill, Peter the Great, Gertrude Bell, Rosalind Franklin, Richard Engel, Justice Ginsburg, Janet Napolitano, Teddy Roosevelt, Sinclair Lewis, and Grace Hopper all come quickly to mind. Since this is my fantasy, my wonderful husband will join us and we’ll eat my father’s pasta Bolognese and drink good wine.

What are your interests outside of healthcare?

I have a young grandson who is very interesting. I’m a big sports fan who feels very lucky to live within walking distance of the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors’ stadiums. I am a world class knitter and am fairly accomplished at crochet. Studying needlework has been a fascinating lens to seeing the creativity of generations of women and their unique contributions to societies around the world. I’ve gotten very interested in the worldwide supply chain for the yarn and other materials that are used in needlecraft. It is not a remunerative skill set, but I am known for the handmade gifts that I give my friends and it gives me great pleasure.

brian-silverstein-square-web-shotBrian Silverstein
“The Headhunter for Digital Health Innovators”
Healthcare IT Project Manager
440-996-0877
bsilverstein@directrecruiters.com

Since 1983, Direct Recruiters, Inc. (DRI) has been recognized as the relationship-focused search firm that assists top-tier organizations with recruiting, acquiring, and retaining high-impact talent for mission-critical positions.

Norm Volsky Interviews Shane Waslaski, CEO of Intelligent InSites

shane-waslaski

Intelligent InSites - the leading provider of operational intelligence for healthcare (PRNewsFoto/ Intelligent InSites, Inc.)

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile HIT at Direct Recruiters, Inc. recently interviewed Shane Waslaski, CEO of Intelligent InSites. Intelligent InSites software creates a visual workplace that improves patient flow and operational efficiency using RTLS location-based intelligence. Mr. Waslaski shared insights on his career, the healthcare industry, advice for healthcare professionals, and much more.

Please tell us about yourself and what attracted you to a career in operational leadership within healthcare delivery organizations?

In all my work I have always been most drawn to healthcare operations because, for me, it represents a unique intersection where we touch the life of the patient through the qualitative facets of care delivery. It is also an industry in which you are assured of being impacted by your own work in some fashion because you, a family member or a friend will be a patient and you will experience the industry for yourself. That is not true of many industries. My technical side is drawn to the detail, the complexity, and the dynamic nature of healthcare while my nurturing side is satisfied by knowing that my work will have a lasting positive impact on the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of healthcare. Because I am not a nurse or a physician, my hands will not be directly involved in patient healing activities, but I am privileged to be deeply engaged in shaping how patients experience their care and through the environments in which caregivers do their work.

Please talk about the importance of operational intelligence for healthcare and how it improves patient care.

In so many ways , and through the hands of so many – caregivers, patients, lab results, medications, equipment, supplies, exam rooms and transporters – many details must come together at the sharpest points of care to drive quality outcomes and experiences. Patients know it when they experience it and, as patients, we all desire this symphony of parts to come together  for us in a positive way.

In so many health systems, leaders lack a comprehensive view of their operations. They can’t see process bottlenecks until it is too late to prevent the inevitable delays and frustration they produce. Every moment nurses and providers spend looking for equipment, supplies or each other takes away time from patient care. And we know through so many studies that caregiver time with patients already has been greatly reduced due to increasing administrative burdens. With visibility into operations, health systems can improve safety and process efficiency so that all the resources and people more easily come together to produce a positive patient experience.

Earlier this year, you spoke at MobCon Digital Health Conference. Can you provide a brief overview of your topic?

I love hearing how pattern identification and predictive modeling are making amazing advances in diagnostic and healing technologies possible. But, we still find nurses and providers being interrupted in the delivery of care to write things down or most often to type at a keyboard in order to capture timestamps and other data required to measure performance. At MobCon – and at every other opportunity I’m given – I hope to re-inspire in the audience the belief that we are long overdue to insist on systems that are designed so that far more data is automatically collected, particularly operational workflow information. I shared examples of how this is already happening in healthcare in facilities where real-time operational intelligence systems are being used. I shared the significant results we’re seeing, like 25% reductions in clinic patient cycle times and how we are able to standardize procedures and care protocols to give a typical clinic 3,000 more care minutes back per week. That’s 15 more patients a day, and with 251 work days in 2016, that’s 3,765 more patient visits. It matters and these systems are so effective at bringing change where some of the most challenging operational work needs to be tackled.

