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      Tech R' Us... Now for Providers

      Healthcare Rethink - Episode 62

      What does this tech evolution mean for the future of patient care? How are healthcare professionals balancing high-tech tools with human-centered care? These are the core questions explored in the latest episode of the "Healthcare Rethink Podcast," hosted by Brian Urban. Guest Lisa Blue, the Chief Clinical Officer at Provider Tech, offers a unique perspective on this intersection of technology and patient-centric care.



       

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      Brian Urban:                                           
      Yes, this is the Healthcare Rethink podcast. I'm your host, Brian Urban, and today joining us is Lisa Blue, the Chief Clinical Officer of Providertech. Lisa, thank you for joining our little show.

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Thanks so much for having me. I'm glad to be here.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      This is going to be a lot of fun because we haven't had too much time to connect and get to know each other before this session here. So we're going to do it live during our conversation, and with each episode, we love to have our audience get familiar with our guests. So let's go back before the executive chief title, who is Lisa Blue? How did you get into your work with Providertech? How did you get started in your nursing career? Why? Take us through it?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Yeah, nursing is something that I really... I headed down the path of clinical work because I love science and I love people. So it seemed really obvious those pieces would be present in that work. And so I was really fortunate to do direct patient care for a lot of years, and that has really informed the work that I've done in more recent years, from the last program that I developed in my last company, where I actually met Providertech. I was a Providertech customer before I worked with them.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Oh. They won you over. Okay.

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Yes, exactly. So they were a very new startup at the time. I was developing a population health, really, model of care for a large federally qualified health center here in the Phoenix area where I'm located. And we needed tools, we needed tools to be able to communicate with our patients. And so I was introduced to Providertech at that time and I really started using them in a small pilot group, and then we expanded from there. And now I'm fortunate to get to do that work with our clients from the other direction.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Very cool. I did not know that tidbit in your timeline professionally, so that's very cool to know. And obviously, it speaks very well to Providertech, in terms of not only the service they provided but the value. And you recognize that, and so you came over to that team, so that's very nice. So Lisa, I think it's safe to say that you're an emerging leader in technology, especially in technology facing those that deliver care. So I'm curious about the trends that you see, and maybe you've seen, even pre-pandemic here, about what providers are hungry for in terms of technology that is helping them be able to see more of their patients outside of their traditional four walls or the healthcare setting that they're maybe giving services or healthcare to. What are you seeing in the market? What have you been seeing?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Well, I think it's important to always keep telehealth at the forefront of conversation when we're talking about technology. The pandemic certainly helped really accelerate the adoption of that. And I think that becomes really important, both from the providers and the patient's perspective. All of us as patients, as consumers, we've changed and how we want to engage with our providers, how we want that to be more accessible, whether it's a telehealth visit, sometimes even a conversation. Of course, there are times that you still need to be in front of your provider and have an actual clinical assessment, but for the times that that is not the case, having the accessibility that telehealth provides, I think, is something that is really exciting.
                                                             
      As a clinician, I think that's very exciting really, and as a patient, to have that kind of access to care. We really have done a lot of work. I mentioned, I came from a federally qualified health center and we have worked with a lot of clients in that space, so public health, community health, and so they're really serving patients that have difficulties with access to care. And so from my perspective as a clinician, that's really exciting that that helps narrow that gap a bit to really even patients that have profound challenges and barriers to accessing care. Telehealth helped make it a bit more accessible. A lot more accessible, actually. So I think telehealth is something that we need to keep on the list.
                                                             
      I think there are big, exciting technology things that we're all talking about and trends that we need to be talking about. Certainly, generative AI is out there and it's something every industry is talking about, but it's important to talk about that in healthcare because there is interest and curiosity and desire to adopt some of these things. But I think people, like any new technology, still have some apprehension. And so it's important to start to really evaluate, where are the greatest opportunities? When we're talking about, where are those high value communications that happen between a patient and their provider, or a patient and someone on that care team, and which of those communications are more rote, or more sort of going through the motions? And where can we maximize using tools like that to decrease some of those rote or manual communications? So I think things like generative AI are really exciting.
                                                             
