Month: April 2021

We are seeing virtual care and telehealth as an important tool in the toolbox for ambulatory care practices

Season 3: Episode #83

Podcast with David Cohen, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Greenway Health

"We are seeing virtual care and telehealth as an important tool in the toolbox for ambulatory care practices"

paddy Hosted by Paddy Padmanabhan

In this episode, David Cohen, Chief Product and Technology Officer of Greenway Health, highlights the need for RCM service providers to scale up to meet the revenue cycle needs of the larger healthcare practices. Greenway Health is an electronic health records (EHR), practice management, and revenue cycle management solutions company serving more than 50,000 ambulatory practices.

The RCM services is witnessing M&A and consolidation to find the efficiencies of scale. David points out that sophisticated RCM software must develop automation capabilities, robust analytics, and machine learning models to help reduce the overall cost of these practices to collect and improve financial outcomes for practices.

David advises medical practices to stay on top of regulatory changes and be aware of the changing payment roles and cycles. Take a listen.

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Show Notes

02:50The current state of the RCM services provider sector and drivers of M&A and consolidation in the sector.
04:48The impact of pandemic on Greenway Health’s clients.
06:42 What has the shift to virtual care meant for Greenway Health’s clients in terms of reimbursements and cash flow, specifically telehealth visits?
12:32 There is a highly fragmented market of digital health and telehealth technology providers. What does it mean for practices that are running stand-alone platforms and how should they address it?
15:47 What kind of performance indicators should practices examine in the current context?
17:51 What role do the front-office, clinical, and back-office staff have in RCM, and how can these groups work together efficiently to enable patient care and improve the quality of care? What are the best practices for providers to improve their practice’s RCM?

Q. David, can you tell us a little bit about Greenway Health and your role? 

David: I am the chief product and technology officer at Greenway Health, and Greenway is a leading provider of health care technology, solutions, and services. Our clients represent about 50 thousand ambulatory health care providers across multiple specialties, and that equates to about several million patient lives cared for using Greenway solutions. I’ve worked in this intersection of health care and technology for over 15 years, and it’s been a very exciting and dynamic space to be focused on, particularly seeing the level of impact that we’re able to have in helping practices better care for and manage patients and also improving the health of the communities that they serve.

Q. What is the current state of the RCM service provider sector and what is driving M&A and consolidation in the sector? 

David: Greenway provides EHR, practice management technology solutions to our clients, and we are a leader in the RCM services space. I agree that there is a lot of M&A activity happening in the market and the major driver for that is really efficiency of scale. So, being part of a larger organization has several advantages. One is sophisticated RCM service providers, like Greenway, develop automation capabilities, robust analytics and machine learning models that can help to reduce the overall cost of practices to collect and improve financial outcomes for practices. And these are capabilities that smaller companies would struggle to develop on their own. It’s also the reason why we’re seeing more and more ambulatory practices turning to revenue cycle services providers to help them with their RCM operations. We also see larger RCM service providers getting better financial outcomes and results for clients, and that can result in better contract negotiations. And the third thing is around scalability. 

Q. How has the pandemic impacted your clients, the ambulatory practices? 

David: It has been an interesting up and down year and a half for our clients. So COVID, at the early onset had a significant impact on ambulatory practices throughout 2020. We saw spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations putting immense pressure on healthcare staff and resources, which resulted in steep declines in non-COVID volume and sharply reduced revenues. So, at a macro level, reports show that visits to ambulatory care practices declined by almost 60% last year, with primary care practices experiencing significant revenue losses across the board. In 2021, we are starting to see things stabilized quite a bit, but practices still need to consider adding new revenue cycle resources and added support to improve their financial stability.

Q. There had been a shift to virtual care across the sector, both in the ambulatory and inpatient space and remote patient monitoring, telehealth, telemedicine. All of that has sort of accelerated by an order of magnitude from everything that we see now for your clients, specifically in the ambulatory space. What has this shift meant for your clients in terms of reimbursements and cash flow, specifically telehealth visits?

