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Mark Amey, Chief Information Officer at Alameda Health System drops by to discuss the powerful tool of social media. 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 want to thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian dynamics, Quill health tau site nuance, Canaan, medical, and current health.

Check them out at this week. Here we go. And here we are from 5 20 22, and we're here with mark Amy from Alameda health system. How you doing mark?

I'm doing great. Thanks for having me here, bill. Wow.

You know, you're actually pretty active on social media. I love how you use social media. I think we talked about this before, but I want to talk about it again because I think CEOs, some CEOs use social media really well and, , some ignore it.

And I think it's a powerful tool and you, and you use it well to, , congratulate your team, , success of projects and there's that. So I'm able to look and say, Hey, you've got some really cool things going on today.

Well, thanks. I, you know, I try to put up the things that I think I'd be interested in if I was reading on it.

And it's also a chance to really recognize my team members, , is to become a little bit of a joke, , in my organization where I put stuff up. Everybody's like, oh my God, we got to go out and link like a, whatever mark put up there. But, , I think, , you know, it's a lot of fun actually with it. We have a little bit of competition around it.

So, so what is going on in Alameda? I think the last time we talked, you had just come through an EHR. Implementation. We've been

live on epic for two and a half years now. And so here we went from basically going live and our go live was actually went really well and very grateful to the team, , our implementation partners, epic my own staff of course, , on that.

But we went from that directly into the pandemic. So we never did that stabilization thing that you always talk about and the, you know, the, the enhancements, all the stuff that you do. So we've actually been working from it. And on that, , we just, , we just got actually epic seven stars and we're headed towards eight, which I'm pretty proud of because that's a, that was definitely two and a half years in.

It was definitely a lift for us, , in there. , let me to on kind of the bigger, , , side of things, we're actually in our strategic planning process right now. And so that's been really exciting on how we're focused there. We, in some of the pillars on where we're going as an organization, obviously I S aligns then in with that piece of, , of what we do.

But I'm seeing good stuff coming out of

that. For those you don't know, Alameda

is Oakland. Yeah. So we're, we're based out of Oakland, five hospitals. , three of them are acute care. You know, what you consider to be the more traditional hospitals, Highland hospital. We are our largest and probably best known, especially with the emergency department.

Which we do a lot of training out of a lot of residents. Residency program is very well known for that. We also have on John George hospital, which is a behavioral health hospital. Actually, the only I'm acute, I'm a level one trauma in the Oakland area. So we get a lot at you, especially during the pandemic, , for, for, , for behavioral health.

Yes. So. , we also do, , we have a fairly, a thriving ambulatory care, but specialty and primary care. And then about 40% of our business is actually post acute long-term care patients. And a lot of people don't realize when I took the job, I actually didn't know that.

So we see you over the bridge at all.

Are you into the San Francisco area at all, or

just, , personally every day. Cause that's where I live. , professionally, no. Clearly in Alameda county, we're the safety net healthcare system for Alameda county. So I'm very close relationship, obviously with the county high in that process and round, you know, the, you know, continuum of care and really around health equity, which is a huge factor for us.

Oh, I would think so at access in that community, I would assume. I'm not going to ask you to reveal your pillars of your strategy, but access is a pillar.

Absolutely. We're, we're still in the, , pardon me. We're still in the defining phase on our, , pillars, but they're going to be around obviously the patient, , our care providers as well in that, , process in our community.

And, , you'll really partnerships with that. We deal with a lot of situations where we're boarding patients because we don't have a place to discharge them to. And that's that's we have the hotline a lot in. The hospital is one of the worst places where we, we dealt with it before the pandemic, but it's certainly become even worse during the pandemic, but you know, the hospitals, one of the worst places to keep a person that shouldn't be in the hospital.

I mean, it's expensive. It's not where they get their best care. , from a, from a, you know, we're there to help get you, , get you better and then get you back to your home. But if you don't have a home to go to, that's obviously a problem. And so that's a lot of what we're working on. So.

Access, I assume people are accessing you primarily through your ed still

is that we have a fair amount of that.

Our volumes have come back up, , since where they went on pandemic, but not as strongly as we would have, would have expected at this point, probably due to some of the way

telehealth. Are they going other ways? Are they just

different care? We, , we're doing a fair amount of tele-health at this point, we actually stood it.

