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How has the role of the CMIO been impacted by the pandemic? Today we caught up with Matt Sullivan, CMIO at Atrium Health to explore this topic. I hope you enjoy.


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 Today we have another interview in action from the conferences that just happened down here in Miami and Orlando. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health, A set of channels dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. We wanna thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian Dynamics, Quill Health, Tao Site Nuance, Canaan Medical and Current Health.

Check them out at this week, Here we go. Alright, here we are. 5 20 22. We're here with Matt Sullivan and yes, I made a mistake. I didn't hit record and we just finished. It Happens. Finished a phenomenal conversation. It's Technic conference, right? A technical conference. We'll get this resolved though.

Conversation. Uh, CMIO for Atrium Health. Matt, thanks for, uh, for joining us. Of course. Thanks Bill. Look forward to the conversation. We talked last night at dinner. Uh, it feels like deja vu was seeing all this over again. Yeah. It might be. We, we . We talked at dinner last night, learned a lot about you guys.

Your wedding was, uh, fascinating. A lot of those things. You're getting a little concerned that I'm gonna talk about these things on air. I, I may be sweating a little bit more than, and, uh, I'm not gonna do that, but learned a lot about your wife. That was, that was, uh, the stuff she did for the state of Indiana during the pandemic 'cause really exceptional.

Yeah, she's talented, talented physician, incredible leader. . And help them in the state of Indiana, in the state of Indiana get through that code response and has now joined us at Atrium Health. So we're lucky to have her. Uh, that's fantastic. I, at some point I'm gonna interview her. 'cause there's a lot of, really what I do is I sit in those, those uh, conversations.

I listen, I go, oh man, that's, the stories were great. Yeah. Uh, just, just amazing. I don't know how many of 'em she can share, but Yeah. Well, there's a lot of things that we've done, uh, in the pandemic and then now hopefully we continue this work with this, with this level of growth and . Level of excitement, uh, for lots of other projects beyond covid because it really took some incredible leadership, incredible partnerships across lots of aisles to get it done.

He, healthcare, I, I, I like to say healthcare really changed over the last couple of . Years as a result of the pandemic. It started moving a lot faster, but Atrium was already moving pretty fast prior to the pandemic, the wake deal, some things in, uh, Georgia as well. The atrium as a system is growing pretty, uh, dynamically.

How has your role changed as, as that growth has happened? Well, let's just go back a few years and think about what A-C-M-I-O did at a local, maybe regional area, five or six hospitals, and, and with that growth becomes . An opportunity for ACMI to reach across and now manage lots of different relationships, which is really part of what being ACMI will help you do.

So now we're, we're talking to leaders in Georgia, leaders at the Wake Forest Academic Center, leaders in our Charlotte market, trying to bring everyone together toward the common goal of patient care, efficiency, cost savings. It's been pretty fantastic. Are you on a, I I'm getting right down. Broad. Are you on a single instance of the EMR at this point, or?

We are Not at this point, but boy, we are working toward that and that's one of our challenges coming up in a year. And, and you know that well with your history, that's a, that's a big deal for us once we get on that single instance. We're gonna be in great shape. You guys were actually on a, an odd makeup.

You were on Cerner Clinical and Epic Rev Cycle. Rev Cycle, yeah. I'm not sure I'd seen that anywhere else in the industry. I actually think we were the first to do that and we, we pushed Epic to, to do that in a, in a cloud-based way, in a remote hosted way. We were the first to do that with Epic. So we've had great partnerships with these big EMR companies, uh, for a long time, going back more than a decade, so.

Okay. Our transition now is really to make our organization efficient and, and tie in our epic clinicals to our epic rev cycle. The single instance as you noted. And then I think we're gonna be in great shape to deliver better data, uh, have interfaces that are less, less costly, lower the cost of delivery of these care systems.

So I'm excited for it. So what's, we talked, we talked to Amy Crowder yesterday. Yep. And, uh, I asked him this question and I'm, I'm curious, I doubt we'll get the same answer. What's top of mind for you as the CMIO ? Top of mind for me is actually trying to get the physician efficiencies in the EMR and the nursing efficiencies in the EMR.

We're, we're worried about burnout lower, we're worried about, yeah, there's the things of burnout. We've had a rough. Rough series of environmental impacts with covid and other issues that have hit us in the last couple years. And so to, to transition our team from one EMR to the next. We've gotta be focused on doing efficient work for them, making sure that they're not working late at night, at home, trying to make sure that the fun of medicine comes back, because in the end, taking care of patients is a privilege.

We should be having fun. And if we can try to divide . It's little things inside these EMRs and make every day a little bit better than I've done my job. So it's just, are we looking at incremental things or are there, is there anything from a technology perspective that you're looking at going, eh, you know, or is it just gonna be 1% here, 2% here, 5% here?

Or is there something that you're looking at at the Verizon's gone I that might . That might have a bigger impact. Yeah. We talk about this with the genetic, uh, makeup of influenza, whether it's a small shift or a, or a small drift or a big shift. And that's what you're asking, I think. I think it's a series of both.

So that's what a conference like this is helpful for. Right. We're looking for a game changer, an innovator, somebody to disrupt the market in a way that we haven't had in. Our history. And that's a big shift. But at the same time, we know we've gotta go back home and make incremental changes, as you said, the 1%, the 2% that will make us get to the goal.

