Google, HCA strike multiyear cloud partnership

Pam Arlotto is quoted in a May 26th article, by Jessica Kim Cohen, in Modern Healthcare.

 

HCA Healthcare has entered into a multiyear partnership with Google’s cloud arm, the for-profit hospital chain said Wednesday.

As part of the partnership, Google Cloud will build a data analytics platform for HCA designed to help the Nashville-based health system create tools that improve workflow and clinical care.

HCA declined to share financial details of the agreement.

HCA will work with Google Cloud’s office of the chief technology officer and professional services team to develop artificial intelligence and data analytics tools, such as alerts that could be sent to clinicians’ mobile devices so that they can respond to changes in a patient’s condition more quickly, as well as improvements in non-clinical areas like supply chain and human resources.

HCA will use Google Cloud tools including the company’s healthcare API, or application programming interface, and BigQuery, a cloud data warehouse.

“The cloud can be an accelerant for innovation in health,” said Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud’s CEO, in a statement.

The U.S. healthcare cloud computing market was valued at more than $29 billion in 2020, according to a report from market research firm Global Market Insights, and is expected to reach $79.3 billion by 2027, driven by growing adoption of digital tools and interest in data management tools that incorporate advanced analytics and store data securely.

HCA’s contract is just the latest example of a health system partnering with a technology company for cloud services. A growing number of organizations in recent years have moved applications and data to the cloud—to servers managed by other companies off-site—to help save costs and develop innovative technologies.

Mayo Clinic in 2019 struck a 10-year contract with Google Cloud that involves data storage and innovation projects, leading the tech giant to open an office in Rochester, Minn., earlier this year to strengthen its relationship with the health system. Johns Hopkins Medicine last year struck a five-year agreement with Microsoft Corp.’s cloud arm to support the Baltimore-based healthcare organization’s precision medicine program.

One of the most high-profile cloud deals in healthcare in recent years involved a partnership between St. Louis-based Ascension and Google. The agreement, which included a contract to move Ascension’s patient data to Google Cloud, drew public concern in 2019 over patient privacy. Ascension has since expanded a pilot of an electronic health record tool from Google that it tested as part of the partnership.

Healthcare’s shift to the cloud has encompassed two broad functions: migrating applications to the cloud, where they’re hosted on off-premise servers, or storing data in the cloud so that it can be analyzed more easily and used as part of analytics tools.

“There are two phenomena going on,” said Cynthia Burghard, a research director in value-based IT transformation strategies at IDC Health Insights, a division of market research firm International Data Corp.

While providers and payers were initially hesitant to move to the cloud in years past, citing concerns like privacy, security and reliability, over the past two years it’s become more common for organizations to move applications such as EHR systems to the cloud, Burghard said. Deals that involve data, such as HCA’s partnership with Google Cloud, have gained steam more recently.

Such partnerships have become more common over the past 12 to 18 months, according to Burghard.

Healthcare and life sciences companies had moved roughly 44% of business functions and 42% of IT systems to the cloud in 2020, up from 36% of business functions and 33% of IT systems to the cloud in 2018, according to a report from consulting and IT services firm Infosys, driven in part by the need to add more virtual care and remote work capabilities amid COVID-19.

Healthcare will likely continue to shift towards new cloud tools and deployments over the next two years, according to Jeff Kavanaugh, global head of Infosys’ research and thought leadership arm.

In the wake of public pushback to Ascension’s work with Google in 2019, healthcare experts suggested the controversy reflected a lack of trust the public had of Big Tech, which could pose challenges as tech companies moved into healthcare.

But Google and other tech giants have continued to make inroads in the industry.

“We’ll have to work through a lot of these issues, concerns (and) opportunities” that Big Tech companies bring, said Pam Arlotto, CEO of healthcare consultancy Maestro Strategies. She noted recent announcements involving tech companies have emphasized privacy and security. HCA’s news release reads, in part, “privacy and security will be guiding principles throughout this partnership.”