David: Before COVID, virtual care and telehealth was the most talked-about least adopted technology in the industry. Obviously, there were reimbursement rules that were driving that quite a bit. But COVID was just a tremendous catalyst in the industry that saw significant adoption uptake in telehealth. What we are seeing now is that having virtual care as an additional tool in the toolbox for patient care, it really has a double benefit of keeping patients healthier, as well as helping practices to stabilize financially by giving them an additional source of revenue. The 2021 CMS fee schedule that extended reimbursement guidelines for telehealth visit, it made many of those changes permanent, is exciting for the industry.

A lot of our practices are having glad to see that happen. We believe that telehealth is here to stay. Where it stabilizes is kind of the question now, but it is absolutely important. We are advising practices to start to define and understand how virtual care fits into the services portfolio that they offer, including which visit types will be eligible to schedule virtual care visits as part of that practice strategy. Virtual care is a great way for practices to reach out to underserved areas of their population and they should be thinking about how they can extend the reach of their practice into the communities. Beyond telehealth, we also are seeing increases in opportunities to support remote patient monitoring as part of that overarching virtual care strategy. And it is important for practices in terms of managing patient chronic conditions, particularly when patients are not physically making it into the clinic as frequently with telehealth becoming so accessible and available. So, we are seeing those great improvements to patient outcomes and seeing virtual care telehealth as an important tool in the toolbox for ambulatory care practices, but then also using virtual care telehealth as an important catalyst and additional revenue opportunity for practices.

Q. From your comments, it’s very clear that the providers have to invest in the technology in order to handle virtual visits or provide remote patient monitoring, chronic care management. So, there is a technology enablement aspect to it and a cost related to that as well. How are they dealing with it right now? And does that mean that you are also changing your business model to become something different, something more to your clients than you were earlier?

DavidAt Greenway, our clients absolutely look for us to stay ahead of the curve in the market. And that is something we really view our role as trusted advisers to our clients and understanding where the industry is going, as well as obviously keeping abreast of the regulatory changes and dynamic regulatory landscape. Last year we saw things start to emerge, Greenway responded by bringing to market a proprietary or home-grown telehealth product. We also extended some of our existing services to offer our clients virtual care and remote patient monitoring capabilities, so certainly I think this industry shift towards virtual care has put Greenway in a position to pivot on behalf of our client, to be able to offer them the services and technologies that our clients need for them to be successful. 

Q. We find that there is a highly fragmented market of digital health and telehealth technology providers, and many of these solutions are not well integrated. What does it mean for your clients, the ambulatory practices, that are running stand-alone platforms and how should they address it? 

DavidAt Greenway, one of the things that we will always do is give our clients choice. And our marketplace has several telehealth partners that our clients can leverage. And certainly, we are seeing in the industry a lot of new virtual care players emerging. Greenway went down the path of developing our own telehealth product, because what we saw was that a lot of products on the market were missing the mark with our clients in terms of what they are looking for and the level of integration with their core EHR practice management systems. That lack of integration created a lot of inefficiency in practice workflow. So, we focused on, as we were building a product, things that are important for practices to consider. Number one obviously is being HIPAA compliant and security conscious first and foremost. As many practices were taking a shotgun approach to telehealth adoption, we saw practices out of the gate adopting nonstandard telehealth products. And I would really encourage practices to consider the security aspects of the products that they are leveraging. Number two is the level of integration that practices are expecting from a core product with their existing EHR practice management solutions. And that can come into play in terms of how a telehealth and virtual care product integrates with their scheduling systems, their registration systems, as well as their billing systems, all things that are important in terms of having a seamless practice experience. For example, with our product we have the ability to see virtual waiting room directly within the practice management system. So, it’s one stop shopping for practices and provider. Another integration capability is a real patient flow tracking within the EHR practice management solution. So being able to see when a patient is virtually checked into that waiting room and ready to be seen by a clinician is important. And then when that virtual visit ends up being able to automatically check patients out of the encounter as well, so we know that encounter is closed. There are several areas and points of integration that I think is important for practices to consider as they are adopting different telehealth technologies.