And I think it's probably a combination of both. And any big shifts that you've seen. I mean, it's interesting here 'cause you can go from the startup or the founder sitting there. And here, let me show you my code. It is really proud because of two. Yeah, we have some of the big players here as well. We're looking at, you know, some really interesting thing, AI and some, uh, computer vision stuff right behind you.

What, what have you seen here? Well, I do like that AI and the computer vision stuff as it relates to tackling one of our largest problems in healthcare, which is nurse staffing. So if we have the ability to just get a camera into the room and allow an experienced nurse to provide help to maybe a, a new grad.

Who really doesn't have that street credibility, street sense of of, of a really seasoned nurse, then I think we can actually expand the life of a nurse because it's hard work. And so now nurses that don't necessarily want to come in and grind 50 hours a week, . And 'cause they're, you know, they may be 60 and they're, they just have done it for a long time and they're tired.

They may be willing to shift to a more virtual workforce. Then we get a vast resource of their knowledge. We have them teaching, which they often are really good at. We have them delivering information, whether that's discharge instructions or medications or something about . How we care for patients to the patient with the time to do so.

And I think that's gonna open up the way we take care of patients. So we're trying to take the mundane off of that so they can go back to doing, I mean, it's the age old practice at the top of your license and And meaningful work. Right. And meaningful work. Yeah. The work that really got into it. You know, it's interesting as we look at, uh, the, we're not gonna talk about specific companies.

I, I, I don't venture that you wanna do that 'cause you're probably gonna have to do contract negotiations and other things. Right. But when I look at, when I look at the, generally when I get this, have this conversation, we don't . Go down the computer, computer vision and, and AI route. And I, I want to hit on that with you.

'cause 'cause you brought it up or did I bring it up? I think you brought it up. Alright. Well you're playing along with me, so I've, I appreciate it. I'm good. We're gonna roll with it because it's an interview because it's, because it's an interesting, it's an interesting concept to me. You know, the, we have, we have the ability to put a set of eyes into every room.

Yeah. We have the ability now with, with the changes that are going on in terms of how we train these models to train these models a lot quicker. Yes. We used to have to send a million images over to India. They would look at it and go, this is happening, this is happening. This is happening right now. The computers can actually teach themselves.

In, uh, literally a month. Mm-Hmm. what used to take, you know, years to put together. And they can start to identify things that are, you know, a pressure wound. It's time to, you know, have we, have we turned that patient, they can identify. Obviously hand washing is one of those things. Clean rooms, more efficient turns on those rooms.

The ORs obviously that's important and those kind of things. Is, is that the kind of work we're talking about taking off there? Are there, are there other aspects of, of . The work that the nurses are saying, look, if you could get this off my plate, take it. Well, I think there's a bunch of things that we could do from just a virtual perspective only, and that's just a two-way camera.

And we saw a ton of that in Covid kick up rapidly, right? Probably before we could really handle it. I think the technology in this space has been around much longer than our willingness to adopt it, but Covid accelerated that process and so I think pharmacies pharmacy benefits one remote pharmacist doing medication reconciliation of a series of patients as opposed to having to walk to the room.

Get, get some paper, get, get a notebook, get a, get a computer, and do that work. They could do it remotely. They could be very efficient. They could work from home. Patients don't have to get outta bed. They can come back to see a patient pretty quickly without, you know, having their timeframe shifted. We can start to move those little pieces of what, what you described as mundane work, but really critical work into sort of a virtual world and really make a big impact.

Are, are we looking at anything in terms of the home and we, we've seen a couple companies around here that are . Uh, offering solutions around the home. Does Atrium have a, a push to, I don't know, partner potentially offer services in the home? We actually do offer services now. We have a great hospital home program.

Uh, a bunch of my colleagues and I actually wrote a paper about the, the functionality of that as we rapidly deployed it in Covid. And I think if we see some of our governmental and payer models change to support that work, we're gonna be able to shift some of that care out of the hospital, free up resources, free up beds, and really be

Begin to become efficient and that that covers people that are probably don't need to necessarily be in a hospital, people who were in a hospital and could go home a little bit faster with, with the right touches. And that's what a lot of this work here is about. The RPM work, the hospital homework, the virtual touch points.

All of these things we can bring to bear to change the game. The last interview they were talking about the fact that they had nowhere to discharge a lot of their patients during Covid. Yeah. And, uh, to be able to offer a certain level of care at the home would've been nicely thing, but what I hear you saying is the reimbursement models haven't caught up to that yet.

I don't think they're going to be fully there until we figure out how we extricate ourselves from covid financing. And we're starting to see that now. A lot of, uh, money came forward for Covid. And now some of that money is being retracted. We're in that process of rebalancing the way we're paid. And I think if we think about these things and think about what's best for the patient, we're gonna be in a great spot because most of us would actually like to be at home.

Yeah. Uh, the hospital's not a great place and, uh, you know, your, your own bed is usually pretty comfy. Fantastic. Matt, that's great talking with you Bill. Thanks for your time. Yeah, thank you. Appreciate it. Another great interview. I want to thank everybody who spent time with us at the conferences. It is phenomenal that you shared your wisdom and your experience with the community, and it is greatly appreciated.

We also want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders, Gordian Dynamics, Quill Health, tau Site Nuance, Canon Medical and Current Health. Check them out at this week, Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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