Who do you consider as the most innovative healthcare leaders of today?

Nurses. I consistently find nurses are among the most innovative thinkers and in the most challenging circumstances, the caregivers who always find some way to take the best care of the patient. They are forever under pressure and a critical line of defense when it comes to patient safety. All of this while being healer and comforter, and they are crucial to the overall patient experience. Nurses are a source of both innovation and inspiration for me and this team.

What do you believe are the most important traits of a leader in today’s business world? Are we truly facing a leadership shortage in the US and on a global level?

Honesty, tenacity, and courage. If we are facing a shortage, we need look no further than a mirror to find those of us responsible to being certain that is not the case. We work hard to ensure that within our own organization every individual has both the opportunity and understands their obligation to lead. Our strongest leaders are always honest, they never give up and they repeatedly show courage in their conversations and their approach to innovating. I have the highest respect for individuals who consistently do so.

On your LinkedIn page, your “Influencers” are Jeff Haden, Ghostwriter, Eric Ries, CEO at Long-Term Stock Exchange, Tim O’Reilly, Founder & CEO of O’Reilly Media, and Jack Welch, former CEO of GE and current Executive Chairman for The Jack Welch Management Institute. Can you tell us how they influence you and why you admire them?

There are a number of others such as Kotter and Porter I would certainly add but have not taken the time to do so, but at some point these individuals and others have influenced me. Jack Welch for his track record and his teachings on the idea that you must change before you are forced to change and his passion about the importance of our responsibility as leaders to grow others. Tim O’Reilly serves as a reminder to me in the software industry that the data we liberate to the customer must be far more valuable than the data we capture. This has been the repeated error of the software industry and I am resolved to be certain we are providing exponentially greater value in the data we reveal than just our ability to collect it. Jeff Haden is someone who believes in effort and action and, like Welch, the obligation we have to help others grow as a way to pay forward the investment someone made in us. I find value in those who have gone before me and are salient writers and thinkers on how we can leave the wood pile higher than we found it.

What is the biggest challenge on your plate right now?

Aside from the ongoing challenge of recruiting experienced services, software and data science professionals, my greatest focus is on helping healthcare leaders fully understand what it takes to change – to truly transform. Leaders know they need to take significant cost out of their operations. They know they need to transform the experience – both for patients and staff. But for so long in healthcare, operational change has happened incrementally, at glacial pace. Frankly, that is so far below the kind of wholesale change needed. Driving this kind of change doesn’t happen with an initiative run as a side operation. To get there takes a tenacious and aligned strategic change aptitude across the entire organization. And that is daunting in any environment – because it’s not a core strength in our industry. Customers who are seeing the most transformational results have operational excellence goals tightly woven into multiple levels of their organizational plans. They are aligning, empowering, recognizing and rewarding change teams across their organizations. And then they are collaborating to rapidly raise skillsets in analytics and location-based operations. They also are partnering with full-service solution providers who bring together all the elements needed for transformation, including the technology, the tools, business process engineering, change management, and program management.

What is your best advice to up and coming healthcare technology professionals? What does it take to succeed?

The single most important thing that healthcare technology professionals can do is become deeply immersed in the realities and pain points of leaders, decision-makers, caregivers and technicians across healthcare. When you find these pain points, you know, because most everyone around you will be running in a direction away from them. You must be close enough to understand the challenges and skilled in asking questions that penetrate to root-level causation. Then, and only then, can we create new, transformational approaches. We can’t simply ask “what do we need to change?”, “we need to understand why?” This is key to the most pressing challenges that remain in healthcare operations and it is the key to Leans’ 5th “S” – Sustainment.

What events and tradeshows will Intelligent InSites attend in 2017?

Intelligent InSites will be at HIMSS17 in Orlando. In addition, we showcase our solution and case studies at targeted industry events throughout the year, including regional HIMSS chapter meetings, conferences focused on sub-markets we serve, such as urgent care and orthopedic clinics, and various association meetings. Our marketing team announces where we’ll be on our website and on social media.

What healthcare software trends do you see for 2017?

