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Aimee Quirk stops by to discuss how Ochsner is delivering care with digital tools to remote communities.

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Today in. Health it interviews from the health conference in Boston My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week and health it a channel dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. Just a quick reminder, I'm going to be dropping interviews over the next couple of days. And into next week from the floor of the health conference.

Bill Russell:

All right. We're here at the health 2021 conference in Boston. We're here with Amy quirk, the digital health. Uh, you're seeing. Digital health for so,

Aimee Quirk:

well, the way that, um, I've been in Austria now for six years, and at that time, uh, we formed an innovation company. You call it IO, which stands for innovation officer. And I served as the CEO of that group. And, um, more recently I've been focusing on scaling a lot of our digital health, um, businesses and services and products across our, some many of which we created inside of our innovation shop IO.

Bill Russell:

I, I stopped by your booth. It's one of the more interesting ones to me because when the, the, uh, solution was described to me, I said, you know, my audience would love to hear about this. So I'd love for you to just discuss what you guys are talking about at the, at the health conference with people.

Aimee Quirk:

Yeah, no, thanks for coming by. So, um, you know, we have been on a journey, um, in digital, Um, for many, many, many years at Osher Osher. And for those in your audience who may not know, we're a large nonprofit health system headquartered in new Orleans, the greater new Orleans area, but we serve all of Louisiana. And, um, and you know, we have a population that we feel committed to serving and making sure that we're bringing, uh, breakthroughs and care to them every day. And so, um, in 2014 we launched, um, the first ever Obar. Uh, it's a genius bar for healthcare apps and technology, because we wanted to bridge the gap between technology and availability that had just started to come out on the market. And even back then, there was a lot of noise, you know? And so we wanted to bridge that gap. And so we created a no bar, a place where people to DM, who, who needed it, who wanted to get engaged, it could be, you know, we're an epic shop, right. It could just be on the, the, my Asher or my truck. Um, it could be with wearable devices, connected devices, apps, you name it. And we curated those types of tools. And that was in 2014 was our first one. Now we've got 10 plus and a mobile and we've since virtualize it so we can provide that support to patients wherever. So that was sort of our, you know, one of our first forays into that and really thinking about the patients first,

Bill Russell:

if I'm a consumer, I go to the O bar. I like my, my, uh, my physician says, Hey, you should probably do these three things. Just go to the other bar. They'll help you get set up.

Aimee Quirk:

And they saw that we've got, we offer a bunch of connected devices, doctor approved, connected devices, many of which we use in our programs, which is sort of phase two. So first we started with saying, how do we connect and help with access with literacy, with people understanding how to use technology and make sure that people can, you know, we'll meet them where they are. The next thing we did was really think about how, how do we re-engineer care, um, leveraging some of those tools, that data, the connected. Uh, to, to create an opportunity for more, um, continuous rather than episodic care, particularly for conditions that, that need that particularly chronic diseases, which of course is a huge issue in a country. Um, and so that was really where we started hypertension, the most prevalent of all the chronic diseases. And we said, you know, rather than go in three times a year, four times a year and get four readings, you know, and 15 minute visit, what if we create a continuous care model that allows for. Do you know, view of how someone's doing. And we also will collect data on their lifestyle, their behaviors, you know, so we can get sorted to the social determinants questions that we know are really impacted. So you take a broad view, getting more regular blood pressure data, but also getting a more complete view of the patient,

Bill Russell:

a whole

Aimee Quirk:

person profile. Totally. And so we started that in 2015. Um, our team's amazing. Um, I work with Dr. Malani Richard Romani. Who's a cardiologist, but a visionary technologist, many years. You may know him. Um, and our amazing team built this all into epic. Um, so it's not a separate platform. It's not a separate, we've committed to trying to reduce friction. Um, and you know, don't introduce more fragmented. The system. So the team was able to make this all work and epic. And then, um, we also, we didn't just say we're going to collect the data and then have doctors looked at it. We created a whole new care team, um, with really the right level of care to, to monitor the data. So, um, we, we built a team of pharmacists, um, who are the best ever at medication management, introduced medication management, according to the latest evidence-based guidelines that change all the time, coupled down with health coaches that really can focus. You know, lifestyle choices that are really important in chronic disease. Um, and we started that in populations for whom we have financial risks. So Medicare populations, our employees, things like that to test it, but will it even work? Right? And what we found over time is that it does work. What it does is it, um, improves the blood pressure control. We eventually launched diabetes. Now we have hyperlipidemia, we also have CLPD and then we've got other programs that are in pregnancy and, um, that we call connected moms. Um, monitoring for COVID using pulse-ox is, but we've created a number of programs. And here we're really focused on the chronic disease solutions, um, where we're able to get far far superior results in blood pressure control. We're seeing reduced cost of care. Um, so reduce utilization, the kind of utilization we don't want to see. It could be any, you know, visits and patient admissions. We're seeing increased medication adherence, you know, so that's a big thing. That's hard to measure and sees. We're seeing. And, and then, and then patients like it, our last MPS score was an 87, um, which is really, you know, it was pretty good.

Bill Russell:

So we're talking to people in healthcare and they're listening to this going, okay, how are you doing this? Cause this is like, uh, this to me feels like a combination of nurses going into the home, getting social determinants data and that kind of stuff. There's self-reported data, there's technology solutions. There's an awful lot of things that you're talking about here. Are you doing a majority of it through technology?

Aimee Quirk:

So we don't have nurses going in the homes. Determines data we've, we've tried to enable as much self-service as we can. Right? So it comes in through surveys and questionnaires and, and whatever we can get, you know, from a third party standpoint or any objective data, but we are able to collect that recommendation. So we're not depending on, you know, humans to collect that information. We've tried. Make this as frictionless for everyone and, and really just put the people where we need it, let the technology do where it can and put the people so it can scale. Yes. Oh yes. It's scaling right now. So what we're doing, um, and why we're out here at health is, you know, we started, as I mentioned earlier of this program in populations for whom we have financial risk to see if it worked right. And this is before there were any payment codes and CMS or anything

Bill Russell:

like that, you guys do have. Yes.

