Why Automation Matters in Healthcare

State of the Industry Research Review

Aug 18, 2021 12:30 PM1:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Every healthcare organization is focused on delivering optimal care today while figuring out how to stay relevant for the future. How do they balance those two needs?

Healthcare industry experts Paul Wood, Megan Pruce, and Tom Hileman say learning to integrate automation within your organization is essential. Automation can help with bookkeeping, scheduling, billing payments, and patient data management for the employees. On the customer side, it can help with billing, filing claims, and personalizing their experience on your website. According to one study, 80% of respondents said that automation efforts are having a discernible positive impact on provider cost of care.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Megan Pruce from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Paul Wood from Cohen Veterans Group, and Tom Hileman from Hileman Group, to discuss why automation matters in healthcare. They talk about strategies for implementing automation into your organization, how automation can help you personalize your patient’s experience, and how they find time within their teams to advance those initiatives.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:


  • Megan Pruce discusses how the pandemic sped up the integration of automation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Paul Wood explains how telehealth adoption jumped to 98% almost overnight for Cohen Veterans Group
  • Tom Hileman describes which trends became a priority for Hileman Group during the pandemic
  • How do you build user-friendly front-end digital interactions for customers while maintaining the proper back-end systems for the business?
  • Strategies for incorporating automation into your healthcare organization
  • Where do you find time on your team to advance these initiatives?
  • What are the most significant benefits of implementing automation?
  • Megan, Paul, and Tom share which KPIs they track
  • What roadblocks do organizations run into when implementing automation?
  • Advice for change management and user adoption
  • Which automations do Megan, Paul, and Tom consider essential?
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Guest Speakers

Tom Hileman LinkedIn

Managing Partner, Digital at Global Prairie

Tom Hileman is the Managing Partner of Digital at Global Prairie, an award-winning digital marketing agency that delivers high-touch, data-driven marketing solutions for leading healthcare organizations nationwide. With more than 25 years of multi-industry experience, he leverages strategic insights, measurable engagement tactics and technology to drive business growth and success. Tom has spoken at HCIC, HMPS, World Congress, SHSMD, Adobe, and other healthcare and technology events.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Megan Pruce

Vice President, Business Engagement Strategies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Megan Pruce is the Vice President of Business Engagement Strategies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Megan leads a team that supports the medical center’s marketing, communications, engagement, and growth-related initiatives as it works to transform its model of care and deliver innovative solutions to the B2B2C market. Previously, she was the Vice President at ReviveHealth, a Weber Shandwick company, the Corporate Communications Director at the Cleveland Clinic, and the Communications Supervisor for American Greetings.

Paul Wood LinkedIn

Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at Cohen Veterans Network

Paul Wood is the Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at Cohen Veterans Network. Cohen Veterans Network is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for post-9/11 veterans and their families. Paul is responsible for setting the overall communications strategy for Cohen Veterans Network and oversees internal and external communications, brand management, national marketing, and more. Previously, Paul was a Partner and Client Leader at Ketchum, Partner and Managing Director at PainePR, and the Vice President and Group Manager at Burson-Marsteller.

Event Moderator

Tom Hileman LinkedIn

Managing Partner, Digital at Global Prairie

Tom Hileman is the Managing Partner of Digital at Global Prairie, an award-winning digital marketing agency that delivers high-touch, data-driven marketing solutions for leading healthcare organizations nationwide. With more than 25 years of multi-industry experience, he leverages strategic insights, measurable engagement tactics and technology to drive business growth and success. Tom has spoken at HCIC, HMPS, World Congress, SHSMD, Adobe, and other healthcare and technology events.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Megan Pruce

Vice President, Business Engagement Strategies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Megan Pruce is the Vice President of Business Engagement Strategies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Megan leads a team that supports the medical center’s marketing, communications, engagement, and growth-related initiatives as it works to transform its model of care and deliver innovative solutions to the B2B2C market. Previously, she was the Vice President at ReviveHealth, a Weber Shandwick company, the Corporate Communications Director at the Cleveland Clinic, and the Communications Supervisor for American Greetings.

Paul Wood LinkedIn

Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at Cohen Veterans Network

Paul Wood is the Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at Cohen Veterans Network. Cohen Veterans Network is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for post-9/11 veterans and their families. Paul is responsible for setting the overall communications strategy for Cohen Veterans Network and oversees internal and external communications, brand management, national marketing, and more. Previously, Paul was a Partner and Client Leader at Ketchum, Partner and Managing Director at PainePR, and the Vice President and Group Manager at Burson-Marsteller.

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Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Wednesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect where networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of organizations that that do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends and strategies, a lot going on in the digital landscape right now. So we'll host close to 200 virtual events like this every year. So don't ever hesitate to reach out if you ever want to have a conversation or anything in the digital space whatsoever. While we're talking, there's different organizations when the same topics come up over and over again, that's how we get to a topic like this is enough people said, Hey, it would be great to understand a little bit more across the network, kind of get a gauge a temperature check on where everybody else is that in comparison, because a lot of times it's hard to get all those interpersonal one on one connections. And so a couple housekeeping items, as we kick this off, though, you know, as I noted, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour, and we're going to wrap or I should say after the after 1230. So 1234. Here, we're also going to wrap up with about three to four minutes to go in this hour long session as a whole. So Ron 126 127, eastern time, we'll, we'll be hanging up and allow you to get to the next meeting without being late. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to drop them into the question section there. We want this to be as educational and informational as possible, drop in the question section. Or you can always email me Aaron, a-a-r-o-n at BWGConnect dot com. And we will we'll handle questions that way as well. And with that, I'm gonna go ahead and kick it off. So as I noted, talking with 30 or 40 organizations a week, I don't think anybody is surprised that huge interest in digital and automation around health care as a whole. So we're all know we're in the middle of a pandemic seem to go in one way and delta variant pops up. And now it's back. It's at a top, it's at the top of a lot of organizations minds a whole is how do we become more efficient? You know, Where's everybody else at? Where should it be in my timeline as a whole. And so we got some great friends, great partners, great supporters of the network, they agreed to jump on the line today and kind of share thoughts as a whole. But we also did a survey across over 100 different organizations, we're going to be able to pour through that for the first five minutes here and give you some real data around, Hey, where's the industry as a whole. But before we kind of jump into it, I'll kind of go around robin here. You know, Megan, if you want to jump in and brief intro on yourself, organization would be great. And we'll jump to Paul and we jump to Tom and then we'll kind of get into some of the data. And then we'll open it up to kind of a candid conversation and q&a. Sounds good.

