Advancing Hillrom’s Digital Vision, a Discussion with John Groetelaars, CEO This Week in Health IT
April 28, 2021

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April 28, 2021: Digital enhances all aspects of care, extends the reach of health systems and enables new care paradigms. During the pandemic we saw the beginning of a move to more convenient environments like the home or retail. John Groetelaars, CEO discusses Hillrom’s role in advancing connected care from the doctor’s office to the hospital to the home plus their digital vision for 2021 and beyond. What’s it like to be a leader of a global organization during a pandemic and time of significant cultural change? How do you keep your manufacturing staff safe? How do you maintain culture with your remote office staff? How do you reduce clinical staff burnout? How does Hillrom identify areas of inequity to ensure that all voices are heard? How are they thinking about a return to the office post pandemic? And as a global company, how will Hillrom continue to innovate in the traditional and emerging digital space moving forward?

Key Points:

  • How much density do CIO’s need in their wireless network for their care settings? When you start counting the number of IP devices, it’s through the roof. [00:04:45] 
  • Hillrom’s portfolio has 1.3 million devices that are connectable to the ecosystem including acute care, med surge, ICU, the OR, primary care, cardiology, vision care and respiratory care [00:05:30] 
  • You need to understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of doctors, nurses and caregivers. Really understand their workflow so that you can improve it without being disruptive to them. [00:12:27] 
  • Hillrom tells all of their employees that diversity, inclusion and belonging is a non-negotiable [00:17:05] 
  • REACH stands for representation, education, awareness, community and Hillrom [00:18:00] 
  • Hillrom 

Advancing Hillrom’s Digital Vision, a Discussion with John Groetelaars, CEO

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Advancing Hillrom’s Digital Vision, a Discussion with John Groetelaars, CEO

Episode 396: Transcript – April 28, 2021

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Thanks for joining us on This Week in Health IT influence. My name is Bill Russell, former healthcare CIO for 16 hospital system and creator of This Week in Health IT, a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. 

[00:00:17]Bill Russell: [00:00:17] Today we’re joined by John Groetelaars the president and CEO of Hillrom. And I think you’re going to be surprised to find out that Hillrom made huge advances in the digital space. I know we see their name on beds and we see their name [00:00:30] Welch Allyn. They’ve acquired Welch Allyn so you see their name all over the hospital in the clinic setting but they are digitally enabling that portion of the business. And they have also made significant acquisitions on the digital side of things well. And we get to talk about that. In addition, we talk about leading and leadership. Being the president and CEO during a pandemic, as well as a time of significant cultural change in our country and around the world. And John shares some great insights with that. I learned a ton from it, and I think you’re going to enjoy it [00:01:00] as well. 

[00:01:00] Special thanks to our influence show sponsors Sirius Healthcare and Health Lyrics for choosing to invest in our mission to develop the next generation of health IT leaders. If you want to be a part of our mission, you can become a show sponsor as well. The first step is to send an email to [email protected]

[00:01:16] Just a quick note, before we get to our show, we launched a new podcast Today in Health IT. We look at one story every weekday morning and we break it down from a health IT perspective. You can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Apple, [00:01:30] Google, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast. You name it, we’re out there. You can also go to And now onto today’s show.

[00:01:39] All right, today, we are joined by John Groetelaars the CEO of Hillrom. John, welcome to the show. 

[00:01:46] John Groetelaars: [00:01:46] Thank you Bill. Good to be with you today. 

[00:01:47] Bill Russell: [00:01:47] Well, I’m really looking forward to this conversation. The the interesting thing is, you know, when I share my sponsors with people they also look at me funny because I have [00:02:00] big tech consulting, cybersecurity you know tech tech and then they go and a bed company.

[00:02:07] You have you know, you have great brand awareness in the bed side of the business but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Give us an overview of what Hillrom does to really kick us off. 

[00:02:20] John Groetelaars: [00:02:20] Yeah. Well Bill you make a good point. Hillrom is a very powerful brand in the mind of procurement and CNOs and [00:02:30] historically with our business but we’ve diversified significantly over the last couple of years through acquisitions.