Q. From an ambulatory practice standpoint, what are the new performance indicators that practices examine in the current context? Can you also maybe talk about how you might be enabling them with analytics capabilities in better managing their cash flows and the revenue cycle operations? 

David: So, like everything in business if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. And that is one of the top mistakes that I think practices make, is trying to run their business blind. So measuring and baselining medical practice financial performance is absolutely the best first step that practices should take in managing their financial health. It also helps to be able to benchmark performance against known best practices. That is something a revenue cycle partner can help with. So, some of the more important revenue cycle, key performance indicators that we focus on with our clients in our Greenway Revenue Services business are things like clean claims rate, days in A/R, percentage of claims over 90 days, collections per visit. We have a series of financial metrics that we track with our clients. It is also important for practice to establish tangible goals for improvement, and that includes setting monthly annual targets. Oftentimes, just by measuring and observing trends of these key metrics, practices can quickly see what’s working and what’s not. So, for example, when we trim days in A/R by aging bucket, it can help to tell a practice how long they’re waiting to collect on balances, and we’ll tell them that their collection strategies are working or not. So, we work directly with our clients to measure those different key performance indicators, baseline them against best practices, establish tangible targets, and then work on improvement plans and strategies against them. 

Q. What role do the front-office, clinical, and back-office staff have in RCM, and how can these groups work together efficiently to enable patient care and improve the quality of care? What are the best practices for providers to improve their practice’s RCM? 

David: Revenue cycle management absolutely requires shared responsibility among the office staff and team members. They must work together to ensure patient information is complete and accurate from the initial scheduling of an appointment and all the way through clinical documentation. It’s important in any practice that everyone understands the overarching financial objectives of the practice and how their unique function contributes to achieving those goals. So, each function must understand what part they play and how crucial their function is to the overall success of the practice. Once they know that, in identifying the obstacles or blockers to inefficiency becomes much clearer. Having well-defined documentation of these policies and procedures are extremely important for each functional area, as it is defining how the handoffs are going to work across those teams. So, for the front office, for example, over half of claimed denials can be attributed to front-end issues, but most of these denials can be avoided. It is extremely important that the front desk staff is reviewing captured patient information, for example, for accuracy during the patient take process. And that they’re verifying health insurance coverage in any authorizations that may be required prior to service. For clinicians, it’s extremely important that visit documentation is adequately meeting payer documentation requirements. Having clearly defined EHR documentation workflows can help to streamline that process and ensure clinicians are efficient with their time and maximizing the time spent with their patients. In the back-office, staff remains the central point for billing and collections, as well as interfacing with payers to ensure claims are accepted and paid. So, staff should focus on validating accuracy of build procedure and diagnosis codes and ensuring that those codes are correct and valid for data service. Staff should also ensure the effectiveness of their implemented claims scrubber and ensuring high quality play metrics. All the different parts of the practice play an important role in revenue cycle operations and collections and ensuring everyone understands what their role is and what those handoffs need to look like is extremely important for practices.

My top piece of advice for practices to really stay on top of the regulatory changes, stay on top of the changes to payment roles and payment cycles. If there’s one constant in healthcare, it’s changes in practices need to continually stay on top of those changes in the industry, whether that’s things like billing codes or documentation requirement changes, such as the recent easement of documentation that’s necessary for E/M billing coding. That is one of the reasons that Greenway recently launched a new service offering that we’re calling JIRA select, which is a highly customizable revenue cycle offering that’s designed to meet the unique, individualized needs of healthcare practices. And that is something I would encourage practices that are looking for a revenue cycle management partners to really look for that can complement the things they’re already doing and doing well and really identify where they need help and make sure that they’re selecting a partner that can offer them help in the right areas. 

About our guest

David is passionate about technology solutions that allow practices to thrive. As Greenway’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, he brings more than 20 years of enterprise information technology leadership experience to the role, with the most recent 15 years focused on healthcare

Prior to joining Greenway, David was responsible for artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives at Cerner. Before that, he developed custom software solutions and contributed to Agile software development methodologies as a Senior Consultant at ThoughtWorks. Service is core to David’s philosophy. He is committed to serving as a trusted partner to clients and helping them address the healthcare needs of their patients and communities.

