This Week Health

Sarah Richardson on Creating a Staff Experience as Great as Your Customers

This Week Sarah Richardson stops by to share the insights and learnings around staff experience, digital transformation and we take a walk into the geek world of virtual desktops and what it might mean for Health IT. Hope you enjoy.

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.

 Welcome to this Week in Health It where we discuss the news, information and emerging thought with leaders from across the healthcare industry. My name is Bill Russell, recovering Healthcare, c I o and creator of this week it a set of podcasts and videos dedicated to training the next generation of we're digital transformation, windows Desktop ai.

And, uh, creating the best work experience for your staff. Maybe we'll get to all those things. It's an awful lot to get to. We'll see. Uh, this podcast is brought to you by Health lyrics. Wanna start your Health IT project on the right track. Wanna turn around a failing project? Let's talk. Visit health lyrics.com to schedule your free consultation.

Our guest today is the wonderful Sarah Richardson with Healthcare Partners at DaVita Medical Group. Uh, company. Good morning, Sarah, and welcome to the show. Hey, good morning, bill. Thanks for having me back. This is our third round of conversations on your show. Yeah. On, well, it's third round on art and on this show, but you're a professional podcaster and, uh, I'm actually on, on your show this month, although we recorded it sometime ago.

Yeah. We have to put a plugin for you. You are this month's featured guest on the HIM SoCal podcast, talking about a digital hurricane and how to forecast what's coming in the technology space. It's a great episode, so I encourage everybody. Listen to it on iTunes. Yeah, I, I stole some of Jonathan Man's, uh, material and we, uh, talked about it a little bit and actually it's not original with Jonathan either.

So , I guess we're all, we're all just taking material. You, you have a little different approach to you. Your podcast is a lot more polished than mine. I mean, you have, you have a video production crew. You, uh, have a studio where you record in, you've had, um, and, and it, it just, it has much more of a polished feel.

Is that by design? Have you, did you choose your format? I did. And the reason we did it that way is because as the SoCal chapter of himss, we have the largest membership in the US and we had to pick these big, meaty topics. And talk about one thing with the selected subject matter expert, really in the H I T industry to do that, and that all the intent was always to be about 25 to 30 minutes of consumable content for Southern California commuters.

Whether you're on the train, you're on the bus, you're in your car, et cetera. And so by diving into one subject, it was twofold. A. I, as the interviewer, have to really jump in and learn everything I can about what we're gonna talk about. And then I have to do all that prep time with that, that, uh, guest who's gonna be on the show aligning the topic, obviously with something that's of interest to our listeners, and it goes in the archive.

So it's about one big thing happening in the industry. Whereas what I love what you do is you're like, what's going on right now? Like, keeping us up to date and current and thinking about things that are happening. This is more of a holistic, almost learning approach to something that's. In the industry that people can kind of sink their teeth into and think about, and if they had to reach out to that speaker or myself or whomever, otherwise they have that platform to be able to do that.

Yeah. And, and, and my, my format is really informal conversations with, uh, with CIOs and industry influencers. And it was, it was also a conscious decision based on just, I mean, we, we sit around at these conferences and I, I, I just marvel at the. The great conversations we were able to have the, the meatiness of it and the topics we were able to talk about.

And, you know, the, the, the thought process was, man, if we could just turn on the recorder and play this back for my staff, that would be great. So that's, You know, um, and plus I'm not nearly as polished as you are, as people can tell from my appearance and appearance. Well, it's a lot harder to do what you do.

I think if I did produce something every single week, it would be, it would be the grabbing somebody and filming 'em and having that content be out there. And that's really important. And I've had people ask me, bill, like, Hey, can you make your podcast shorter create sound bites because we don't have time to listen for 25 minutes.

And I'm like, wow. Okay. I hadn't thought about. I, I was just sort of, I'm like, I don't know at this point, like I haven't thought about shortening it to be soundbites because it's really about a singular topic. It's like a mini vignette of going to like class and hearing from, you know, people like David Finn and Dr.

