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May 7, 2020: For this coronavirus field report we are joined by BJ Moore from Providence, where he is the Executive Vice President and CIO. BJ takes us through the initial phases of the pandemic at Providence and lays out the all-important reaction phase for the company. The early steps taken in this crisis have been so crucial and Providence is a great example of how a proactive approach can pay off. BJ also explains the processes that were already underway before the crisis hit, namely the development of a chatbot and the implementation of Microsoft Teams. In BJ's opinions these steps have really aided the center and its patients. We discuss priorities and what BJ is focussing on as a CIO before diving into our favorite topic of telehealth and the strides that have been made in the last two months. BJ weighs in on the idea of work-from-home, commenting on the sentiment he has noticed from the staff at Providence around the issue. For all this and more, listen in with us today on This Week in Health IT!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The reaction phase at Providence and early steps in response to COVID patients. 
  • How moving to Microsoft Teams and the development of a chatbot has served Providence.
  • CIO priorities moving forward; using the momentum offered by the pandemic response.
  • The admission of virtual and telehealth and the permanent effects to healthcare delivery.
  • Thoughts on the work-from-home model after the crisis and returning to the office.
  • New projects for health systems and looking at the best technologies for the future.

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the most intelligent robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

 Welcome to this Week in Health It, where we amplify great thinking to Propel Healthcare Forward. My name is Bill Russell Healthcare, CIO, coach and creator of this week in Health. It a set of podcast videos and collaboration events dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders. Have you missed our live show?

It is only available on our YouTube channel. What a fantastic conversation we had with, uh, direct for David Mutz. . Around what's next in health. It, uh, you can view it on our website with our new menu item appropriately named live. Or just jump over to the YouTube channel. And while you're at it, you might as well subscribe to our YouTube channel and click on Get Notifications to get access to a bunch of content only available on our YouTube channel.

Uh, live will be a new monthly feature only available on YouTube. How many times did I say YouTube in that paragraph? Subscribe to YouTube. We're gonna have some great stuff over there. This episode in every episode since we started the Covid 19 series has been sponsored by Sirius Healthcare. Uh, they reached out to me to see how we might partner during this time, and that is how we've been able to support producing daily shows.

Special thanks to Sirius for supporting the show's efforts during the crisis now onto today's show. Okay. All right, here we go. Uh, today, another field report. This time with BJ Moore from Providence. Uh, good afternoon bj. Welcome to the show. Hi, bill. Good to meet with you again. Yeah, I'm looking forward to, uh, this conversation.

Um, last time we talked, we talked a lot about cloud. Actually, last time we talked you were like. Into the job. So you're now a seasoned veteran now you can see with the, the beard. Yeah. I grew a beard. I've been here for 15 months. Uh, a little gray. Yeah, it's, it's, it's been a good ride though. Oh, man. Alright, well, let's, I, I know you don't have a lot of time and I appreciate the time that you're giving us.

So, uh, let's just jump right into it. Uh, through the crisis we've been talking about this framework of react, stabilize.

At Providence, you were one of the, provide the first health systems with a Covid patient, you know, what did it look like at that time and, and what were some of the things that you guys did? Yeah, we were the first patient, so Patient Zero came into our health system. Um, and so we, um, as you know, we're across seven states here along the Western United States.

Uh, that first patient came into Washington, so everything we did in the React phase.

Everything we did was, you know, later to benefit California or Texas or Alaska as the waves hit them. And so, you know, we added diagnostic capability, uh, remote, um, you know, testing tents, you know, to add capacity, um, capacity to allow workers to work from home. You know, so maybe 10 or 15% of our, our workforce normally works from home.

We had to surge that capacity to allow all of our caregivers to work from home. So, uh, v PN network infrastructure, uh, new laptops, um, you know, um. Testing processes like payroll that had never been run from home for the first time. So the react phase was, was quite broad across the board from, from clinical tools, network and infrastructure, and then working from home processes.

So, um, super happy how the health system responded and, you know, knock.

And you guys, so leading into this, you guys were doing big moves in the cloud as a service models, those kind of things. And, and I read some stuff early on. You did, uh, chat bots with Microsoft. You did, um, you know, how, how did that work benefit Providence during the crisis? Yeah. So first of all, it was work that we were lucky enough to start before the crisis.

So we had three strategic pillars around, uh, simplify, modernize, and innovate. So a lot of these things were, were well underway. So when we came into the crisis, we were able to, to pivot quickly. Um, you mentioned the chat bot that was super helpful to allow people to go to a website and triage their own, uh, symptoms.

And then it would make a recommendation, you know, stay at home, monitor your symptoms, do a tele, uh, visit, go into the emergency department. So really took a huge load off of our, our caregivers and our, um, emergency departments. So a small piece of technology that that really helped. Um, probably the single biggest piece of technology we did in advance was moving to teams, Microsoft teams.

Um, when I started 15 months ago, we had Link and Skype and WebEx and Teams. If that would've been the situations we came into Covid, it would've been disastrous. Um, but most of our caregivers, over a hundred thousand caregivers were already on teams. So doing that remote work, um, being able to, to collaborate, um.

Really paid off. So yeah. Um, those cloud investments we were doing before and, and we felt the benefit of those cloud investments as we with, yeah, so, so coming out I've this optimistic bill. I like it. Out this, we're starting next phase.

Yeah. Uh, I guess a couple things. Um, yeah, there's a number of programs that we stopped during the Covid crisis. We wanted the teams to be able to really focus on some things. Some of those things were kind of opportunistic, being able to turn those things off and we won't turn those back on. Some of those programs that have a life of the road and, and this crisis has allowed us


You know, standardizing on Epic, moving to, to Oracle Cloud. We'll continue those investments, but probably the new thing that's coming outta Covid is, is what are the assets we built during this crisis and how do we, um, ride that wave? Um, telehealth being a good example. In a two week period, we had grown our telehealth business by a thousand times.

