February 5th, 2024: Samuel Hill, Head of Marketing at This Week Health, joins Bill for the news. They discuss the commoditization of IT roles and the critical need for strategic connectivity in healthcare systems. How can IT departments transition from being seen as commodity services to strategic partners in healthcare? The conversation then shifts to the importance of cybersecurity in patient safety and healthcare availability, introducing Drex DeFord's new role in leading the cybersecurity community. But what does the future hold for health IT in terms of its strategic significance and alignment with healthcare goals? This episode probes these vital questions, offering insights into the dynamic world of health IT and its impact on healthcare delivery.
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Today on This Week Health.
(Intro) Marketing officers and marketing leaders have not strategically connected to the business in a way that shows here, the work we're doing on a day to day basis is helping our company achieve organizational goal X, Y, or Z.
Welcome to Newsday A this week Health Newsroom Show. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former C I O 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 Newsday show partners and we have a lot of 'em this year, which I am really excited about. Cedar Sinai Accelerator. Clearsense, CrowdStrike,. Digital scientists, Optimum Healthcare IT, Pure Storage, SureTest, Tausight,, Lumeon and VMware. We appreciate them investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders.
Now onto the show.
(Main) all right. It's Newsday and I am joined by Samuel Hill with This Week Health. Formerly with Medigate, formerly with Cielo, formerly with Aruba Networks, but now. In charge of marketing and all things on the Health Lyrics Network, which is our group of podcasts and things that we do here.
Samuel, welcome to the show.
Bill, this is cool. This is the one show on the entire network that I have not had the chance to be a participant in. It's a bucket list item for me
today. excited about this conversation because We are actually part of the news today, and it doesn't happen often, but we are part of the news.
And the news is that we've gone from being a moderately okay, cool a group of people that tells dad jokes and that kind of stuff to a significantly cool organization. Obviously, we added you. You got the guitars in the background and all that really cool stuff. But we've also added Drex to Ford to the team at This Week Health, and he's going to be heading up.
our cybersecurity and risk community for us. And, war veteran former CIO, many health systems burning man participant. The cool factor on this week health just went through the roof. like one of these things doesn't belong here anymore. And it's me, like I'm the old man in the room, but pretty exciting times, I think.
I think the commonality is we'll all just increase the number of dad jokes significantly. So there's that to look forward
to as well. it is fun. Let's talk a little bit about the community because you've been working with Drex. You've been talking with them as we ramp this up.
What's the idea? What's the thought behind a community really organizing around? That and risk community.
Bill, as like these people who are leading in the cybersecurity space, specifically in healthcare, they have just an enormous challenge and an enormous burden to not only keep like the data safe and keep all the different records and the most valuable protected health information that's out there in the industry.
They got to keep that kind of under lock and key and secured, but. The reality is, cybersecurity is patient safety as well. And a cyber incident, as we've seen, can shut down entire units, entire hospitals, which really takes away patient care from the community and from the people that need it.
And so that's what this community is about. Let's get these leaders together in a way. That they can actually work together, help each other, learn from each other, grow together and frankly have the kind of friendships and community where they can pick up the phone and make a phone call and get real help when the inevitable does happen.
And so I'm excited for Drex to lead this community because it's not just a niche within a niche, it's actually the front lines of keeping healthcare available into our communities.
Yeah, and I can't think of anybody else better to do this Drex. He's not here, so he won't flush and he's self effacing as well.
So he would talk down my comments. But it's one of the reasons I like him so much. He was on episode, I think, number three of This Week Health. And we're now on episode like 2000 and something. So he's been around since the beginning. He has offered his services. Since the beginning.
His military background, I think, gives him a perspective that's fantastic. We're going to be doing some things at the HIMSS event with some military personnel. It's going to be fun to be talking and it really gives us an opportunity to expand some of the things that we do here. People ask me, what's next for this week health?
And I think it's getting closer to the community. And that's hard to do as one person. At some point, you have to add some additional people. and we're doing that. And I think, Drex is a great cultural fit and whatnot. People might ask, what the heck are you doing here? What the heck are you doing here?
Bill it's a great question. I wake up myself and ask the same thing most every day. No, just kidding. I, Bill, you and I've known each other for many years. And I remember working at different companies and marketing at, other places that I've been in my career.
And I've always had this healthcare background and bent just with my own experience. I was a patient care technician in the emergency room for seven plus years, and I've lived through the EHR transition twice and neither of them went great. It was just. Part of the learning experience. And so I've always had this connection to healthcare.
