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: Rich Waller - VisiQuate, Miriam Paramore - OptimizeRX, James Hoover - Medarcus,  Lee Shapiro - Livongo Health, Dev Singh - AiRo Digital Labs, Nicole Rogas - Experian Health, Pat Murphy - Interlace Health, Todd Helmink - Qliqsoft, Marc Camm - Careport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miriam Paramore

Miriam Paramore, President and Chief Strategy Officer
OptimizeRX

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

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

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

In addition, we are rolling out 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! 

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