As hospitals and health systems continue to enter into such partnerships, “it’s really important that each organization that strikes these type of deals has very clear-cut goals (and) very distinct agreements with their partners about what you can and cannot do with your data,” Arlotto said.

 

Download PDF: Google, HCA strike multiyear cloud partnership May 26 2021

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Henry Ford Health System launches competition to tackle disparities with tech

Image by Modern Healthcare

Pam Arlotto is quoted in an April 27th, 2021 article, by Jessica Kim Cohen, in Modern Healthcare. 

 

Henry Ford Health System is seeking out new ways to address health disparities with
digital technology, including a focus on the digital divide, the Detroit-based system said
Tuesday.

The system’s Henry Ford Innovations arm on Tuesday unveiled the digital inclusion
challenge, a competition it’s hosting in partnership with Google Cloud and Novi, Mich.-
based information-technology firm Miracle Software Systems. Entrepreneurs and
engineers from across the globe are encouraged to propose ideas for how to use digital
technologies to reduce racial, gender and other health disparities.

That could include projects that make care more affordable, accessible or that make it easier for patients who don’t have access to high-speed internet access to learn about their health.

“We’re open to seeing what comes our way,” said Lisa Prasad, vice president and chief innovation officer at Henry Ford. “It’s kind of an open book.”

The challenge supports Henry Ford’s broader effort to “double-down on DEIJ,” or diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, Prasad said. Hopefully, entrepreneurs who participate in the competition will be able to help Henry Ford Innovations identify ways to better serve its patient population in Detroit and ensure patients are able to access emerging digital health and virtual care tools, she said.

The competition kicks off May 19 with submissions due June 24.

Henry Ford Innovations will reveal the top 20 finalists in July, five of whom will participate in a live pitch competition. That pitch competition will hopefully take place in-person in Detroit in August or September, Prasad said, although it will depend on COVID-19.

The winning team will receive $75,000 and will participate in a co-development program at Henry Ford Innovations, where the team can collaborate with the system’s clinical, IT and other staffers.

Ideally, depending on the project, the winning team will also be able to test their project within Henry Ford, Prasad said.

The program builds on other innovation competitions Henry Ford Innovations has launched over the past five years, many of which have been internal competitions that seek proposals from staff that work at the health system, as well as innovation challenges hosted in Israel through Henry Ford Innovations’ Global Technology Development Program.

Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Aurora Health, Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai and Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital are among other health systems that have recently hosted accelerators and challenges to invite outside startups to pitch their innovations.

The American Hospital Association also hosts an annual innovation challenge, in which the industry trade group provides funding for three winners to developing projects they pitch.

It’s become increasingly common for health groups to put out calls for startups to pitch proposals for specific problems, said Pam Arlotto, president and CEO of healthcare consultancy Maestro Strategies. Startups can bring expertise that health systems don’t have, such as in advanced technology.

“Often, these partners will have complementary skills that the health system doesn’t necessarily have internally,” Arlotto said.

If a health system invests in the company or helps to commercialize the product, it can provide another revenue stream for the organization. And the startup often gets the opportunity to test its product in the clinical setting and get the recognition of being selected by the health system, which can help to raise awareness about the company and possibly help with fundraising down the line.

Arlotto said she expects to see more health systems launch competitions with partners from various industries, rather than hosting them on their own, similar to what Henry Ford Innovations is doing.

She highlighted a recent healthcare innovation challenge that Macon, Ga.-based Atrium Health Navicent hosted last year with local startup incubator Atlanta Tech Village, Georgia’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society chapter and local technology association TAG Digital Health.

Download PDF: Henry Ford, Google Cloud launch tech competition to tackle health disparities Modern Healthcare April 2021

Read Full Article here

 

Why healthcare organizations should consider implementing a data analytics center of excellence

Agile Decision Making: Combining Insights with Instinct to Navigate the Unknown

Decisions are being made today that may alter a healthcare organization’s trajectory for years to come. The pandemic has revealed how unprepared we are as an industry to use real-time and predictive data to tell us “what is happening”, “what will happen” and “how do we make it happen.”