[00:02:37] So it might surprise your listeners to find out that almost 25% of our revenue today is actually in connected care devices and not beds. So care communications. Connected devices that are utilized in a physician’s office monitor patient monitoring devices from our acquisition of Welch Allyn.

[00:02:58] And that’s the fastest growing part of our [00:03:00] business is what we have been focused on is the connected care portion of our portfolio. The business is structured in three businesses. You know the historical legacy business around our beds in the ICU and med surge. We have a large and growing OR equipment and video integration business.

[00:03:20] And then we have our frontline care business, which incorporates Welch Allyn, has cardiology in it, vision care products as well as patient monitoring. 

[00:03:30] [00:03:29] Bill Russell: [00:03:29] If we rattled off all the brands I don’t think people would. I think they’d be shocked. I mean Welch Allyn is one of those that sort of surprises me. I see that every time I go into a room into a clinic room or whatnot and I didn’t, I did originally put that into the Hillrom bucket of businesses but you also may some digital acquisitions as well. 

[00:03:50] John Groetelaars: [00:03:50] Yeah. We acquired a company in Sarasota, Florida called Volt. Volt medical and they’re a communications company. Well with mobile communications they were the number two [00:04:00] player with smartphone technology inside the acute care environment.

[00:04:04] And they were recently acquired another company called XL Medical. It’s also an MDI medical device integration company to help integrate all the third party equipment into this communication ecosystem that we’re developing. 

[00:04:18] Bill Russell: [00:04:18] Wow. So we’re going to talk, it is This Week in Health IT sob we’re going to talk a fair amount about the technology side of the business. We’re going to talk a little bit about pandemic, a little [00:04:30] bit about leadership. We’re going to go in a lot of different directions. But I want to start with really you know, taking a look at the monitoring of just about everything. I was talking to a CIO recently, and we were trying to figure out how much density they would have to plan for for their wireless network in their care settings in their patient rooms in their OR and their other things.

[00:04:54] And we started counting the number of IP devices and started to estimate the number of IP [00:05:00] devices. It’s really through the roof. The the, amount of information we’re collecting from all sorts of devices just continues to grow. Where are you saying digital really emerged and not only your digital acquisitions but also your traditional business? I mean we’re tracking everything now. 

[00:05:22] John Groetelaars: [00:05:22] Yeah. You know, that’s a great question. Across our portfolio we have about 1.3 million devices that are connected or [00:05:30] connectable into this ecosystem that you’re referring to. And that ranges from care settings in the acute care environment and med surge and ICU and the OR. But also in primary care because of our Welch Allyn you know legacy and my business in that category around cardiology, around VisionCare which moves us into the retail pharmacy environment in the future. And also in the home. We have a respiratory care business that [00:06:00] that actually is both in the acute care setting but also in the home. And and those devices are also connected through wifi or Bluetooth.

[00:06:08] So we’re in all of those care settings from acute to the office to retail to the home and what we’re really pulling together is having a way to continuously across those care settings, monitor patients and improve patient care. 

[00:06:26] Bill Russell: [00:06:26] Yeah. I mean the pandemic really did move care [00:06:30] to the home almost by necessity.

[00:06:32] Do you think that represents a permanent shift at this point? 

[00:06:36] John Groetelaars: [00:06:36] I think a big part of that’s going to be a permanent shift there probably at once, once things, you know, return to, you know a post pandemic environment, whatever that might look like, there’ll probably be some natural return to conventional face-to-face in person care, but I think the telehealth horse has left the proverbial barn and is [00:07:00] never to return.

[00:07:01] And and I think over the long time over the long-term certainly telehealth, but also remote patient monitoring and remote patient diagnostics are going to become more and more prevalent in the future as well as, you know, improving access to care just by going to a retail pharmacy setting and getting more and more your care done at a Walgreens or CVS or a Walmart. Or a grocery store, that’s getting into pharmacy. 

[00:07:26] Bill Russell: [00:07:26] You know, maybe I don’t have enough gray hair but it feels to me like there are so [00:07:30] many, there’s so much movement going on in healthcare right now that the CMS moved to reimburse higher levels of acuity out of the home is really interesting to me.