Megan Pruce 2:49

Sounds great. I'm Megan Pruce. I'm a Vice President in the Marketing and Engagement Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. I've been here five years. And prior to that I was in a number of different healthcare organizations, including Cleveland Clinic. My role is I lead a team of marketing and communications professionals who are specifically pointed at new models of care, new sources of revenue, and new innovations coming out of the medical center. And a lot of that is focused on revenue diversification. But of course, we also still have our traditional healthcare service line marketing business as well as part of our department.

Aaron Conant 3:36

Awesome, Paul. He do?

Paul Wood 3:38

Yeah, thanks, sir. So I'm Paul Wood, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at an organization called Cohen veterans network. And Cohen Veterans Network is a nonprofit, clinically integrated mental health system. We focus our care on Veterans, military families, and also active duty members who, you know, endure quite a bit of stress. Obviously, with a lot of Afghanistan. Emotions are running high right now. We operate 19 clinics around the country and we offer low to no cost mental health care.

Tom Hileman 4:13

Awesome, Tom. Thanks and appreciate Tom Hileman with Hileman group. We're a healthcare marketing agency that helps healthcare organizations like BMC and Cohen's connect with patients and providers, and deeply involved in the kind of digital transformation of healthcare organizations as well. Thanks, Aaron.

Aaron Conant 4:33

Yeah, absolutely. So let's pour through some of this data. So we partnered with Adobe and Hileman Group to go out and pull in kind of get a deeper understanding across the landscape as a whole. And so we'll kind of walk through some of this data, just to kind of baseline the conversation as a whole so that we get a copy of these report to people afterwards if you want to reach out more than happy to share what what we've kind of gathered here as a whole, but essentially, you know, sort of Over 100 different organizations, we tried to target more of an executive team, a strategic leadership team, people were there in those decision making positions. And we're how they're viewing the the landscape as a whole. You can see we're kind of biased above 500 employees, organizations as a whole, you know, over 50% hospitals, but also have a lot of different service providers out there as well. If we kind of jump into one of the we're, where do people feel like they're at right now as a whole? And it's really interesting, some of the conversation we'll have is, you know, people view themselves as, hey, right now about top of the fourth. So in the thick of it, not an endgame strategy, but middle of the road strategy right now. You know, kind of feeling if you pull Somali, maybe that's a little bit optimistic, which is really cool. But still early, early in the maturity phase, but maturing rapidly, you know, where do people feel like they're at as a whole, and you can see it on here, kind of 42% believe that they're in line with expectations are where they should be, you have 30, or 35, or slightly below. So it's interesting, you know, I think that's why they said top of the fourth, and not top of the fifth is this, they're kind of balancing that, you know, automation initiatives paced in line with in line with or behind expectation expectation for 77% of participants until 2021, which kind of takes us to another takeaway that we had here is, you know, there's kind of this inflection point, you know, what happened midway, you know, through this year as a whole, and I think a lot of that is when, when COVID hit, everybody was forced to reevaluate where they were at and what their focus was and where they want to be. And, and I think there's a lot of initiative is kind of like some of the feedback that we got a whole new set of initiatives that were high priority and put into place. So you know, just some bullet points here, 83% of respondents believe that automation will be considered a high priority by the end of next year. So that that kind of that inflection point. And then kind of key areas of automation focused on you know, kind of those those mainstays on the back end. You know, bookkeeping, scheduling, billing payments, patient data management. And so I'm just gonna keep rolling through this. So we can get to the discussion point, if we look at this one from kind of the bottom up, where is automation having an immediate benefit, and so most of the green there, so it's thicker at the bottom. So cost of care, billing and filing claims, really, really unique, like physician utilization, and I'll put a big focus on making doctors more effective with the time they have. And then patient satisfaction, those are two neat things that show up right in the heart there. You know, and then at the top, which is really interesting, and I think that trend will change is the sales and marketing productivity piece is kind of, you know, on the where it's having less of an impact. And I don't know if that's just like the focus, that's something I think we can get into a little bit today as well. 80% of respondents claim that automation efforts are having a discernible positive impact on provider cost of care. That was, I think that's a great, great story to tell us a whole. Next one, just as we jump on to stages of adoption, so key automation efforts as a whole. You know, you don't see anybody surprised, like physical robotics didn't show up at the top of the list here, right, where we're focusing on, you know, it process automation, you know, that business, you know, business process, you know, analytics, everything that's happening there. Two thirds of respondents are at a minimum experimenting with in house AI and machine learning, which is, is just incredible. I think I wish we'd almost done this 18 months ago to see how much it had to flip. But that was a key takeaway from there as well.

And with that, I think, you know, we kind of set the baseline for the discussion as a whole. And once again, if anybody wants more data, you know, you want to copy this report, more than happy to share it with you. But, you know, we we kind of jump into this q&a session, and I want to kind of kick it off with with Megan and Paul. So Megan, I'll kind of go to you first. So what accelerated, you know, for you. So if I if I have a quick bullet point that I had written down here, automation was already in focus before the pandemic, but COVID-19 spurred a wave of monetization efforts that were planned in 2020 and are maturing quickly in 2021. Right, and so what did you see on your side, like what accelerated for organizations during COVID as a whole and I'll kick it to you first Meg, and then we can kick it over to Paul and then a couple more threads to pull on that as well.