COVID-19 has upended conventional leadership thinking and challenged even the most astute to admit “we don’t know what we don’t know.”

 

We Must Think Differently

In recent years, the healthcare industry has made a significant investment in advanced analytics and encouraged a transition to insight driven decision making. A survey of healthcare executives conducted by Black Book in January 2020, indicated that the vast majority (93%) feel data analytics is crucial to helping meet future healthcare demands and make strategic decisions. Yet, utilization of advanced analytics was described as “negligible” by 80% of the respondents. 71% of surveyed executives said they were too busy to learn such systems. In our conversations with healthcare leaders, they indicate they prefer to delegate analysis to others, aren’t really aware of what data analytics options they have, and often prefer to rely on their instinct – after all, it’s what made them successful.

For many, they have relied on the hundreds of static spreadsheets and score cards providing weekly, daily, monthly, and quarterly reports on “what happened” to validate these instinctual decisions. Yet, in today’s world much of this history is not pertinent. Comparative benchmarks, based on pre-COVID operating models, are no longer valid. Even the most sophisticated data scientists cannot take this historic data, identify new patterns and build a model to predict the future based on our current circumstances in a rapid fashion. Even the fastest computer processor can’t generate the algorithms we need when the situation changes as rapidly as it does today. Advanced analytics tools such as machine learning and predictive modeling are at their best when the future environment is similar to the historic environment – and that’s not the case today!

Healthcare decision makers must think differently about the role of data in their decisions and their approach to making decisions.

Agile Analytics, Combining Insights & Instinct for Decision Making

In the emerging COVID world, decision makers need practical, short term, results driven answers to their questions. Influenced by interrelated factors such as numbers of positive cases, bed availability, medication and PPE supply, treatment protocols, deployment of virtual tools and the impact of social determinants on population segments, the problems we are trying to solve change constantly.

Agile Analytics is a new paradigm for healthcare decision makers and is focused on rapidly finding value in data.

COVID brings the need for quick turnaround of information and rapid decisions. Historic data trends and traditional, large scale analytics projects are not dynamic enough nor nimble enough to support today’s decision-making environment. Since “we don’t know what we don’t know”, we must learn along the way. Jumping to solutions, based on traditional best practice or the play books of the past may lead us down the wrong path. Yet, complex architectures and advanced analytics platforms may not be responsive enough to meet the challenges of the current environment.

Agile Analytics is a style of working and problem solving. Originally created by software developers in 2001, agile is a collaborative approach built on short one to three-week iterations resulting in a data output that can be used to solve a problem or make a decision. Each targeted iteration starts simply, explores key components of the problem and initial hypothesis, and provides decision makers directional insights to drive data stories and resulting conversations.

The Minimum Viable Analysis

A Minimum Viable Analysis (MVA), is similar to the Minimum Viable Product concept developed by Eric Reis of Lean Start-Up fame. “Rather than spending months even years perfecting a product (analysis) without ever showing it to a customer (decision maker)…we start with a simple prototype of the product (analysis) get feedback from the customer (decision maker) and learn, then build it out further through multiple feedback sessions and iterations.”

The MVA starts simply. As in the case of the minimum viable product, an initial problem to be solved or decision to make is identified by a small collaborative team of decision makers and data analysts. Using a travel analogy, rather than building an entire automobile to solve a transportation problem, the team starts with a skate-board as an initial prototype. This prototype defines data output, visualization or presentation expected from the MVA.

For problems the healthcare delivery organization is trying to solve during these times of uncertainty, a minimum viable analysis can be used to answer questions such as:

  • When will we run out of ICU beds/ventilators?
  • What staffing constraints will we have in acute care? in ambulatory? in post acute?
  • What is changes should we make in our care model given the mix of virtual and in-person visits?
  • What triggers will change our plans for rescheduling visits and procedures?
  • Will we have PPE limitations or other supply chain issues?