[00:07:41] Obviously the retail pharmacy aspect of CVS, the Walgreens and their moves, Amazon care and their moves. There’s just so many things going on. How has Hillrom really positioned on this shift that is going  on? Not necessarily away from acute [00:08:00] care hospitals, because they will continue to do that level of care in those settings.

[00:08:06] But just that the amount of care that has been pushed out and continues to be pushed out. How has Hillrom positioned for that?

[00:08:13] John Groetelaars: [00:08:13] Yeah, so we’ve we have seen the beginning of that move to a more convenient environments like the home or retail environments. I’ll give you a couple of examples. In our vision care business, we have a diabetic retinopathy screening device as well as a [00:08:30] vision screening device that we use in schools and in other non-conventional locations for vision screening. But diabetics, you know, unfortunately, well under half of them get their annual vision screening tests done. And that’s because access to a specialist is so difficult. So this device we’ve created as well as the whole kind of ecosystem around it that covers reimbursement as well as the specialists, interpreting images that are gathered is now very well established [00:09:00] and is moving into a pharmacy environment of one of the large national pharmacy chains that we discussed. I can’t mention the name but it’s in a pilot phase right now.

[00:09:10] And we would expect by the end of the year that it’s in a full rollout. And what this allows patients who have diabetes to come into a pharmacy, have a a picture taken with a device that literally takes 15 seconds. To do an exam, an image of both eyes that images and sent to a [00:09:30] specialist to interpret.

[00:09:31] And if there is a a diagnosis that needs treatment, it’s captured early and adult blindness is prevented. So that’s one example of moving care into a retail settings and I’ll probably get into another one later around the primary care office. And how do you expand, you know, telehealth services for primary care physicians that can also digitally capture images and or vital signs and do a [00:10:00] more robust telehealth visit with a trusted device. Like a like a Welch Allyn monitor. 

[00:10:04] Bill Russell: [00:10:04] You know, it’s fascinating to me how powerful and I do this all the time on the podcast. And if people watching the video, though, I’m holding up my iPhone right now, but it’s amazing how much care can be done through this I more and more.

[00:10:17] I’m just seeing devices connected to this, to another device you know, grabbing information, sending it back, taking pictures, sending it to a care physician a caregiver of some kind or [00:10:30] a specialist really, really spreading out our ability to have specialists reach into these remote locations where w where’s digital gonna take us.

[00:10:38] I mean it really is kind of amazing. The, you know, just that use case that you just mentioned and just the number of use cases that we’re seeing emerge out there. 

[00:10:49] John Groetelaars: [00:10:49] Yeah. It’s really an  exciting time. Innovation and connected devices are the start of that. And then, and then adding in this digital intelligence whether it’s [00:11:00] AI or human intelligence that can interpret the data that’s being collected in a productive, meaningful way because you can collect a lot of data. And as you know, and your audience knows data is one thing but you have to have meaningful insights where someone can filter through that data. So it’s, you know, it’s actionable and usable in a way that, you know, integrates with their workflow and allows an enhanced productivity not a step back and productivity.

[00:11:28] I think this whole, this whole [00:11:30] space is. Clearly taking off. It’s an exciting time to think about the future of healthcare in these new settings and how smartphones and connected devices and digital technology is really gonna help enable the future. 

[00:11:44] Bill Russell: [00:11:44] You know, it’s, it’s, I mean, that leads into one of the next questions I want to ask, which is around the clinician experience.

[00:11:52] And I have had those conversations where they’re like, yeah they’re like no mas. No more. I cannot possibly handle another piece of data. You’re [00:12:00] asking me to take data from consumer devices, from remote devices, from all over the place at this point, and the clinicians were really grappling with burnout prior to the pandemic.

[00:12:12] The pandemic obviously didn’t help that situation at all. How do you approach new products to ensure that they enhance the clinicians experience and don’t add additional burdens there to their already you know stressful situation. 

[00:12:27] John Groetelaars: [00:12:27] Yeah. Yeah. It really starts with understanding being in [00:12:30] the shoes of those clinicians whether it’s a doctor or a nurse or other caregiver and understanding their workflow and how do you integrate into that workflow without being disruptive to them.