About the host

Paddy is the co-author of Healthcare Digital Transformation – How Consumerism, Technology and Pandemic are Accelerating the Future (Taylor & Francis, Aug 2020), along with Edward W. Marx. Paddy is also the author of the best-selling book The Big Unlock – Harnessing Data and Growing Digital Health Businesses in a Value-based Care Era (Archway Publishing, 2017). He is the host of the highly subscribed The Big Unlock podcast on digital transformation in healthcare featuring C-level executives from the healthcare and technology sectors. He is widely published and has a by-lined column in CIO Magazine and other respected industry publications.

One of the lessons learned as a result of COVID is we have to create a more resilient supply chain

Season 3: Episode #82

Podcast with Mike Alkire, President & Incoming CEO, Premier Inc.

"One of the lessons learned as a result of COVID is we have to create a more resilient supply chain"

paddy Hosted by Paddy Padmanabhan

In this episode, Mike Alkire, President & Incoming CEO of Premier Inc., discusses the ongoing vaccine roll-out and the lack of resiliency in the medical supply chain for U.S. healthcare.

He discusses how Premier is expanding their data analytics capabilities, such as AI and machine learning to make the supply chain infrastructure more resilient and support better clinical decisions. Mike believes that the changing competitive landscape of healthcare and the entrance of non-traditional players is unleashing innovation in the industry. He also shares three leadership lessons from his long and successful career. Take a listen.

Our Podcast Partners:    

Show Notes

02:49Some significant lessons learned as a result to the COVID virus is we have to create a more resilient supply chain.
05:16We need technology to really support the federal government and public health officials around syndromic surveillance.
16:28 Approximately 30% of our healthcare systems cost is wasted and we want to help them with evidence based, AI-enabled guidelines embedded in their workflow to drive that waste out.

Q. What are you seeing as a big trend driving the healthcare industry in the wake of the pandemic? What are you hearing from your major customers?

Mike: I think along with the public, our healthcare systems are really focused on getting as many shots and arms as possible. Our first focus area is to bring in efficiency to the supply chain of the vaccine. Second focus is getting back to normalcy. Healthcare systems obviously have been really caring for the COVID patients and our focus over the last few months is really helping our healthcare systems think about what does the new normal look like and leveraging some of the silver linings in the cloud that was covered.

We had some significant lessons learned as a result related to the COVID virus. One is we must create a more resilient supply chain. What happened was there was this huge demand-supply balance and Premier had to go out and stand-up additional capabilities to secure additional masks, isolation gowns, gloves, and drugs. We found that this supply chain that was being utilized by U.S. healthcare was not resilient enough. And so, we got a big focus on trying to diversify that. We partnered with several our healthcare systems to create domestic production of N95 masks. We have also partnered with them down the lines for manufacturing isolation gowns domestically. We are going to continue down that path from a supply chain standpoint. From a technology standpoint, there were a few lessons learned as well. One was that we did not have the technology to ascertain what the inventory levels look like across the healthcare system. And we’re right now working with a few agencies or organizations within the federal government to leverage some of our technology that would potentially help them in the future pandemic to dynamically allocate product. Because what has happened in the last few months or the last number of months is that everybody is trying to create stockpiles and it’s creating an incredible inefficiency in the market. We believe that if we could leverage technology, we could understand inventory levels and we could dynamically allocate product where it was needed so that not everybody was going out and trying to create these stockpiles. With the technology, we created a science of predictive capabilities on the onset of the virus, where we use both public and our data. And as the virus progressed, we built out some models based upon utilization of PPE and generic drugs to forecast where those products were going to be needed, depending on where the virus spreads. The knowledge about the onset of virus in demographic areas and the utilization or resources accordingly are, I think, very critical. We also need technology to really support the federal government and public health officials around syndrome surveillance.

Q. I understand that you’re talking about supply chain lacking resiliency because we are over dependent on certain types of sources. What are you referring to there?

