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March 7: Today on the Conference channel, it’s a double Interview in Action live from ViVE 2024. First, Drex speaks with Daniel Nigrin, MD, Chief Information Officer at MaineHealth. The complexities of advancing healthcare systems post-pandemic take center stage as well as the interplay between established vendors and emerging innovators at conferences like ViVE. Does this synergy hint at a new era of collaboration in health technology, offering a beacon of hope for more agile and innovative healthcare solutions? Next, Bill speaks with Scott D’Entremont, Chief Revenue Officer at Parlance Corporation. Delving deep into how Parlance leverages its AI platform to streamline patient access, we discuss the critical role of efficiency, the reduction of system waste, and the intricacies of implementing conversational AI within contact centers. Is the current healthcare landscape ready to embrace such technological advancements for improved patient navigation?

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

Welcome to This Week Health. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of This Week Health, where we are dedicated to transforming healthcare, one connection at a time. Today, we have an interview in action from the 2024 conferences, the spring conferences, VIVE in LA, HIMSS in Orlando.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Quantum Health, Gordian, Dr. First, CDW, Gozeo Health, Artisite, and Zscaler. You can check them out on our website, thisweekhealth. com. Now, onto our interview

hey, Drex. How you doing? I'm here with Dan Nygren, DJ Dan Nygren, from, it's hard to say, from MaineHealth, because you spent all the years at Boston Children's, we have known each other as Children's Hospital CIOs for years and years, so it's always, I have to like, make an adjustment to that screw to say the right thing.

How you doing? I'm doing great, having a blast here at VOD. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, enjoying the conference. What's

top of mind? What's some of the things that you're working on back home that you're

kind of hoping to pick some stuff up here? This is a super busy year for us, Drex, I'm sure for everyone.

I think it's a lot of catch up stuff that people put off during the pandemic. At Maine Health, we're really focused on sort of two ends of the spectrum really solidifying our infrastructure and the basics. We're still a relatively new system. We had COVID interrupted our unification, formation, yeah?

And so we're getting back to that stuff where we're sort of streamlining and standardizing a lot of our infrastructural must haves. So that's one end of the spectrum. But then the other end of the spectrum is You know, all the stuff that we're seeing here at Vibe. Pushing the envelope of new technologies and how to apply them to care.


and that's one of the things I wanted to ask you. So, just Walking around, you've seen a bunch of stuff, you've done a bunch of meetings. What are you seeing that maybe you're going to think about

taking home? Yeah, we're really looking heavily at using technology for virtual nursing and virtual care in general.

But focusing not just in the ambulatory spaces that we've done traditionally, but more so in the inpatient spaces. So virtual nursing is obviously a big part of that. So, lots of opportunity to take a look at some of those platforms here and it's great to see the innovation that they're all taking.

So that's one thing that I'm very much focused on and want to take a peek at. But what I really love about Vive in general, and this has been consistent from the very first one, is that it's so refreshing to see some big established vendors. Right next door to some of the really new emerging ones.

And that's fantastic because in the past I think it was so hard for some really smart innovative organizations to be able to get a foothold. And I like how Vibe has done that well. Created a

place for them to come, set up, talk to a lot of other people like them too who have challenges like them.

Yeah, exactly.

And meet big companies that they might eventually work with. , I have one more question. And

it's that easy. If you could have any fictional character as a life coach, who would that

be and why?


got nothing.

Hey, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it. I'll talk to you later.

  (Transition) 📍 📍 📍 ​

  (Interview 2) 📍 hey, here we are from Vive 2024 in beautiful LA and I'm joined by Scott Donfermont with Parlance. Hey, how are you Bill? Looking forward to the conversation. You guys are doing some fun stuff. I mean, you just showed me the demo of a contact center application.

Talk a little bit about Parlance for those who aren't familiar.

Yeah, so we're a We are conversational AI platform. We work primarily in patient access. We answer the phone in both acute and ambulatory locations contact centers, help patients navigate answer frequently asked questions, and pitch in on schedule management questions

as well.

So, this, right now, there's a lot of conversation going around about efficiency, creating efficiency eliminating waste from health systems and whatnot. The call center for me has was one of those just gnarly problems that we had. We had, you could count just the call centers we had, which was like 7 or 8.

But in theory, every office was its own call center. Right. With staff answering calls and those kinds of things. I assume that's where the conversation's really going right now is how do we drive

efficiency. Exactly. Everybody's looking for some immediate ROI, and they want to also bring AI into the organization in a way that doesn't promote a lot of risk.

So Our proprietary NLU engine is something that has a lot of guardrails around it. It's tuned and managed in a way that organizations don't have to worry that they're open to this large language model and are going to have hallucinations and some of the other things that people are concerned about.


you've been doing this for a while. This isn't like, hey, ChatGPT came out and we just threw this thing on

and away we go. Yeah, Carlos is really interesting. I'm in my sixth year now, but the company's 26 years old. And we really started in the first versions of speech recognition. And we've kind of gone along this whole technology arc to where we can now really have a conversation with the caller.

So before, we did a great job of answering the phone and saying, How may I direct your call? We would have thousands and thousands of different destinations within the directory. And it really helped healthcare organizations. We have hundreds. But you couldn't ask an open ended question.

