The Healthcare CIO Look Back / Look Forward series with Joel Vengco the CIO for Baystate Health
Bill Russell: 00:04 Welcome to this week in health it events where we amplify great ideas with interviews from the floor. My name is bill Russell healthcare CIO, coach and creator of this week in health it a set of podcasts and videos dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders. We want to thank our founding channel sponsors who make this content possible, health lyrics and VMware. If you want to be a part of our mission to develop health leaders, go to this week, health.com/sponsor for more information. This episode is sponsored by health lyrics. When I became a CIO, I was really overwhelmed at first and one of the first things I did was to sign a CIO coach to walk with me through the journey. This was someone who had wisdom that can only be gained through years of experience. It was invaluable to my success in the role and I now coach CIOs through health lyrics.
Bill Russell: 00:55 If you want to learn more, visit health Lyric’s dot com or drop me a note at [email protected] over the next three weeks. We have a huge treat for you. I’m really excited about it. Uh, I just got back from the chime fall forum in Scottsdale, which was a great event and we caught up with 12 active CIOs from various size health systems and asked them to take a look back at 2019 and I look forward at 2020. Uh, you’re going to hear, um, what they’re excited to have accomplished last year and what they’re looking forward to accomplish next year. I asked each of them the same eight questions and I think you’re going to be fascinated to hear the similarities and the differences based on where they’re at. Geography and other things. Each of these interviews is about 10 minutes long so you can listen to them really quick.
Bill Russell: 01:41 And some of you listen that one and a half times speed. So it’s going to go like that. Uh, we’re going to publish one a day, uh, with a few news day episodes sprinkled in through the end of November. So check back every day for the next episode and don’t forget to look back to see if you missed any. Our next guest is a returning guest, Joel Vengco. I caught up with Joel last year at the a chime, well actually this year chime spring forum at the HIMSS conference and I got a chance to sit down with them again at the chime fall forum and we have a really fun conversation. We actually ended up talking for about a half hour. You’re only going to hear about 15 minutes of it, but, uh, really appreciate this perspective. Joel is the CIO for Bay state health. Hope you enjoy.
Bill Russell: 02:23 So Joel Vengco, uh, Bay state health in Massachusetts. As you, uh, educated me on the last time you were on the show.
Joel Vengco: 02:31 Good to see you again, bill.
Bill Russell: 02:32 It’s good to, yeah, I appreciate you sitting down with me. This is great. Sure. And, uh, you know, what I’m excited about is we, we now have 10 CO’s on the record, including you, uh, answering the same eight questions. So people get an idea of how different size health systems in different markets are thinking about things. Just the challenges. I mean, there’s a core set of challenges that are same across healthcare and then a geographic challenges. Some, uh, we just had somebody on all rural hospitals and I said, you know, what’s, what’s the most challenging thing? It was like our network and you think about that, you’re like, Oh yeah, that would make sense to me. I mean, you’re in this town, in this town, you’re not in Dallas and Houston. You’re in… Someone’s calling me.
Joel Vengco: 03:20 You have more important things to do.
Bill Russell: 03:22 No, this is the most important thing I have going on. So I really appreciate you being here. So, um, the first question is not necessarily how’s the role of the CIO changed in the last five years, but how has it changed over the last year? How have you felt sort of a change in the expectations of the role that CIO in 2019?
Joel Vengco: 03:40 Well, you know, I think it’s, it’s continuously be becoming more of a strategic role. You know, there were, there was a point in the last five to seven years where folks are even questioning whether the CIO role was going to exist, right? Is it going to be the CDO? Is it going to be the chief transformation officer? Now those roles absolutely exist. But, um, I think the CIO role is really transforming and to be, uh, become a, uh, a senior leadership role focused on strategy, really focused on the business with, uh, expertise in technology. And, you know, that’s, that’s really where I’ve, I’ve seen my role evolve over time as I’ve even elevated to the president’s cabinet, which is what we call our, uh, you know, sort of senior leadership, um, uh, team under the CEO and a lot of the discussions there about what, you know, what’s, what’s the strategy for Bay state health look like? How do we support that? And, and by the way, what’s the technology, uh, that has to support that business objective or those strategy
Bill Russell: 04:39 So that’s what they’re looking at. They’re looking for you to say, uh, to look at the strategy and then look at the technology landscape and things that are going on in your market and understand that and sort of apply technology to those.