So it's kind of funny. I was planning on standing up our tele-health program roughly. Roughly right about now. And we hit the pandemic. And so we stood up our first iteration of it roughly in two weeks,

I need to get to the end of the three-year

plan next week. That was exactly at the end. So we stood up our telehealth program basically overnight and, you know, it w it went up quickly.

We had a few bumps we've actually re , redone it, , and it's working much smoother at this point. , it was just too complicated the first time around, especially, you know, with the patient population we're working with. We want to keep things. I will say though, even as a patient. So I was doing, , care with my parents and I found the system that I was working with for them, which was a large academic health care system, great system.

But they had the same problems as we did. It was just too complicated for my parents to use. And so there's nothing like being a patient to learn how to put in technology. That's going to help your own patients. Yeah, it's interesting.

We have talked to some health systems who have ridden it since the pandemic, because they were looking to drive down the number of failed calls.

And, , they've, they've taken clicks out. They have, , , call centers that actually work with people before the actual physician. I mean, it's nice to have money, right? So you set up a call center to do this. All these things. And some of the health systems we've talked to, you have, , a fair amount of money and which is great.

They can innovate for us. We could look at it and go, all right, we can do that different scale, that kind of

stuff. At least for us, the trick was you have to be able to send it out via text message. And there has to be no client on the phone. It has to be all browser driven in order to work. So

it's a

tax collector and it goes in your browser and away you go

talk to me about, and this I'm giving you the tough ones.

So the, , social determines. In a community like yours is so important. I've been talking to different health systems. I've actually been connecting health systems. Some, , all of them are on the, let's just say the starting line of this. It's not, it's not well-developed, but it's, it's making the connections between, , you know, the, the social services care services or whatnot, and the health system.

And from the CIO perspective, creating the linkages so that we can see. , so we could almost, , prescribe a, you know, somebody would go out and do something that's not within our system. , but get that information back. What happened here and that kind of stuff. Is that something you guys,

we, we are, you know, it's actually, I'm blessed because as he, as I'm sure you could imagine with Alameda health system, I have a ton of people that are way smarter than me thinking about this all the time, but we have a, we have a number of physicians, a physician chairs, other operational leaders that are doing a lot of work around this with our population health and around.

You know, equity and healthcare and how we drive that, connecting with the community, , out, but also in reporting in our own systems. So I have, I'm blessed with a super, a great job BI director and he and his team have been doing a lot of work around developing. These are equity dashboards that really start to cut across the traditional dashboard of what you're thinking.

Start to Drake, break it down by, you know, the things you think about, you know, race, gender, ethnic. , , income levels, those sorts of things. So you start to see where you have gaps in what you're providing care, , and oftentimes it's unintentional, but that can be, I would say always in our system is unintentional, but that can be just as, , as cruel to the patient that you're unintentionally underserving in a way.

And so it's really looking at those things and starting to challenge, where are we providing the care? How are we doing it the best we can. I

mean, it's bringing that visibility. , to, to the, I mean, you take that information that you have, you bring visibility to it, then

people can act on. For sure.

Exactly. And so, you know, knowledge drives out to that, , that lack of understanding.

So I'm going to ask you about the conference. That's going to be my next question. My question now is you came from a UCLA, so San Diego and you were an associate.

Yeah. It's the associate CIO down there worked for us. , Chris Longhurst Dr.

Alon Hertz down there.

Who's just a bundle of

energy. Yes, he is.

, that's a new title,

new role. Yeah. He's got taken over as their chief medical officer in addition to keeping the IP world. So

just keeping the CIO, chief medical officer NCIO and chief

innovation officers. So yes, that's that's actually, I, I, yes, you're correct.

Now, bill, that says that new title, chief innovation officer. So he's a busy guy

going from, , are there similarities to San Diego? I mean, it's. I mean, I guess that's one similarity. Are there, are there other similarities or was it

very different? You know, w going down with me to hell, I'd worked in a number of academic healthcare system.

So I UCS new, which is a great system. Stanford children's USC, all really good systems. I was really blessed to work with them. The, , You're working for a safety net was absolutely different. And you know, it's different on our funding level, what we have for $4. And so while we still need to accept failure, I mean, it's not what the fail fast mentality of the bay area.

