March 17: Today on TownHall Reid Stephan, VP and CIO at St. Lukes interviews Carrie Liken, Head of Industry for Healthcare at Yext. Personalization in healthcare starts with search. Every single time somebody searches the web for something, there is a unique opportunity for healthcare organizations to provide and deliver to that individual a unique answer. But unfortunately a lot of organizations can’t necessarily connect the dots to make sure that they're showing the right information. What is a good first step for an organization that's trying to get their arms around really controlling the consumer experience that starts at search? Do they have analytics data? Do they have data about what's happening on their website? Do they have data about how people are coming to the website? And can you actually track how many of those people that typed in a search query actually got to your site?
Today on This Week Health.
When I talk about personalization, every element of personalization has to start with search. Every single time somebody actually searches for something there is a unique opportunity to deliver on what it is that you might provide as a healthcare organization to deliver to that individual a unique answer.
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Welcome to This Week in Health Community TownHall conversation. I'm Reid, Stephan VP and CIO at St. Luke's health system in Boise, Idaho. And I'm joined today by Carrie Liken, who is the Head of Industry for Healthcare at Yext. Carrie welcome and thank you for making the time.
It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.
All right. First question. I always love just to learn about people's career paths. Would you take just a few minutes and to share your education background, the roles you've had, kind of the journey that led you to the position you have today at Yext?
Sure happy to. As the head of industry for healthcare at Yext, I have the opportunity to have a capstone of what I would say started in sixth grade.
So in sixth grade I worked on the human body notebook at school, and I became obsessed with all of the different body systems. And I decided from that point forward, I would become a doctor. So I found myself at Duke University in my first chemistry class, in my chemistry lab, learning how to boil water and the sun was shining outside and it would shine every day.
And I thought to myself, if this is what being a doctor is going to be for the next eight years, where I'm sitting in a lab and I'm doing something that I'm not all that interested in, I don't want to do it. So I backed off of becoming a real MD and I tried to find different ways of getting involved in healthcare.
And I focused on public policy. I ended up going to Harvard to the Harvard Kennedy school and I was able to get a master's in health policy. And from there I decided that it would be really interesting to work in a for-profit environment to understand all of the different nuances of things like strategic planning and how to build a business.
And how can I take that learning and then ultimately at some point, take it back into healthcare. So right after graduation from the Harvard Kennedy school, I moved on to Google where I was one of 20 people in the Google Boston office. And we started the healthcare team on the business side, out of that office.
So they sprung out some business from the mountain view office at the time, moved it over to Boston. And then I was able to basically be part of the founding team of that group. And I focused on building our provider business specifically. So I did that for eight and a half years and I traveled all over the world.
It was so amazing. I loved what I did, but then Yext came calling and I started Yext almost six years ago to build the business at Yext. And so I had taken what I learned from Google and all of the challenges, especially that providers had with managing their data, especially managing their data on Google.
And I was able to move over to Yext to say, wow, Yext has a technology that can actually manage the data that Google couldn't even manage. And I could bend parlay that into building the business. And so now we work with providers, we work with payers, we work a little bit with pharma and it's a global business. And so I've been able to just build those stepping stones and building blocks to get to, to where I am today. And it's been really fun journey.
Yeah, that's incredible. It's always fun how people start out, like with an idea of what they're going to do. And then I've just realized as you stay curious and open, it's just incredible where kind of your career path will take you.
And I would say the medical fields loss is the gain of kind of the, the search field and the incredible work you've done at Google. And now here at Yext. So thanks for sharing that. So maybe just kind of diving in a bit deeper about your expertise Yeah, Yext. I was reading a blog post that you penned recently, and in it, you used the phrase that personalization in healthcare starts with search.
And I just, I found that kind of really a fascinating tagline. Would love for you to take a few minutes and maybe just expand more on what you mean by that.
Yes. Well, I've been talking about search for, let's see, since basically 2007. And when I was at Google, I would log into a technology called wild cat. And that was where they were able to showcase all of the searches that were happening globally in any industry. Basically all of the searches that happened. So we were able to pull just the health care searches. So I could see the evolution of how people searched from 2007 to when I left.