Anthony Chang and yourself. And it's like you get 25 minutes of their brain. It's pretty special. Um, And so I hadn't thought about parsing it out. So I think both for what's like, what is great is both formats work for our industry and the fact that all of us come together. And you mentioned John Manni.

He and I are co co-teaching at, uh, chimes Spring Bootcamp in Chicago next month. We're like so excited because we both have such a high energy level and we're teaching networking, um, in terms of like building a brand and creating relationships that we, we have to keep paring down our content because we have too much to share with the audience.

I can see that John, uh, just landed at, uh, Christus Yep. In Dallas, which is pretty exciting and, uh, look forward to seeing what he's gonna do there. So let's, uh, you know, actually I always start with the softball 'cause I never know what's, what's going on in your world. So, um, now what are you working on that you're excited about or that you're, that you think would be interesting to the, uh, to the listeners?

Sure. It's actually sort of partially one of the, one of the topics we touch on today as well. For, I believe most people know I have accepted a new role in my organization. So I've historically and probably since 2010, uh, been a, a regional c i o for one Fortune X company or another, primarily, really two.

And now that we are moving towards a close of, uh, Optum Care as part of healthcare Partners due to medical group, we are ever closer to that transaction being complete. And there was a need identified by our, our C I O, his name is Lamar. And he said, you know, we really need, uh, at your level, a individual who understands culture, the communication, the training, the um, The skills that are required for us to build a world class IT organization that is flexible and meeting the customers where they are and understanding how all the strategies connected, et cetera.

Would you be interested in taking on that role for the organization? And I said, absolutely. I, you know, me, I always, it's funny, I'm sure people ask really important questions, bill, like what's my comp, what's my future? What's this? All I said was, do I have to move? And he said no. And I'm like, I'm in. You know, the rest will figure itself out.

So I'm really grateful that we call the role it, um, VP management, um, VP of IT change management, which we chose that because it was it enough to be allowed for us to be very flexible in what we deliver. But it's more than just, uh, itil, which is a foundation of what it is we're going to be doing. But it's also, you know, the Prosci models and all of the different things that bring your organization together to really create.

So it's pretty exciting because I get to take everything I've ever done in my career and apply it to all levels of the organization. And so I tell people at some point, you get to do what you want and live where you want and work for the company that you want. And those are all really exciting things to line up because when all of your passions come together, it's really unstoppable.

And what you can create for an organization, man, that's really, that's exciting and that's an exciting role for you. And we could just, we could just start there. So you're, you're. The organization's pretty large. It's gonna be a couple thousand people, I assume. Mm-hmm. , and we talked about this before.

What's, yeah, what are the numbers? Once we close, uh, the Optum Care side of the business, we'll have essentially about 14 plus care delivery organizations with 2,500 to 3000 IT teammates. And we are anticipated to triple in size by 2025 as a business footprint, obviously support services, et cetera. So we'll just keep growing and getting bigger and delivering amazing patient care and quality and all the things that are important, uh, with a world class IT organization behind it to make sure that it can, it can be as seamless as, uh, possible.

And, and talent is so important. Um, uh, identifying the right talent, attracting the right talent, retaining the right talent, and in order to do that, one of the things you're, uh, you talk about a fair amount when we you come on the show is, uh, is really focusing in on the employee experience or the staff experience and how they're communicated with how they function within the organization.

Um, and, and some, one of the things we don't think about much is. You know, we're purveyors of change. We're constantly coming in and saying, Hey, let's do cloud. Let's upgrade the E M R, let's do this, let's do that. Um, but all those things actually impact the IT staff as well. And that's part of the job as well is, is helping them to navigate their careers and navigate all those changes.

