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February 14: Today on TownHall Linda Yang, CIO, talks with Dan Regalado, Chief Information Officer at Banfield Pet Hospital about utilizing data to improve pet health and employee retention. What is Dan’s perspective on the current state of pet healthcare technology? Why are they utilizing technology to improve the employee experience? How are they able to utilize over 20 years of data to improve pet health?

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Today on This Week Health.

every veterinary doctor who is looking for a job gets at least 12 to 18 offers. . how can we entice them to come work for Banfield because we have an amazing associate facing technology that will allow them just to focus on doing what they love most, as opposed to doing many manual jobs,  

Welcome to TownHall. A show hosted by leaders on the front lines with interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell, the creator of This Week Health, a set of channels dedicated to keeping health IT staff and engaged. For five years we've been making podcasts that amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. We want to thank our show partners, MEDITECH and Transcarent, for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders now onto our show.

Welcome to another Town Hall show. I am Linda Yang, and today I am honored to have Dan Reg Gelato as my guest. Dan is c i o of Banfield Hospital, where he leads technology to help empower a better world for our pets.

Yeah. Thank you Linda, and I'm very happy to be here. Thank you for thinking about me to guest in your show.

Yeah, just to add to that, probably a lot of people won't know, but Banfield Pet Hospital is actually part of Mars m and Ms. Snickers, and we have very big Pet care division and Banfield is part of that. In the US we have about 1100 hospitals and about 20,000 associates serving our clients, caring for our pets.

And yes, you nailed it. Our purpose is to make a better world for pets. And prior to that, Linda, I was with a global beauty and. Wellbeing retailer. For 20 years. 21 years. And that actually included an expat assignment in Switzerland, which I describe still as the best years of my career from a personal end career experience.

And then I was born and raised and educated in the Philippines, and I moved here in the US 23 years.

Great. Well, let's go ahead and jump right in. Dan. Dan, tell us what is your perspective on the current state of pet Healthcare Technology?

Yes, very interesting questions. And when I came into this industry from the outside a year and a half ago, my first impression was that my industry now, which is pet health, is probably tracking a decade behind human health.

And probably more years behind other industries such as retail, hospitality, travel, restaurant, et cetera. So, for example, there is currently no well adapted common EMRs like Epic or Cerner in pet health. But we are very proud of our own, which we built More than two decades ago. And allows us to do near real time record sharing across all of our hospitals, which is, that's a patented technology if you can imagine.

But we constantly think about how do we incrementally modernize. And also modernize the platform in a big way. We can't just move to a new platform because we would sacrifice the, the current experience and efficiency. So we have to be very mindful on how we do that. Having said that, though I see it as a very big opportunity for us to leapfrog to the.

current Technology age. And that is really around transforming the client experience in a digital way. How do we deliver better care by elevating the associate slash employee experience and allow them to practice at the top of their licenses? And lastly, leverage the data to elevate the care for our beloved pet.

Right. And so in the effort how, how are you engaging new customer experiences now in, into the future?

Yeah. I don't know where to start a, again, I was so excited to join seeing this massive opportunity, but we're heavily investing on digital transformation centered around. Pep parent and associate experience.

So we are very focused on this trifecta, whether it's how my team delivers support to the hospitals, how can we make them more efficient? How can we. Allow them to just do their job and we take care of the problems that they may have with their equipments, et cetera. So we're transforming that experience.

So that's the basic part. Our president, Manny Iyer, who also came from another global retailer is very big on hospital and client centricity, and he is definitely leading the charge on where we are focusing our investment from a technology perspective. Several areas of focus are around mobile app which our mobile app just got.

Major tech lift from Zamarin to React. Native Zamarin, as you know, was deprecated by Microsoft. So we had to move it to a leading edge platform, react native, and that allows us also to find the right talent for us to help build, rebuild it. From an experience perspective. So from that point of view, we're challenging ourselves in removing the friction from physical and digital experiences.

So around scheduling, check in, check out process, client communications, if you can believe it. We're still very much relying on phone calls. Our hospital associates are dialing patients and pet parents to remind them of their appointments. . We do have emails and texts, but we would like to really pivot to push notifications, which is currently being engineered so we can infuse that efficiency into our hospital workflow.

And let's be honest. Mm-hmm. customers like you and me probably prefer that way of engagement anyway, rather than dialing a phone number or receiving a phone call. In this process, we're also adapting experiences already out there. So as I mentioned, We're probably more than a decade behind on from retail and other industries.

So we're just stealing these experiences. Whether it's your flying experiences, your buy online pickup store how Amazon lets you know where your package is along the way. So things like that were, ingesting it into our, practice and seeing how relevant it could be for our customers.

And the good thing about this, or being behind even, is that we can just adapt this proven and loved experiences into our business. And we already know clients will love them. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So there are many other things. Scheduling, for example I'll end here. My industry, this industry, Suffering from lack of veterinary talents out there.

We can't hire enough of them. We're unable to, basically see the pets that we need to see today because we have a massive . Shortage of pets. So we're transforming our scheduling platform from being on-premise into the cloud, leveraging the data and analytics tools that our cloud provider has.

to squeeze out any more efficiencies in our scheduling platform that may allow us to see one more pet per day, just so we can help more of our clients and pets in the time of need. So that's, something that we're doing today as well. 📍

  📍 If you haven't heard yet, we're doing webinars a little differently this year. We got your feedback. You wanted community generated topics, not vendor generated topics. You wanted great contributing panelists. Definitely not product focused, more focused on the challenges and the problems that we are facing in healthcare.