Megan Pruce 9:47

Sharp so I know that Paul has some really great examples on telehealth so I will just leave some of the telehealth discussion to Paul but I will say of course, telehealth was exciting tremely pressed forward on an extremely tight timeline, something that we thought would take two years to get all of our providers to be on the connected to be ready for that change to be accepting of that change. And to do it, we thought would be about two years. And that was something that really happened in a matter of weeks. I think, overall, what we noticed was that the organization's appetite and interest of having automation at the core of its business for efficiency purposes, matched up with our external stakeholders, and what they were starting to expect and appreciate. So, you know, you never want to have misalignment between, you know, what your organization is ready for, and what the marketplace is ready for. And because of COVID, these things lined up really well for us. You know, there was significant concerns before COVID, about having things look too big brother, especially from a marketing perspective, right, knowing too much about people and sending them emails that made them think that we knew they needed, you know, something done. COVID really changed that for us where people wanted to engage with us in an asynchronous manner. They wanted to receive information from us, and engage with us on their time and on their terms. And we really learned as an organization that, you know, automation could help us do that. So I think that was the gift, if you will, of this whole situation was organizational readiness, and market readiness for this technology coming together at the same time.

Aaron Conant 11:42

Yeah, I want to pull up a couple of questions that have popped up in my head and want to kind of set them aside and if other people have questions drop into the q&a, but it's that sales and marketing piece, because it was on the lower end. Right. And I think you're right, that big brother, how do we protect data? How do we, you know, anyways, it's it's really interesting. It's

Megan Pruce 12:03

got the idea, I'll just close by saying the idea of human touch took on a whole new meeting, where we felt like before human touch was what people wanted from us. And then, you know, the pandemic really changed the idea of how much of a touch people really want.

Aaron Conant 12:21

Yeah, I mean, like, literally touching, you know, Paul kind of came out, like, what accelerated for your organization during COVID?

Paul Wood 12:31

Yeah, well, Megan, kind of teed it up there. But telehealth for sure was a huge opportunity for us, you know, when we were only about just over five years old now. And so with the initial design of the home network, telehealth was always at the core. But adoption was not particularly high. Right. So going into the year, we had a goal of getting to 30% adoption, from about 18% of clients engaging in telehealth in some part of their care. And obviously, because we had the entire network set up for telehealth as we shifted, because what we ended up doing was closing our physical clinics and moving everyone to remote care. The adoption almost overnight went to 98%. And, and even now, when we're starting to reopen facilities, it's still in the 80% range. So there was there was originally some provider pushback, which we can talk about later. But there was there was just not an interest as much as we thought there would be because of the physical design of our clinics are designed to be really warm and fighting like a community space, which is important to our veterans. And so there was a hurdle that we had to jump over. But we were we were shocked that it was such a smooth transition. So we definitely that sparked a lot of thinking around how well should we think about our our kind of physical spaces for new clinics going forward as well?

Aaron Conant 13:58

Was there something that was no longer a priority, then? Maybe we only have so much time, we only have so many. So there's only so much staff? Right? There's this limited bandwidth. And so ramping up, was there anything that you paired back on

Paul Wood 14:14

here, you know, it's interesting. In each of the clinics, as I mentioned, we also have these community rooms. And the idea is, is that these clinics become kind of hubs in the veteran community in that market. And so we're always doing live events, whether it's yoga, personal finance, life skills, whatever it is to get people kind of comfortable coming into the clinic. So with the shutdown, we had to put all all live events on hold. And also in each of our clinics, we have outreach directors who are former veterans primarily, and they go and meet with base command or they go and meet with community leaders, things like that. Much of that was shut down. So what we had to do is pivot and move our community room into a virtual footprint. And we created something called CDN presents and did basically live broadcasts for like Better word across all of the clinics and to our community. And we got a lot of pickup of that. So. So I think the live events de prioritized, and actually the physical outreach, so being it being at community health fairs, things like that. So we really had to kind of think about how do we how do we work around that?

Aaron Conant 15:18

Awesome. So Megan, I want to kick that to you. And then I want to kick something over to Tom around, you know, just because I know it's hard. You guys work with a ton of different organizations prioritization on, you know, what do you see in across the landscape? But Megan, was there something that you de prioritized?

Megan Pruce 15:33

Yeah, you know, we were just on the cusp of implementing an enterprise CRM, and that project had to be put on hold. It wasn't just a financial decision, it was also the drawdown of our human resources and the ability of the organization to focus on something as transformational as that, during a time when we were in the midst of unexpected transformation. So I think we're all anxious for when, you know, we can get back to that project, it's really critically important to us. But it was just not the right time to put that upon people. And honestly, I don't think that it would have been successful to be doing that kind of work at with everything else that we had going on.

Aaron Conant 16:25

Awesome. So Tom, in this space, you know, you're helping a ton different organizations do exactly this way. What did you see was prioritized, D prioritized our organizations making the right decisions on what's right for them. Cuz it's, there's so many different things that are being poured into, you know, this, you know, specific vertical right now, because we're in the middle of a pandemic. Yeah,

Tom Hileman 16:50

no, for sure. I mean, there's tons of automation, we mentioned many classes of them in the in the deck that you presented over research. And there's a lot, certainly lots of opportunities for advancement across all the different organizations and money, tons of vendors are putting a lot of money to kind of get that out there. But I think across our customers, we saw a couple things. One was really focusing on the connection with the customer or the patient. Depending on the organization really focused in on how do we connect with them in a world of limited touch a little bit what Megan said so. And to Paul's point a little bit on CBN presents webinars, and personal is in personalized outreach took a enormous lift. During this. Also the barriers and some of that concern or skepticism even begun, expressed about people's Big Brother data, that decrease now now folks expect it, they expect to go into Home Depot and make an order and be able to pick it up there, right. And they expect that Home Depot owns everything that knows everything about them. Well, same thing that they expect from healthcare systems now, right, we should be able to connect how we want when we want, we should be able to have readily accessible information. And that deep level of data is just important. So people consumers are expecting that I think where we saw across our clients was really folks spending time, how do we best connect in the world where we may not have physical touch aspects? And then to what do we need to do to be able to do that effectively. And that comes to the personalization, the data, and really spending time on this on that level of communication, and reaching people at the right time. So that's where we saw a lot of investment from a priority perspective.

