This Week Health 5 Years

June 30, 2023: CIO Ben Patel shares how Cone Health's approach to community health and wellness, including partnerships with schools and businesses, contribute to reducing health disparities and improving overall population health. How can the integration of healthcare and wellness through a digital platform like Sage revolutionize the way patients and consumers approach their overall well-being? What are the potential benefits and challenges of implementing a comprehensive health and wellness app like Sage in healthcare organizations? How can the concept of a digital ecosystem, built on top of existing EMR and CRM systems, enhance patient experiences and improve healthcare outcomes? How might the integration of an e-commerce function into a healthcare app impact consumer behavior and choices related to health and wellness products? What are the potential long-term effects of promoting a holistic approach to healthcare that combines traditional medical care with wellness initiatives, and how might it influence the future of the healthcare industry?

Key Points:

  • Business strategies and priorities
  • Digital transformation and IT roadmap
  • Integration of healthcare and wellness
  • Sage program and personalized care plans
  • Telehealth and virtual visits
  • School-based telehealth program
  • Development team and partnerships.

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Transcript

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

Today on This Week Health.

how do I leverage this to create a citizen-led innovation?

How do we use these tools that are so powerful? How do we create an environment where I'm just providing the tools, the governance, the guard railing from a security standpoint and policies, and then empowering the users and super users to really create for example, automation.β€Š

Thanks for joining us on this keynote episode, a this week health conference show. 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. For five years, we've been making podcasts that amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. Special thanks to our keynote show. CDW, Rubrik, Sectra and Trellix for choosing to invest in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now onto our show.

Alright, here we are for another this week, health conference show, and we're joined by Ben Patel, the CIO for Cone Health. Ben, welcome to the

show. Thank you so much, bill. I'm glad to be here.

I'm looking forward to the conversation. You and I just got to see each other in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I got to see a presentation that you did, and I'm excited about the things that Cone Health is doing. Before we go into some of those things I'd love to hear have you share a little bit about Cone Health where you're at physicians and makeup of the organization.

Yeah, sure. So, Cone Health is a health network based in Greensboro, North Carolina. We have about 13,000 employees five acute care hospitals, over 250 plus practices. Six ambulatory centers, urgent care centers, ASCs, long-term care facilities an ACO and a health plan. Wow.

Well that's, I mean, that's the whole shooting match.

So, how many do you have an idea of how many covered lives that

aco? ACO has? Around 250,000 covered lives. It is a NextGen, I think it's called ACO Reach now, the NextGen aco. I think we were one of the top five high performing ACOs in the country. So, so it's a very high performing aco and we're really proud and we've done a lot of work to make it happen.

So

it, I mean, you're in Greensboro, is it, would you consider your area of coverage more rural than urban?

I think we have one hospital that's rural most is urban or semi-urban. Semi

awesome. All right, well, let's start with, what are some of the priorities coming into this year?

What are some of the priorities? What are some of the things that you're working on or expanding at Cone Health?

So we have, at a very high level, we have our business strategies and four different strategies. Healthy communities is one transformation to value consumer driven brand experience, and future ready workplace.

So those are the four big business strategies. And then we have tactics underneath those strategies. And then I have my IT strategy roadmap. Which is truly aligned and enabling those business strategies and priorities. So that's what we have. And I think as you can imagine, within the, it, then, we have tactics that support the core.

It, then we have the traditional, what I call the O T P type of a thing, like epic EMRs and ERPs of the world. And then we have our digital transformation side of the store. What more can we do? What can we do to add on top of, almost like creating a digital ecosystem on top of our E R P E M R and our C R M, so that it creates that, holistic view of our patients and consumers so that we can, reach out.

To them and create those meaningful and impactful experiences. So that's where our digital blueprint and roadmap and the IT roadmap work to deliver those. So that's a very high level. Do you want me to double click on anything? Bill? Double click. Well, let me

think. So yeah, I mean, you guys are interesting.