So what do you, what do you envision, you know, some of the tools or some of the things that you're gonna bring to that role? So it's great question because recently there was just a, a fantastic research article, uh, written by Don Dionne Hinchcliffe from Constellation Research and his, his article was literally creating an employee experience.

As great as your customer experience. And for me, I think about that being really that digital space. When you think of how much time teammates spend on feeding work systems manually and cobbling together ad hoc experiences and going across dozens of apps and looking and digging through data, let's be honest, as as IT professionals, I.

We will live with the pain the longest and make it part of just the routine of how we work around it. So if we have mapping issues, if we have to go to multiple data sources to write reports, if heck, if our printer's broken, we tend to find a workaround rather than actually sometimes just digging and fix it because we're worried about fixing everybody else's needs first.

Which is why we're great servant leaders I think in it. But when you start thinking about the tools that come together, so you know, we're going to Office 365, which isn't new. I mean so many people have it, we're moving towards it, et cetera. But I think about how we integrate not only the Office 365 experience, but also start to bring some of those collaboration tools into place.

I realize that when you have the team rooms and you have the ability to engage teammates on their smartphones doing active pulse surveys for engagement, Thinking about how we do process completion, thinking about the whole lifecycle of a teammate when they come into the organization, how they can collaborate, how they can use tools, how they can manage remote workforces and work together.

Those are all those pieces. When we have like a dense and rich digital landscape, we can be that much more productive and it becomes a space where it's easy to do business within your own organization. We start with the Office 365 platform, we are gonna knock the heck outta that one, outta the park, every piece that's available, we're doing great collaboration with our Microsoft partners.

And then we start to use different tools within our teammate engagement surveys, whether it's pull surveys on your phone, other ways to just just check in and see how teammates are doing. You create an environment where that constant feedback loop is available because with any, any level of engagement, It's always about a point in time, but if you're always aware of what's happening in your organization, then you can quickly pivot to address the things, whether it's onboarding or promotions or allowing them to have a life event or are moving to a new, um, area of our business because they've been promoted.

You know, it's geographically they have to go somewhere. If you make all of those things seamless. And it's part of something that they want to promote and share with others as well. And I not only want this amazing team internally, but I want people to see us as a beacon of where they want to come and work.

So we're always attracting the best talent in. I, I appreciate you doing most of the talking since I'm sick and struggling to, to, to get through this podcast, but I, I wanna dive a little deeper on surveys. You, you, you mentioned it a couple times and I found it to be a really good tool to, to use. Um, what do you find to be, uh, really important about doing surveys?

'cause there's, there's a right way to do surveys and a wrong way to do surveys. And if you don't follow up on the feedback and, and provide, um mm-hmm. . You know, communication back to the organization as you're getting that feedback and how you're implementing it, um, that could be a big fail, even though you said, well, we did the surveys, but you still have to follow up.

So give us an idea of, of how you think about surveys, what kind of things you think are important to do, right. And some things to avoid. Sure. So every, most companies do the annual IT teammate engagement survey, whether they're using Gallup or Aon or Qualtrics or whomever. Pick a vendor, you do your giant survey.

You get your dashboards and results and here's the things you're good at and here's the things you're not good at, et cetera. That's well and good and it's important 'cause it gives you a pulse to where you are. But as I said earlier, it's a point in time and when you create these massive mobilization efforts around all the things that you found it, it gets stale very quickly because you don't have a way to measure it in between before the next annual survey.

So we've basically taken the, the three or four questions. We know are most important to the health and wellbeing of our teammates and asking them those every quarter and saying, you know, how are you doing? Do you like your job? You kind of miserable. Like, what's going on? And you know, are you getting what you need from your leadership team?

Are you getting what you need from a professional development perspective? Is there anything else we should be doing for you or know about? Taking all that information and then sharing it. And then we have a teammate appreciation group. We call them tag. Um, it's fun. We call it tag your it 'cause it's it and taking that information and saying, here's what we're hearing, what do we wanna do about it?