Aaron Conant 18:28

Awesome. So why are you talking here? So Jason, sent in a question and just to remind others to have questions, things you want us to tackle just drop in the question section here says, just get we're on privatization, how do you prioritize the front end digital interactions customers want with the back end systems to run the business? You know, you have the the front end I get the customers or wanted, I think versus you know, the back end systems to run it. How are you looking at prioritization on on that front?

Megan Pruce 19:00

But, you know, I guess I'll just comment at a high level. But you know, the way that I think we think about it is having efficiency, effectiveness, but then also experience at the core of what we're doing. And in today's workforce environment. It's not just the patient experience and patient satisfaction, it's also employee experience and employee satisfaction. So, you know, we are taking a very critical look at any kind of installation or implementation in terms of how that's going to improve our efficiency and our effectiveness, but then also the impact that that could have on patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction. So where we see opportunities to improve patient and employee satisfaction, those are more likely to be prioritized over you know, something that just has efficiency. At its core. We really need clinical and non clinical staff to stick with us through the rest of whatever this looks like.

Tom Hileman 20:06

Yeah, I would, I would echo I think it really comes down to impact, which I think is where Megan was going. What what's the impact? So there's, we have tons of opportunities to optimize front end interactions and tons of back end efficiency that can be driven to right. So we have, we have a very finite resources, and probably the most finite resources, time and attention right now. And maybe a bit of energy is given that duration, specifically in the healthcare setting where we're seeing a ton of fatigue. So when we work with clients, we look a lot at what's the impact of of that of the proposed project change system? And what's what's really going to move the needle, right, and then now and at what level, right? And then as part of this impact, is it efficient, right? It doesn't, that doesn't move the organization towards the goals. And then the key stakeholders, and I think Megan said it really well. Like we can't forget the the employment environment that we're in and how we're stretching our caregiver, so and stress and frankly, stressing our patients as well, right? Our patients, they're, they're tired. And they, we have to make life as easy as we can for them and balance that versus the business priorities that we have. But I'm putting first and foremost the experience of those, and then measuring the impact of what that means in the backend. Yeah,

Aaron Conant 21:19

I think that played out in the data as well, right? It's not the sales and marketing. It's not getting more people in the funnel right now. It was what are you using AI and automation and machine learning? What do you what are you doing in these spaces? And it was a basically, how do we enable, you know, our staff at every level from, you know, Doctor caregiver on down to the back end office worker? How do we make them into super humans? Right, it wasn't a how do we get automation that replaces people? Right, the you know, kind of the Amazon internal Amazon mindset is how can we make everybody a robot? This was? How do we enable people internally to function at a higher level kind of ease some of that day to day stress that's out there. And then that's where I think like the next phase will be moving to the, you know, sales? What, once we got it working really well, on the back end, you know, how do we get more people in the funnel as a whole? Now awesome. So another question is around, you know, how healthcare organizations, you know, getting automated, how do you get any of these projects off the ground as a whole? Right? And so, you know, Tom Hagen, I'll kind of kick this one to you, I, you know, maybe I'll go with you first, and then I'll kick it over to Tom. Where do where do you start, right? Like, how do organizations start? Where do they start, we'd love to hear some of your thoughts there.

Megan Pruce 22:43

I can say, I've seen it gonna go really well. And I've seen it go really poorly. So when it goes really well, we have a strong business case that's driving the, the need for the the technology, the automation, that we're trying to drive forward. Multiple metrics, multiple points of impact that we can show are going to be affected by this across multiple parts of the organization. So we're, we are increasingly living into our organizational identity as an academic medical center exclusively. Vanderbilt University Medical Center was part of Vanderbilt University for up until 2016. And so there's a lot of legacy of, you know, some silos and hierarchies. But now, Five, Six years later, you know, we're really aware that all parts impact one another, and so has to have a really good business case to it. And it has to be thoroughly thought out, in terms of all the resources timeline needed to implement it. You need clinical champions, you need administrative champions. And I think that we have several times leaned on Tom and his team, to bring us an outsider's perspective as well. What are our peers doing? How does this keep us either on trend with the peers or slightly ahead of our peers? And then what's going on in the non healthcare environment that is really suffering consumer behavior in this direction as well. So I think making it about impact, but also the there's a strong business case for it is critically important and having the right champions.

Aaron Conant 24:37

Yeah, I love it, especially looking outside, right, because there's a lot of parallels to be drawn to the finance industry as a whole. And people going in or teller banking. No, I love it. So, you know, Tom, I'll kick it over to you. And then, you know, Paul's thoughts as well.