Then, as specific questions are answered, an iterative approach can be used to add to the knowledge base and analysis to produce answers to more targeted questions or broader concerns.

We term the gap between the data output from our agile analytics effort and the change in behavior required to solve the original problem as the “Last Mile.” Unfortunately, the Last Mile is often an afterthought in analytics projects. Frequently, leading edge analytics initiatives don’t generate value or results due to ignoring the last mile. Resistance, lack of trust and transparency, siloed based behaviors, and a variety of last mile issues can often be anticipated and planned for early as problems and hypotheses are defined. Decision makers have a unique understanding of the environment where the desired insight-driven changes should occur. Instinct driven decision making plays an important role in defining Last Mile issues, early in the decision process.

COVID-19 brings a great deal of uncertainty, and decision makers can’t delegate data analysis as they did in the past. Multiple perspectives, judgement and experience are needed to collaboratively define the problems to be solved, potential hypotheses, explore the implications of analyses findings and communicate insight implications.

While data driven insights can provide new “aha’s”, they are best when combined with the decision maker’s instinct to navigate these uncharted waters.

Webinar Recording: Navigating Uncertainty: What’s in Your Analytics Playbook?

Navigating Uncertainty: What’s in Your Analytics Playbook?

Webinar recorded July 22nd, 2020. Hosted by Pam Arlotto and Susan Irby

Uncertainty brings opportunity for change. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare leaders showed remarkable agility and worked collaboratively to deploy new virtual care models, innovate solutions to supply chain issues, and evaluate declines in revenue. As the healthcare industry continues to traverse through uncharted waters, analytics has become an essential navigational tool.

Conventional wisdom and the playbooks of the past may no longer be relevant. Decision makers must deal with uncertainty and think differently. Rather than relying on historic score cards to report “what happened”, leaders are using advanced analytics to explore “what-if” scenarios and model “what will happen” and “how do we make it happen”.

Decision makers should not defer this work to data scientists. They must play a central role in determining the problems to be solved, exploring what and how to analyze, and defining what the numbers mean to key decisions. Healthcare operations, financial, clinical, and business leaders must be able to engage, communicate and act using data driven insights.

During this webinar we examine:

  • The Time Is Now for Advanced Analytics
  • Five Game Changers for the Healthcare Decision Maker
  • Continuing the Conversation: The Last Mile

Navigating Uncertainty: What’s in Your Analytics Playbook?

 

Lessons hospitals and health systems have learned from COVID 19

Over the past few months, hospitals and health systems have made tremendous transformations. They’ve had no choice. Rather than make decisions by committee and consensus, they’ve been forced to be agile, innovative and creative. Pam Arlotto, President and CEO of Maestro Strategies, is encouraging healthcare leaders to maintain that agility using data tools that enable prediction as they continue to navigate through uncertainty.

On July 28th, Pam Arlotto spoke with Don Seamons on episode 36 of the podcast, The Healthcare Solutions Project, on the topic of “Lessons hospitals and health systems have learned from COVID 19

 

The Story of Data

Pam Arlotto was consulted by Healthcare Innovation on the scenario commonly referred to as “one foot in the boat, one on the shore” in the face of COVID-19.

Article by Mark Hagland on May 28th.

Pam Arlotto, CEO of the Atlanta-based Maestro Strategies consulting firm, notes that, “In our new book, Orchestrating Value: Population Health in the Digital Age, we suggest that part of the ‘two feet’ challenge is that value-based care and population health have been tacked onto the existing bricks and mortar delivery system. Our silo-based culture, hierarchical organization structures and conflicting incentives have created roadblocks and barriers to the transition.”

In that regard, Arlotto says, “Interestingly, times of crisis and chaos, force innovation and creativity. Rather than going back to business as usual, the healthcare industry has an opportunity to think differently as we go forward. COVID19 and its challenges drive collaboration across government, community, economic, care delivery and social sectors – ultimately, the very definition of population health. Arlotto notes that, “A recent survey by the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) indicates that 94 percent of Medicare ACOs are “very or somewhat concerned” with COVID19’s impact on organizational performance. Many at-risk ACOS are weighing whether to quit the MSSP or Next Generation models. This could portend a very different business or operating model for the future.”