So it's real and it's actionable all of the time. So you're giving all the updates in between these surveys and sharing what's happening in the organization. And then you retest yourself or re uh, quiz yourself in about three or four months and say, did we make progress on these? And we're really get, it's, we just started this process and what's phenomenal is people are coming out of the woodwork and saying, it's this thing, it's that thing.

It's this one class that I wanna have, et cetera. So we're creating an environment of transparency. People are coming and sharing with us on a regular basis. I can't wait to launch all this into, into Microsoft Office, um, into Office 365 with either the team, the teams, rooms, or other things we have available because then it's.

Constant piece. Not, it's not a, a push and receive, it's a continuous process. But when, when people know you're honest about it, bill, there's a whole team dedicated to it. They start telling you what they really want. It's your job to do something about it. Yeah. It's, um, you know, I, I guess the question I want to ask you is, what's your favorite question?

I mean, one of the questions we asked in one of the surveys was, is it, is your role clear to you? Do you understand what your role is? Is it clear to you? And it was an 80 20 split, so there's 20% of the people coming in every day saying, I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing, or what my role is.

Well, that was a, that was a huge eye-opener for, for, uh, for me and for our management team to say, all right, we we're not doing a good enough job. If 20% of the people are coming in every day and not clear on what they should be doing, that's like, That's basic blocking and tackling. So we went about correcting that.

Is there a question that, that you ask that you're like, wow, this, this really gets to the, to the heart of it, or has really shown you something that, that surprised you? The question I like is, how am I feeling about my work? How am I feeling about my job today? I'm happy or I'm kind of miserable. And then ask and giving, having them give us feedback as to what is creating an environment where they wouldn't wanna come to work at any given particular time.

And you think about that because, you know what creates an environment where a teammate can do their best work or where they're gonna be happy. Um, and because it's anonymous, um, we, you know, we get a sense for it. But you know, the question is, how's the teammate doing at work instead of in general? And if they're, if they're happy, great.

And if they're not, they're gonna. Um, so I love that one. How are you feeling? You miserable, you happy? What can we do about it? Well, I'm miserable 'cause I'm sick, but Yeah. But I, I'm, I'm generally happy in my job. Uh, you know, the, the, um, other question I have always around this, and I think you're so good with your staff, is the reason I'm, I'm going deep with you on this question.

Yeah. Um, is, you know, most people leave organizations 'cause of their direct manager. Right. That we just know that to be true people, they might like love you as a C I O and they're, they're leaving from a certain department because their direct manager, uh, doesn't listen to them or whatever the characteristics are.

Um, what are you looking for in a manager and how do you identify, uh, ways to help those managers to, to, uh, make sure that they're, they're at a level that's, that's serving the organization well and serving their staff well. Yeah, it's an interesting approach because different philosophies on what makes a good manager.

And what happens in it very often is you have teammates who have risen through the ranks that are very technical, uh, versus being more teammate focused. And there's, there's two philosophies here. There's the, the need to create an environment where teammates can move up technically and they, or they can move up into the, into the management of teammate space.

You can do, they don't have to musically, initially exclusive. You can create competencies, uh, within a teammate that allow them to manage technology well or manage teammates well, and then they have a choice. So when you have two tracks of success, the thing is, if you're not managing teammates and having to have some of those more delicate conversations or be able to negotiate or read diplomatic, et cetera, you're still gonna have to have those conversations with vendors and customers.

And so the skillsets aren't that different. It's matter of what you wanna do with them. But one of the things that I, I believe is important is I always look for a level of curiosity when I'm bringing new teammates into the organization. So you know, the resume of like a technical calling card. Great. You know how to do all the things we need you to do.

I ask people things like, what do they do for fun? What are they reading, what are they curious about? How do they approach Situation X? And it's not typical things. I, I joke that we recently hired our communications manager and she's phenomenal. We hired her back in November. She started November. I asked her what she did for fun and she told me, um, baking was one of the things she likes to do.