      We were actually just talking about this today, when we started doing text messaging for when I was in that last job, the last role, it was very outside of the box to message patients, which now of course it's very normal. Every patient has received different communications from their providers, even if it's just a reminder that it's time for your next well visit. So I think that that is just a really interesting thing to look back on. Less than 10 years ago, we thought that about text messaging. And so thinking about generative AI, and where does it have a place? And it has a lot of places in healthcare.
                                                             
      One other thing though that I do want to mention, while we think about these really big, sexy things... And we need to, we need to keep them at the forefront and be mindful of where they fit in, there's so many opportunities in healthcare that exist to use basic tools to improve communication. And this is something that providers and their teams want, this is something that patients want. And so I think it's really important to keep the proverbial low-hanging fruit close and continue to chip away at that while we look at the bigger overarching opportunities in tech.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I like your perspective on how it was probably so taboo as a clinician to text message a patient, then you fast-forward it, that's the expectation. And mixed in with other uncertainty too, because healthcare is very vulnerable to scam through spam, and I think there's going to be another big adoption leap with security there. But also I love your perspective in terms of having the patient touch and the patient voice being involved, and what digital modality is preferred with their provider as well.
                                                             
      So you've seen a lot. It's really interesting, especially in your federally qualified health center days, looking at socioeconomically vulnerable populations and at the individual level, how difficult it can be to get engaged and communicate effectively. Pre-post visit has probably been a challenge for a very long time in that space. I want to get back to that in a moment, but I first want to get into Providertech. I would be remiss if we didn't even get into your organization a little bit deeper here. So let's talk Providertech. Who are you today and what's the impact that you're making right now? Let's talk a little bit more Providertech.

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Okay, yeah. So we are a healthcare communication company. We have a very robust SaaS platform that our end users, our clients, the healthcare providers and their teams are using to communicate with their patients. The thing that makes Providertech unique and why I'm here, why I started using them all those years ago, is while we do have a SaaS platform, we have a clinical expertise model that supports that. So we're really always overlaying the strategy. It's never just about sending a message. If it was, everybody would be doing that and having success, but that's not the case. So it's really important to have people that understand not only different conditions but different populations, as you mentioned. So when we're talking about a younger population versus older, different socioeconomic statuses, how to communicate with them differently. And so there's a lot of different variables in terms of successful engagement.
                                                             
      And so we work with our clients to really help understand what are their priorities in their engaging their patients and supporting their patients towards wellness. And we help them build out a plan. We most commonly use text messaging because that is... Really, the data shows, that's the preference in terms of patients, but we do have other modalities available if patients prefer to communicate with their provider teams differently. But predominantly that's what we use, at least to start the conversation. We talk about sometimes there's a more sensitive communication that maybe a patient has questions about, maybe it's a cancer screening that maybe they're afraid of, or they don't have any symptoms, so they didn't really see the value. Using text messaging is a great way to even start the conversation, right? "I'd love to have a conversation with you about a really important screening. Can we set up some time to have a quick conversation this afternoon or tomorrow? Let me know what works best." And so it gives the patient the control to still decide when and how they want to communicate and it creates that opportunity.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      I think that's really nice because something, as you're explaining this, I thought of was as text being the main form of communication here, it naturally filters out awkwardness or hesitancy, probably on both ends, and gets to a really nice place of preference sensitive care for the patient. And I think your adoption of this has probably been through the roof and it's probably been more of a standard now, if anything. And I'm really curious, from your nursing background, so nurse by background, how much has that perspective in your experience the bedside helped you now as a chief clinical officer in a tech organization?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      It is really helped tremendously because I've been at the same perspective that our clients are. I have been there in needing the tools that they need to effectively communicate with their patients. And so because I've had that experience... In a variety of different settings, I've worked at the bedside at the hospital, I've worked in procedural areas, I've worked in the FQHC. And so having that vast experience of where the patients are and what those communications needs are at those different points has really helped me, one, helped... I always say that I'm a translator, so I work with our clinical clients and then I can translate to our technical team, "This is the problem we want to solve for." And I think that's really important because sometimes maybe, as a clinician, I have an idea that I think is the idea, but I might have a dev resource that has a much simpler path to that.
                                                             