Indeed, Arlotto says, “Telehealth and digital health, for example, have already driven dramatic change in the ‘flatten the curve’ stage of the COVID19 crisis. As we move to the next stage, health systems will have to intentionally design hybrid (digital-plus-onsite) care delivery models in concert with regional plans that integrate public health, economic and social strategies to mitigate, manage and support patients and the broader population.”

Asked how she sees the issue playing out among hospital-based integrated systems in the next few years, Arlotto says, “We are working with a number of health systems to use advanced analytics strategies to inform their next stage hybrid strategies. Data provides insights on emerging patterns which can drive design of services, patient experiences and revenue implications. For most of our clients, this means combining traditional score cards with real time analytics and eventually moving into the predictive and prescriptive space – ultimately creating a new data ecosystem and platform.”

Using health IT to get healthcare stakeholders working together – Podcast

Pam Arlotto speaks on episode 24 of the podcast The Healthcare Solutions Project, on the topic;
Using health IT to get healthcare stakeholders working together

Pam Arlotto, a past president of HIMSS and a healthcare consultant with nearly 40 years of experience, has a unique perspective on the healthcare industry’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. While the industry has made great strides in improving performance, the pandemic is showing that our data are still too siloed. The silver lining is that the pandemic is showing that when we break down regulatory and cost barriers, we can apply a tech solution like telehealth to a very specific problem like quarantining COVID-19 patients.

Pam’s latest book–“Orchestrating Value: Population Health in the Digital Age”–is available for listeners at a 20% discount. To get the discount, go to CRCPress.com and enter the promo code SOC20 at checkout. Shipping is free.

Click here to listen to Using health IT to get healthcare stakeholders working together on Apple Podcasts

 

The Healthcare Solutions Project features interviews with healthcare innovators working to improve quality, reduce cost and increase patient satisfaction. Hosted by Don Seamons.

Untangling Complexity: Agile Decision-Making During the COVID19 Crisis

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now… let’s admit it,” said Dr Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The outcry for testing from patients and the media has challenged the US government, public health leaders and clinicians in primary care and hospital emergency rooms as they the battle the COVID19 pandemic. It is clear, the complexities of test development and deployment are only the tip of the iceberg as our fragmented healthcare system ramps up our response.

In an ideal world, the public health, care delivery, and payment systems are all components of a unified system – a three legged stool of sorts, guaranteed not to wobble and each carrying its respective weight in managing the health of the US population. Yet, in reality the three legs of the stool rarely collaborate. Each with their own ingrained cultural, political, regulatory and economic incentives. In this world, distinct responsibilities, bureaucratic processes and information systems burden decision making and slow down response.

COVID19, knows no boundaries. In just a few short days, it is smashing the complicated mixture of federal, state, local, public and private organizational siloes and accomplishing more than many of us who have spent our careers trying to improve the system.

The March 17th expansion of telehealth benefits for Medicare recipients by CMS provides a tangible example. Relaxation of HIPAA rules gives the country’s older population access to medical care (both virus related and for other services) without having to leave their homes. Providers can use personal video chat applications like Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype.  Rather than deploying technology for technology’s sake as we have done in the past, this step demonstrates:

  • Coordination across the silos of public health, care delivery and payment
  • Design of a new way of working – based on the needs of the at-risk population and their care providers
  • An agile decision that simultaneously untangled the complexity of the current system
  • Rapid communication of the change through multiple media channels
  • Quick tools forwarded to patients and their clinicians from health care industry associations, data and technology partners and advisors

The 9-11 Commission reported, “The 9-11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management’ (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States 2004, p.339). Today, as we face this threat each step we take provides an opportunity to untangle the complexity, remove barriers and set the course for more agile and unified decision making. What other steps should we take?