I mean, cuz you have a health plan, you have an aco. So your approach, your digital strategy would be one where you want to interact with them as much as possible. And there is. An incentive to keep them healthy, to keep them out of the hospital. Talk a little bit about how you're utilizing technology to interact with the patients and the community members in where you serve.

So I think one of the I'll tell you one concept that we did recently developed as part of our consumer driven and brand experience strategies is to truly launch. We launched a campus and a digital extension of it, which is focused on community health and wellness, using, design thinking principles and a retail lens.

To provide a whole person care to all our patients and even consumers in our community or in our service area that we support. And what we have done is we've created this in-person digital channels and created an Amazon Prime type of a model membership model with the monthly fees that truly help.

Our consumers and patients, do their medical fitness, the teaching kitchen interactive youth learning, community hubs we call groups and circles, all of that, part of that wellness package. And in the campus it's both health and wellness. We also have an emergency in our department.

We also have specialty medicine. At the same time, we have this wellness side of the story also where we make sure that. The patients and consumers who come to us, that we develop a very customized care plan that meet their needs. And this is almost like a prescription from a physician or Epic E M R that comes down into our we call the drawbridge campus, the Greensboro med Center campus.

And then we design a specific fitness plan, a medical fitness plan for them. And that. Plan is then, with the digital election and a mobile app and a web based and omnichannel, a way that the patient and consumers can track it and to the data, can schedule classes, can do their virtual training and so forth.

So that's a novel concept that we've created and we have trademarked it. Called Sage. Well. And so now we are replicating that and most of our ambulatory centers and we wanna take it forward. So, so far we have, I believe, about 4,000 members who have joined in that program. And we're hoping that membership will scalable and grow.

So that's a concept that we have created available where we truly provide, both in-person and digital side of the story for our patients, for both health wellness under the same app, so that if you're a patient you can. Look up your MyChart, lab results, messaging, everything just like you do in MyChart at the same time you have all your wellness.

And on top of that, we've added, wayfinding and all the belts and whistles. And very soon we're going to add e-commerce. So we're basically going to help you purchase anything that you need related to your health and wellness through the same, single pane of glass.

So you had integrated healthcare.

And wellness you couldn't just pop out the Epic MyChart you developed a mobile platform to support this?

Yes. So we basically bought, we had a boiler plate, so we bought a base platform and then we basically customized that to our needs. So that's what we did. So we didn't have to write from scratch.

So basically bought, the, almost like, think about that as a template. So we bought that and then we components and then we developed that. We then work on integration with MyChart. Then we integrated all the other third party system that we had to, and then we created that. And now what we're trying to do is develop more organically on the platform so we don't have to worry about a lot of integration and dependency on the third party.

Yeah,

I'm looking at some of the screens cuz you, you shared them with me and it's really impressive. I mean, you have fitness classes, you have yeah, I just, a whole host of classes, they can click through and sign up. And obviously this is integrated with Epic MyChart, so I assume they can go in here and they can schedule an appointment if they need healthcare.

So it's healthcare and wellness app integrated together.

Absolutely. Yep. And that's part of what we did. And also will help our our value based care side of the story as well when we are ACO members who, where we are at full risk for. So this will help them, get healthy.

And we're focused more on the wellness so that, not only we have a healthy community side of the story, but at the same time will help us, reduce that unwanted ed hospital admissions and so forth. And even office visits. Yeah.

I'm sort of enamored with this concept and the thing I like I've just started my fitness journey.

I know I'm 55 years old, but the reason I'm starting my fitness journey is I'm 55 years old and. I know that whatever I'm doing when I'm 55, it's gonna impact what I'm doing when I'm 65. And I think a lot of people are in this situation where they go at various times, they go, all right, I need to get in shape.

I need to be fit. And we really are, we're sent out to sort of fend for ourselves. It's like, well, I, I guess for diet, I'll go over here. And for exercise, I'll go over here and I'll get a personal trainer and for health, I'll go over here and it sounds to me like you guys are trying to create that, that single solution.