      And so really trying... We work with our clients to break down what are those challenges. And because I have that experience, I can speak the language, I can understand those challenges, and so it builds trust and credibility with them. I also think the thing that having my clinical background really, really helps is, one, I've had that experience with patients and so I can sort of anticipate what some of those challenges are communicating with them. But I also think that, as it relates to tech specifically, we've all... I always talk about this when I'm meeting with new clients, that we've all seen a demo of something. It doesn't matter of what it is, but it looks amazing and it's going to change your life. Maybe not that dramatically, but it seems fantastic. It seems like this workflow is going to make your day-to-day so much easier.
                                                             
      And then maybe you're part of one discussion point in the organization and then later it does get adopted, it's purchased, it's implemented, and it looks very different. Maybe it's a different version than the one you saw on demo or maybe the support doesn't exist. And so I think that that causes a lot of frustration because you had these very high hopes of what this could do, and then you get this additional tool to manage. And so we always talk about that, that our model is not only just during the implementation, we're understanding, what's your problem and what is the tool that's going to help minimize that, but how do we continue to support you? So meeting with our clients quarterly ongoing and evaluating what's working, what's not working, and how do we continue to modify that to best support their needs.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      I think it's really helpful for that breakdown because a lot has changed in the medical practitioner field over the past decade, decade plus. Arguably, the milestone in our healthcare society, having the most recent global pandemic, COVID-19. So going back even before that though, in your nursing days, in your frontline bedside days, can you just walk me through the tech evolution that you experienced over that timeframe? And then I want to kind of start to look ahead a little bit too, but can you have imagined how fast things changed from maybe bed flow software that's very basic to now a lot of very complicated data exchange, care coordination software, cloud based. Can you just take me through that from a historical perspective?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Yeah, it's such an interesting thought. I think oftentimes we focus on what's right in front of us, but when I do think back, I was in nursing when nothing was electronic. There was actual physical charts. And so the leap in one's career from that to where we are today is really quite unbelievable to imagine. If somebody would've said 25 years ago when I was a new nurse that it was going to look like this, that would've been unimaginable. And so I think that even in my last clinical role, I think about some of the things we did and... Very well-intentioned, right?
                                                             
      I worked at a procedural area where we did cardiac procedures. And so patients, maybe they had the adverse factors, they had a positive stress test and they would have an angiogram to see if they had any blockages. And if they didn't require an intervention such as a stent that would require an overnight stay, we would monitor them, monitor their arterial site, and then send them home later that day. And while we gave them a lot of education at the bedside, we sent them home with this entire folder of information. And I chuckle about that now. Again, so well-intentioned but when you think about the patient experience there, that is so overwhelming. You've just had a procedure, you're trying to figure... You're maybe still sedated. Your family's worried about you. Nobody is in a place to learn a lot at this time.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Take homework back home, yeah.

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      And so I always joke, I'm like, "We used to give our patients novels. Here you go, here's some light reading." And when I think of the way Providertech supports our clients now, we can send them the more succinct and relevant information that is appropriate to them. So taking that same patient that just had an angiogram, the most important thing, really, is the arterial site and safety related to that, in the immediate short term. And so making sure they understand what should be happening there, what that site should feel like, look like, all of those things, those are check-ins that can be done via text message and we can give them little bites of information that are much more consumable. Now, what you're really doing there is not only give them the information that they need, but you're really creating more of a partnership that I think you get a lot more buy in.
                                                             