Joel Vengco: 04:53 Absolutely. Yeah. So, so they, there’s an expectation, at least in my team, and I appreciate that expectation that, um, that I should know the business. Now, you know, I don’t have any clinical background. I did go to medical school for a couple of years before I dropped out. And, um, but that’s a different story. We can do a different interview for that one. But, um, and my parents did forgive me after I dropped out now that they know what I actually do. Um, but, uh, but you know, I think as a CIO in today’s environment, if you don’t understand the business, you don’t understand the folks that utilize the technology. Um, you know, you’re going to be in a really deep, dark hole and you’re going to be isolated. And they’re just going to treat you, uh, like what I think they treated a CIO as a technologist in the past, which is sort of the basement, you know, lights on, keeping the lights on, kind of team.
Bill Russell: 05:41 Make sure my iphone works, make sure my laptop works.
Joel Vengco: 05:43 I mean, there’s still some of that. Right. But you gotta get yourself out of that.
Bill Russell: 05:46 That’s the core of the core of the job. Yeah. Um, w I’m glad you’re talking about business and business strategy. So what are some of the business strategies, maybe three, have your three priorities for your health system next year? That health it is expected or is going to support,
Joel Vengco: 06:02 you know, the, the, the elevation of the consumer, uh, into, into really every strategic plan is a big, a big thing. So there’s a focus on the consumer, uh, or our community really. I mean, it’s always been about the patient, but now there’s this notion about how do you really engage with them, um, using various vehicles and channels, including digital. So consumer is a big deal. And that, and really just rebuilding our health system, uh, with the consumer in mind rather than with the provider in mind. That’s sort of the first big strategy that we have for the next three years. Really. Uh, population health continues to be, um, you know, a big deal for us. Value based care and population health are kind of bundled for us. Um, and, and you know, we’d been in that game as I spoke to you about last time for quite some time and we continue to increase our risk pool. Uh, we’re close to 50% of our population now. Um, and then we’re going to continue to grow that. Um, and I think the third is really our, our workforce. Um, you know, our CEO is really, uh, focused on, on making sure that our workforce is, is not only engaged, uh, but they understand with clarity where we’re going, um, and they feel like they’re part of the mission and, and, uh, and we’re giving them the tools that they need and the training they need to really effectuate a transformation in the health system.
Bill Russell: 07:18 So let’s drill down on this a little bit. Um, so if I were a patient in your community, what’s, um, you know, what’s one thing that you’re doing that’s going to materially impact how I experienced care within your community?
Joel Vengco: 07:33 Well, you know, access for us is a big issue. Um, one that we’ve been attempting to tackle for quite some time. And, uh, and really now it’s, it’s really, uh, the, the core probably the, the, the first core pillar of, uh, or the first core step of, of our consumers and journey is really figure out how to, how to address this access issue. Um, and so for the consumer, we’re really trying to figure out how to put them, you know, give them the right care, put them in the right environment, give them the right access to our health system. Um, and again, that, that comes in a variety of different channels in different means, but we have to know our patients first to be able to say, Hey, bill, uh, you know, we know you’re fairly healthy and we know you’re, you’re just sort of post-surgery and probably afraid of, of that. Um, that, that big wound that you have on your chest, but you know, you really don’t have to go see your cardiologists. You can go, uh, you know, to X, Y, Z, um, channel to, to engage with us.
Bill Russell: 08:32 So there’s a lot more than telehealth, there’s a Tel tele-health there, there’s some, um, are you looking at chatbots and those kind of things or, we
Joel Vengco: 08:41 have started to look at chatbots. We haven’t really done much in terms of piloting yet, but we’re considering, you know, how that can, um, help our contact center triage some of those calls appropriately. Um, we’ve been using apps also that we discharge patients with, um, that help them with their care plans. They’re managing their pain, um, you know, giving them the access to care managers and even, um, you know, uh, physician extenders as they need them. Uh, post-surgery. So there are, uh, we’re starting to use a lot of these different, um, tools, um, to really sort of manage the care post surge outside of the house, uh, hospital, et cetera.