[00:12:41] And then in fact, enhancing their experience as a caregiver. You know, the consumer smartphone is a great analogy, right? I mean the effort behind creating a frictionless experience with Uber or with Amazon or with any other online kind of B to C [00:13:00] a successful business on a digital platform is what we’re trying to achieve here.

[00:13:05] That doesn’t come accidentally, right? I mean, there’s a lot of work that goes into, as you know, and your audience knows to make things simple and concise and action and streamlined it takes a lot more effort to do that than to just collect data and dump it on somebody. So we spend a lot of time making sure that we’re integrating with the workflow that we’re, you know, not providing false information or, you know, information that’s, you [00:13:30] know, not need to know information at the time and filtering it in such a way where it’s customizable interoperable, but also importantly actionable at the point that the the data is being gathered. So it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort and we’re, we’d rather be patient and do that the right way. So it has a longer trajectory of traction and success in the marketplace.

[00:13:55] Bill Russell: [00:13:55] I want to ask you some leadership questions. I’m going to ask you about culture in a minute. That’s [00:14:00] the one I think is a natural to this, a follow on to this question, which is, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of outside companies, a lot of digital companies trying to come into healthcare. You’re a healthcare company that is becoming digital and really emerging as a digital player.

[00:14:15] You know, which, which do you think is easier, which do you think is harder? Is it changing the culture to really adapt to digital? Or is it learning healthcare and coming in with the digital perspective? 

[00:14:27] John Groetelaars: [00:14:27] I think they’re both difficult actually. And I [00:14:30] think that’s where partnerships come into place. We have an important partnership with Microsoft as an example for cloud-based development, but also they’re helping us with the internet of things, internet of medical things in some of our development work. And we do other development partnerships with companies like Apple and Amazon and others.

[00:14:50] So I think, you know, developing the right partnerships and having those become productive and meaningful is I [00:15:00] think, a better path forward because it’s very hard for both. The tech companies are committed to healthcare and. And that the difficulty of early really understanding how healthcare works and how it’s not as easily scalable as a lot of consumer applications or business applications.

[00:15:18] By the other side, you know, a conventional med tech company it doesn’t have all the digital expertise and things from AI to cloud services, to, you know, even some software programming that we need some help [00:15:30] with. 

[00:15:30] Bill Russell: [00:15:30] Yeah. That’s really, I mean, the partnership aspect of it’s really fascinating but you know, last year, and as I talked to CEOs this year, this is one of the areas I really want to explore.

[00:15:41] You know, last year every CEO had to grapple with to what I would call once in a lifetime cultural changing events. The pandemic and the national response to the racial and really all inequities that exists in our culture as a result [00:16:00] of the death of George Floyd. Talk us through your approach to these events as a leader of a global organization.

[00:16:08] John Groetelaars: [00:16:08] Yeah. So we are a global organization, about 10,000 employees doing business in over 80 countries. About 25% of our, actually about 30% of our revenue is outside United States. So you know, when, when these events occurred both the pandemic and the Georgia Floyd murder you know, it was a time.

[00:16:27] It was, it didn’t take long for us to [00:16:30] jump into action. And for me to jump into action, and I think it starts with one of our core values as a company it’s always been in our DNA and it’s one of our core values is around respect. And respect for one another and respect for every human being. So when that, when this occurred you know we were quick to respond to it with even a public statement.

[00:16:53] We kind of doubled down on all of our activities around diversity inclusion and belonging, which has been [00:17:00] something that I’ve really accelerated as I’ve come to Hillrom. And, and as I’ve tell, tell our employees, you know, diversity inclusion and belonging is a non-negotiable. You know, we, we have to represent our communities inside of our company.

[00:17:15] We have to engage with all members of the, of our communities in the work we do at, in order to fulfill our mission of improving and enhancing outcomes for patients and caregivers. [00:17:30] So it’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time. We have a tremendous number of of of groups, of employees, resource groups that have been in place that are open to all employees to join.

[00:17:41] With various you know, various interests. But following the George Floyd events about a year ago nwe doubled down and collected a group of our black leaders together and asked them what can we do more? And they came back with a really well thought out proposal [00:18:00] that we call REACH. And reach stands for representation, education, awareness, community and then the H stands for Hilrom. So we’ve been really working at all these, all these different aspects around education and awareness, but importantly, representation of our, of our minority groups in our black employees within Hillrom. And I’m very pleased to tell you that, you know, my leadership team [00:18:30] today, over half of them are women.