Um, we'd added 7,000 providers in a single week. So how do we take that muscle, that capability that we didn't have before covid and, and really, um, water that and foster that and continue to grow it. So, um, yeah, we'll, we'll stick with our long-term strategic initiatives and then we're starting to add in these new initiatives.

Telehealth being a simple example, um, to really carry the momentum that we, that we have in Covid. Yeah, it's gonna be interesting, the, the, the telehealth example, and actually everybody has that hockey stick. Just across country because you, you had to see patients there, there were other patients besides covid patients.

So, um, and, you know, do you feel like the, the, uh, atmosphere has changed dramatically? So I, I've talked to, I've talked to some people who have said, you know, if you talk to physicians three months ago. Telehealth you would get, you know, you'd have some that were adopters and they're, they were absolutely all in, but then you had a whole bunch that were like, don't even talk to me about it.

There's no payment. There's no, you know, there's, do you find those conversations to be changing or do you think they're, maybe, maybe not the conversations themselves, but do you think they're gonna change? Do you.

Uh, willingness to do some of these things. If the payment models, with that being the assumption that payment models get taken care of appropriately, that there's, we're gonna see, uh, virtual and telehealth get knitted in to the entire care experience. Yeah, and I would add, you know, there was caregiver resistance, but there's frankly patient resistance, right?

I, I've always gone in to see the doctor. I've.

So, um, my, um, my optimism says yes, I think we're gonna carry that optimism. I think, um, you know, the analogy I've been using, I feel like in the six weeks that we've gone through this crisis, we've done a year's worth of progress, a year's worth of work. I think we maintain that. I think, um, patients, um, uh, getting used to telehealth consults our caregivers used to, to, to giving those, I think that momentum will stick there, assuming that the payer model support that.

I absolutely think that comes out of it. And you know, these remote work things as well. Ironically, we were talking about teams. We deployed it to a hundred thousand people. Our adoption was was low, and how are we gonna increase adoption? And we had these big training plans. Well, with Covid. People train themselves now.

People are, are heavy users and I think people will, will, will stick with being heavy users. So I'm trying to say is I think there's some muscle that's been built through this crisis, and I think it's permanent muscle that will be maintained in, in the health systems and the way we deliver, uh, healthcare here in the us.

Were you surprised at the level of productivity that we've been able to attain in a work from home environment? And do you, do you really, do you anticipate that to continue? I, I think it's gonna be hard to ask people to come back into the office. I think it's a bit of both. Um, I've been pleasantly surprised.

Um, I had somebody ask why I notice a difference between people that are . Young in career and later in career and adoption of this technology. It's interesting after a day, everybody, that, that the technologies become seamless, whether you're your 40th year in your career or your fourth day in your career.

Um, so no, I think those. Um, habits will be resilient. I'm hearing the opposite. Um, I'm an introvert myself, like working from home seems like a dream, but I'm actually hearing the opposite, which is I'm productive from home. I love these productivity tools, but I can't wait to get back in office. I can't wait to interact with my care, you know, with my peers and, and fellow caregivers.

So, um, so I think, I think it's gonna be mixed. I think the use of these tools will stick. I think being productive from home or a coffee shop or wherever you are will stick, but I think humans need to interact and have that face to face and have that, that personal time. I think people are gonna wanna come back in the office and are looking forward to that.

Yeah. So, uh, last question. You know, as we, because I think we're up against our time here. The, um, you know, coming out of this, there's gonna be a, just a, a ton of projects. We had our multi-year plan and you had your multi-year plan. Yep. And then there's gonna be a whole host of new projects that come up about as a result of this.

Yeah. How are you gonna prioritize those and how are you gonna knit those together? Yeah. I think it needs to be a balance. Those long-term plans I mentioned, you know, epic consolidation, getting on a single EHR, getting on Oracle Cloud. Those are 1824 month investments we.

When we evaluate new projects, it's gonna be, um, what support these new emerging, um, um, what are technologies that are gonna enable us if, if there when is a second.

What are things that are gonna help us generate revenue in this post covid world? What are things that are gonna be able to allow us to cut costs and things that have really short paybacks, right? Six, six months is really what we're looking at. Anything more than six months, we just can't entertain at this point in time.

And so, um, the good news is there's a ton of, um, revenue opportunities. There's a ton of new opportunities from a business perspective. So we'll have a lot of new projects coming our way. It's what can we handle as a health system from a, a change perspective, from an IT perspective and, and obviously from a funding perspective.

Um, but I, I feel optimistic. It's, um, I think we'll come out of this, this stronger, um, even though it's things feel pretty low right now, I think we'll come outta a stronger for. Well, bj, I, I wanna thank you for your time. I, I do wanna have you on again here in the not too distant future because I wanna go back into this.

I love the, the conversation we had a year ago and we said we were gonna visit again to talk about how that process went because there's, there's an all lot to it of, of moving to the cloud, how's it going, uh, and those kind of things. And maybe we.

Thank you. Take care. That's all for this week. Special thanks to our sponsors, VMware Starbridge Advisors, Galen Healthcare Health lyrics, Sirius Healthcare and Pro Talent Advisors for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders. If you wanna support the fastest growing podcast in the health IT space, the best way to do that is to share it with the peer.

Send an email and let them know that you value and you are getting, uh, value out of the show. . And also, you know, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel while you're at it. Uh, please chip back often as we will continue to drop shows until we get through this pandemic together. Thanks for listening.

That's all for now.


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