So if I am health or wellness I'm coming to you and you're giving me the technology solutions to integrate all the various pieces. So I assume the doctors have a complete view of what's going on, as well as the patient or the. In, in some cases just the athlete or the individual has a complete, yeah,

And we are soon adding a food aspect of this, so we're also going to.

Retail food outlet there. So we'll provide you options to purchase, the healthy food side of the store if you don't know what to buy. So I think a lot of those are going to be added on top of it. And as I said, we're on the digital side of the story. We're going to add a lot of e-commerce functions, into the app and the web channels, and soon to be developed our social media side of the story as well.

So is that a third party app or is that an app? That is a cone health app now. Sage.

Well, Sage, is a code health. I mean, that's a that's our trademark. And so we developed all the sage, well concepts within the app and within the website of the story. So that's what we have. Yeah.

That's pretty, pretty interesting. Can you do telehealth through that app as well, or is that separate at this point?

Yeah, no, you can do same, just like you can do through MyChart. You can do your virtual visits, you can do everything through that. What you can do is, so today is some of the service line that we're launching, like our virtual primary care and some of the school-based telehealth that we have launched as our equity strategy.

You can do that today, but that's coming also. So we, at the end of the day, we just want to have. As part of our digital front door strategy. Just one app, one website, one. No matter where you come from, you want, we want you to have the same experience.

Well, it's interesting, again, in the wellness area.

So, school-based telehealth talk, talk a little bit about that program, the partnerships and how you guys are go

going about that.

Yeah, so I think this is, as I said part of our healthy community strategies. So we wanted to see, what can we do to partner? And so it all, started with our analytics and we tried to understand what our ED utilization.

And we then combined that with our, the lifestyle data that we have in our data warehouse, and quickly understood the zip code and the areas that were wonderful that we were receiving this frequent flyers. And then the based on the age and everything, we quickly understood that we need to partner with the county.

And so we looked at our county's school data, especially the absentism and graduation rate. And when we correlated that, we quickly identified that there is a, a big gap that we really need to provide is some sort of access to health and wellness. And so we did this title I school-based program.

We started the prototype back in 2021, we two schools. And what we did was we put a full-time CMA from that community into those schools and that CMA. Did you know the telehealth, using a device like Title Care. And that's how we started. And then based on that, today when we look at the success rate of that, we reduced, for example, absentism by more than 30%.

The school board decided that this should be scaled. And so they basically now gave us their approval to expand to 51 more Title one schools, and it's all funded to various programs. And that's where we are. And then, and so, and now that we're, now we're working on expanding that to those schools.

Then they also want us to expand to communities, businesses, and other areas. So that is a whole big plan and how are we gonna roll this out to public housing libraries in some of the safety net clinics and so forth. So that's the whole plan that we're working on now. And the other thing we're working is also scaling the technology.

I think some of the title care, we just recently signed up with another device manufacturing company, which is a little bit cheaper. So we're working on that strategy to provide the similar. For virtual primary care side of the store offering for support from your home or wherever you are.

And so that's our truly the telehealth strategy from a healthy community standpoint. And so we are using the technology we're using, and I believe there are few health systems as like I are doing that in the country. I haven't heard a lot of them, but this is what we have at True partnership.

With the county, with the school board, and we have a dedicated bench and we really hire from that community. So we also provide employment to the folks from the same community that we hire. And so our goal is to make sure we come to you where you are and make sure that you are healthy and for schools that don't have absenteeism for the businesses, you don't have to take a day off to, to take care of your kid.

So a lot of the productivity side of, so the economy side of the store, we are trying to handle with the same approach. Strategy,

man. I have so many different directions I can go. Let me go back to the app for just a second. Do you have a large development team or have you partnered with somebody to help develop that?

Both.