[00:18:34] One quarter of them are black. Our board is constituted to have over one third of women on our board, as well as has representation from the black community. So I think we’re making good progress with some meaningful, you know tone from the top and examples from the top of the organization, but we have a long way to go.

[00:18:54] Bill Russell: [00:18:54] Yeah. So REACH. Representation, education, awareness. What was C? 

[00:19:00] [00:19:00] John Groetelaars: [00:19:00] Community 

[00:19:01] Bill Russell: [00:19:01] Community

[00:19:02] John Groetelaars: [00:19:02] with our communities? Yeah. 

[00:19:02] Bill Russell: [00:19:02] And then Hillrom. I’m sorry. I was, I was taking notes. That’s a phenomenal framework for for really thinking through bringing the whole community together and having the conversations.

[00:19:16] How do you ensure that all voices are heard within bill Rob? Is there, I mean, do you have forums? Is there, is there a way for people to be here? Have you set that up yeah at a corporate level or is that just happened? 

[00:19:30] [00:19:30] John Groetelaars: [00:19:30] No, it’s been intentional. And we’ve, you know, we’ve consistently talked about the importance of diversity inclusion and belonging well before the Georgia Floyd event occurred. We’ve had employee resource groups that have started with a professional women’s group. But then as it rapidly expanded to include, you know people with disabilities, military, our black community, our Hispanic community [00:20:00] and these are global groups around our company and they’re open to all employees.

[00:20:04] So the women’s group, as an example you know, there’s a lot of men who joined that group women’s group to learn and understand and help with advancing the careers of women in our organization. So in same thing for all of our resource groups, so those resource groups and we have kind of roll up their leadership into what we call a diversity inclusion and belonging council which I’m the chairperson [00:20:30] of and I meet with them on a quarterly basis and we review our progress as well as what our initiatives are for continuing to advance our culture inside the company. 

[00:20:41] Bill Russell: [00:20:41] I mean, this is one of the things I’ve seen, which is really encouraging, is a lot of CEOs are leading these efforts, are really engaging in the conversations and making sure that the organization is that this, this taste there was sort of a I don’t know, sort of a cynical look at it. Like, you know, we’ve [00:21:00] been talking about this for decades. Why is this going to be any different? And I think one of the reasons that I’m seeing is I’m hearing more and more CEOs saying I’m involved in the conversations. I’m listening. I am leading these efforts. And I think that speaks to  the, the, really the permanence. And the momentum of this change. 

[00:21:23] John Groetelaars: [00:21:23] Yeah. I think it’s critical that the senior most leader in the organizations, you know, carries a, not just, [00:21:30] not just talks to talk, but has to walk  the talk. And that can be uncomfortable at times but it’s so it’s such an accelerant. In fact, it’s one of the most gratifying parts of my job, to be honest with you, to be able to see the impact that a CEO can have on the culture of the company. And over a very short amount of time how we as an organization have embraced diversity inclusion and belonging seen measurable impacts and really how it allows everyone to bring their [00:22:00] best self to work and contribute to the mission of the company.

[00:22:03] So it’s been really the most gratifying part of my job. 

[00:22:07] Bill Russell: [00:22:07] So as, as a CEO, I’m going to talk to you a little bit about the pandemic at this point, mostly from just a, an office standpoint return to work and those kinds of things, you know, as a CEO, you had to be obviously concerned for the safety of your employees. That’s first and foremost. But then there’s also this aspect of, you know, how do you continue to get work done when everybody goes home and everyone’s working out of their office. And in a [00:22:30] lot of cases, this is a new environment for a lot of the of staff and whatnot. How are you thinking about the return in a post pandemic world and you know, is it going to be the same? You’re a global company. It’s you really have a lot of variables at play here. 

[00:22:46] John Groetelaars: [00:22:46] Yeah. So specific to office employees, it’s a good conversation to have. I you know. Very briefly, you know, about half our employees are in manufacturing roles. So their work did not change.