Mike: I think we had way too much dependency on China in Southeast Asia for these critical products. What happened is that when the pandemic hit, there were all sorts of instances of constriction of supply products from where we historically gotten products and a lot of cases like this was China, but we contract manufacturer for PPE, we probably do six billion or so gloves a year. We set up production in Taiwan for N95 facemasks as well. When we needed it the most domestically, we were unable to get it out of the factory that we had contract manufactured those products for. And all that product was for the most part, shipped to mainland China. That’s just one example. Another example is during the peak of the virus, filtration media is critical to N95, it’s primarily produced in China and India, China embargo the shipment of all that filtration media. So, all the production of N95s were happening in China and nowhere else in the world. And that created a big issue. There are other instances where I am not saying it was right or wrong, but I am just saying we had an overdependence on one country. And the other area that I have been talking about this since basically 2011, if not earlier, is we have way too much over dependence on China and other Southeast Asian places for generic drugs, especially those that are chronically in short supply, as well as those active pharmaceutical ingredients that go into those drugs.

Q. Can you talk about using data analytics technology to bring out additional efficiencies and get better with the distribution processes. How have you driven that kind of transformation for yourself as well as for your clients?

Mike: Over the years, the clients, the customers, and our members really asked us to continue to invest in technology enabling the supply chain. That really was the notion of bringing AI, machine learning, predictive technology into the supply chain setting. So, think about as you are making a decision, a clinical decision from a supply perspective, they want the ability to look at clinical outcomes as it relates to the utilization of specific products. So, they want that kind of data. They want the data on appropriate utilization. Should they use one or two per procedure and what is showing the best outcome in those kinds of things? So that tie between the clinical and the supply chain data is critical as our healthcare systems are continuing to figure out ways to transform their supply chain. We also made some significant investments just prior to the pandemic. But then during the pandemic, I’m really building out an e-commerce platform to help the non-acute side of our customer base get access to product. During the pandemic, New York City and Seattle were hit hardest first. Seattle sort of exhibited itself in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Historically, those kinds of organizations did not have a great deal of access to PPEs. So, our platform called stockdTM is a platform that has reliably sourced products. Organizations in our acute setting buy products on that platform. But we open it to provide access to non-acute folks that were affiliated with Premier to allow them to get access to these products. We have reliably sourced and had a strong chain of custody, which is obviously really, important to protect the caregivers who are caring for those patients. So that’s number one. Number two, we recently made an investment in a company called IDS. And what IDS does is it is all about e-invoicing and e-pays. And we believe, along with our ERP and our front end stockdTM program, that we now have an end to end procure to pay technology ability truly all the way from the purchase point on the e-commerce platform all the way through e-invoicing and then through e-payment plan, we believe by leveraging the IDS technology, our healthcare systems can centralize the whole invoicing function across their health system and the accounts’ payable function. So, we are incredibly excited about integrating all those data assets and bringing all the efficiency to our health system.

Q. We talked a great deal about the syndromic surveillance, last time when you were on my podcast, tools and the algorithms that you were using to get early indications of who is likely to be contracting COVID. We are now at a moment to roll out vaccination across the country. Have you been able to use some of the same tools to repurpose them towards the vaccine distribution effort?

Mike: We took a technology that we were utilizing to help our healthcare systems manage for PAMA, which were the CMS Medicare guidelines for high-cost imaging utilization. We were looking at the unstructured notes of the electronic medical record using natural language technology, natural language processing, to obviously create the mechanism for using appropriate utilization of images and we pivoted that very quickly. And because we could get that the unstructured notes, the unstructured data, we could actually look at symptoms of the disease and we could identify where there were surges or where there was a significant part of the disease. That is something we do think that various health officials should really begin to think about. As what it allows is, because the data is at a zip code level, for public health officials to create different models to protect populations depending on where the submerges are where you did not have to shut the whole state down. You can look at various zip codes and determine where are the resurges and those kinds of things. For the same kind of technology, we have been having dialog with different parts of the federal government about looking at the success rates of the vaccines and looking at the clinical efficacy of the vaccine and those kinds of things. So, we are primarily just in conversations because it was so quick upon us if we weren’t able to get the product out. We are certainly in the discussions to save for future events. Not just Premier, but there are a number of organizations that the technology is underpinning and could truly support them as they’re either developing a new vaccine or as launching one. 