So we have a, don't have a large development team. We have a small development team, and then we also have a partnership. We have a partnership on the development. And truly when we really have to do commodity type of a development, we basically, give it to them and then they give back.

And we do the most of the design and architecture work. And then some of the development, they do it when we don't have the

capacity. So you're like a product you're the product manager, the design, the architecture, and then you say, Hey, here are the requirements. Go ahead and code this, build this, they send it back.

You review the code, you review what they've done and that's how, that's the process and how it works.

Sometimes it depends on the bandwidth. So if we have the scope is too big and we really want to go down to, cuz we have this what we call, so we have stood up digital hub teams. So basically fusion teams.

And so, so that we can, using Scrum, we can deliver these faster. And so we have sprint cycles and all that. So when we know that we have, these many sprint cycles that we cannot deliver, we really then go and hire those you, our partners into it. And so they help us deliver things faster.

Ha. Have

you done agile scrum? It wide or just within that development team? Within

that team? So what we have done is we have stood up digital teams like digital, front door, contact center, automation. Those are our other digital teams that we have. 10 these teams, as I said, fusion teams. So we have design thinking, ui, ux, guys.

We have, scrum master, we have it, we have shared services out of the store from project management, all of them. And then that's what we have done. So we wanna scale that across the board. Down the road, the way we are trying to do is change the operating model to more product management side of the story.

And so with that in mind, I'm gradually with us now, and. Almost in cloud fully. Well now we want to see what's the new operating model, how do we change that model so that we are more right, business focused and more, more aligned and close to the business versus, the rear view mirror.

Yeah.

And we went to the we went to the product management model for infrastructure and for applications. I mean, that's the, and I would say we did a modified. Agile. It was from where we were at, it was a huge leap, but it was still it was, I think if somebody came in there, they would question whether we were fully Scrum.

We'll get back to our show in just a minute as we celebrate our fifth anniversary At this week, health, we've partnered with Alex's Lemonade Stand of Foundation, combating Childhood Cancer. And I've just been floored by the generosity of our community. We set a goal to raise $50,000 this year, I wasn't sure how we were gonna hit it.

And we are already up over $34,000 for the year, and we want to thank you for being a part of that. This June, as you know, we've been doing drives all year, and we're gonna do something a little different in June. We have 2 29 groups where we bring together healthcare leaders, about 10 to 15 of 'em in a round table format.

And we discuss the biggest challenges facing healthcare and how technology can be applied to those challenges. We have an event in June and together with our chairs of that event, our participants and our sponsor partners, we're gonna be donating $5,000, to the cause. We really want to thank our chairs.

For that event, Jeff Sterman and Chad Brisendine. Jeff Sterman with Memorial Healthcare. Chad Brisendine with St. Luke's University Health Network, for being a part of that. We want to thank our sponsor partners order, Gordian Dynamics Clear Sense rubric. Sure test VMware and Nuance for also being a part of raising that $5,000.

And we wanna thank you again for your generosity. If you wanna join us this week, health.com, you can click on the Alex's lemonade stand banner on the homepage and you'll get taken to our lemonade stand. You can go ahead and give directly onto that page and see some of the other people who have given Now back to our show.

You talk a lot about analytics, and I like your focus on analytics. Talk about your data capabilities. How have you evolved your data capabilities? What what kind of things have you done to enable those kinds of metrics to be available for the business?

So one of the first thing we did was we did, part of the strategy is to hold unified data management, so we wanted to make sure that we have aggregated. Curated data into one place. And so since we use Health Catalyst as our E D W, that's the first thing we did. We basically integrated all the data, whether it's, lifestyle data, claims data, ACO data or anything.

And we integrated that into the E D W. And then the second thing, when then we started creating system of insights, depending on the use case, whether it's an ACO use case for hedis. Reporting or whether that was for care guidelines or it was for something else, for a specific journey. Like for example, in our case, we have specific journeys that we've built , in Salesforce where we truly just look at patient who, for example, came to urgent care and do not have a P C P.