[00:22:58] Safety protocols were [00:23:00] instituted very quickly. And we’re very proud of our safety record there. And then also our field service team, which is well over a thousand people in the United States alone. Their lives didn’t change very much either. So as it relates to office-based employees, I’ve been really impressed with how rapidly we and it looks like almost every other organization adapted to digital tools and virtual work and work from home.

[00:23:25] It’s been stressful and especially stressful for young families who [00:23:30] have all been, you know, kind of relegated to the home. And they have children that have educational ages in the backgrounds while they’re trying to do work on online. But the commitment and dedication of the employees to work at all hours and and make themselves available and show that real grit and determination to, you know, continue to fulfill our mission for patients and caregivers on the front line.

[00:23:55] Really, it was a mission moment for most of our employees to really feel like we [00:24:00] had an important role to play. Particularly early on in the pandemic as ICU capacity was being challenged and ventilator supplies were being were in demand. And we were part of a DPA order to fulfill ventilators for stockpile.

[00:24:17] So it, it turned it that that mission moment turned into a real transformative opportunity for us to embrace digital tools. Luckily we’ve just launched Microsoft teams a month before the pandemic. So the timing was really good [00:24:30] for all of us to jump onto Microsoft teams as the platform. And of course, you know, nothing against other platforms, like all work.

[00:24:37] Great. But but it’s been, it’s been interesting to see how productive we actually have been. It’s coming to cost because people have, I think there’s an, a mental toll for a lot of our employees. You know, what the environment or working at home, but we’re now just at the beginning of coming back to work in our offices in various parts of the world where it’s safe to do [00:25:00] so.

[00:25:00] And we’re, you know, we’re adapting some interesting work work protocols to do that. 

[00:25:06] Bill Russell: [00:25:06] You know, I’ve worked from home for a fair amount of my career and it is hard to separate home and work. In one of my offices in the past I actually had a sign over the door which essentially saying you’re leaving the office.

[00:25:23] Right. You’re you’re, you’re going home as I was walking out that door. And it was just a reminder that, you know, there isn’t, [00:25:30] there’s a separation between the two. This is, this is going to be yeah. We could talk about care providers. I mean on care providers we’re really worried about the overload that we’ve seen.

[00:25:41] They obviously have jumped in to really address the pandemic as you know the heroes that they are. I mean, they’re working long hours. They’re doing exemplary work but our office staff office, sometimes doesn’t and really the manufacturing workers and [00:26:00] whatnot don’t get that kind of recognition, but they’re there also, you know, braving a situation where early on in this pandemic, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

[00:26:09] Yes. We put protocols in place but I was talking to somebody the other day and you know, the first time I went to home Depot after we really understood what this pandemic was, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should touch a box. I didn’t know if I should touch a cart. I was concerned. And if we go back to that timeframe, these people were going to work.

[00:26:28] They were [00:26:30] doing things to make those ventilators in the, in those kinds of things. What do you think are we going to have to do some things post pandemic to really distress the situation we’ve been working at a pretty high pace, a fast clip for the last couple of years. 

[00:26:49] John Groetelaars: [00:26:49] Yeah. We’ve been, we’ve been really conscientious of that throughout this last 12 months of making sure we’re supporting our employees you know, with resources, both [00:27:00] financial and non-financial to help them through this you know, mental health resources. And really just our communications.

[00:27:08] And I think I’ve seen this across, you know, our, our caregivers CEOs as well, and in the acute care environment, speaking to many of them, you know, just making sure that communications were very frequent, very, very consistent from the top, you know, kind of filtered out all the middle, you know of the organization so that, you know, we’ve, we’ve found a new profound way [00:27:30] to to reach all of our employees.

[00:27:32] And we’ve gotten you know, the interesting thing about that Bill is that our employee engagement has actually increased during the pandemic which we were quite surprised to see. We did a survey early on, in a survey a few months ago, and our employee engagement actually went up a little bit. So I think as you know, we feel good about how we manage through it.

[00:27:54] Again it was a mission moment. So when you have kind of a purpose like that in the organization, People feel like they’re [00:28:00] contributing to the pandemic and not suffering from it. And I think that made a big difference for us, as well as some of the other things that we did for all of our employees.