And so with that, I've always worked alongside of, or been a fan of the This Week Health show and community. And you've been a mentor to me for many years and I've considered you that. And so as we had the opportunity to work together and just kept getting closer and closer, and eventually it made sense of why don't I just join the team full time and see what we can do to help grow the community, better serve it, really, the mission statement is something I resonate with. Let's transform healthcare. And we're going to do it one connection at a time. And as a highly relational person, it's just something I could easily get on board with. And so it's made a lot of sense. And no, I don't wake up every morning wondering. I have a pretty clear idea what I'm trying to do here.
And it's been a fun journey so far.
It's fun to add some people to the team. We are, somebody asked me, how many people are you up to? I think we're up to eight or nine. And I should know that number, but that's not the important number. The important number is the people we serve in the community, and that number continues to grow.
This is the new show. So that's our news. We're at Drex, and we're going to grow out that community, and we'll give you more information on how you can do that. You can check out press release on our website. And. New community page, so you can check that out as well that for the cyber security community.
We'll be moving things there and Drex is going to be doing a podcast Unhacking Healthcare is the working title that will start sometime around last week of March, first week of April. Do we have an exact date on that yet? Not an
exact date, but we want to get through HIMSS and let Drex be in the community for a little bit and, reconnect with folks in this new role.
And then we'll get his podcast started. The
guy was a former CIO. He's got to be ready to like And former military. What are we giving him a chance to get his feet on the ground and that kind of stuff? He's not used to that. he might not be comfortable with that.
We might need to push him a little harder. We'll see. All right, news. Health systems, there's an article on Becker's why health systems are laying off IT workers. And this is common. I've been on phone calls this week with CIOs and one of the CIOs, a pretty significant health system, was talking about the cost reductions that he's being asked for at previous 229 events.
Some health system leaders, CIOs specifically, were talking about some of the cuts they've being asked to make. This is a direct result of the economic pressures that exist within healthcare. So anytime I read a story like this, I think two things. One is, are we telling the story correctly? Are we framing it up correctly? The things that IT does for the organization. If we're not framing it up correctly, people don't know.
Therefore, them making these cuts without considering the strategic nature of health IT is perfectly acceptable and perfectly understood. On the flip side, the other thing I would say is, Sometimes, think if I walked into a significant number of health IT organizations today, I would not see the strategic nature of IT.
I would see the operational and tactical nature of IT, not really a strong participation with the things that lead to a stronger organization. That is very strong connection with the clinical staff, very strong connection with the with the business model and understanding where revenue comes from and supporting those things.
That's all part of the strategic nature of the role of the CIO is telling the story and making sure that you are very connected to the things that drive a successful organization, both from an outcomes and a profit standpoint. When you read this article, what are some of the things that pop out at you?
One of the first things I think of is, if you think of something as a commodity, then your first instinct, you want to drive the price down. You think about it in your personal life and your business and everything else. If it's a commodity, then you want to get best version of it as cheaply as possible.
And what this tells me is that unfortunately, IT staff have become a commodity. Now they're all human beings with wonderful stories and incredible skills and talent and all of that. But the keeping the lights on, keeping the bits and bytes flowing across networks and keeping the wifi going and keeping different applications up and running has unfortunately become a commodity.
And so I think you're right to say of the strategic connectivity of it. How do you connect the activity of the IT staff from a, move it from a commodity perspective to something strategic that's keeping the health system operating? And also, there's shortages. There's no doubt that there's significant skill shortages around cybersecurity, around data analysis, around even this AI stuff that's now predominant across healthcare.
There's some upskilling and some reskilling that probably could do lot of good for some of these people.
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at some of these quotes. It's really interesting because, part of what you're saying is the commoditization of some of the IT roles and proof of that is in some of these quotes.
Some of these organizations aren't cutting jobs per se, they're just giving them over to a third party. And, that happens, clearly you're not handing over the strategic roles, you're handing over the tactical roles, and you're saying, Hey, can you keep the hospital wireless network running? Oh, yeah, we can, and we can probably do that better than you.
Okay, what else? Can you image workstations? Yeah, we can image workstations, and we can do that better than you. thing is, it amazes me today that we can find third parties that can image our workstations better than us. And we haven't figured out a way to create a strategic advantage there. Ransomware is really interesting to me because I think it's changed the game somewhat in terms of how we think about the tactical role of being a CIO and the tactical nature But I think it has to be one in which We are ready. We're ready for combat, because we're in combat. We introduced Drex here, and I'm sure Drex would have stuff to say here. But are we ready to re image 30, 000 PCs? in 48 hours. Do you have a plan? Or less, yeah. Yeah, I'm being kind, because 48 hours is probably what it would take to re image 30, 000 workstations.