And I'm like, what do you bake? And I tell people, she had said chocolate chip cookies. I wouldn't have hired her, but she makes lemon, lavender, poundcake. And I was like, you're hired. And it's um, it's the uniqueness and I want them to appropriately push the envelope. So I asked questions like, here is this stakeholders creating this environment?

What are you gonna do about it? I don't want a canned answer. I want that thoughtful approach. But there's two things I look for. If you can be authentic and you know how to communicate well, there's a good chance you're gonna succeed as a leader. Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's great. Uh, let's, let's get a little, uh, nerdy, geeky, whatever you wanna call it.

Um, Know, one of the topics that you sent over and I, and I like is, uh, one Windows Virtual Desktop. So, um, give us an idea of what's going on in that space. Uh, this is another one of those moves into the cloud that, uh, I think we're seeing from a lot of different angles now. Yeah. So I think about, let me think about the Trisha role of the, of the C I O or C T O or c D O and all these different, uh, teammates that really create the encompass office of the, the office of the C I O or the office of it.

We can't forget about what really is that foundational layer of infrastructure and operations like you never get away from it. It's probably where we all started as well. And the expense of it continues in a lot of ways to go up. So as we think about how we've moved things to the cloud or virtualization, there's always been this like ongoing cost of, of desktop and uh, some of that infrastructure.

So now that Windows Virtual desktop is, is in public preview and something you can partition through the cloud, you think about being able to bring the cost down of your security. Updates of how often you have to update your machines. Um, it's a huge benefit for Office 365 users. You know, I think it was last year when Microsoft bought FSS Logics to streamline application provisioning in a virtualized environment.

So they're starting to pick up all these pieces to make it so that, and I get, there's a one-to-one relationship in some of your clinical settings for the most part, when you can bring like single user Windows, seven virtual desktop infrastructure, windows 10 and, and remote server and Azure and all those things together.

Just allows you just put your money into other things like digital transformation and not have to always worry about some of the blocking and tackling. So it's pretty fun to see it and the cost reduction that can occur in that. Um, because you wanna drive down the cost of the things that are always gonna be a blocking and tackling mechanisms so you can reinvest those dollars in the big shiny things that we know we need to head towards, toward digital transformation and ai, which are actually really becoming things we can sink.

Yep. And, you know, I, I should get Microsoft to, uh, sponsor this show. Um, but , you know, uh, and so, you know, fair fairness on the other side, uh, at, at my previous employer, what we did was the, uh, Citrix environment. Mm-hmm. and every clinical workstation was a Citrix, uh, workstation. , uh, on, um, on thin clients. And the, the rationale was, was almost exactly what you're saying, which was, uh, at the time we had, uh, over 50% of our clinical workstations were end of life.

And so we had to replace a, a significant amount of 'em over a short period of time. And we were looking at first of all the overall cost, and then we were looking at the, um, Uh, you know, the lifecycle, right? And so if you're looking at a standard desktop and putting it out there, you can stretch it to four years, but nobody really wants to be on a five year.

Computer trying to do things, but a thin client, we actually could get eight to 10 years of lifecycle on it. Um, because it, because it's thin client, it's not a smart client, and all the processing and whatnot is being done in the, uh, in the central server farm. And we saw a significant increase in productivity.

Mm-hmm. drop in, uh, 'cause, you know, fixing some of these calls is pretty easy. It's resetting the virtual session. It, it's, um, you know, your techs aren't walking around with parts anymore. They're walking around with whole thin clients. Mm-hmm. . And if, for some odd reason, the thin client's the problem, they can replace that thin client in a couple of minutes and away they go.

But almost 98, 90 9% of those calls is something software related. But the challenge, as you sort of pointed out, is the cost of that backend infrastructure, the Citrix environment. Um, the Imprivado environment and building all that stuff out from scratch. This is the advantage that Microsoft may have in this space because they can do sort of an integrated approach.

