John Groetelaars, President and CEO of This Week In Health IT sponsor Hillrom, spoke with host Bill Russell about advancing connected care, their digital vision, and how they navigated diversity and the pandemic.
Hillrom is a brand that focuses on procurement and CNOs. It has diversified over the years through acquisitions, which is why approximately 25% of its revenue is now in connected care devices. These patient monitoring devices come from their acquisition of Welch Allyn.
According to Groetelaars, their company is structured into three businesses; a historical legacy of ICU beds and medical-surgical, OR equipment and video integration, and frontline care. Additionally, the company has acquired Volt Medical, which recently also acquired XL Medical. They will assist in the integration of a communication ecosystem Hillrom is developing.
Across their portfolio, Hillrom has 1.3 million devices connected, or connectable, to their ecosystem. Groetelaars explained that these can range from care settings in acute care environments, medical-surgical in the ICU or OR, primary care, and respiratory care use.
"We're in all of those care settings from acute to the office to retail to the home and what we're really pulling together is having a way to continuously, across those care settings, monitor patients and improve patient care," he explained.
With the pandemic shifting care to the home, Groetelaars expressed his belief that this will be part of a permanent shift, especially as companies work to improve care access in the retail sphere.
"Once things return to a post-pandemic environment, whatever that might look like, there'll probably be some natural return to conventional face-to-face in-person care, but I think the telehealth horse has left the proverbial barn and is never to return," he said.
With a shift of CMS regulations moving to reimburse higher acuity levels out of the home, Groetelaars finds it to be the beginning of the change to more convenient environments like the home and retail.
According to Groetelaars, innovation and connected devices are the start of digital being used for patients to interact with specialists. By adding digital intelligence, data will be able to be connected in a productive and meaningful way.
"I think this whole space is clearly taking off. It's an exciting time to think about the future of healthcare in these new settings and how smartphones and connected devices and digital technology is really going to help enable the future," he said.
However, asking clinicians to draw data from various remote devices may increase the risk of provider burnout. When approaching new products, Hillrom works to consider clinician experiences to ensure that the products will be a workflow enhancement rather than a burden.
"It really starts with understanding, being in the shoes of those clinicians, whether it's a doctor, a nurse, or other caregivers, and understanding their workflow--how you integrate into that workflow without being disruptive to them and then enhancing their experience as a caregiver," he said.
In considering staff experience, Groetelaars explained how Hillrom navigated a shift to remote work. While their office-based employees moved to home offices, employees in manufacturing and field service roles could not work remotely; however, safety protocols were quickly instituted.
"The commitment and dedication of the employees to work at all hours and make themselves available showed that real grit and determination to continue to fulfill our mission for patients and caregivers on the front line. It was a mission moment for most of our employees to really feel like we had an important role to play," he explained.
As these employees continue to work hard, Hillrom has been conscientious in the last year to support them with resources. According to Groetelaars, they were surprised to see that employee engagement increased during the pandemic.
"When you have kind of a purpose like that in the organization, people feel like they're contributing to the pandemic and not suffering from it. And I think that made a big difference for us, as well as some of the other things that we did for all of our employees," he said.
Looking at the pandemic’s impact upon Hillrom, it has catapulted them into a digital environment where they can collaborate with 10,000 employees across the globe. However, they hope to move towards a hybrid model as employees wish for human interaction at the office.
As for what's next for Hillrom and healthcare, Groetelaars said he expects there will be increased attention paid to cybersecurity, interoperability, and ensuring the trust of data as money flows into health technology and its innovation, .
Additionally, the workflow, patient experience, patient engagement, and diagnostic quality will continue to increase. According to Groetelaars, Hillrom has invested both organically and inorganically to discover how the company can play a more prominent role in certain disease-area states.
It is important for Hillrom to know its roots and identify its strengths to stay as a leader, explained Groetelaars. While they are a trusted brand among nurses and physicians, they have a gap with CIOs. They myst work to have their name recognized as a connected care company, especially as that aspect of their business continues to grow rapidly.
By proving Hillrom can bring real-time patient monitoring solutions in the home and hospital that reduce costs and improve the experience, the company will shine.