Bill Russell: 09:22 So how about one initiative that’s going to go ahead? Same kind of question materially impact the clinician experience.
Joel Vengco: 09:30 It’s really, well, you know, we’re, we’re optimizing, uh, continuously optimizing our EHR. And, um, and so I’d say that that’s probably our, our biggest and perpetual, um, you know, piece of work is to continue to optimize the EHR and, um, and some of that is, uh, in the native EHR and, and, and then other initiatives that we’ve taken on are actually sitting on top of the HR, like an app, uh, that we, uh, actually helped develop in tech spring.
Joel Vengco: 10:01 Uh, it’s, uh, it’s called Praxify and it actually, it’s now owned by athenahealth, but, um, we’re a Cerner shop in Athena has this app that actually sits on top of Cerner that enables, um, you know, hospitals for example, to round on patients, uh, very seamlessly using their, their iPhone. And they can see the documentation. They can actually document, um, we’re about to execute on a function. They can actually do orders through that app. But you know, things of that nature where we’re giving folks the ability to choose. Um, and I think that’s an important part of, of our optimization work is we’re hoping to get to the place where we’re giving clinicians choice on how they interact with our EHR.
Bill Russell: 10:44 So that’s one of your wins from your, uh, your, uh, innovation.
Joel Vengco: 10:49 Yes, absolutely. You know, when, when you have clinicians saying to you, uh, you know, bill had this app, how come I didn’t get it?
Joel Vengco: 10:57 That’s, that’s a win. Especially when it’s a technology that you deploy. Uh, adoption is a big issue with technologies, you know, and if clinicians are asking for it, that’s a good thing. When it goes viral, it’s a good thing.
Bill Russell: 11:09 What’s the name of your innovation arm again?
Joel Vengco: 11:11 So it’s called tech spring.
Bill Russell: 11:12 Tech Spring Thank you. Cause you mentioned it there again and we talked about it. I think you’re assuming that the audience is going to know this, but we have a lot more listeners now than we had then. Okay. Then when we talked at HIMSS. So, um,
Joel Vengco: 11:24 yeah, tech Springs, our innovation, um, it’s basically our, uh, innovation center, uh, at Bay state health. But, um, I’d say it’s a very unique model in that, uh, really the focus of it is to identify what we call passion problems in the healthcare system and match them up with, uh, folks who can actually deliver transformative solutions to those problems. And a lot of them, you know, either come by way of, uh, you know, uh, a vendor partner that we have, um, somebody that’s outside of the industry who they have a great, um, you know, idea, uh, startups, et cetera. So they, they come in, uh, meet us at tech spring and, and they connect with these, uh, these business leaders across the enterprise to solve some of the biggest problems.
Bill Russell: 12:05 So what’s, uh, I’d you look at 20, 19. What’s one of the things that you’re most proud of your health, ITT for having accomplished?
Joel Vengco: 12:15 You know, I think that our, our focus on continuously improving our clinician experience is something that is, again, it’s a journey. But, uh, this, this past year has been, I think a profound, um, move forward, uh, not just with the technology itself, but getting clinicians more involved in deeply involved in the technology. So that they can make change. Um, it’s not enough to just complain about the, you know, unusable, um, components of the EHR. But to be a part of that is, is a, is a big deal. And I think my team has done a great job at really involving them but also being out there, you know, they round a weekly, um, on every unit. Um, we have business relationship, uh, partners or business relationship managers is most called them, um, for every division in the, in the health system. And that’s created a, a really deep connection, um, with others.
Bill Russell: 13:13 That’s a neat model. Yeah, there’s part of me that wants to go deep into that then ask your questions around, you know, how you finance that and what other roles those people are doing. And
Joel Vengco: 13:24 you know, I think, I think that’s a great conversation to have cause we, we, we were challenged by that. Um, uh, that very question, how do you finance that? But you know, I can share with you guys, um, how we sorta did it and it was really sort of a very innovative approach.