And quite frankly, I think the, the, the biggest advantage that Microsoft has, I. Is they already have agreements with every health system and it just mm-hmm. , I mean, you know that agreement. You just sit there and you check a box and now all of a sudden you have, you know, windows Virtual Desktop and you have Azure and you have whatever, just by checking a box.

It's, uh, that sales approach makes it so much easier. Say, going out and, and building it from scratch with somebody else's technology. I'm not sure there's a question there. I was just sort of adding to what you were saying. No, it makes sense and you find that they're finally coming. I feel like they're starting to like, take all of their products and make them work well together.

They're starting to realize that they can't just be the the best one off, and they're starting to realize that. You know, you don't need to have extra licensing to this provisioning, and here's how we can make it work from a security perspective, and here's how you bring these pieces. Really connect them in a way that doesn't have sticker shock for all of us because so many of us Bill have been.

Condition to be willing to pay exorbitant fees for the best products. And we do that with our EMRs, et cetera. Then you get, you get partners like Impravada who come in and say, Hey, there's this great new technology in here. Here's how we're already in front of it and marrying it. So the, the best of the best are coming together and they're doing it with really the benefit of the end user in mind.

Um, everyone's making money, but I feel like I'm finally not like going to a gouging session when I'm having some of these conversations with some of my vendor partners. Yeah. And they really get the business now. It's, it's, uh, it's interesting. You walk around HIMSS and you stop into the floor and they talk about specific, uh, practices within healthcare and how they're going to, you know, help that you know, how they're gonna help oncology or health.

And it's, it's, the technical conversations are now getting to be very practical, which, which I appreciate. Speaking of that, um, So we have, uh, uh, you know, I, I think I, you and I have talked about digital transformation before, but there was a great conversation between, uh, Toby Cosgrove and Ed Marks mm-hmm.

uh, recently, and we've highlighted it on the, uh, on LinkedIn and other things from this week in health. It. And I figured you'd, you'd be a, uh, you know, ed would probably be the best person to talk to about it, but he's a little busy right now, so I, I figured the two of us could talk about it a little bit.

Um, you know, Toby had, uh, very pragmatic guy. A lot of very, uh, interesting things to say that I thought, um, that I thought were very practical to health. It. What, what are, what are some of the things around digital transformation that you really got out of the talk? What I really appreciated, and this is always like, I always put a leadership lens on first and you had highlighted this as well, is that you have to do your job than anybody else expects you to do it.

And you have to work for a great organization. And it's, it's interesting how many of my colleagues are, are pushing a rope in some cases and trying to get digital transformation out the door or saying, here's all these great things we're seeing and doing. When you get partnership from, from the top, and, and our leadership team just had their retreat this last week and they said, Hey, you know what, digital transformation is where we're gonna double down and on these specific topics.

And so once your, once your leadership teams and your executives get what that means, hey, this means we're gonna see 50%, 70%, 80% more patients through a digital experience, or we're gonna invest in bringing our portals together. We're gonna actually be very, very transparent in providing . Information to the patient, uh, and not block the data and make it easy for them to get what they need out of the portal.

Make it easy for them to transport the records, uh, and then increase that layer of transparency so they don't have to go and, and, and park their car and pay to park and, and wait in the ED if they needed that care. They can literally go to their smartphone bill, connect to their own healthcare organization and say, this is what I need you for today.

Triage it there, and then get to that next level or appropriate care setting. It's really that continued push to of consumerism and meeting patients where they are actually are creating and delivering technologies that are making that possible. And I love that when, and Ed and Toby talked about it, they, they've made it a, an absolute, everybody in Cleveland Clinic knows the push towards digital transformation and how to solve for that equation in that environment.