Tom Hileman 24:55

Yeah, I mean, I think it's to get things off the ground. I when I Typically advise clients is to focus on on fewer things, right? narrow your portfolio a bit to the most impactful things. Ask ask why three times we're doing something and then see if we can really get to the bottom of, of what that impact is. And then once you settle on what those core focus or areas to focus are, then really what you need a strong leadership. And I think that's one thing that we see both these organizations, both EMC and CBN. They have strong leadership, that they're focused on kind of strategy and where we're going. I know Paul, and I have spoken about that before. But we have strategic initiatives. Now those have to pivot sometimes, in the world of pandemic, none of us had that in February, I don't think of last year. And of course, plans change and planning, planning is vital. But plans are worthless sometimes when the world changes, right. So we have to pivot there. But I think the most important thing is narrow, narrow your focus to this core elements. And then really execute and get that deep commitment from this from up and down through the organization, from least from the people, both who are formal leaders and informal leaders in the organization to drive that change. And then we'll talk about change management probably a little bit later, one of my favorite topics. But I think Eric, folks who have been effective, have narrow their focus, pick the battles, and then really engaged everybody that they can, and have been fairly ruthless on cutting out extraneous or nice to have things and then I know that they're all were they're all things that are good. But in the environment, we operate in that we really have to focus on the vital few

Aaron Conant 26:32

in where So a question that comes in is around, like who leads these initiatives? I think it's a great one. Is it a new position? Is it? No,

Tom Hileman 26:41

I mean, I'll jump in. And then No, I mean, some some organizations have chief innovation or chief transformation officers, which I think are great from a perspective of getting that broad view of the enterprise. I know there's a lot of silos inside of healthcare, whether you and I think a topic, we'll probably get into a little bit of siloed kind of way, best of breed solutions versus integrated platforms a bit later, but I don't think you necessarily need a new position. If you have one. And you can they can get that wide view of the organization, I think that's really important. To me, it needs to be cross functional, it needs to be a group of committed leaders across different areas of the organization. And you need to get the buy in of that group. Because one person, even if it's the CEO, it can be difficult to move it all on their own right? I think you need wide ranging buy in. And then but not too big of a group, right? It has to be small enough that you can be nimble, and have those cart have those crucial conversations, but enough half that you can get across the major functions in the organization.

Aaron Conant 27:43

So when you think about investment as a whole, because you mentioned this, I think a couple of times now the point solution, you know, sprawl that can happen, we're talking about real dollars, right? We're talking about real time, real effort, real money versus, you know, enterprise software investments as a whole. Any thoughts there?

Tom Hileman 28:04

I think, Paul, you might want to talk a little bit, you know, you guys are in the process of your journey of putting a platform in place. Yeah, again, just maybe just to take one step back. Aaron, on your previous question,

Paul Wood 28:13

I think, you know, for us, we're we're looking at everything that Megan and Tom had talked about before in terms of what is the what's the business plan? Where's our strategy? What's our three year five year plan from here? And then we built philosophy of what we're calling client 360. And so in most organizations, it's patient. We've chosen the word client, but it's essentially looking at what is the journey for a client kind of pre care during care and aftercare? And then what do we need to enable from a digital footprint or a digital transformation to make that happen? So for us, it's really a partnership, primarily with myself and our Chief Technology Officer, but our chief clinical officers in our 360 meetings as well as we keep our CEO who's a champion abreast of it and our CEO. So it's, it's really that cross functional approach. We've we've taken the step of going into more of a platform view where we are in the process now, integrating Salesforce health cloud, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and making sure that is then integrated with a shift we're also making in our in our EHR, so that everything will work together. So those are that's the way we're approaching it right now. Yeah.

Megan Pruce 29:28

Yeah, similar for us. We have, again, as I said, realize that we are not a collection of small businesses. We are an enterprise health system. And so we have more of an enterprise technology strategy. And we've really embraced being a Microsoft organization. So it's really incredible how much integration into my daily work. Some of that Microsoft strategy shows up and our selection of the mic CRM, you know, fits right into that. So we're really not looking for one off homegrown solutions. We're really looking for solutions that can span across multiple teams multiple, solve multiple problems for us and integrate into our EHR and other key platforms.

Aaron Conant 30:23

Yeah, I think that's kind of common anywhere in the digital space right now, you know, if things were kind of popping up over the past, like two or three years, it was these individual point solutions, and then all of a sudden, you've got 18 relationships to manage it, none of the systems talk integration, there's not a holistic view. So you know, but given, you know, finite resources, you know, where do you find the time? So, I don't hear a lot of people developing an entire teams that this is their sole focus, and this is the only thing they do. And maybe I just missed some of that in the research as a whole. But where do you find time from your team to advance these initiatives as a whole,

Megan Pruce 31:04

but we, you know, we obviously do annual planning. And I think the thing that's had the biggest impact for us has been having a vision and a theme for the year. So this year, our theme is rocks. And, you know, really helping my team to see what are our rocks? What are our most important pieces of work to move forward this year? And then how the sand falls between the rocks and prioritizing the rocks? First, and the sand will find its way. So we have a very intentional planning and articulation around what are our objectives? And what are those big pieces of work that we want to move forward. And we know will move the organization exponentially forward, and really protecting time to do that. And we have conversations all up the organizational ladder about the importance of keeping and maintaining time for that we have goals that are today's goals, and we have goals that are tomorrow's tomorrow's goals. And we cannot have only one of those. We have to have goals that move our business forward today. But we also have goals that are about ensuring the business moves forward tomorrow.

Aaron Conant 32:24

Yeah. And Tom, I can see a nod your head as well, you know, thoughts there?

Tom Hileman 32:28

Yeah, no, it's I mean, the time I would say that the getting team time, whether you're bringing in additional resources from a third party or from different departments, or whether you're hiring additional staff, and that's very difficult in today's environment as well. Just given the competitiveness, and then the labor pool, it's my opinion would change with one of the hardest things to do. Right. So I just think you have to be very, very focused on what the vital few are the rocks, and and execute those first. There's just no other way you there's not enough time, we're all kind of doing two jobs, especially Marketing. Today. We have a we're doing COVID communications and what's going on in the world. And what does that mean, that's a new job that no one's staffed for right? Then we have the usual day to day kind of things that we have to do with a remarketing service lines or brand, or any of the other aspects of traditional marketing, communications and in healthcare systems, right and healthcare organization. So we've kind of introduced that overloaded our staffs a bit just by design, not by design, but by happenstance. So I think it's vital that we pare that back. And we have to be willing to say no to more things. I know it's not ever not always easy. And we all want to make people happy. So it's like me the harder thing we do. I think one thing that Paul and I spoke about is kind of the reinvention I think, Paul, you guys have a unique approach when you are thinking when you think about reinventing the organization continually a little bit about where Megan was going about the business now in the business in the future. I think that's part of your strategy. Paul's that reinvention we've spoken about.