It's just so you can succeed fast. We had less, , latitude financially in order to your failures, cost us a little bit more, , So there was a challenge with that name recognition, vendor negotiation. So those sorts of things, , I think that Alameda, we're doing a great job now, really getting our name out there with some of the work we're doing and we're becoming recognized, but you know, being able to drive price points to where you need them.

Frankly coming from a UC system where we were quite aggressive on, that helped me with some of my negotiations to know where I needed to be price point wise. Our patient population is very different. You know, you mentioned that San Diego is urban and it is, but it really isn't Tom, you know, with that, with what you think.

I mean, I, I loved living down in San Diego, but a very different patient population that we were serving. There would be, Oakland is much more than. Yes, absolutely hand. , so, you know, it's, it's one of the reasons why our Highland hospitals is such a great, so Dr. English is our CMIO here. He's also a practicing emergency department.

But, you know, he and his colleagues, they see everything every Friday night and Saturday night, , you know, as far as what's going on and, you know, very sad on what's going on, but, , you know, gunshot wounds regularly, I was in a, , in a board meeting the other night and, , we had, , two overhead pages for a level, one traumas.

Both of them were gunshot wounds. Our, , network on was actually a, one of our redundant links was actually taken down a couple of weeks ago because somebody shot up the VRML electrical distribution, , network in downtown. , one of those areas. So you're definitely gun violence and victims of that either through direct victims or through impacted network services and so on like that are things we see,

, talk to me about the conference.

So CEO's, , bringing chime and health together vibe, but essentially it's a health conference at a, a chime conference together. , you know, what are your thoughts? I mean, you've been to the big conferences. This is a little smaller, little bit more manageable. I'm looking at aisle 1300. That's the last. At, at hymns in previous years, it was like

aisle 6,000.

Yeah. This would have been the start of the, I started the front.

, so a little more manageable. I mean, what, what have you, what have you found at this

conference? You know, I actually liked the conferences. A little smaller HIMS had gotten to a point in him, certainly had this place. And there's a lot of value there, especially if you're like in your vendor selection, I guess, a great place to get all the vendors together and meet with them.



afternoon asked me, he's like, what'd you like about him? So I'm like, I could meet with the executives from all these companies in

two days. Yeah. So if you go into, into a pack selection, something like that, boom, it's the place to be. Other than that, I felt like I got lost in the, in the shuffle on it.

So this, this is the size that I felt pretty comfortable size wise on this. , The other thing I will say, which I was very skeptical coming into. It was the hosted buyer program with the speed dating. I really liked that. I thought it was such, it was so well managed. I was actually a lot

of fun.

It was. So go in and they did this really well.

So first of all, you go into this app and you select who you want to meet with. And, you know, the vendor also has to agree, you know, that they want to meet with you, but you know, you match up. And so, okay. Well, I'm interested in cybersecurity because my CSO told me to look at this or whatever it is. So you choose these folks and, , so you can get matches and you block out the time that you're willing to meet with them.

So, you know, I took time when I didn't have other meetings or other sessions I want to do. And then you go in and they've got a big clock on the wall. You got your table, your texted, your table number. You walk over to your table, you sit down, the other person sits down and you've got 15 minutes. And which is perfect time for me because I, I I'm, I have the attention span of a mosquito.

I sometimes feel like. And so in the 15 minutes it makes

them. All right. The first five minutes, I've got to pitch my entire

right. What, what do we want to, you know, what do we want to convey, , across? And, you know, there's no pressure then on how do you know if it's something that turns out I'm not interested in?

There's no pressure on how do I, you know, awkwardly wrap up the conversation you've been there. You're describing

speed dating. So yeah, 50 minutes. I mean, you just, you get their pitch and whatever you go, Hey, this is probably not something we're going to do. And I heard somebody say, w we just talked for the next 10 minutes of, Hey, have you liked the conference?

What are you getting at?

Exactly. And so, yeah, it's, it's quick. And then, you know, if I'm interested, grab a card and, you know, set up time to go do more conversation down the road, but you get that really quick. I'm the loud conversation at the end there. So really enjoyed that and was surprised. Cause I didn't think I wasn't.


it was a good process, Martin. Thank you for your time.

Really appreciate it. It's always a pleasure. So thank

you. 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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