[00:28:08] Bill Russell: [00:28:08] What’s do you think the lasting impact on your company is going to be as a result of the pandemic? 

[00:28:15] John Groetelaars: [00:28:15] I think we’re, we’ve catapulted ourselves into a digital environment and our collaboration across, you know, a global organization with 10,000 employees scattered around the world [00:28:30] has come together because of this digital medium. I think now after 12 months we’re a little tired of doing everything on Zoom calls for office-based employees and we’re, and we’re dying to get back to the office and see one another cause we’re really missing a few elements of human interaction that we’ve that we really value around collaboration and brainstorming and, and teamwork and relationship building and career networking that we, you know, that clearly are not advancing as well in a virtual environment. [00:29:00] So we’re looking forward to getting back to some type of hybrid, which I’d be happy to talk to you about my thoughts on that. 

[00:29:05] Bill Russell: [00:29:05] Yeah. Well, you know what I’d like to do in the last couple of questions here is really have you put your vision hat on. It always amazes me CEOs. They have to, they have to be into the operations. They have to be community builders and really you know, encouragers and those kinds of things, psychologists and whatnot.

[00:29:28] But they’re also, they also have to be visionaries. They [00:29:30] have to be looking out a couple, a couple of months, a couple of years and saying, you know, what does this look like? We had a conversation  with Stephen Klasko a little while ago. And he’s one of my favorite people to follow. He’s CEO of Jefferson.

[00:29:43] And he shared his vision for how pandemic 2030 is going to be different than 2020. And none of us are really hoping for another pandemic in 2030. But if we happen to experience one, what do you think will be different in how we handle it based on the experience that we’ve already had? 

[00:30:01] [00:30:00] John Groetelaars: [00:30:01] You know, I do think yeah we’ll look back at 2020, should we have another pandemic, a decade from now and I think we’ll more quickly embrace the idea that digital and data and more importantly, you know, insightful information, whether it’s through AI or through other algorithms really should be embraced and will be embraced. And we’ll look, and we’ll look at those tools and say, wow, that’s [00:30:30] how do I, how did I live without that? It’s such a productivity boost to use these new tools that will be developed in the next 10 years than we have today to improve care, to improve access, to care and to lower costs and really allow us to gain more access to acute care resources in non-acute environments.

[00:30:53] And I think that will be something that we’ll see tremendous advancement in the next 10 years. And when that, you know, [00:31:00] in that future pandemic does occur, we’ll look back and say, well, how did we, how did we get through that one in 2020 without all these tools? Because it came at a human cost of, you know of caregivers at the front line being completely overwhelmed at times in certain locations.

[00:31:16] Bill Russell: [00:31:16] Yeah. It’s interesting. I look forward to the. Really getting about a year past this and having those conferences where we, where we all sit down and talk about what did we really learn? And and what can [00:31:30] we take and in preparation for you know, potentially some event like this happening in the future.

[00:31:37] John Groetelaars: [00:31:37] I mean, I think telehealth is one of the best examples, right? I mean, a lot of things changed to really unleash that and and it just took off. And a part of that was government intervention on reimbursement, which was a really important, you know artificial barrier that was in the way. And now that that’s out of the way.

[00:31:55] The expansion of telehealth and moving more and more care into the home or [00:32:00] into a retail environment is going to be really fascinating to see where that goes. 

[00:32:04] Bill Russell: [00:32:04] Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk about innovation for a little bit. There’s just a, and this is probably the understatement of the century, there’s a ton of money flowing into health tech and health tech innovation at this point. In what area do you expect? Innovators will make the most progress with regard to the clinician and the patient experience? 

[00:32:25] John Groetelaars: [00:32:25] You know, I think, I think you know, one area that we’re going to make sure we pay good [00:32:30] close attention to is cyber security, interoperability and ensuring that the trust of the data is always there. You know we view a lot othe tools. We have a lot of the equipment we have. It’s trusted brands, whether it’s Wlech Allyn or Hillrom or others. We don’t want to lose that trust. And we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that those foundational issues are well in place so that we can advance in the areas of, you know, taking vision care [00:33:00] into a retail environment, taking respiratory care outside of the emergency department and into the home and preventing patients with COBD and from coming into the hospital on a frequent basis because they’re being monitored with their therapy at home. Similarly with other respiratory ailments I think our ability to diagnose cardiology arrhythmias is going to significantly change in the future where you don’t need to [00:33:30] have a holder monitor strap to a patient, you know, for, for 24 hours, you’re to send them home with a patch.