So it's not just somebody's random idea, it is collectively an organizational philosophy that they have developed. Yeah, and it's really hard. I, I love the, you know, push the rope, uh, kind of analogy. Um, if you're in an organization that's still struggling with. Digital transformation or if they're saying things like, yeah, we're not sure the cloud is secure, and you know, the cloud's as secure as your practices and policies and procedures allow it to be.

I mean, the tools are there to make it secure, um, and your willingness to make it secure, but not to get caught in that one, that one spot. If, if you're the only one in the organization saying, Hey, you know, we, uh, we might wanna get in front of tele visits, we might wanna get in front of telehealth, we might wanna get in front of other convenience type, uh, aspects and, uh, way finding and some other things that make the consumer experience, uh, better.

I still remember one of my first weeks I said the word consumer in a meeting and I was pulled aside and somebody said, yeah, you shouldn't use that word anymore. And I thought, Oh boy. That's not a good sign, . Well, because, because remember back in 2011 we weren't talking about the healthcare consumer. We were, but I was from outside of healthcare.

So I was, you know, I was sort of naive and I'm looking at it going, well, these people are consumers, right? They're, uh, we want them to choose us. And they just looked at me like, You know, they, they wanted to pat me on the head and say, you know, you don't get it yet, but someday you will. But in reality, what's happening today in 2019 is, uh, more and more people are, are recognizing that there is a healthcare, emerging healthcare consumer.

I wouldn't say that they have complete choice. Mm-hmm. , but there's a. But there's a, there's a drive towards it. You're seeing it with c m Ss, you're seeing it with the, the new rules. You're seeing it with new entrances into the market. Well, heck, you'll see it with your company. Uh, Kaiser does half of their, half of their visits now are virtual visits.

And, uh, so your competitors are starting to, uh, move the needle in terms of what people expect and what they, um, what they understand. Uh, Is possible now from a healthcare organization. And if all they have to do is experience that once, and you might say, well, where are they gonna experience it? Well, you know, I'm in Pennsylvania working with my parents and my, my, uh, in-laws on, on their health.

And I might experience it by helping them and go, wow, this is amazing. This is what I'm getting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Why can't I get this in Southern California? And so people have a lot of different outlets where they can experience different health systems. And that will cha continue to change their expectations of what's possible and what they should expect.

And I, I, I think that's, that's important to, to find that organization that, that matches your vision or at least one that you can influence that vision and push it. Not that it's a all on you, but that the organization feels like it's, it's heading in that direction. . Yeah. It's, um, you, some of this stuff is now table stakes.

Like to me, a video visit to see your P C P if you have strep throat at 10:00 PM on a Friday, it should be table stakes. Yeah. Yeah. It really, it, yeah, it really should be. And we get caught up in, uh, mostly operational items. It's not the technology items that's slowing us down in that, in that respect. You know, one of the things that Toby Cosgrove did talk about was AI and, um, he and Ed were talking about, you know, what's the one thing that you've seen that you think is really gonna impact healthcare?

And he said, a AI hands down is gonna change. I. So many aspects of, of healthcare. Where, where are you at on, on AI and what's, what's your current thinking and, and what, what are you telling your organization about it, you think? So AI gets, it's one of those things that becomes like the, it becomes so big.

It's the elephant, like how do you eat it? One bite at a time? And I'm like, Go after the things. I dunno if you're aware, there was the, uh, recent, um, summit Innovation Summit the Economist hosted, and they really talked about the, the components of AI that are poised to help healthcare in the easiest way.

So we always think about it like diagnosing the patient and. Know, did Watson go read five articles and spit out, you know, Hey, you should go take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Or is there ability to like, you know, cultivate millions and millions and millions of pieces of, of information and data and ask you thoughtful questions about helping to create your diagnosis?

Which is why no matter how. Advanced AI becomes, you're still gonna need that art of the physician to interpret and deliver the data and have a thoughtful conversation. When I think about ai, I mean there's that huge patient facing push, which is absolutely important. I, I want to know that, that if I am, have been hiking in Maine and I'm in Southern California and have all these weird.