Paul Wood 33:57

Yeah, and you know, we think of it in kind of two ways, exploit and explore, right. And this is the tension, I think, in every organization, that you have a system that you're building, that you're delivering care in today. And you need to optimize that, right, we need to make sure we're delivering top quality care at that great client experience patient experience. But at the same time, we know the markets changing so quickly that if we just sit, we're gonna get knocked off the hill. Right. So how do you how do you balance that? And what we're learning is that not exclusively, but you almost need two teams, you need the team that is optimizing the current business, and then you need almost like a future team, right, at least part of their time for they're going and exploring broader consumer trends, right? interest, what are patient preferences, right? What are we thinking of post COVID, all of the rest. So I think that tension really drives us because we know we have to continue to innovate and change. But at the same time, we also know we need to deliver great care today.

Unknown Speaker 35:00


Aaron Conant 35:02

if we take a look at it, then, like, what are the biggest benefits that you're seeing from an implementing, you know, automation as a whole? Right? I mean that, that comes up all the time. So I'll keep that here with you, Paul. And we can go to Megan, and then Tom, but, you know, what are the biggest benefits for implementing automation? You know, for you?

Paul Wood 35:21

Yeah, you know, I think it's, it's about it's, for us, it's really about what is that client experience? And how do we, how do we make that as seamless as possible? And for our community? You know, there's a lot of stigma that exists in the military connected community regarding accessing mental health care, right? There's some of that in the general market, no question. But in the military side, I mean, that can be career ending, right, depending on how its positioned, etc. So there's a lot of stigma. So what we've learned is, is that before somebody actually sees one of our ads, for example, clicks and calls a clinic, they've been struggling with this for a while, right? So one just quick example. We drive a lot of calls, you know, working in partnership with Hileman and others to our clinics, not everyone's ready for care, right? So they may call and just ask them questions, and say, Okay, I'll call you when I'm ready, we often will lose that lead today. But one of the first things that we're implementing is going to be basically a nurture program, for example, where someone's calling for care, they're not quite ready. And then we can bring them into a welcome series, direct them to a client Education Center, things like that, today, that doesn't really exist in a formal way. It's a little bit informal, and it's inconsistent. So I think what what you see there is one, we want to make sure and get people the help they need when they need it. And if we've let them go, and don't have a way to keep in touch, if they want to, you know, shame on us. So So that's just a small example. But if you put the client at the core, and think about, wow, what is that experience got to be from sort of beginning to end and we know them baby come big referral sources for us, right, based on their experience. So I think there's so much opportunity here, it's just a question of, you know, where are you going to prioritize what's going to be most meaningful to you based on what your organization is facing today? Is it about creating more demand is about making sure that the experience through the client, you know, through the journey is more, more, kind of effective and more meaningful so that they become champions for your org? I think there's a lot of different ways to slice it, depending on your your top priorities.

Aaron Conant 37:30

What KPIs they do, do you use?

Paul Wood 37:34

Yeah, we are heavily data driven. org. So we have KPIs for literally every year as Tom knows. So So for us, you know, an example of KPIs on the marketing side are everything from obviously click through rates on advertising to what we call initial conversion, which is a driving a form fill on our site or a call to our clinic, right. But I think when we get to this new area, we have a great opportunity to then integrate with the EHR to say, Okay, did people who engage in the client Education Center really become clients at a higher level than just sort of other in referral sources, things like that. So I think what you're going to see from us is a number of different KPIs. We have a whole I mentioned our Chief Technology Officer, we have a whole series of Power BI dashboards that we use across the organization marketing as part of that, obviously, care, access, utilization, all kinds of things. So I would expect to see further build out of those, those KPIs on the marketing side.

Aaron Conant 38:39

So Meg, if I could get over to you, what are some of the biggest benefits you're looking for? prevented planning, not implementing implementing automation, but then you know, then KPIs for you as well.

Megan Pruce 38:50

So, Vanderbilt, University Medical Center's brand position is making healthcare personal. And so we have, we're in an interesting environment here in Middle Tennessee, where we have experienced tremendous population growth, we have more demand than we can possibly meet. And so it's incredibly important for us to maintain that personalized care experience for an ever growing amount of patients and patients that need us for different parts, different types of care in their lives. So we have an interesting dichotomy of who's moving here. We have the recent college grads and the young generation who really doesn't need health care all that often. And we have a very large 65 plus retiree population moving here. And so for us, it's important for us to think about how digital technology and automation can help us to continue to deliver a very personalized experience for patients in a highly efficient and effective manner. And it's part of our work, I think in our department to really help the organization see that digital can be very personal. And so we have a couple of really great examples of that, that we are really loud and proud about inside the organization. One of those is our my health bundles program. So and Tom's group has been critically important in helping us get these off the ground, but we have episodes of care, we have bundled arrangements with large self insured employers in our market. And marchetto. And marketing automation is at the core of that product. And I an expectant mom, whose employer has chosen to sign up with our my maternity health bundle, either fills out a form or makes a call to a patient navigator, and a quick phone call. And a warm welcome to the bundles program is then followed by, you know, a series of emails and touch points over the course of that pregnancy that is signed by their patient navigator and feels like it came from their patient navigator. And that really came from our marketing automation journeys. So we have people in our own marketing department that think those emails are coming from the patient navigator, that's how good they are. So we were able to build those products kind of to your point, Paul, about having a team that's in today and a team that's in tomorrow, you know, my team does a lot in tomorrow. And so we took that new product, and we built it with a digital automated core to it from the beginning. And it's tremendous what you know, what you can deliver in terms of a personalized care experience, when you're when you can build it from the start like that. So we're really pleased and as we add more employers, you know, we know exactly how many patient navigators we need. But it's far less than you would expect because we deliver most of the touchpoints proactively and digitally via Marketo. And we're tracking it with from a KPI perspective. Obviously, we have our Press Ganey surveys that track patient satisfaction, but we have added NPS scores into the Press Ganey survey and all of our bundles have between 90 and 98. NPS score, which is higher than almost all of healthcare anywhere.