Q. You have been a part of this journey for the past 18 years at Premier and have seen it all unfold in front of your eyes as you take on the role of CEO. Can you share with us what new areas do you anticipate are going to take up your time and attention?

Mike: Yeah, I think they fall under two broad buckets. One is I think we have got to leverage all the technology and capabilities that I’ve been talking about to really accelerate value to our members, our partners, that also then obviously accelerate value to our investors and shareholders. I think accelerating the utilization of that technology, getting it implemented, helping our healthcare systems get back to normal and truly delineating that value, is going to be critical. The second area falls under three principles. One, we need to help our healthcare systems reduce the waste in healthcare. Approximately 30 percent of the cost is waste, and we want to help them with evidence based, AI-enabled guidelines embedded in the workflow to drive that waste out. Number two, we want to modernize, and tech enable the supply chain. We think that there is a ton of manual tasks. There is a ton of data that is not being utilized at the point of decisions. And we want to make sure that we are bringing that information transparently to the decision makers. We have got to continue to build out more resiliency in that supply chain, look for more opportunities to domestically manufacture products, especially those that are highly automated and generic drugs, as well as some of the APIs. We need to be thinking about how to do that more domestically as well as nearshore. And then finally, we need to continue to evolve our technologies to help our healthcare systems truly thrive in a value-based care economy. So, those kinds of capabilities include clinical decision support, which obviously we believe is going to be important. As you know, healthcare systems are going to be on the hook to deliver high levels of care, high quality care by both employers as well as payers, and then obviously at a patient level as well.

Q. The shift towards value-based care is perhaps not as fast and not as rapid, not as deep as we might have expected, and we are still in a predominantly fee-for-service environment. However, the marketplace has its own way of recalibrating the market for products and services. We are at a moment when we have big technology players like Amazon, for instance, getting into core care delivery. We have got digital first companies that are delivering healthcare in a more digitally enabled, digital first kind of way. And we have got all the non-traditional players like CVS and Walgreens and Walmart looking at the healthcare space. What does it all mean for your clients and consequently for Premier?

Mike: There’s always going to be new competitors, given that healthcare is such a significant part of the gross national product of this country. So, we happen to believe that competition is good as it unleashes innovation. And ultimately, at the end of the day, it provides better levels of patient satisfaction and obviously more innovation becomes online. It provides more choices and obviously a better overall system. Our health systems, specifically the ones that are tied with Premier are embracing the challenges and the demands of all this innovation, and we see it every day as they are building out new capabilities around telehealth and virtual health. And our clinical decision support capabilities are an important underpinning of that so that you can drive a level of consistency. As you think about all these virtual visits, you think about our health systems as they are building out more models around hospitals at home and mobile clinics and the need for all that clinical decision support, patient engagement tools are going to be critical. We believe that vertical and horizontal integration is going to continue. So horizontally, healthcare systems coming together to create more scale. Vertically, you are going to see them get into other areas of service that is outside of the four walls of the hospital to include areas like post-acute pharmacy and integrated primary care.

Q. All this potentially expands your own addressable market and opens brand new market opportunities for Premier. Is that a fair statement?

Mike: It’s very fair and that’s the reason we’re so focused on the technology enablement of both sides of our business, both the clinical as well as the supply chain, because as they vertically integrate, it’s going to be extremely important to ensure that information flow is seamless and accurate as we’re caring for patients across the continuum. So that you have the right clinical data, the right safety data, and the right supply chain data so folks can make decisions along that entire vertical integration. So that it just goes back to our primary premise, which is why this technology enablement is so critical, especially using advanced technologies like a machine learning, natural language processing and technology. 