But think about, from a tactical standpoint, if you give this away, you're going to end up with a pretty static environment moving forward. The thing we ended up doing really minimizing our images, down to the fewest number of images we possibly could. Because if you can get to that point then you could actually have a third party vendor re image your workstations.
Because the core image is on the VMware server or on the Citrix server, on whatever it happens to be, that are being distributed once put those basic generic workstations out there. The problem we have in most of healthcare, if it was anything like St. Joe's, and I think it is still an awful lot like St.
Joe's, If I went into a health system today and tried to identify the number of distinct images that they have it's in the hundreds. And so now it's how many of that image do we have to do? 42. How many of that image do we have to do? A thousand. How many of that image? You have to ask all these questions that you shouldn't have to ask because we have not been strategic in this nature.
a disconnection, right? Reimaging a machine after a ransomware incident is not necessarily connected to growing either the profit margin of the health system, delivering better services into the community. Really, it's connected to patient care, because you've got to get it up and running.
But that's not what they should be focused on or delivering against their results. And it's disheartening to see. Obviously, you don't want to see people losing their jobs. It's not fun, but you're right. The financial pressures are such that commodities get
compressed. Yeah, this is the magic of podcasts.
tomorrow I will record a show for my Friday Ramblings, and we're actually recording this before I'm recording that, but actually they're going to be able to go back and listen to that because it's going to be a couple of weeks ago. One of the things I'm going to be looking at is.
CIOs are more and more being asked to do different roles. And it's really fascinating to me because the CIO themselves are tactical and operational experts. So they're being asked to negotiate real estate contracts. they're being asked to fix supply chain. They're being asked to even take on service lines.
And I talked to a CIO today and we were just laughing because they just threw three things on his plate and one of them is transportation. And I'm like, transportation? He goes, yeah, I'm in charge of the buses. I'm like, how are you, like, how does that make sense? And he laid it out and it's look.
I negotiate contracts all the time. I deal with staffing. I deal with technology. I deal with schedules. I deal with, it's so it's just, it's natural to say, hey, you manage this kind of operational logistical organization all the time. Here, take this, do with this what you did with that. I'm wondering because I haven't really formulated all my thoughts on this yet.
But I'm wondering if we're going to see a stratification of CIOs. We're going to see one going this direction of you are the operational guru genius. You have operational knowledge across the entire health system. Therefore, boom here's a whole bunch of more things. By the way, It's going to happen, period, because of the financial situation that's going on. And then it's going to stratify. The other CIO is going to be that CIO that is very connected with the business and with the leadership and saying, should we acquire this company or not? this company is going out of business.
Can we pick up their patients by doing X, Y, and Z. They're gonna be in the strategic conversations, maybe looking at how AI is going to drive better efficiencies and those kind of things. A stratification of the CIO role, I think is another thing we're potentially gonna see now.
I'm just rambling. I'm curious. Any thoughts on that?
I just think it's also, we saw that stratification happen. The security role traditionally was carved out of. The technology space because they needed to provide more focus to it and necessarily and you always talk about partnerships too.
who are you going to partner with to deliver either services that you're not able to or things into the community? And yeah, that strategic level CIO who's thinking of what the business is needing and how to best achieve the overall strategic goals of the organization. And then the others who are more focused on the day to day, making sure the cost models are good, the operations hum along, and yes, the lights stay on and the routers and switches still pass packets.
You're in marketing, so I have to hit this story. So this is gonna be our last story, because we, this will be our third story. Fortune 500 companies are cutting CMO jobs, not chief medical officers, they're cutting the chief marketing officer. Jobs. What's this about? Is this happening?
And why would this be happening?
The article cites that 74 percent that had a chief marketing role, someone that reported into the C suite or was peers there. It's now decreased down to 71%. And so there has been a decrease some choosing to just not hire or move roles.
They're not eliminating marketing. That's the key trend. The work is
Fortune 500 company eliminating marketing. That would be news. That would be interesting to see.
It's also, I think it's really more of a testament. How are customers finding and acquiring your company's services? So it's not necessarily throw a billboard up and run a good ad across a print newspaper or some type of digital medium that's no longer sufficient.