So today it's a game changer. Now we can say, How may I help you? And that means you can actually have An 800 number that answers for your organization, and we can navigate that to wherever it needs to go. We can answer frequently asked questions, like, where's the office, what's the fax number, what insurance carriers do you take?

So you're dealing with patients. How can I help you can lead to, oh, I have abdominal pain, probably stomach pain, I should recommend this. We

don't get into doing that. We direct it to right person, the right resource. And most organizations are going to put a greeting in the front that says if this is an acute incident, dial 911 and all the same stuff.

Primarily the same greeting that they have today.

It's amazing. So you have a lot of customers already. We do. So what kind of, what can people expect, first of all from an implementation? How long does it take to sort of map this out and get it in place? Because I think of the complexity We had, I'm not even sure I could tell you all the routes that we


Right, right. It's usually about two months. Long ago we went to really a service SaaS based model. Early in the company's evolution, they realized that, nah, the technology is, if the caller doesn't get to the right place, the caller feels like the technology didn't hold up and do well. And that was usually because there wasn't a good directory behind it.

So we have lots of proprietary software to help synthesize different data sources. We have a lot of p. People that have been doing this as really a career, helping design dialogues and really build a product that can support that kind of navigation. It usually takes about two months to get up and running.

So from

contract to first call being received? Usually about two months. Do you scale it in or is it like you start taking different facilities?

Yeah, it depends, on how our customers want to do it. We tend to phase in navigational prequels. And then following with the appointments. When you start talking about the appointments, almost everybody can confirm appointment or cancel or give out information, and we can call those APIs.

But the different templates that different physicians have, sometimes those workflows aren't really organized enough to automate. So that's kind of a later phase for us.

What's the metrics for a successful project? I'm curious, because it could be

Yeah, it's hard to tell. Sometimes it's not hard to tell. So we'll occasionally run into someone that has launched an 800 number and now 25 percent of the calls that hit this call center have to then be transferred out. And in that case, we just did one of those a couple of years ago at UCSD.

When we first took over, 25 percent of the calls didn't belong in that contact center. And today, 3 percent have to be transferred. So just that directory efficiency made a huge difference.

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 But you could get to that point where there's one number for the whole system. Yeah. Interact, and then be directed

where you need to go.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

That would be an amazing amount of

efficiency. Yeah. Yeah, it really is. And marketing departments like it. So, here in LA, Keck USC is one of our customers. And if you drive around, you'll see on the bulletin boards it says, 1 800 USC CARES, and we answer for that number. But if you drive all across the country, you'll almost Just never see a phone number on a healthcare billboard, because they know they can't really handle the call.

So they spend millions and millions on brand awareness advertising to say, hey, here's where we are, here's the wait time at the emergency room, but never a phone number to just call. And it's been because they can't, so we're really excited that now they can.

I wonder what, so, give me an idea of the statistics that you're capturing.

You have a lot of calls coming in, being routed, what kind of stats can people expect?

We can handle about 80 percent of the calls, and about 20 percent of them We need a person so it will transfer out to the person. Yeah, of course. Yeah. We really are careful to not trap anybody in the technology and make it really easy if you say operator or agent or hesitate we get you to an agent.

If you're calling for you might call for Dr. Patel, the automation. We could keep asking you questions to figure out which Dr. Patel of the 12th, what's his name, rank, and serial number, what facility, on and on. We'll do typically three questions and then.

In the sales process, what's the objections that you usually get when people are looking at the solution?

It's more inertia than anything else. People have been doing things the same way for a very long time.

Hey, we used to have a switchboard where we had to, switch the things and that kind of stuff. You could see people back in the day going, well, if you dial the number directly, you might put the number in wrong.

If you put it in wrong, you're going to get the wrong number. Over time, we've grown used to those kind of things. Hey, this is the way we do it. Right.

But it's not working. Right. Right. And there's a lot of challenges. I mean, many of the folks I'm dealing with are having a hard time filling open positions.

So that's kind of the conversation we want to have. Hire virtual agents to do the work. You don't have to hire the folks. They never take a day off and they perform at a really high level.

Does it matter what the calls the system is? The telephony system or the No, it doesn't matter at all.

We have to get it over to be a SIP trunk. But for a really old system, we'll put in an audio code box or something like that to make the conversion. It probably happens one in ten times today. Most people can deliver SIP.

So you've been around for a while. I assume you have a fairly wide client base to reference.

This is, I've been in healthcare for a while now. I know that you have to have references. So you guys have been doing this a

while. Yeah, we have. We have. HCA is our biggest customer. We're answering for about 27 of the hospitals today, and 25 more this year. And then on from there, they've standardized us, on us, at the front door.

Providence has done the same. So we do about 15 Providence hospitals now, and they're coming on a few more every quarter, so that's exciting. And then some small hospitals around the

country, too. Well, anybody doing their their ambulatory centers and those kind of things?

We're going to be running.

HCA in the fall, and yes, some of them do, so we have a line of health out in Minnesota, where we do 70 different ambulatory locations for them.

Fantastic. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully the next time I call my health system, I will actually be routed where I need to go and not have to wait for an hour on the


That would be great, wouldn't it? Fantastic. Thanks very much.

  (Transition) 📍 📍 📍 ​


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