Symptoms that the system's gonna be thoughtful enough to say, oh, well you were in this part of Maine and there's Lyme disease present in that, in that area. And maybe ask questions to help diagnose it, but let's use it for things that are like low hanging fruit. Let's use it for things like, these patients are gonna have a hard time paying their bills, or these patient patients are gonna have a hard time, uh, being medication adherent because of these factors in their life.

Appro approving access to emergency care based on, um, you know, rural areas or those, um, those critical access hospitals that are harder to get to in certain areas. But you're seeing a prevalence of these types of conditions. I mean, using it for the basic blocking and tackling, it doesn't have to be profound.

It can be like, these people are gonna have a hard time paying their bill and here's what we can do to help them ahead of time. That's where I like to see the emergence of ai, um, coming into, into healthcare. Um, At least, at least if no one knows where to start or if you had to like jump into it, those are some areas where it really can be beneficial to your org.

Yeah, I agree. I think there's a lot of, uh, operational areas to get quick wins. I. Um, before you go head over heels into the clinical area. 'cause you know, we, there is still a pushback on the, uh, clinical side until people get comfortable with it. And that's, that's true of any, any new technology. And I'm not sure, um, if we learned anything from the E M R.

It's, uh, including people in the decision, bringing them along, allowing them to, uh, speak into how the technology would best serve them. And, uh, getting those wins. But, you know, you talk about billing, um, and, uh, and some of those things are operationally focused and easily you could use machine learning and AI on top of machine learning to, uh, to really make, uh, your entire.

Revenue cycle team. Mm-hmm. and, uh, a lot of different areas. I, I always talk about security within it, if it wants to dabble with, with ai, there's a whole bunch of AI tools around security. I. If you want to talk about one area where AI can really help, it's, you know, it's, it's calling all those, those log files that you have.

It's, uh, identifying, uh, bad behaviors on the network. Mm-hmm. , because machines, uh, machine learning and AI doesn't sleep and we need to sleep. So, uh, it's, it's good to know that there's, there's, uh, tools out there that are constantly monitoring your network and. And identifying those, those, those areas. So that's, that's one of the areas I think we can get some quick wins.

Well, when I, when I talk about the clinical aspect of it, I mean like, while, you know, you can get some business, business quick wins out of ai. Because there's still the whole interoperability issue. Um, how you can push and help make a help, you know, make comments on the O N C and C M S rules, but we really create that environment for open data sharing.

That's where those biggest pieces of AI start to plug in for the true improvement of some of the patient care issues. You've gotta have access to that data, which has always been one of the issues we talk. I. From Azar and, and Verma, were talking about it at hims on stage to, okay, well now that the, there's new rules to improve it, what are some of the things that we can do?

And, um, that's where we, that's where we can make the biggest impact right now, is being, being aware of and involved in the decisions that are being made. Because I see that, I see those rules, and it's great. It's gonna affect like 125 million patients. But it's still Medicaid chip, um, ma qualified plans.

Um, there's that whole sector of America that's important. And I think, what about me? Like what about people like you and me, like we're still using regular public commercial healthcare and having that same availability of that information for, for us too, because we're not in a government sponsor program right now.

Yep, absolutely. Well, next week is the Health Datapalooza in uh, DC which is a great event. We'll learn. Um, a lot of, uh, what's going on around interoperability and what the, uh, uh, c m s enhancements and, and, uh, rule changes have really done for us. Uh, Sarah, as always, it's great having you on the show. Thank you.

Uh, thank you for coming on. Uh, best way for people to follow you. Uh, That's way to follow me is LinkedIn super active there, Sarah Richardson. And then, uh, for Twitter is Act Concierge leader. Concierge leader. Absolutely. Um, this shows, uh, is a production of this week in Health It. For more great content, you can check out the website at this week in health it.com or the YouTube channel at this week in health it.com/video.

Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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