So a lot of those, we ended up creating that kind of an insight that actually fed the pipeline. And so, so we created sort of the data aggregation curation. Created system of insight, which is, work in progress. As we come up with use cases, we keep on building it, and that started vetting the digital tools.

At the same time, it also feeds our, interactive dashboards that we've created for the operational areas. So that's how we are. And then we have a huge data science team that basically creates AI models. So basically they create prediction and models. We take that model and then train that on our epic data and then use that.

For example, no show rate of accredit care. So many models we've created, pt, OT needs, for inpatients. So a lot of those are created on top of the same model. Now what we are trying to do is we're really looking at some of the pre-train or existing models that are available out there to see we can use it, readily.

So that's. We're changing. We're doing both in-house development at the same time. We're also looking at something that, we can buy and use it on top of right of. But, and then the other thing, we're now just recently started working on our C D P. We really wanna get to a point where we truly have consumer data and then we look at the 360 within that, that the E D W.

Because one of the things we really want to do is personalize healthcare. So how do you reach out to a patient and personalize, not only the messaging, the care, and anything that we wanna do, so we wanna take to the next level. So that's, we've just started working on, but that is all based on that data fabric that we created, years ago.

And the data fabric you created years ago you said was Health Catalyst. When you say E D W and Health Catalyst are synonymous for you, Yes.

Okay. And so we also feed data from E R P. Epic everything. Our aco, we use a couple of other data aggregator. So our aco for example, we use a tool that aggregates all the EMRs from our aco, all the providers, and gets us the data also on the care gaps and what's been done.

So all of that gets aggregated. And then we created, so think about that as an operational data be mar and then we created specific data marts that we need, for each use case.

Now I'm assuming that the. The data teams and the analytics teams reporting to you, is that, because in some organizations they don't I'm curious.

I have the data management and data services team report to me. I think the data science team reports to the C M I O who I have a dot line with. So, so, but we all work together because it's the same, project, same tools, same everything. Yeah.

I remember at one point at St. Joe's we did a, we did an analysis of how many people had.

Data analyst or some sort of analyst in their title around the organization. And it was a catchall, it was kind of amazing how many we had out there. And I'm curious how you enable the business units the clinical units and the business units to utilize data effectively.

I mean, that's always been one of the challenges.

And that is a challenge across the industry. I mean, we talked about it at, in Charlotte, the whole digital literacy side of the story. I think that's a challenge. So we do have a governance model that we meet on a monthly basis, and we identify, not only the rudimentary data governance and the definitions and all that, but also the data needs the priority.

How to educate and what tools do we need? But then more importantly, how do we educate people to use it and what, how to use it, how to slice and dice them, and how do interpret the data. So I think sometimes that becomes a challenge. So we're dealing with just like any other health system, but that's a work in progress that we identify one aid at a time.

So, for example, we basically work with our orthopedics surgeons and and the providers. They took this nicely, they learned, they now are using the dashboard, for example, for the implants, so that they can look at the cost and be able to reduce the cost. So we're trying to replicate that across the board, our cancer center, our ed, and across the board.

But that's again, the dashboard. One of the things we wanna eventually get to is real time. So we really wanna provide more real time data and real time decision making, to the provider, to the physician, to the clinician at the point of care. Whatever they are. And so that's our next effort. So we'll talk about more in our governance committees.

Yeah,

it is interesting. Our clinicians are scientists and so when you put the data in front of 'em, when there's transparency into the data the conversations become easier cuz it's not you're not work working off of anecdotes anymore. You're working off of. Now, hey, look, this, we're only really using this knee for, this one surgery, and we're using this knee for 80% of our surgeries.

I is it possible to get to, a single knee that we use

across? Exactly, yeah. And then especially when you provide drill downs. Because when you provide summary data, they always doubt it. But when you provide drill down and they can drill down and see, my patient always done they start believing it.