Bill Russell: 13:38 We will, we will definitely do a full full episode with you. Not the, uh, at the abbreviated. This is the second abbreviated one we’ve done. We’ve just got to, we’ve got to schedule the other one. Um, you know, I’ve been phrasing this question as, you know, what’s your biggest missed opportunity for 2019? And, uh, I’ve gotten some feedback now that it’s not the best way of asking that question. So not PC enough. Well, no, I think I want to ask the question to get to an answer is, uh, you know, we’re also busy CIO jobs, busy job, a lot of priorities, a lot of things people want you to tackle. What’s one thing you wish you had had given more time to in 2019 that you just couldn’t get around to because of all the competing priorities?
Joel Vengco: 14:19 Oh, that’s a boy. That’s a, that’s a great question. A loaded one, but it’s a great question. You know, I, I think that, um, I’d say probably the, the, the, the one area that, um, that I think really needs a lot of focus, at least our, our, um, organization, uh, is our, uh, consumer platform. So back to the consumerism piece, um, you know, we’re really, uh, just I’d say, uh, optimizing our patient portal. Um, and so we really focused on, on really creating a, an experience of what I’ll call a traditional portal, um, to, you know, to the level that I think it needs to be at this point. But we really didn’t create, uh, a broader strategy or, you know, we didn’t really execute on a broader strategy of, of really beginning to engage patients, um, the way that I would have liked to.
Joel Vengco: 15:10 But it also starts with, um, what I’d say is that as a larger coalition of, uh, you know, partners across the enterprise. And so I guess maybe that’s the, that’s the big sort of regret for the year is that because of all the things that we were doing, bringing on a new health, um, new hospital, uh, you know, going live with Workday, all this stuff that you, you know, we do. Um,
Bill Russell: 15:34 so you were just sitting around on your hands all year,
Joel Vengco: 15:36 all year. I was just sitting like this, you know, um, but you know, not being, not bringing folks to the table and say, Hey, let’s, let’s talk about the consumer strategy and therefore let’s talk about the digital strategy. So we’re going to do that this year. Um, we’re really gonna focus on bringing folks from a variety of disciplines to talk about that strategy.
Bill Russell: 15:54 Work day, new hospital,
Joel Vengco: 15:55 work day, new hospital, TeleTracking.
Joel Vengco: 15:57 I mean, you name it, it’s, you know, uh, it’s the everyday CIO, right?
Bill Russell: 16:03 What’s an area you’d like to see more innovation that within healthcare that you’d like to see? The industry really moves the needle.
Bill Russell: 16:11 Um, you know, at some level it’s not an innovation. It’s really at sort of back to the sort of blocking and tackling. Um, or actually plumbing. I’d really like the, the, the industry to really focus on data. Um, you know, data management, um, making sure that the data is, is liquid and liberated. You know, it’s, it’s, I think we’re getting there with, uh, you know, with things like fire and all the API work that folks are doing. Um, but there’s also that, that that one sort of area that’s still kind of not sexy, which is, you know, you’ve got to manage your data so that it can be usable.
Joel Vengco: 16:48 When we talk about AI, we talk about, you know, um, ML, all these great buzzwords, you can’t do any of that stuff if your data is not, it’s not good, right? So, you know, maybe it’s not innovation, but maybe there’s an innovation that can help us really manage that, that data better and get us to a place where, you know, we can really leverage that information. Because at the end of the day, when we look at all of the things that are on the horizon that we want to achieve in healthcare, which is a transform it so we know who you are and give you the proper care, it comes down to, it boils down to do we have information about you enough so that we can do an Amazon and it’s going to be doing, which is, you know, not only are they gonna start to, you know, sell you stuff, but they’re going to say, you know what? Cause you bought that stuff and because you’re, um, you know, in this region and because you’re X, Y, Z, uh, this is what you need in your healthcare today.
Bill Russell: 17:39 I was talking to a healthcare CEO and, um, they were saying, Oh, and actually we were talking about an article and they’re, they’re saying, Oh, you know, what you need, uh,
Bill Russell: 17:50 dictates an awful lot of your health. Right. And there was this study, and if I remember the study was in, it was in London and they could buy a zip code based on grocery data. Uh, almost predict the pie, the health of the population in that community. When you think about Amazon and their push now, same day delivery, uh, Amazon fresh, uh, free for prime members. This is not an advertisement for Amazon, but it’s, but it’s interesting to see now that, okay. And, uh, Cerner is an AWS platform. So you have your Cerner that you have your patient data in there. You could potentially have a significant amount of grocery data in there. You could, I mean, there’s some interesting, uh, interesting things that start to evolve in terms of really getting a clear picture of the whole patient.
