COVID Series: Respond, Stabilize, and Reimagine with Lenovo Healthcare


Bill Russell / Ed Gillispie / Cathy Meister

COVID Series Respond Stabilize and Reimagine with Lenovo Healthcare

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July 1, 2020: It’s more important than ever for IT companies to provide transformative and efficient vertical strategies. In this episode, we explore how the current crisis has catapulted these from being theoretical to practical. Today’s guests are Ed Gillispie and Cathy Meister from Lenovo, the number one PC provider worldwide. Ed is the VP and General Manager of Public Sector and Healthcare and Cathy is the Leader of Healthcare Sales. They’ll share creative ways to deliver technology solutions, Lenovo’s “3S” strategies, how leniency on HIPAA compliance has helped during the crisis and ways to reduce upfront costs in these tight financial times, for both individuals in the home and large healthcare facilities.

 Key Points From This Episode:

  • Making technology solutions more easily accessible and affordable for everyone
  • Intelligent transformation explained
  • Lenovo share their 3S strategies: Smart IoT, smart infrastructure and smart vertical solutions
  • The huge pressure on supply chains currently affecting the IT industry 
  • How can philanthropists help?
  • The upsides of the crisis, including families spending more time together
  • How intensive projects that would normally take months are being implemented in just weeks
  • How to strategize with different communities going through different phases of the crisis
  • Lenovo’s approach to home based care, virtual, remote monitoring and tracking

COVID  Series: Respond, Stabilize, and Reimagine with Lenovo Healthcare

Episode 274: Transcript – July 1, 2020

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] Bill Russell: Welcome to This Week in Health IT where we amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. My name is Bill Russell, healthcare CIO, coach, and creator of this week in health IT. A set of podcast videos and collaboration events dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders 

This episode and every episode, since we started the COVID-19 series has been sponsored by Sirius healthcare special, thanks to Sirius for supporting the show’s efforts during the crisis. Don’t forget. We’ve [00:00:30] gone to three shows a week. Now, Tuesday, we cover the news on Tuesday News day, and we have interviews with industry influencers on Wednesday and Friday. I hope you enjoy. 

Today’s conversation is with Ed Gillispie and Cathy Meister with Lenovo. Ed is the VP and General Manager of Public Sector and Healthcare. And Cathy is the Leader of Healthcare Sales for Lenovo in the U S. Good morning. And welcome to the show. 

Ed Gillispie: Great to reconnect with you. How are you today?

Bill Russell: Good, good. I’m really looking forward to this conversation and we’ve [00:01:00] known each other for a long time. Cathy, not as long, but we’re getting to know each other as, as we go through this.  You know, I think the first question I need to ask you is which college do you think was most hurt in terms of national championships as a result of, of the, of the COVID crisis?

Ed Gillispie: I have a feeling you might be baiting me Bill with my Alma Mater University of Texas. 

Bill Russell: Yeah. Well, I sorta am because I do want an opportunity some way to talk about the [00:01:30] fact that Baylor did defeat Texas and football this year, which doesn’t happen that often. So you have to talk about, 

Ed Gillispie: Yeah, unfortunately that’s true.  And I think you’ve got several wins racked up there in the column that I’m not proud of, but I do respect. Baylor university. It’s a wonderful institution right down the road from me. In fact, as you see in my backdrop, this is Austin and the skyline. And go to Waco often and the respect that institution and hate it when you guys beat us.

[00:02:00] Bill Russell: Yeah, well, I became a fan as I started to spend more and more money there as my daughter, continues her education. So I will continue to support the Baylor colors as the show goes on. But I’m really excited to talk to you guys. You guys work with a lot of healthcare clients across the U S. A lot of different ways that you’re supporting them. And, you know, what I really wanted to do was take a look at what’s been going on, what you guys have been doing and hopefully start to lean into [00:02:30] where it’s going to go next. That seems to be where the conversation’s going. So, let’s start at the beginning, you know, give us an idea of, of some of the ways that you’ve supported your clients during the pandemic

Ed Gillispie: Sure .Great. Thank you, Bill. Appreciate it. which by way of background, let me give you a little bit on the company. as Bill mentioned, I lead the US, public sector and healthcare business for Lenovo. For those of you that may not be aware is the number one PC provider worldwide. Also number one on the supercomputer list for the top 500 supercomputers.