We we've highlighted cone a couple times on the show with regard to your cloud journey. I'm not sure I've talked to you about your cloud journey. What's the strategy or philosophy around your cloud journey?

I think the overall strategy was truly agility. How do we make cone health more agile to the dynamic needs of our industry, our specific, market that we are in.

And cuz we are in a very highly competitive market, how do you do that? And then one other strategy was cloud strategy. Okay, let's come up with a cloud strategy. Where we, where are we going to use SaaS? Where are we going to use, infrastructure as a service, platform as a service?

So we did the whole thing and then, Cost savings was a byproduct. We really wanted to do some things to justify. And so I think that's how we started. And I came here from Chicago and one of the things I had learned that Walgreens went before us, to Epic, to Microsoft Azure. And so I had that in my mind that it is doable and we can do it too.

And so that's how, so when it and the timing was right for me here. Because we were about to refresh, millions of dollars to our data center stuff. So I said, okay, this is a great opportunity for us to go to cloud. So that's how it started. And then we, internally all the, our cto our director, executive director of it, all of us sat down.

We brought in, our consultant and we went through the whole strategy development and what we will do, why. And so that's what we created. And then we created a whole thing about what about the staff, what kind of skill set we need, and then what do we do about it? And then we went on changing, the job grades and positions and titles and training and certifications In parallel, we we worked with Epic to make sure that we meet their requirements.

Epic was very helpful in working with us and making sure they have the design, the specs ready for us and be able to work with us in terms of testing and validating. And so that's how the journey started. And then we hired, cognizant was a partner back then, and so we had, they had done the similar work with Walgreens.

So we hired them and we worked with them on migrating, our cloud on-prem to cloud. And we initially started disaster recovery, as you can imagine. And then once a DR was successful, then we took our production. So we've been on Microsoft Azure for almost two years now.

Wow. Do you still have.

On-prem data centers, or have you even taken those to colo?

They're mostly empty. They are there mostly empty. We have very little footprint and most of them are due to the layer two and layer three adjacency needs. Other than that, most of our stuff here, the only thing that's still is firewall.

We're. Gradually moving firewall also up in the cloud. So eventually we'll only have few things like cardiology packs and stuff, which truly needs from a latency perspective. Cuz other than that, we, our goal is to make sure we truly have a cloud so that we're focusing more on the product management side of the story, the business alignment more, and making sure that we're doing things that impact our patients and consumers directly.

Give me an idea of how's the role changed since you've gotten there? Clearly we went through the pandemic and there's been some other changes. Even from a financial standpoint. I don't know if Cone but as an industry we've seen a lot of financial pressure and those kind of things.

Has the role of the CIO changed since let's say over the last six, five or six years?

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think and I'm pretty sure this goes for all the CIOs. I think the role has changed from being an order taker to more of a problem solver. So I remember and I've seen even when I was in not a ccio, how, we were, it was in the rear view mirror.

We will be given, a task. We want you to do this and we'll just go do it. Now we're part of. The business strategy discussion, we're at the table. We're talking about out of the possible, how can we solve this problem? How can we do this? And so that's what I've seen the difference.

And that's, the model is changing. And so, for example, in my case, I've been involved in our strategies. I'm partnered with our chief marketing and communications officer in our consumer driven brand experience strategy. And so, and with our chief strategy officer also, so we work together on.

The strategy, the tactics, how to solve it. Technology is one piece of it, but on the business, operational alignment, how do you socialize this? How do you communicate, how do you manage the change? All of that has become the new things that I think most CIOs are doing today.

Talk about your staff.

It's interesting as I think about it, so you're in Greensboro, North Carolina. I mean, you're not far from R T P or research triangle, so there's a lot of competition for staff and labor in those markets. Have you expanded beyond North Carolina and what's your current work environment?

No. So we are mostly in North Carolina, even though some of our virtual offerings are across the United States. Like a direct of consumer model that we have on our virtual visits and all that.

But yeah I'm wondering about, I'm wondering about the IT staff. Is your IT staff is it mostly virtual at this point?