There's a whole bunch of personalization and engagement across the life cycle of the consumer for whatever the services are. That is now needing to be addressed. And I think companies are saying we can fit those functions into other parts of our organization, underneath other leaders, whether it's operations or whether it's underneath revenue or different disciplines I think this is going to boomerang significantly.
And I think it comes back to the challenge you said earlier, it's. Marketing officers and marketing leaders have not strategically connected to the business in a way that shows here, the work we're doing on a day to day basis is helping our company achieve organizational goal X, Y, or Z.
So this is going to get me in trouble and I like getting the emails.
So I'll go ahead and wait in here, but, when I came into healthcare, I was not impressed with marketing from healthcare organizations. Invariably, what it was find the local baseball team, make sure you're in the outfield. Potentially, if you're a specialty type health system, you could make sure you're connected with the NFL in some way so that when they're interviewing the coach, your logo's behind them so that they know that you're doing the orthopedic surgery for the athletes and that kind of stuff.
So they did those kinds of things. I'd see billboards around town that were nonsensical. And tons of emails. Emails would be fly, not emails. Snail mail, real mail, tons of mail was going around. That's back in the day. Has that improved or is that still the primary strategy for client acquisition?
I think depending on age of the organization, if you're a new startup, your marketing tactics would be a little bit different. There's a whole bunch of technology out there today. In marketing tools that can really streamline and give you a lot of good data to be very effective. But in the healthcare space, I agree, yeah, it's billboards, it's newspaper ads, it's local sports, it's maybe radio station ads.
And you do those buys and you hope that it drives patients to you. And everyone has a choice today on how they consume healthcare. Everyone's needing different services. I read actually a stat, it was a, it was the National Institute of Health had published a study and it said 50 percent of Americans have some form of chronic condition or another, and that accounts for about 85 percent of national healthcare spend.
So half of our population is driving 85 percent of the spend with, or they're not really making a lot of choices necessarily. There's, I have a chronic condition. I like my doctor. I want to do this. I need this care. So therefore I'm going to remain with, my system or my specialist, but the other 50%, who don't have a chronic condition and maybe use health care services.
I would hope for their sake infrequently at best because no one wants to be sick, but when you need it, you definitely need it. So then you might have some choice. But how do you acquire those consumers is really the question.
Can I tell you the thing that's not being said and it's a lot of.
clinicians in healthcare systems do not want to acquire more patients. That's the thing that's not being said. It's okay, let's do marketing. and the administration will be like, Hey let's get these patients lined =up and then the people who are on the ground level are like, look. We have beds in the hallways.
Not beds. We have patients in the hallway. We have six months till you can see this specialist. We have this and this. And this is where the CIO and the chief strategy officer and others need to weigh in and go, Hey, look we've got a problem here. And the problem is. Turn on the marketing engine if you want, but we don't have the capacity to handle the onslaught.
If we're really successful with that marketing campaign, we just don't have the capacity. And the patients know it when they walk through that front door and they sit in the waiting room for, an hour or two hours. And then they end up in a bed that is in a hallway and they go. Something's not right here.
And this is where we have to fix some problems. Before we, unleash our incredibly talented marketing crew to start doing these digital patient acquisition strategies and those kind of things. So this is where it all comes together. This is not a.
As I've said in the past, it's not that simple nine square Rubik's Cube anymore. it's those other Rubik's Cubes that are like 14 on each side and, it gets really scrambled up. Yeah. That, that little Rubik's Cube now these, I saw a kid solve one in five seconds.
That's about three hours faster than I could do it. So it's I don't even know if I could solve one if I had to.
Yeah. But these are multi dimensional problems and you can't solve one without creating a problem somewhere else. And so you've got to think it through from beginning to end workflow and the whole things.
Samuel, it is great to have you on the show. It is great to have you on the This Week Health team. And I look forward to doing some more shows with you in the future. Yeah. Likewise, Bill. It's
been great to be here.
📍 And that is the news. If I were a CIO today, I think what I would do is I'd have every team member listening to a show just like this one, and trying to have conversations with them after the show about what they've learned.
and what we can apply to our health system. If you wanna support this week Health, one of the ways you can do that is you can recommend our channels to a peer or to one of your staff members. We have two channels this week, health Newsroom, and this week Health Conference. You can check them out anywhere you listen to podcasts, which is a lot of places apple, Google, , overcast, Spotify, you name it, you could find it there. You could also find us on. And of course you could go to our website this week, health.com, and we want to thank our new state partners again, a lot of 'em, and we appreciate their participation in this show.
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