Joel Vengco: 18:36 That’s what we’re workig on.
Bill Russell: 18:37 We’re leaking into a full episode here. So let me, so we did a survey of our, uh, listeners and one of the things they want me to start asking CIOs is, uh, what roles do you intend to hire in 2020? Do you think there’s going to be growth? And need?
Joel Vengco: 18:58 So, you know, one of the areas that I’m really focusing on right now is, um, in this, uh, area of design, uh, you know, design thinking, human centered design. Um, you know, it’s, it’s really an area that I think technology it really needs because it’s no longer just about, you know, plugging things in or deploying things. Right. Um, there is, you know, there are considerations of workflow, um, and considerations of, of use. Um, I don’t want to use the word delight, but you know, folks use delight oftentimes in terms of, you know, uh, how does this really impact a provider or user? Um, you know, folks who understand how to create journey maps of both the patient and, and users of our technology. But ultimately it’s, it’s designing a, either a workflow or even an app, uh, that requires a different type of, uh, sentiment and different kind of skillset that, um, that I think it organizations just don’t have. And there are some organizations out there that, that have some really great, uh, examples of, uh, design studios, design teams. And I think that’s, you know, one of the areas that, um, you know, I think it would help us, you know, that was just what the consumer is in strategy but also with the, the, the workforce piece and making sure that we’re doing refire.
Bill Russell: 20:20 Interesting. So the big winner in these, by the way, this, these questions has been, uh, the arts because now it’s, I mean people have said data science and those kinds of things cause we have a lot of data. We need to do stuff with it. That was my second one. But, but an awful lot about creativity. It’s like, okay, how are people using this technology? How can we make it more usable for these people? How can we, uh, for our users and, and uh, you know, it’s really the coming together of your left brain and your right
Joel Vengco: 20:48 brain. Yeah. Well I think that’s going to be really, I think those are going to be the careers of the future. When you think about where, um, you know, technology is going AI, I mean, you know, the stuff that we’re coding right now, which is mostly now drag and drop and you know, fairly rudimentary, not rudimentary, but you know, they’re, they’re very nice. Um, uh, coding segments. Not like when we were, you know, starting to code, but, um, you know, that’s going to become a commodity kind of an activity. And really the, the winners of a, I think industry is, are going to be folks who can create stuff out of nothing. You know, it’s design. It’s, it’s the, you know, let’s build this and make it look like this. And then sort of just, you know, give it to the machines to, to really sort of build the, you know, the, and I tell that to my kids all the time when, I mean they love, they love math, they love, um, technology and, and I say, you know, what’s even better is the stuff that you guys do. Um, you know, in writing and in drawing and, and you know, the, um, the creative side is really what is going to I think gonna be the, uh, the profession of the future in many ways. The liberal arts, if you will. Joel,
Bill Russell: 22:00 always a pleasure. I’m, we’ll have to schedule a full episode, uh, after, after HIMSS probably. Great. So I look forward to that. Thank you sir. Okay. I hope you enjoy the conversation. Remember to check back often as we’re going to drop an episode a day for most of November of 2019. Following that, please come back every Friday for more great interviews with influencers. And don’t forget every Tuesday we take a look at the news, which impacts health it if you want to support the fastest growing podcast and the health it space. Here’s a few ways that you can do that. The first share it with a peer, share it with a friend, share it with somebody who’s working right there next to you. Number two, sign up for insights and staff meetings. These are services designed to help you in your career. Number three, interact with our social media content. On Twitter and LinkedIn. Number four, post or repost our content. And number five, always send me feedback. [email protected] your insights continue to shape the channel. This show is a production of this week and health it for more great content. You can check out our website at this week, health.com or our YouTube channel. Special thanks to our sponsors, VM-ware and health lyrics for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now.
The Healthcare CIO Look Back / Look Forward series with Joel Vengco the CIO for Baystate Health