It

is mostly virtual and we do have some staff members which are out of state. So we have that model. Just like any other health system. I think I've, when I was in Charlotte with you, I heard most cis talked about the same model that they have, some remote worker back in youth California, New York.

We have the same model, but most of our staff is still, North Carolina based. And then, we still have, the hotel cubes and offices, the swing spaces that they can still come in and do their testing and visit. And we do now are at least encouraging people to come in once a month and once a quarter for all the staff meetings and so forth.

So that, Sort of things, but, and so what we are focusing more on is truly investing in people. So one of the things I came, when I came here, we created a growth plan for every staff member in it. So all the managers and their staff, we identify what is the growth plan, what is it that we need, not only from a skill gap perspective, but also when this role grows, what is it that this person will do or wants to do?

So, We kind of embedded that and executed our training plan. And same thing we did with cloud, with digital, some of the app developments out of the story and so forth. So we're that process is continuing, so we're continually making the investment and then sending them for conferences, for memberships, for some peer things.

So all of that put together, we have been, successful and lucky, I would say at the same time. That we got the right talent,

successful and lucky. Well, no, I liked what you were saying earlier, the cloud plan included a lot of retraining and upskilling of existing staff.

And you guys really, it sounded like you thought through it really well. I'm, is there a technology at this point that you're intrigued by that you're keeping an eye on that you're wondering, how this is going to permeate healthcare in the next couple of years?

I think the AI in general, but with the advent of generative ai cuz two years ago nobody knew about generative ai and we all were doing, AI machine learning the way it is. So I don't know what else is gonna come and on two more years. So I think one of the things that I'm keeping in my on is how do I leverage this to create a citizen-led innovation?

How do we use these tools that are so powerful? That we can use it so that it's not it's role to create these products and innovation and almost like a top down, but we wanna create more like a bottom up approach. So how do we create an environment where I'm just providing the tools, the governance, the guard railing from a security standpoint and policies, and then empowering the users and super users to really create, for example, automation.

They should be able to automate their own work cuz they know their process better than me. I don't have to come and define the standard work and process and then be able to automate that later. That takes so much time, so much turning. So I think that's. One of the things that I think I am excited as well as nervous, like how does that technology is gonna evolve and what does that mean to us?

So we'll have to be, and that's the reason for the agility of Toronto. We need to be agile now from now on. Really have to be very careful on how do quickly we adapt and adapt at the same time.

How does a new or good idea get from like a frontline clinician or nurse all the way up to. Strategy, potential technology selection, and implementation at Cone Health.

So in, in our case, couple of, we have a governance, IT governance process, but we have some committees that these ideas get to those committees and then they bubble up to us and through an IT intake process, a demand management process. And then we also have a innovation arm we call Cornhill Ventures.

And so that innovation arm works with the operational leaders and so they also feed or get the request or ideas and then we get kind of bubble that also up to the it. So we've created our own enterprise architecture process. All these come to that and we go through a quick, vetting process on the ideas, technology possibilities and all that.

And then we quickly respond back to the user of the group or even sometimes even our CEO or C F O on what is possible or this is doable or not. And if it's not, what options do we have?

All right, Ben closing question for you, which is we have university students who tell me they listen to the show.

We have. Partners and vendors that listen to the show. It's a two part question. I'm gonna start with vendor partners. What are the characteristics of a great vendor partner for you?

The one that's not trying to sell you every time you meet or upsell you.

I think the partner, I think they should be more invested in your problems and how they can help solve your problems and bring solutions to the table. I think those are your real partners.

And the final one is colleges and universities. I got a question the other day. Somebody's, a mother was asking me, it's like my daughter's going to school and she wants to be in technology.