And so people would search for doctor. Then maybe a few years later, they might search to a doctor near me or cardiologist. Or cardiologist for a heart attack. They would start searching differently. Then by the time I left, people were searching in a very complex way. I'm looking for a primary care provider near me who accepts Aetna insurance. Or I'm looking for a cardiologist near me who is available for 2:00PM appointment.
So we were see these complex searches take place. And we would see that a lot of organizations couldn't necessarily connect the dots to make sure that they're showing the right information when somebody was searching. When I started thinking about what organizations are doing with personalization, a lot of organizations were saying, I want to be able to tap into that type of category.
I want to tap into people who are looking for cardiologists so I'm going to look for heart patients. I'm going to tap into new moms so that I can target them for pediatricians. But what I was thinking was is that it's actually the flip version of that. If you take a look at every single search, you realize that every single search is a personalized intent for a personalized ask of Google or of the search box. Because somebody has a need and they want a personalized response back and they want to personalize the answer. On top of it individuals may also have the exact same diagnosis. So maybe one woman has breast cancer diagnosis, the exact same one as another one. But these two individuals might be going about their searches completely differently.
One might live in a different location. One might have different types of needs or different types of care needs than the other one. And so they're searching differently. They might want to come to the same outcome, but every single search they're making to find information about their unique healthcare need needs to be addressed. And so when I talk about personalization, every, every element of personalization has to start with search. I like to talk about it in every single time somebody actually searches for something there is an opportunity and a unique opportunity to deliver on what it is that you might provide as a healthcare organization to deliver to that individual, a unique answer. And that therefore will fulfill a lot of different things. It'll help the patient find the information, but it'll also drive a lot better patient experience. Consumer experience. It will drive patient acquisition. There are so many things that if we could just tap into that individual search, it unfolds so much for the organization or for the providers who can deliver on that.
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And I was even thinking of the word experience as you were describing. But that can maybe be overwhelming for somebody that's trying to figure out, okay. Carrie, like that makes sense. But how do I start? So what would your advice be like? What's a good first step for an organization that's trying to get their arms around really controlling that consumer experience that starts at search.
It's very overwhelming. So I do acknowledge that. I would say that there are a couple of things that organizations can do. And the first is acknowledge that it's hard. Okay. Gotcha. Second is, do you have data?
And I, and I always start with the data. So do you have, for example, analytics data? Do you have data about what's happening on the website? Do you have data about how people are coming to the website? A lot of times we see over 80% of people are starting a healthcare search off your site. So if they're starting on a search engine, let's say Google, because that's the primary, the large one.
If they're starting there, can you actually track how many of those people have typed in a search query to get to your site? You can usually get that from a Google analytics or from Adobe analytics. So if you have that information, you have a really good starting point. But then people will say, okay, well, I have now thousands of rows of keywords and thousands of rows of search course.
Where do I start with that? I would say, just take a timeframe that is reasonable for you. Maybe take two weeks, the last two weeks. Maybe take the last month and just run that query data, like run that report and download it. And then just start to look at the top searches that are taken and you'll start to see trends.
You'll start to see that people are looking for things like pay my bill. They're still looking for things like cardiologists near me. They're definitely looking for primary care. You'll start to see you don't even have to dig into individual search queries. You'll just start to be able to eyeball what is actually going on.
That's a good place to start because then you'll start to see what people are gravitating toward on your site already. Then you can pull those, those categories out and you can drill down further and see if you actually can answer those individual search based queries when people are offsite. If you can great, if you can't, that's where you can start, you could talk to lots of different organizations about how to help with that.
But that's where you can start to think about what are some strategies just to get around some of those individual, let's say maybe it's primary care. Can you answer all the questions? If you can't then start building that primary care strategy to try to drive people into you to drive that patient experience.
But I would say start with the data. That is exactly what you can start immediately, but don't be overwhelmed by the data because it can look scary. But if you just parse it out, you should be fine. And don't do it one and done. Don't do it just once. Do it at a regular cadence because what I said before is search changes.
So from 2007, people searching for health care completely changed up until today. So you have to make sure that you have a discipline of taking a look at over and over and over again, just to make sure that you continue to follow the zeitgeists of what people are searching for.
Great advice. Thank you. You also recently talked about your predictions for healthcare in 2022. And one of those was that data interoperability will be more important than ever. And by itself, that's not incredibly provocative. Most people would agree, but maybe let's just dig a little bit deeper.