Aimee Quirk:

Yes, yes, we do. What we did. We take a lot of risks because we believe in our care. No, it's like being an actor in that situation, but not all of our patients are that way. And so we were able to prove out the value of the program, make sure that it was getting the clinical results. We wanted to see an outcomes that it was getting the cost of care reduction outcomes that, that our doctors, you know, responded well to it, which they did. And they're, they've been great champions. And then finally that patients liked it. Once we had all that, we went, we've been able to start talking to payers about expanding that, including some self-funded employers who said, we want you to bring this and offer this to our employees. And so we then started doing that for local employers who then said, well, wait, we have employees all over the country, like come to us everywhere, you know, bring it to everywhere. So now were the programs available and in our product, The 48 states. Um, and they'll soon to be 50. And so it's allowed us to be able to provide this, this product that we know to be successful. That really is integrated, um, to people wherever they are. Are you taking

Bill Russell:

this nationally as an Oschner brand or you just, you are. So it's not like some digital health startup that you're spinning out. This is part of it's connected to Osher Oschner for the physicians. And you're, you're offering this literally in what'd you say, 49 states.

Aimee Quirk:

48 as of today, but we're going to, we're gonna, you know, waiting on the last, last couple, but, um, but yeah, no, we're doing this as Ashner because, um, I'm not, this was, these were products that were developed by doctors to care for our

Bill Russell:

patients and it is the power of the solution. Right. It's connected back to world-class physicians and cause we're sitting here across from a million startups that aren't connected to a world-class healthcare system and I'm sure there's solutions are great, but that is one of the differentiators, I mean, Uh, you have a solution that has on one end world-class physicians on the other end, I would assume really, because I want to get into the technology a little bit, because you're talking about putting some sophisticated monitoring devices and those kinds of things in the home, for some challenges with doing that, how did you overcome those challenges

Aimee Quirk:

for the most part were, um, and you know, there each program's a little bit different, but for the most part, um, we've been able to. I mean, explain it to patients and support them and how they do it. Download the app, you know, connect there, things that you probably do every day, multiple times a day, that we've figured out how to explain and make sure that at scale, we're able to get people to do it. But, um, really as, as more and more people have smartphones, there's more and more people have access to these tools and are used to pairing Bluetooth and, you know, doing those sorts of things. It hasn't been as hard. Now we are starting to do more things in the home to allow for. Passive monitoring. Um, and so those are some of the newer things that the team's been working on. Um, and, uh, which, which I think will be very impactful as well, and already showing a lot of promise. And those, you know, we're still working out the kinks about how do you get those set up in the home, but the people are used to setting up cable boxes or whatever the thing is in the, in the house. And we'll be able to help support, um, patients do those things as well.

Bill Russell:

So if I thought about this, the market for this is, is self. Uh, employers it's payers. I think payers would do

Aimee Quirk:

this

Bill Russell:

as well with other health systems that maybe don't have the sophistication, but have risk contracts. Look at this as well.

Aimee Quirk:

I talk to several health systems and, um, you know, and many of them have approached us and then they thought, well, maybe we're not ready for this. Particularly when the reimbursement schemes weren't as advanced as they are now, although they're still not perfect today. Um, and so, you know, we continue to talk. And partners, this is all an epic, it's not a separate platform, which is really nice. Um, and we know how to do this. And so I think, you know, we're very interested in talking to health systems as well. Um, but right now the, the, the, the greater interest to act is becoming from payers, from employers. And, you know, honestly how we manage our own populations, um, you know, that were natural ways for, because we know that this is a better way to care for people and it, and, um, and it allows us. Have that sort of continuous connection. And our CEO, Warren Thomas was just on a panel panel here at health. And he described it as, you know, this idea that we'll never, we don't discharge you, you know, it's, it's not a one and done. It's like, we're gonna maintain that engagement with you and be there when you need these. And hopefully we're getting to the point where not only we're proactive, but we're predictive. We're able to say, oh wait, something that you know is not trending in the right direction. How do we bring that back?

Bill Russell:

Yeah. The reimbursement reimbursement models. Allowed for this. But when I came into CIO, I came from outside of healthcare. I'd like, we need to increase the number of times we talk to patients, the number of times we're interacting. And they're like, well, we don't get reimbursed for that. And I'm like, all right, then we have to figure out how to do it at a very low cost, but they still feel like they're protected. There's their health system is, is part of their, their daily health, uh,

Aimee Quirk:

conversation. Oh, you have to get it right. Right. They're going to want to hear from us all the time, you know, are you stressed? Are you stressed? But I think, I think.

Bill Russell:

No, but when they are stressed, they, they want to

Aimee Quirk:

get through, be able to try to help support them, um, and know when they need us and be there when they need us. And that's really what we're endeavoring to do and have been building over time is to really try to be that partner, to help people live their best lives, stay healthy at home and in technology can help us do that. It takes more than just the technology. Um, but it's, um, you know, And, you know, I think we've got, we've got an amazing team and incredible leadership. That's allowed us to invest in these things. Maybe, you know, a lot sooner than other

Bill Russell:

folks. Amy, thank you for your time. Really appreciate it. Thanks. Check back for Morris. The, we continues. A lot of great interviews, a lot of great conversations. I'm looking forward to sharing them with you. That's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com or wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, you get the picture. We are everywhere. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. VMware Hill-Rom Starbridge advisors, McAfee and Aruba networks. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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