[00:03:00] Our vision is the company is intelligent transformation, simply put, what does that really mean? It means that we’re creating a portfolio of solutions where devices and data center infrastructure work together with software and services to improve people’s lives and transform computing environments more efficiently.

We’ve got a strategy called 3S, which is smart IOT, smart infrastructure and smart verticals. Today. We’d like to talk about smart verticals specific to healthcare and, really what we’re doing, [00:03:30] because it’s right in the middle of this COVID-19 crisis that we’re all facing as I’m sure everybody is dealing with, fighting the virus.

Lenovo has felt it both as a global company. as well as serving all of our customers, we’ve responded. With, lots of local leadership acting to take care of our local teams around the globe, making sure that that’s partly number one, also giving back to communities, today, in fact, Bill we’ve given over $12 million, to [00:04:00] hospitals and schools, community partners around the world, a couple of specific, philanthropic donations we’ve made about two and a half million dollars of equipment and infrastructure  to hospitals about a half, a million dollars of donations for N95 masks, part of the PPE solution, another two and a half million dollars of hardware donations for distance learning, and education both K through 12, as well as higher education, which are markets that we serve in a dedicated [00:04:30] fashion.

We’re also helping customers, providing technology in this crisis. And we’ve been very busy over the past couple of months, as you might expect with frontline workers, especially in healthcare, helping them leverage the strength of our global supply chain and, and our purchasing power, frankly. we are the number one PC provider, as I mentioned.

And that provides some advantages and benefits to customers. And we’ve been serving customers in healthcare provider space, across the U S from California to the Midwest, including [00:05:00] New York where we, deliver and set up, help set up some technology devices, for some hospitals in New York city where it’s been most hardest.

So Bill, those are some examples of kind of what we’ve been doing recently and kind of what our strategy is and focus. In the company, as well as specific to smart verticals in healthcare. 

Bill Russell: That’s fantastic. I love the philanthropic work. I also like the, you know, the smart IOT and smart infrastructure.

I’m sure we’re gonna come back to that as we get going. Cathy, I [00:05:30] wanted to bring you into the conversation because you went to Carnegie Mellon and we started on this football thing. I apologize. It’s just something that Ed and I have done for years. he is always brandishing, his Texas hats and some things to that effect.  But one of the things I wanted to really hear from you is what were some of the biggest challenges your clients had to overcome, with this COVID fight?

Cathy Meister: Bill and I, and I want to start by saying first of all, so while my Alma mater, maybe can’t compete from a football [00:06:00] perspective, I will say from a professional football perspective on my hometown of Pittsburgh is right up there at the top. So just want to get that out there. Okay.  but on a serious note and I happened to be based in New Jersey. So I, I feel very close to, really the epicenter of this pandemic. And, certainly there’s been a lot of challenges, that our health systems have been dealing with.  And we saw these challenges really from our perspective, around two different fronts.

[00:06:30] What was this forklift effort? To work from home, for those employees who could be enabled to work from home. And then also there was just the, the preparedness, within, point of care sites for combating the virus for those non frontline workers, who could work from home. certainly many of them needed a device, right?

They needed a mobile device for at home.  Maybe they needed peripherals, maybe they needed a monitor. They needed to be able to collaborate. They needed some education, frankly, on, [00:07:00] on using those tools. and is that described, there was this huge as there was a huge surge to work from home. It certainly put pressure on supply chains across the IT industry.

Right? And we work very hard, with many of our health systems to try to address those needs as best we could, to support standing up those immediate needs. for, for work from home, we’ve also helped with some best practices around, working from home because we are, we are largely, a mobile company ourselves, right? [00:07:30] So work from home wasn’t necessarily new to us. And we’ve really tried to share those learnings back on with our clients. On the other side, was this more it’s within the walls, right. Of the health system in the challenges. And these were many right. For CEOs and for IT teams, this is, preparing for surgeon patients, right?

So, expanding the number of ICU beds, standing up field hospitals, creating commands, creating command centers, all [00:08:00] very, intensive projects that amazingly we’ve seen that normally would have been months to stand up. Some of these operations happening in days, if not, not weeks. 