The focus on efficiency in healthcare workflow. Time saving, care enhancing solutions that automate specific functions for specific providers such as ensuring most of the data that’s needed to capture timestamps and other process-related markers is captured automatically. Where automation cannot be embedded and achieved, there will be a focus on usability of systems, including liberating providers and nurses from the keyboard. Finally, a shift away from silos and more focus on integrating systems to drive greater value to all of them, such as connecting nurse call, bed management, real-time patient flow apps and metrics view boards, EHRs, billing systems and even building management systems.

How has current legislation and the recent presidential election impacted hospital decisions?

There is so much being said about this already that I don’t feel the need to pile on, except to say that my hope is we avoid speculation paralysis. At times when there are many unknowns over which we have no control, it is best to turn our focus to the things we can control. I can think of no greater opportunity than removing waste from our operational processes in healthcare, while also transforming the patient experience. No matter what happens in the halls of Congress, we know we need to reduce costs. The great news is we know we can do so, and dramatically. Where we can be of assistance to our lawmakers and leaders, we stand ready to help.

Currently, the healthcare industry is experiencing a lot of challenges. What do you think is the industry’s greatest challenge?

Costs are out of control, many of our doctors and nurses are losing hope and retiring and not as many young people are joining the profession, all while more consumers enter the system bringing higher expectations of convenient, personalized service. And so, we have come to the time where we have no choice but to transform. In this way, I see our greatest challenge as our greatest motivator. We know what we can accomplish when we turn our intellect and attention to it. Advances in diagnostic and surgical technologies, medicines and therapies have improved the health and well-being of so many in so many amazing ways. Now, we need to turn our intellect and focus on transforming our operations.

How has your B.S. degree in Zoology and Biochemistry prepared you for your profession in healthcare operational excellence?

Understanding the inner-workings of organisms at the cellular and group levels, including relationships among them and how they’ll react under different conditions, has been incredibly useful. Without knowing it at the time, I chose a field of study that blends both data analysis, behavioral science, and dynamic mechanics and these have been amazing foundations for approaching large, complex problems like complex patient flows. Complex problems are a collection of many mixed up and less complex problems. It is our challenge to unravel the pieces and solve those that can be solved instead of being overwhelmed by what looks like one massive unsolvable challenge.

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Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
Direct Recruiters, Inc.
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

Interview with Glenn Keet, CEO, ClinCapture

March 23, 2016

Sarah Pozek, Director of Life Sciences, Direct Recruiters, Inc., recently had the pleasure of interviewing Glenn Keet, Chief Executive Officer of ClinCapture,
a leading provider of cloud- based e-Clinical software (clincapture.com). Mr. Keet was kind enough to answer questions about his career, the Life Sciences industry, and his philosophies for hiring and retaining top talent.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and ClinCapture.

I had always been strong in math and science, and when I graduated with a combined degree of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Sciences, I assumed I would become an engineer.  But my first job out of college was with a software company, and I have been in software ever since.  I now look back on my engineering degree as good training for any career – it taught me problem solving and critical thinking; two skills I use every day.

It just so happens that I started in a software company that had healthcare and insurance companies as clients, so I was exposed to healthcare IT from the start.  Otherwise I might have ended up in any other software vertical.  But I am glad to have been exposed to healthcare IT, since at the time it was far behind other industries in the use of information technology and tools to be efficient and competitive, therefore there was great opportunity to make an impact.  I believe there still is.

Some would agree life sciences is even further behind its use of information technology, and this is because the highly regulatory environment has hampered adoption of software tools.  It is the reason I chose to come to ClinCapture, as I see the same kind of opportunity in life sciences now that I saw in electronic health records in the mid-1990s.

ClinCapture, located in Silicon Valley, is a software-as-a-service vendor of electronic data capture (EDC) software, serving those sponsor companies running clinical trials, such as medical device manufacturers and drug companies, along with the contract research organizations (CRO) that outsource the running of clinical trials for the sponsors.  EDC tools have been around a while, but have traditionally been used only by larger companies or larger trials – smaller companies or those running earlier phase trials have not had the wherewithal to deal with the cost and complexity of EDC software, and therefore use pen and paper or spreadsheets to collect data from their trials. ClinCapture aims to remove these barriers so that any size company or any phase trial uses EDC, and saves money in the process over paper or manual processes.  Ultimately, ClinCapture aims to take $1.6B out of the cost of running clinical trials worldwide over the next 5 years.