Aaron Conant 42:42

Awesome. You know, Tom, if I can get to you, you know, key benefits from automation. And then, you know, I want to turn that also, you know, in KPIs if you have them for sure. But also then biggest challenges, right? roadblocks, obstacles, things that organizations run into, it would love to hear those as well. I

Tom Hileman 43:05

think automation at its root, it gives us kind of two things that are vitally important for large enterprises, like we're talking about today. One is personalization when a scale, right, so I think Megan hit those pretty squarely right with the information that we're able to gather about people and interact in a very thoughtful way that we can do it at large scale, these programs that seem highly personalized. And by the way, there is a person behind that too, they have connections to these patient navigators if they want to reach that example, so much like Paul was talking about in his journey, personalizing that, but I think automation at its root gives us personalization at scale. And those two things are just vital, because we're not going to be able to throw more people at things in the future, at least not near future, just given given the demand from patients and the changing consumer market, our son mentality, as well as the employee teams that we have in like the overall sophistication of the world that we exist in today. Right? I mean, if you think about the systems we are currently running, and look at what we're doing 10 years ago, I mean, it's an order of magnitude or two higher than what we previously were doing, right with the same or maybe fewer people turning those things. So AI machine learning something we'll probably talk about a little bit later. But that gives us great scale and accountability, our scale and personalization. Now, what are the challenges? Well, there's some Paramount challenges. One is, I think one of the biggest ones is managing change. And now we had an external event, a shock the pandemic that forced some of the change. So many physicians who weren't telehealth advocates before went from having to become telehealth advocates or not having anything to do, right. So, you know, choices. Choice is sometimes the best indicator of future success, but we don't always have that in our in our arsenal tools, right. So I think change management and you user adoption are really vital. And we can certainly probably do that. But we have to be very thoughtful about how we change the experience for the patients, as well as they change the experience internally and make sure other people understand that just isn't this yet another system I have to use, right? That it brings the brings them lift that makes their day easier. If we didn't have web conferencing like this, that we were able to use, imagine how the world of the pandemic would feel right. So we have to be able to kind of sometimes show people what that automation scale these things can do. And then help help drive adoption just from just from that engagement with people. But I did skip your metrics question. So metrics, easily this broad based awareness metrics. So got a brand metric metrics, high level metrics, typically conversion metrics, like Paul was talking about, whether it's called conversions form conversions, and I think the ultimate metrics are really return on investment or return on adspend, depending on how you define it in your healthcare organization, where you actually know the contribution margin of the, the the value of the activities that you driven. That's kind of the holy grail, or you can even tie it back to the specific advertising and pieces. So sorry, jaronda diverged, I skipped the question there. But typically, you want full funnel, full funnel metrics along the way. And then the attribution is the other point of that to measure.

Aaron Conant 46:24

So now, if we go back to like change management, user adoption, like any advice you have, because it's, it's really interesting time we're in that, you know, when we think about change management, it's internal and external, it's, you know, the client, the patient, or, you know, we refer to it, and it's the internal organization that has never gone down that path before of digital, right? Are they they're just going down at now. And staying on top of it feeling like you're relevant, or you're ahead of the game is is key, right, as opposed to thinking, Hey, everybody else is way ahead of us. And we're way far behind. It's a, but at what I found really interesting about the research is people think they're like, right in the middle, like not beating it, but right in the middle in most cases. So you know, Tom, I don't know, if you had like, suggestions for people I know you deal with it, you know? Well, with Megan and, Paul, a lot of different organizations in this aspect. Like any thoughts for

Tom Hileman 47:25

you? Yeah, I think one thing, one thing we do is we have what's called the healthcare marketing maturity curve that we use. So we've kind of it's, it goes across kind of the different facets of marketing, organization, healthcare, and kind of we lump things in the four different quadrants along the spectrum from reactive to proactive. So I think sometimes having looked at a high level tool like that, and external view, where you can kind of see what are the best practices, the best practices and tools and techniques, and then adoptions that we have some kind of metric, or not metric, but some kind of model that you can look at, I think it's typically helpful, because when you're inside the jar, sometimes it's hard to read the label. Right? So I think that the getting the outside external view is a really good way to kind of measure where you are. I think sometimes it's just being honest with yourself. I mean, a lot of times what most people most Vegas, I think one of the statistics is like 75% of people think they're above average drivers, right? Well, the reality is, we all can't be above average drivers. But no one thinks they're not right. So typically, when you look at measurements like this, there's a little bit of a bias that we're either on track or slightly above average, I think the best way to do that is to really get some external perspectives. And you are where you are, right? I mean, whether you're a little bit behind or a bit ahead, the world changes faster than ever. So there's, it's not insurmountable to catch up and make some really vital leaps. So I think I would advise folks to get some external perspectives. And then just to kind of be brutally honest with yourself, when if you, if you were your customer, what would you expect, right? And put a put aside all the internal working knowledge of you, you know why it's so difficult to schedule an online appointment or not get to put all that away, and then take an external view of your organization. If you were the customer, what would you expect? I think you can knock that out pretty quickly from that, thinking that way.

Aaron Conant 49:14

So couple things like how is it right, and how can we learn more about the healthcare marketing maturity model? Is that something you sit down with people on and help them map that all out?

Tom Hileman 49:24

Yeah, we do. So we have that. And I can, if someone's interested, they can follow up with you or in this, and we certainly can follow up. Follow up with them on that.