Q. Are there any potential other implications? For instance, you talked about the horizontal integration of health systems looking for economies of scale and what that potentially means is that service providers or suppliers such as Premier, for instance, might feel a little bit of price pressure. So, you have to stay one step ahead by making your own operations a little bit more efficient so that you can protect your margins while continuing to be of value in the emerging landscape? Is that a valid assessment?

Mike: Well, that is a very fair statement. But I think we are so fortunate in that as we have this incredibly strong network of innovative healthcare systems that I think constantly push us to innovate and bring us ideas around how to create more efficiency for them. So, they as opposed to each of them building out the clinical decision support and the technology for global payment, they’re coming to us and saying, can you build those kinds of things as opposed to each of them blockchain enabling those sophisticated invoicing and payment systems are saying, can you build that out for us? So, we look at it as an opportunity as all this technology continues to advance and the shifting landscape continues to evolve, because of that tight connectivity we have with our health systems, we’re going to be able to innovate right along with them and create technology and services to help them become more efficient.

Q. Mike, you’ve had a long and successful career and many of my listeners would want to know a few lessons from you. Maybe talk about one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were younger?

Mike: Firstly, the notion of diversity and the exposure to diversity. When I talk about diversity, I’m thinking of every sense of the word. I think it is important for folks to have that sort of thinking because it provides you insights and perspectives that you might never have seen before. So, diversity in terms of people that come from different walks of life that are trained differently. On the other side of that equation, it also gives you a bit of compassion and empathy and understanding of what others are going through. Right on my podcast, I talked quite a bit about the word humanity. And what I mean by humanity is getting to know everybody as an individual as opposed to a label or something else. That exposure to diversity is important. I think number two is just understand and appreciate. You are going to make bad choices and bad decisions. And to me, the most important thing throughout your career is how do you recover from decisions that did not go the way you want it. And so, I’ve always sort of built a process or an internal process, if you will, of how to sort of recover very quickly from decisions that you have made that have not gone the way that you want. And it is really important to have that perseverance to bounce back and come right back at it with some great learning because of a decision that didn’t go the way you wanted. I also think that one of my strengths was the ability to get onto the next thing faster. Whatever that issue was or whatever the strategy was, it was critical in my development that I did not just harp on a bad decision or a bad strategy. I fixed it and moved on and got into the next thing. And then the last thing is this notion of an inverted leadership structure. Sometimes people call it the inverted pyramid of leadership. I think that is critical. All that means is that I’m here to support my next layer of leadership and to take out the roadblocks that are inhibiting them from growing and accomplishing their jobs. And their job is to do the same thing for their people. I think we have got incredibly talented group of people at Premier. And one of the things I asked my leadership team to do is make sure that you’re helping your leaders manage folks and provide leadership to people in the most effective way possible and to just unleash their brilliance. So, I think that notion of the inverted leadership structure is real as well.


About our guest

Michael J. Alkire is the President of Premier. As President, Alkire leads the continued integration of Premier’s clinical, financial, supply chain and operational performance improvement offerings helping member hospitals and health systems provide higher quality care at a better cost. He oversees Premier’s quality, safety, labor and supply chain technology apps and data-driven collaboratives allowing alliance members to make decisions based on a combination of healthcare information. These performance improvement offerings access Premier’s comparative database, one of the nation’s largest outcomes databases.

Alkire also led Premier’s efforts to address public health and safety issues from the nationwide drug shortage problem, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Premier research on shortages and gray market price gouging. This work contributed to the president and Congress taking action to investigate and correct the problem, resulting in two pieces of bipartisan legislation.

Prior to serving as President, Alkire was president of Premier Purchasing Partners, which offers group purchasing, supply chain and resource utilization services to hospitals and health systems. Premier remains among the top group purchasing organizations in the industry as the value of supplies purchased through its contracts has increased to more than $56 billion. Upon joining Premier in late 2003, Alkire worked closely with the Purchasing Partners team to develop and implement a three-year transformation plan designed to dramatically increase returns to the alliance’s shareholders while building stronger relationships with members and suppliers.