[00:33:37] They might even get that patch at a pharmacy, wear the patch for seven to 10, seven to 10 or seven to 14 days. Send it in for interpretation and data. And then you go to the cardiologist when they have the actual report. And have done the complete, you know, review of the diagnostic portion of that while you were in the comfort of your own home rather than having to see your GP and then a [00:34:00] cardiologist and then wear a device and maybe two months later, you know, getting a diagnosis.

[00:34:05] So I think that that the workflow, the patient experience, the patient engagement and the quality of diagnostics is going to really increase. And that, I think that’s a very interesting area to keep an eye on. And it’s an area that we’re investing in both organically and inorganically to look at.

[00:34:25] You know, how can Hillrom play a bigger role in certain disease [00:34:30] state areas where we know we have expertise and we have, you know, the trust of doctors and nurses to go into that area. 

[00:34:37]Bill Russell: [00:34:37] Last question. I mean that the, you know, it’s from a CEO perspective, there’s so much change happening. There’s so much investment. There’s so much going on. How do you continue to make Hillrom a leader? How do you continue to keep them in the front of innovation? How do you foster that culture of innovation? 

[00:34:58] John Groetelaars: [00:34:58] Yeah, we, [00:35:00] I think it’s knowing our roots and knowing where we’re strong. We have a very trusted brand in the eyes of nurses and physicians in their primary care office or in respiratory care as an example. Where we, where, where, you know, we have a gap is with CIOs right. And getting our names recognized within the CIO’s office that Hillrom is a connected care company. And that over 25% of our business today is connected care. And that’s the fastest growing part of the business and where we’re [00:35:30] investing. Our R and D dollars as well as our capital to make smart acquisitions in this area.

[00:35:37] And I think the more we do that and prove that we can bring solutions that allow real-time patient monitoring in the home or in the hospital to intervene sooner and prevent expensive interventions and reduce costs and improve quality. I think those are the areas where we have the opportunity to shine and drive that real-time [00:36:00] communication onto a device like a smartphone inside the physician’s office or inside the acute care environment where you get real actionable data at the time you need it.

[00:36:10] And not from, you know, a data warehouse that it’s been sitting there for a day, or even for six hours where it’s no longer as valuable as real-time data that can be sent to a caregiver. 

[00:36:21] Bill Russell: [00:36:21] You know, I hope, I hope we’re talking a year from now. And you’re telling me how every CIO is saying, we now understand that Hillrom is a digital [00:36:30] company and the things that you guys are bringing to the table. To be honest with you, when when I had the conversation with Hillrom late last year about being a sponsor, I’m like, I’m not sure it’s a good fit and I’m a former CIO.

[00:36:45] And then I just, I didn’t recognize how much innovation and how much investment in the digital and the connected care space that you guys have done. And I hope when we’re talking to year from now, it’s just, it’s just common knowledge that Hillrom is a digital company. 

[00:37:00] [00:36:59] John Groetelaars: [00:36:59] Thank you Bill for that. And I look forward to having that conversation a year from now and tracking our progress. It’s an exciting time and we’re we’re excited to play a part in that. 

[00:37:08] Bill Russell: [00:37:08] John. Thanks. Thanks for the time. I really appreciate it. 

[00:37:11] John Groetelaars: [00:37:11] Thank you.

[00:37:13]Bill Russell: [00:37:13] What a great discussion. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, from these kinds of discussions, please forward them a note, perhaps your team, your staff. I know if I were a CIO today, I would have every one of my team members listening to this show. It’s conference level value every week. [00:37:30] They can subscribe on our website or they can go wherever you listen to podcasts, Apple, Google, Overcast, which is what I use, Spotify, Stitcher. You name it. We’re out there. They can find us. Go ahead. Subscribe today. Send a note to someone and have them subscribe as well. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health IT leaders. Those are VMware, Hill-Rom, StarBridge Advisers, Aruba and McAfee. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now. [00:38:00]

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