Aaron Conant 49:33

Yeah. Well, I don't 100% I mean, anybody out aligned today, if you're looking for obviously, you can actually you want to talk to Megan or Paul, you're looking for any help in this space whatsoever. Tom and his team are the kind of leaders in this space as a whole. And so 100% worth follow up conversation. They deal with so many different people, they just have a great pulse. And so I'd have them do that marketing model for sure. But I see so we we've probably got five minutes left. I think one of the top things That comes out is what automations are on your must have list. So all kind of start with you. And then I'll take it to Megan. And then you know, Tom, like, what is the next level that you would recommend people have? Or you know, maybe have insight on? Hey, this is the next thing that's out there. But, Paul, what's on your must have list?

Paul Wood 50:23

Yeah, there's so much on my must have list. So I mentioned again, you know, our focus is that 360 approach before during an aftercare, so just picking maybe picking one from each. So before care what we want to do we know that 50% of our clients never have never accessed mental health care before. So we want to make it easy for them to learn about just like, what is therapy, right? Is it right for me, so one, on the pre care, that's one of the first things we want to do is create tools for them to learn, right? During care, you know, one of one of the things that we spend a lot of time on it as our client experience surveys, we do one right at the beginning of care, and then one end of care, we believe that that can be an easy step in the automation. And then after care. For us, it's really about how do we stay close to that client. So we do do a three, six and 12 month follow up. So that's an automation opportunity, as well, as each local clinic I mentioned, has their community kind of room and community hub, they're doing events every month. So being able to have people opt in to alerts what's happening at the, you know, the Killeen, Texas clinic this month. So we think those are just kind of three quick examples of where this can be deployed. But as I think about it, you know, even from a comms side, if the organization wherever to have, say, a fast moving social media crisis or something like that, to be able to be able to communicate quickly with all of our clients have to for our side of the story on something, something like that, I think could also be really useful. So once you start to get in this mindset, you lay the infrastructure, I believe that there's so many applications here, it's almost endless.

Aaron Conant 52:03

Awesome, man.

Megan Pruce 52:05

Yes, so definitely moving ahead on our CRM that's of critical importance. You know, we we know, we recently installed epic. So that was, it's a couple years old here, but you know, it takes a couple years before you have the kinks. And you have optimized that so we're getting to a good spot with epic. So if everything can stay relatively predictable about the pandemic, if this can kind of become a part of our daily work versus all of our daily work, I think we can get to that CRM quickly. And I think the other, the other thing that's Paramount is value based care. And so there's tremendous opportunity for us to position value for volume. I think that value based care overall has been positioned as less volume, so less money, but actually, what we see is when we focus on value, we see volume, and value based care has actually been accelerated during the pandemic. And so we're all going to come out of this pandemic, with new contract requirements, new expectations, new payment models, new risk models, that our contracting colleagues are doing, where we're going to have to get people in for their care for their preventive visits. And we're going to have to do that in a very automated, efficient manner. So we're piloting a lot of that work right now. And it's successful people actually want to receive these preventive care visits, they just want to make sure it's safe. And we want them to have it because we're all seeing scary numbers and cancer rates, etc. From the pause we had in preventive screening. So there's patient demand, there's contractual requirements, and there's always been that patient care priority. And I think all that's going to really automate a lot of our value based care efforts.

Aaron Conant 54:11

Awesome. And Tom got to round this out here as we're getting right up to the end. And again, thanks to everybody who who dialed in, thanks for the great questions. Obviously. Thanks Megan and Paul, you know, for giving us an hour of your time today and then again you know, Tom thanks for being great friends and partners and supporters the network and encourage anybody I probably everybody on the line you know, put some time on Tom's calendar just all around great you know, friend and partner show a lot of different organizations in the network. But, Tom, what should be on the must have list and any key takeaways, sir,

Tom Hileman 54:43

I mean, I think, Aaron Once again, thanks. Thanks for the kind words. I think from a key takeaways perspective, I think in healthcare, Megan's point with the value, the value based side of that there's so many so many misconceptions that value takes away value, Maya Human is that we're massively under serving our patient population for preventative care and all types of things today. The numbers are pretty are pretty horrible. Looking at that. And then one thing to tackle I think, Megan, you mentioned that cancer rates with cancer is down 50% last year. We all know that that's certainly not true. So that means we have 50%, less diagnosed cancer, an undiagnosed cancer out there in the world that we're going to have to deal with, and hopefully help people and still early stages now. So I think when I when I think about the key takeaways on the automation side, as Paul said, there's this opportunities, the bound, we have tons of areas, I would focus on that patient impact that patient value side of things and continuing to think of them as in a holistic way too often in healthcare, we think about cancer patients, ortho patients, or we name them pedes, and all the different pieces, right, but they're their people, right? And mental health is, is a vital piece that we miss much of the time. So I think we think about our patients in a holistic manner, and engage them that way. And get them to be an active participant in their care will be all be better off in society in this in the healthcare organization. I think the one sequence you take away leave folks with is start if you want to scale and you want to personalize, you have to start thinking about how you're going to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning. The only way to do it at scale for large organizations is to really start to work into that, that into your approach and into some trials, not saying whole hearted adoption, but try and have some place where you can try. Try that out. And I think that's a critical thing that we're going to see. We're talking a year from now. That peanuts gonna move a lot farther along than we are today. But thank you, Megan and Paul. Yeah.

Aaron Conant 56:47

Yeah, again. Hey, thanks, everybody. We're gonna wrap it up here. Just one minute before 130. Eastern time. Thanks again, Tom. Megan Paul. Thanks, everybody who dialed in hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday, a great rest of the week. Everybody stay safe. Take care. Look for a follow up email from us. We'd love to stay in touch. So everybody, thanks again. Already. Take care now.Bye bye.

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