Alkire is a past board member of GHX and the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. He recently was named one of the Top 25 COOs in Healthcare for 2018 by Modern Healthcare. In 2015, Alkire won the Gold Stevie Award for Executive of the Year and in 2014 he was recognized as a Gold Award Winner for COO of the Year by the Golden Bridge Awards. He has more than 20 years of experience in running business operations and business development organizations at Deloitte & Touche and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Before joining Premier, he served in a number of leadership roles at Cap Gemini, including North American responsibilities for supply chain and high-tech manufacturing.

Alkire graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University and a MBA from Indiana University.

About the host

Paddy is the co-author of Healthcare Digital Transformation – How Consumerism, Technology and Pandemic are Accelerating the Future (Taylor & Francis, Aug 2020), along with Edward W. Marx. Paddy is also the author of the best-selling book The Big Unlock – Harnessing Data and Growing Digital Health Businesses in a Value-based Care Era (Archway Publishing, 2017). He is the host of the highly subscribed The Big Unlock podcast on digital transformation in healthcare featuring C-level executives from the healthcare and technology sectors. He is widely published and has a by-lined column in CIO Magazine and other respected industry publications.

Inserting data back into the workflow to make it useful is the number one challenge

Season 3: Episode #81

Podcast with Jim Beinlich, VP and Chief Data Information Officer, Penn Medicine

"Inserting data back into the workflow to make it useful is the number one challenge"

paddy Hosted by Paddy Padmanabhan

In this episode, Jim Beinlich discusses the current state and maturity level of data and analytics in healthcare.

Healthcare lags other industries when it comes to using new technologies. The industry still needs to apply standardization, governance, and ensure data quality to get the right data at the right time to the right person. Jim states that one of the challenges with data is inserting it back into the workflow to make it useful. One of the important use cases of Penn Medicine’s data and analytics program has been the transition from traditional analytics to cloud-based tools and leveraging data lakes to unlock self-service data models.

Penn Medicine is one of the very few healthcare organizations to integrate genomic testing results into the EMR. Jim shares their extensive protocols for integrating genomic data into patient records for diagnosis and treatment. Take a listen.

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Show Notes

05:00Being able to share data more easily can always be good. I think the challenge is going to how do you balance that against privacy and security.
14:21Data quality is the foundation for any of the programs. If people do not trust the data, they don't trust the results out of any of the systems or technologies.
25:54 We're able to take data and stratify patients and take our low-risk population and say that those people can get a remote follow up.
34:15 My advice would be talk to your EMR vendors, cloud vendors, understand what tools are available to you so that you don't have to hire highly technical staff to build it.

About our guest

Jim Beinlich is the Vice-President and Chief Data Information Officer of Information Services at Penn Medicine. He has responsibility for the Data Analytics Center and the Project Management Office within Corporate Information Services..

He has over 30 years of experience in healthcare operations and management (hospital and physician practice), research computing, information management and technology. He is a certified Project Management Professional and holds an MBA in Health Care Management from Widener University.

Jim has significant experience with large, complex health systems in the areas of strategic planning, process redesign, project management, IoT, and operations improvement. He has consulted for large organizations such as the US Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and Catholic Health Initiatives. He holds adjunct faculty appointments at Temple University Graduate School of Health Information Management and Widener University Graduate School of Business

About the host

Paddy is the co-author of Healthcare Digital Transformation – How Consumerism, Technology and Pandemic are Accelerating the Future (Taylor & Francis, Aug 2020), along with Edward W. Marx. Paddy is also the author of the best-selling book The Big Unlock – Harnessing Data and Growing Digital Health Businesses in a Value-based Care Era (Archway Publishing, 2017). He is the host of the highly subscribed The Big Unlock podcast on digital transformation in healthcare featuring C-level executives from the healthcare and technology sectors. He is widely published and has a by-lined column in CIO Magazine and other respected industry publications.

The Healthcare Digital Transformation Leader

Stay informed on the latest in digital health innovation and digital transformation.

The Healthcare Digital Transformation Leader

Stay informed on the latest in digital health innovation and digital transformation

The Healthcare Digital Transformation Leader

Stay informed on the latest in digital health innovation and digital transformation.