The word ‘progressive’ can mean different things to different people, particularly when used to describe a health system. To Jeff Brown, it means an organization that breaks free from traditional boundaries, both when it comes to patient care and its guiding philosophies. It’s precisely what he sought when he arrived at Martin’s Point earlier this year, and he hasn’t been disappointed. In this interview, Brown talks about the non-hospital-centric model that he believes is the future of healthcare, why his timing was perfect in terms of strategic planning, and how his team is working to create a seamless care experience. He also talks about partnering with vendors, the dire need to focus on senior care, and his passion for teaching.
- Goal to provide “real-time data to make real-time decisions”
- MPHC’s strategic plan: “A much more iterative, dynamic approach”
- From acute to ambulatory CIO
- Working with Maine’s HIE
- Making data sharing more progressive: “It’s raising the bar of data liquidity”
- Role of CRM in improving loyalty
- Patient engagement as a competitive advantage
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We’re keenly focused on optimization of our EMR. We’re looking at what are the best population health tools on the market that can help accelerate and transform things we want to do around gaps in care, risk stratification, quality reporting, care management, and care management-integrated pathways of care.
Unlike many organizations that look at a strategic plan that’s 3 to 5 years and is static, we’re going through a much more iterative and dynamic approach. Our strategic plan is going to be something we not only look at year over year, but something we’re going to revisit continually
There’s a lot of great data sharing going on, but it has to get to a place where it’s more progressive — not just point-to-point data sharing, but more clinical summaries, more advanced directives, more continuity of care records, and more real-time alerts and pings.
When our seniors call, we want them to feel that we know who they are, and we know who they spoke to last week or just five minutes ago. That creates a positive interaction and a stickiness to our healthcare system, and I believe that’s going to be a very unique competitive market advantage.
Brown: It does start with some of the core ingredients. I think like most people in the marketplace, we have an EMR that’s shored up and can provide a certain amount of data. We’re really starting to look at how do we enhance the patient experience and engagement model, and so we are looking at tools like CRM (customer relationship management). We’re keenly focused on optimization of our EMR. We’re looking at what are the best population health tools on the market that can help accelerate and transform things we want to do around gaps in care, risk stratification, quality reporting, care management, and care management-integrated pathways of care.
Then we’re really focusing — as are most people — on how do we shore up our current big data ecosystem that’s been organically evolved over the years, where we can get it to a higher level of data quality that gets us to a next generation of providing real-time data in a more visually displayed and interactive mode that ultimately gives care providers throughout the whole delivery system and health plan access to real-time data to make real-time decisions.
So, I think like most advanced organizations, that’s our maturity model that we’re going to grow into over the next few years.
Gamble: And this is part of the strategic plan that was recently developed — is that something you came in and started working on right away, or was it in place before you arrived?
Brown: My timing was perfect. Literally just as I landed, we were kicking off this new year-over-year strategic planning cycle, which, as a new leader, I really appreciated. What I really love about our CEO is unlike many other organizations that look at a strategic plan that’s three to five years and is static and gets shelved, we’re going through a much more iterative and dynamic approach. Our strategic plan is going to be something not only that we look at year over year, but something we’re probably going to revisit continually throughout the year.
It’s been a remarkable journey for me as a new leader, but I think more importantly, it’s really been a cultural engagement strategy for a large part of the organization to see the executive team and other leaders really mapping out a detailed strategic plan and vision with what are the specific things that we’re going to focus on this year and the years to come.
Gamble: One thing I imagine must be interesting from your perspective is going from the acute care environment to an ambulatory care system. In terms of how you interact with clinical leaders and even clinicians, has it been a bit of a learning curve?
Brown: No, it’s been a wonderful transition. What’s really interesting is throughout my career, especially in my roles as a CIO, I’ve been very fortunate. I happened to have been at organizations where, as the CIO, I typically played a larger part in transformational initiatives that brought me outside the hospital walls. I’ve also been part of large healthcare systems where I’ve been intimately and deeply involved on the ambulatory care side.
For me, this has been a career journey and trajectory that I’ve ultimately hoped for. I am much more passionate and much more comfortable as a CIO leader in the ambulatory care space because I think the next phase in generation of healthcare is going to be hugely impacted by what happens outside the hospital walls. I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to be part of an organization that has been doing this kind of work for 20-plus years now. As an executive CIO leader, I can come with my experience and help guide the IT capabilities and marry those with the strategies on how we can even be more progressive and competitive in the market space.
Gamble: Right. One thing I’d meant to ask earlier was do you have any affiliations or partnerships with hospitals? How does that work as far as data exchange?
Brown: The way we look at it is we’re an independent center, but obviously the success of us managing our population really is a model of all boats rise together. One main advantage we have is the state of Maine has a very progressive state HIE, HealthInfoNet, where throughout the state of Maine, a lot of information and data is being shared. We actually do share a lot of data with Maine acute hospitals directly within the area.
I think what you’re going to find over the course of the next few years is reflected in another part of our population health strategy, which is how can we even be more progressive with our private or state HIE in terms of sharing more robust data. It’s still a common theme. There’s a lot of great data sharing going on, but it has to get to a place where it’s more progressive in terms of the types of data and the types of the robust data — not just point-to-point data sharing, but more clinical summaries, more advanced directives, more continuity of care records, and more real-time alerts and pings if our patient show up in the emergency room or get admitted or discharged. And so it’s really raising the bar of the healthcare data liquidity in order to better care for our patients — that will be our next journey. I think that’s a pretty common theme for most states. We’re hoping to get there pretty quickly over the next year or two.
Gamble: Right. Now, you mentioned that as part of the strategic plan, one of the focuses is patient engagement. This is an interesting area, because fairly recently, when we talked about engagement, we talked about portals. Now, I think we’ve realized that’s the Stone Age as far as what the capabilities are. What is your strategy when it comes to patient engagement and what do you hope to see happen?
Brown: It’s such an astute point. I think now, patient portals are par for the course. They’ll get you to a certain level. In that space, what patients want are really simple things: to message their provider, look at their lab results, request a medication, and do med refills.
We talk a lot about patient engagement, and I refer to it as the gray space of healthcare. I think it’s one of the most untapped frontiers when you think about patient and customer engagement. As a CIO, I’m becoming more and more convinced that there’s a real opportunity in the customer relationship management space, to better engage, inform, predict, and I would even say respect and improve patient loyalty and overall experience, and provide a seamless care delivery experience within Martin’s Point.
Over the next several years, part of our strategic plan is going to be focused on really progressive ways of looking at the patient experience. Ultimately, we want a seamless, reliable, and predictable patient experience when they call us. We want the ability to track and monitor all those interactions. And especially when our seniors call, we want them to feel that we know who they are, and we know who they spoke to last week or just five minutes ago. That creates a positive interaction and, dare I say, a stickiness to our healthcare system, and I believe that’s going to be a very unique competitive market advantage, and an experience we want to provide for all of our patients. That’s an area that is ripe for innovation. We talked earlier about vendor partnerships. I’m very excited about these things that we’re talking about and our strategic plan in that area.