What are the ways that you predict that that importance is going to manifest itself. And what can organizations do to be ready for that and to kind of proactively take the steps they need.
Great question. I would say for ways that this could manifest itself, I would say what we saw over the last two years throughout the pandemic, there is this realization that a lot of different technologies didn't talk to one another. And that vastly impeded communications to patients communications between technologies, communications for clinicians, communications internally.
I mean, all sorts of different ways that data could connect to one another in order to access information. And what we're going to start seeing over the next year, maybe two years is that that will open. And there will be these new ways that organizations are going to be able to tap into the availability of data, both with internal connections, but also things like remote patient monitoring, even things like apple health or apple watch or other ways of actually accessing data and pushing data in and out of an organization to be able to more robustly understand the patient and the patient's experience within healthcare. So what we'll start to see is yes, there's going to be this connection point, but then there's also going to be a proliferation of opportunities where other organizations are going to come in and say, wow, we can now connect. Let's see if we can move data along so that it can better the the experience for both the provider, as well as the patient. The second part of your question though, is how can organizations prepare? This is where I feel like it's a little bit provocative for me to say, because you would know better internally in your role, but from the outside looking in, there maybe are a few things.
One is organization. And individuals need to have an open mind. Historically, what I see is that organizations have been very risk averse and very security minded for very good cause, but very risk preventing almost to ensure that the data can stay in one place and that it doesn't, it doesn't escape.
It doesn't get out. And that having an open mind and, and understanding the value case and the use for the movement of data is going to be very important. And there are some individuals I talked to who are very open to it. And then there are some who are very much not open to it. So I know that that's not necessarily a good recommendation of here are the three steps that you should take data points.
But the open-mind is a very important piece of that. So the second recommendation I have is organizations need to push back.
So what we found is that there are very, very, very large organizations, software platforms, whatever we might want to call it, electronic medical records, whatever we want to call it within healthcare organizations right now who are really embedded and they've built walls around their platform. And historically those walls have been very hard to knock down or to even build against.
And if healthcare organizations can start collectively pushing back to try to open up those walls or at least break down some of those walls, that's really the only way that these larger organizations are going to have to acquiesce, because if that doesn't happen, that data is always going to stay in one place. And it's not going to be very useful in other contexts where it needs to be useful and we need to be able to transfer and to actually have connectivity and communication. So maybe rise up might be what I would say. Rise up and stand up to just these different organizations who are saying, we're closing everything off and you have to, you have to go through hoops to access the data that rightfully should be your organization's data. It's not those organizations data. It is your organization's data. And at the end of the day, it's the patient data. Patients should be the owners potentially of that data because it is theirs. So rise up and have a voice and collectively see what can happen to actually make changes there because that data especially in electronic medical records, that data is so important. And there's not only data about the patients, but there's also data about the facilities and the locations and the providers and the billing codes. I mean, there's so many different elements of what that data could be used for to match people to the right doctor, to match location.
I mean, there's so much rich information that is being held behind a wall that without a collective campaign to try to break down those walls. I don't think that interoperability will really be that successful.
Yeah, that's well said. And just this idea of democratizing this data for the benefit of the consumer. And you're exactly right. That at the end of the day, we've got a, a growing savviness by consumers about data that, Hey, this is my data. I have prides to my data and it's going to be far better for organizations to get there ahead of the consumer in terms of advocating for the use of that data and getting it to where it needs to be versus having a revolt by the consumer who then feels like the organization, to your point, is also complicit in kind of building these walls and preventing access. So it's a, it's going to be an interesting year and beyond for sure. But I'm also excited about just the opportunities to, to improve and evolve what we do today.
Yeah, we finally have had an inflection point. So the pandemic, and I know you and I have talked about this a lot about if we have to say digital transformation one more time, but it really was an inflection point. So this is a really exciting time because we're starting to emerge. And now we have this opportunity to say, here's everything that we've learned over the last two years here are the things that worked well let's implement and then move forward and move forward faster. And that's a really exciting place to be.
Yep. And that is a perfect place to end our conversation. So I've been joined by Carrie Liken, Head of Industry for Healthcare at Yext. Carrie, always a delight to speak with you. Thank you so much for making time today.
Thank you. It's been great.
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