What should she study? What should she look at? She's like, what did you study? What did you look at? I'm like, I studied economics. And she's like, if you're gonna be in technology, shouldn't you study technology? I'm like, I. Maybe, but, economics has served me pretty well, given the track I took and I ended up as a CIO I mean, dealing with the budgets, dealing with you have to sit in board meetings, understand the financials of a, billion dollar health system, multi-billion dollar health system.

So I'm like, the financials really did help me and I learned the technology aspect of it along the way. If you were talking to a college student today, I. I mean, they're not gonna graduate tomorrow. They're gonna graduate in four years. And so there's some pre, I mean, what should they be thinking about 4, 6, 8 years?

What should they be studying and

looking at now?

For somebody who wants to be in it. I would say, I mean, this is the only interesting time in, in our lifetime that every technology is progressing at the same fast pace. There is no one technology that's moving faster than the other, so I would say, Pick your choice.

Where? What do you like to do? Do you like to do coding? I don't think generative AI is going to replace programmers. So are you going to do coding? Do you like networking? You like cybersecurity, you like data management? So pick. But I think in it, no matter what you do, it's going to be advancing at a very high pace.

Pick that. And I think it is art and science. It's more, 80% people, 20% technology. So focus on what you like to do the most and make sure that you never stop learning and try to adapt as soon as you find the technology changing. So I think that's the name of the game. You, I always say embrace chaos, but I think that's what, even I tell my son the same thing, that if you wanna be in it, this is, we're learning today will not be valid in five years.

So you need to make sure that you are constantly learning and adapting and deploying and adapting. What's your degree in? My bachelor's is in business administration, but then I went for my master's in computer science and then I did my mba.

How long ago was master's in computer science?

What was in 2003?

2003. So did you have to learn programming languages?

Yeah, so I did cobol, I did C sharp.

It's a, I mean, that's sort of my point. When you study, you're studying concepts. Right, right. I still explain to people. It's like I had to learn the os I model. Is that important?

Yeah, it's still important today. Whenever you're troubleshooting a problem or someone's ex as a cio, somebody's explaining it to you, you're like, Okay, what layer is that happening on? Is that, does you know, is that the data layers? Is it, and all you just go through and you're like, okay, yeah, I get it.

That's that kind of problem. It's that kind of solution kind of thing. It's concepts, right? If you're gonna learn programming, it's really about understanding how to write good code, clean code that is manageable, code, how to keep that code, management updates and all that kind of stuff.

It's all the, it's all the disciplines around it. Yeah, no, you're

right. And I and I think you have to start somewhere. So if you're, if you, in those days, I remember, I, micro focus, COBOL was something we did and then we got into Java and then, she sharpened bb.net. And then, I still remember Python towards very end.

It was one thing, one little assignment that we had to do in Python. And now I see that Python came back with a bank. And now it's in big mainstream. And people are replacing their Java application with Python,

do you still code from time to.

Not, no, not really. I think I did try, when was the last time I coded When I was at Yale?

I coded one little thing just to report and that's about it. I know

that's same with every now and then I get stuck and I'm like, I'm just gonna write a program. I mean, I it's, there's nothing easy out there. I'm just gonna write a program, it's gonna do this, take this. But it's a lot of.

Easy stuff. It's input output kinda stuff. Ben, I love the stuff you guys are doing at Cone Health and I really appreciate you taking the time to come on the show. Thank you very

much. Thank you so much, bill. Take care.

β€Š πŸ“ I love the chance to have these conversations. I think If I were a CIO today, I would have every team member listen to a show like this one. I believe it's conference level value every week. If you wanna support this week health, tell someone about our channels that would really benefit us. We have a mission of getting our content into as many hands as possible, and if you're listening to it, hopefully you find value and if you could tell somebody else about it, it helps us to achieve our mission. We have two channels. We have the conference channel, which you're listening. And this week, health Newsroom. Check them out today. You can find them wherever you listen to podcasts. Apple, Google, overcast. You get the picture. We are everywhere. We wanna thank our keynote partners, CDW, Rubrik, Sectra and Trellix, who invest in πŸ“ our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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