      So I think, if I can say what's really changed, it's healthcare is focused on the patient experience. We've been more cognizant of, how does this impact the patient? Now, we have a long way to go. We certainly have plenty of work that we could still do, but I think even just thinking about that, that was really a patient experience perspective, by sending them a whole novel to read, that's not really improving their care or their experience with the procedure. But if we can communicate to them timely and give them bits of information that are relevant to their care, then you have a much more engaged and well-informed patient.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      And you hit it on the head. I think healthcare in and of itself has been so patient profit and process-focused for such a long time, and rightfully so because of a lot of reasons, unforeseen events happening, cybersecurity now, legal, so many different malpractice-based lawsuits or infringement on data information lawsuits as well. So I think a lot of that stuff was the legal foundation, but now it being more person-focused and tech being so wrapped around the experience, it's evolved so much. So thank you for taking us through that little historical journey from your eyes, and a very good example as well that you laid out there. So I want to get your perspective and Providertech's perspective on data, your philosophy of data, because now whoever has a credible, well-maintained source of data, whether it's contact information, clinical, socioeconomic data, finance, they're able to not only put algorithms together, but service an individual in a more of a real time meaningful fashion. So it's a huge exploding space now, aside from platforms and device. So what is Providertech's philosophy on data right now? Or what are you looking at in terms of data?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Yeah, I think it's such a really important discussion. Because of security concerns, often the HIPAA guidelines are to share the least amount of data that is required to perform the care or to, in this case, engage the patient. And while I certainly understand those parameters, the opportunity or the value of looking more holistically at data really provides such tremendous insight for a couple of reasons. So when you're looking at the data of, let's just say a population in organization or even across the state, it really gives you insights on the similarities of those populations and how you can leverage things like population health to really support those populations. But it also gives you insight into those differences. So it's really sort of that one-two punch, where can you really look across the population and leverage tools in the population health space, but then how do you take that same data and flip it from the other direction and provide that more person-focused care?
                                                             
      And so I think that's what having access to... More broadly, looking at the patient, the patient medical history, the patient movement, all of that tells a really important story in how involved they are in their care or not. Where, how... Are they struggling? Have they had multiple ED visits? All of that really tells an important story, but it's also important to be able to manage that. This is in my last role, we started working with a health information exchange that we're really excited to have visibility into all of this, but then what we found was a little bit like drinking from a fire hose because every time the patient moved, they went from the waiting room to the ED room, to the ED, to the observation, observation to inpatient. We got a notification. And so being mindful about how that is prepared also. So the wrapper around that data is really important as well.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Very interesting perspective, and I think the horizon in terms of your leadership at Providertech is very bright. I'm excited to continue to see how you all expand and innovate. And on that note, I'm really interested, Lisa, we look ahead five years. What do you think Providertech's biggest contribution to the healthcare ecosystem will be? Or what will Providertech maybe turn into five years from now?

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      I think it's so exciting to think about that, and I think data is going to be a big part of that. And so I think the SaaS platform and patient engagement is really what we will continue to arm healthcare providers with, those tools that they can really communicate with their patients in the way that feels most effective, but to allow them to spend the majority of time with providing care, with the patients that are in front of them. And so we will continue to innovate our tools that will allow those care teams to really maximize the roles that they do have. When we are talking about provider shortages and that kind of communication that maybe some people think is provider specific, it's important to leverage other roles among that clinical care team to communicate with the patient and provide that support and that great experience that we already referenced.
                                                             
      I think the other thing that is going to really be front and center in Providertech and really the healthcare system is really how do we take that data and turn that into really augmented analytics? So we have a lot of information, but how do we use that data to provide insights, actionable insights, right? We do some of that in healthcare, but having that visibility to data is what really drives change and drives quality improvements. And so Providertech will be an active participant with our clients to really hone and develop those tools so they know how to most effectively engage their patients, identify those who need more support or less support. Certainly, it's never been a one-size-fits-all, but this data helps us tell more of a story of what individual patients' needs are as it relates to communication. So that's where I really see Providertech continuing to expand and hone and get laser-focused on.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      I love that, more precise Providertech. I think we think about precision medicine, we're thinking about precision tech here related to healthcare delivery, especially that relationship patient to provider, just so critical in how things get navigated downstream. I loved getting to know you a little bit deeper today here, Lisa Blue. Thank you so much for joining our little show. This has been a pleasure.

      Lisa Blue:                                             
      Absolutely. It's been so fun to talk to you and very exciting to think about what's coming in the future for all of us. Right?

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Right. Well, Chief Clinical Officer, Lisa Blue of Providertech, it's been so much fun. I feel follow up coming on. And for more exciting insights and excerpts, please visit us at finthrive.com.

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