We are only making these available live. So we are making them more dynamic in nature and we're doing them on a fairly consistent time, as much as we possibly can. The first Thursday of every month. The next webinar is going to be on March 9th. Which technically is not the first Thursday of every month, and I apologize for that, but I'm actually on vacation that day.

So March 9th is gonna be the webinar and we're gonna continue our leadership series. We're gonna be talking about the changing nature of work and a lot of things have changed. The pandemic drove us to work out of our homes. What does that mean? What does it look like? How are we making decisions?

Are we making data driven decisions on that? How are we maintaining culture? How are we hiring? Are we hiring differently? , and not only that, not only focusing on it and the roles there and the challenges there, but also on the challenges that our health systems are facing. The changing nature of work as we move into working at hospital, at home, , and some of these other care venues.

what does that look like? Addressing the staffing challenges in the clinical side as well as the administrative side. So, we are looking forward to having that conversation. Love to have you join us March 9th. Keep an eye out. We're gonna announce who the panelists are gonna be. I currently have my feelers out for some people, but you can count on the fact that we're gonna have great panelists.

We're gonna have a great discussion. You can sign up on our website this week, Top right hand. The cool thing about that is you could put your question right in there, and I give those questions to the panelists ahead of time and we make sure we integrate that into the discussion. So sign up today, hope to see you there. 📍


Right. , that's amazing work. And it's interesting you mentioned that in your world, there is a lack or.

a Need for more veterinarian talent, but we see that in human healthcare as well. Right? There's, also a continual need of the nurses and the doctors that provide care to the patients.

Absolutely. And Linda, you, hit a good point. One of the other things, when we talk about hospital and associate experiences, we're investing in the associate experience, as I mentioned, because we want to be the employer of choice.

So fact every veterinary doctor who is open and looking for a job gets at least 12 to 18 offers. . So how can we entice them to come work for Banfield because we have an amazing associate facing technology that will allow them just to focus on doing what they love most, which is caring for the pet as opposed to doing many manual jobs, et cetera.

So most of our focus are also spent on.


That's great. And it sounds like you are also doing a lot of work on modernization, digitizing, and in making the workflows more efficient, right? Absolutely. And so therefore, the veterinarian or the staff is able to really focus on caring for the pets. in that effort as you digitize and you collect more and more information, what kind of data is collected on pet health at your organiz?

From a pet perspective, we have data for them, such as breed weight, diagnosis, age, et cetera. We house hundreds of millions of pet data over the years of practicing, and it's all in our practice management system.

We have over two decades of them, and we leverage the insights from this data. With the help of our in-house veterinary expertise led by my friend and our chief Medical Officer, Dr. Molly McAlister. You can see this studies actually in our website and we partner with different organizations like A V M A to release.

What we find, what we learn from this data to help really with pet health, elevating pet health quality of medical. uh, Procedures, et cetera, that we deliver to the pet. So we have significant amount of data and we are just scratching the surface. on how we leverage them.

Right. , that is a huge amount of data. And same thing with in the human healthcare space, right? Our patient data is just astronomical.

Have you found anything that's interesting or just unexpected findings from your data scientists?

Yeah absolutely. From a data perspective, it is a very, very young from a maturity perspective, which means that we could go a.

lot Further with it. As I said, we have 20 plus years of data that is relevant to improve the quality of pet health. And similarly, from a customer experience perspective, we can just look at what human health is doing with the data so that we can actually. Improve the quality of care and personalize the experience of our clients based on that data.

Maybe I'll end here, and again, just to caveat, we don't have anything like this from a data perspective, but this industry as well. Is suffering from an imbalance, from a mental health and wellbeing perspective. So we pride ourselves with tools. and benefits that we provide to our associates to make sure that they are taking care of their mental health and health and wellbeing.

We have significant amount of investment that go into this. So we, look at it from a three perspective, healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy finances, and based on data. We can potentially look at the, ways we could help our associates to ensure that they are in, the healthy uh, part, right?

So that's something that we're thinking very early and we'll see where we can get from there.

That's great. All right. Well, Dan before we end our conversation, is there anything else you'd like to.

Yeah, I'd love to tell the story of how I met you first, which is actually at the Ascend Convention in Anaheim where thousands of Asian Pacific Islander colleagues attended and we shared the same.

Thing. And that is how do we navigate the complexities of being immigrants in the US to be successful in whatever it is that we're doing? How do we become part of something belonging and , I am proud of what we have accomplished, what we have been able to accomplish together. And also personally, I'm proud that I was able to impart that knowledge to many people.

And so many people are still reaching out on, getting advice. There is absolutely unlimited opportunity for us to be successful here. Regardless of where we came.

Most certainly. Right. And my attendance at the Ascend National Conference in Anaheim was my first, and it was a great experience.

And I met you along with just many wonderful professionals. Just like you stated. There is just an abundance of positive a positive attitude, great experience, and the theme of I belong, not only I belong at that organization. I belong at the table, I belong to make my voice heard and my opinions be spoken.

So yeah, it was a great experience and a good opportunity to meet you along with other leaders as well.

Absolutely. And I was thankful to meet you and get this opportunity to speak with you today.

Wonderful. All right, Dan. Well, it's a great conversation and we'll certainly have more in the future. But we'll end today's conversation and I appreciate your time.

Thank you, Linda, and thanks for having me.

  📍 gosh, I really love this show. I love hearing what workers and leaders on the front lines are doing, and we wanna thank our hosts who continue to support the community by developing this great content. If you wanna support This Week Health, the best way to do that is to let someone else know about our channels. Let them know you're listening to it and you are getting value. We have two channels This Week Health Conference and This Week Health Newsroom. You can check them out today. You can find them wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find 'em on our website this, and you can subscribe there as well. We also wanna thank our show partners, MEDITECH and Transcarent, for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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