What fascinating projects are you currently working on? 

There are so many compelling stories in life sciences.  I have the privilege of hearing about promising, breakthrough therapies years before the general public hears of them. I also get to work on solutions to problems through our software, like incorporating direct patient feedback into trials, or connecting and integrating the medical records systems that physicians use with our data capture solution so they can use the same tool when seeing one of their patients that happens to be participating in a trial.

You have worked in life sciences/HIT for over two and a half decades. What or who do you attribute your success to?  Did you have a mentor(s)?

Mentors are important and helpful in taking you to the next level in your career.  I had the privilege to work with a couple people that helped me learn and grow in ways I wouldn’t have on my own.  At my first software job in the mid-1980s I worked for Connie Galley, one of the earlier female CEOs in the software industry, and she showed me the importance of getting close to clients.  And Ray Scott, co-founder of Axolotl, taught me management skills that you can’t learn in books.

How has the industry changed since you entered it nearly 30 years ago, and where do you see it going?

I think the biggest change in Health IT over the past 30 years is the feasibility of integrated products.  Thirty years ago, the integration of two products was more like a science project versus a standard or repeatable process.  Over the past three decades, we have seen the creation and improvement of both data standards (HL7, CDISC, RxNorm, etc.) and application interface standards (open APIs, IHE, etc.)  It is now very possible to create a solution of best of breed applications that far surpasses a monolithic, all-encompassing single vendor solution.  This speeds innovation, as vendors can specialize in areas, and end users can get the benefit of improvement in a variety of areas much more quickly.

What trends are you seeing in the eClinical area?

I have seen a few breaking through.  For example, the rise of eSource, which enables the capture and creation of clinical data in EMRs or other products, and how that will save time and money for data capture.  Also, ePRO, which are patient reported outcomes that enables the clinical trial to incorporate patient feedback into the data.  I recently co-authored a paper on this exact topic, which delves into much more detail on these and other trends.  http://www.clincapture.com/resources/papers/top-eclinical-trends

Where do you see ClinCapture in 5 years?

With ClinCapure’s ability to remove virtually all the startup costs, and with our freemium platform, we calculate that we save our clients over $200,000 on average versus another EDC system.  And probably more than that for those that would use paper due to the inefficiencies and errors, and then the additional manual labor if they intend to submit the results to the FDA or another country’s regulatory body.  Therefore, our goal 5 years from now is to have taken $1.6B out of the costs clinical trials, allowing that money to be put to better use, like finding therapies.

Besides just EDC, ClinCapture is positioning itself to be a whole eClinical platform.  With open APIs, we hope to have many partner products on our platform that are pre-integrated for our clients, making the applications share data seamlessly.

How do you retain top industry talent?

One of ClinCapture’s strategic initiatives is to attract and retain the right people for our organization.  In order to achieve that, we have set goals to offer competitive salaries, stock options for most employees so they own a part of the company they work for, and career planning so that we are sure our employees are working towards their own career goals.  Besides compensation and advancement, however, it is equally important that staff enjoy their time at work.  We have a culture of work hard/play hard, and our team gets along like a big family.

Glenn Keet has worked in health care IT for almost three decades, and since May, 2014 has been CEO of Clinovo, Inc., now named ClinCapture, a leading vendor of cloud-based EDC software that serves entities engaged in clinical trials.  Prior, Mr. Keet was SVP over Business Development on the Optum Health Care Cloud, focusing on developing the ecosystem of providers, developers and consumers.   

Mr. Keet became part of Optum via the acquisition of Axolotl Corp., which he co-founded in 1995 and where he was President.  Prior to his role as President, Mr. Keet had been head of Sales and Marketing, Business Development, and Professional Services.

In the first half of the 1990s, Mr. Keet held managerial positions for Mercator Software, now owned by IBM. Mercator sold general purpose EDI and HL7 mapping and translation engines used in health care, insurance and other industries.

Mr. Keet graduated from Lehigh University in 1986 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and BA in Applied Sciences, and later attended Wharton’s Executive Leadership program.  He has two teenage sons, and resides in Santa Cruz, CA.
Glenn.keet@clinovo.com, www.linkedin.com/in/glennkeet, 813-234-6653.

SarahFor more information, contact Sarah Pozek at 440-996-0597 or spozek@directrecruiters.com