And then the other challenge that really played in, was simply this preparing for the shortage, that occurred and is occurring in terms of physicians and nurses, and then the massive shortages from a PPE perspective.

So how could technology be used [00:08:30] to help deal, deal with some of those issues? and certainly ultimately help protect more patients and physicians. 

Bill Russell: You know, it’s interesting as you, as I listen to you guys talk and we’re, we’re hearkening back a little bit to talking about what was it like when the crisis first hit? But it sort of dawns on me as we’re talking about this. And, and I’ve talked to some people who’ve said, you know, go, you might be moving on too quickly because we’re seeing the surge sort of, you know, it hit major cities and [00:09:00] now it’s going to start moving out. And so people are still going to be in that phase that we just talked about, where there there’s still that they stopped, you know, I don’t know, acquire equipment and think of new solutions and those kinds of things for rural locations.

So it’s going to be interesting. So even as we move through this conversation of talking about the beginning of the crisis, it’s going to sound like, Hey, we’re moving out of it, but some communities are just still moving into it and there’s still an opportunity there. but swe’ve moved from [00:09:30] really reacts. So we have this crisis, we react we’re stabilizing, in the process. How has the work shifted from your perspective,  from your vantage point? As we anticipate a surge in some of these, some of these other communities. 

Ed Gillispie: Yeah, sure. Yeah. Great point Bill. I mean, many cases, we’re seeing, you know, a wide range of impact and, you know, It’s certainly caught, I think this industry, as well as most other industries, flat-footed with not having true business [00:10:00] continuity, as we’ve talked multiple times and you being a former healthcare CIO, you know how important it is for uptime and, and probably a lot of peer listeners here on this podcast. And, and really, I would say the pandemic has just accelerated, the digital transformation that a lot of folks who are on that journey, you know, driving adoption of, you know, what we’ll call virtual healthcare telehealth.

I mean, tele-health is not new, but it’s certainly accelerated digital [00:10:30] transformation  and I would say the healthcare delivery system has been, you know, grossly underserved. certainly the business model, as we’ve all been trying to transform that and do our part, but you know, the moves to expand and maybe loosen some of the requirements.

For example, CMS expanding reimbursement to telehealth services, the social acceptance, both physicians and patients, allowing for that to be a viable, delivery for healthcare systems. And [00:11:00] we know telehealth is not new. certainly the groundwork for infrastructure and healthcare workflows have been in place for many, many year . We  just see over the past few months, thankfully, that this has just created an exponential increase for telehealth encounters. I’m sure all of you have experienced that either personally or professionally. I know I have, and it’s been a great thing. this acceleration of telehealth for health systems.

I think is going to be a part of the new norm. At least I certainly hope so. The recent, [00:11:30] leniency on HIPAA compliant platforms and devices I think has helped in the crisis. I think that will change back, but I think the ability for us to be able to deliver, you know, things like in virtual rounding, in acute care settings and remote patient monitoring, even home health care. We’re going to be areas that we’re going to accelerate our advancement in healthcare delivery, which is exciting for me having served the healthcare industry for many years and as a technology provider, we feel very responsible to [00:12:00] help, play a key role in doing that. So we’re excited with some of the solutions that we have.

We want to talk about a few of them today, specifically Lenovo virtual rounding with our Microsoft teams solution is allowing caregivers to visit with patients remotely. And it maintains the patient relationship. Also decreases, you know, PPE requirements. certainly decreases the risk of infection and transmission.

So when we think about smart verticals and things that we can do to provide [00:12:30] technology solutions, both hardware, software services, and partnerships, that’s what we mean by being a responsible technology provider for solutions. I know vendors like us tend to throw the word solution around a lot, but this is a very pragmatic approach that we have.

And we think frankly, responsibility that we have. Being the number one PC provider and having a breadth and depth of solutions at our disposal to be able to provide this marketplace in need. And [00:13:00] frankly, I think at the epicenter of everything that we’re doing right now, helping shape what the new norms will be. So those are some initial thoughts that I have Bill around kind of what we’ve been seeing and what we hope will continue to accelerate in the industry. 

Bill Russell: One of the things I’m hearing from  CIO’s as I have these conversations, Is, you know, we have all these new Lego pieces play with, you know, you talked about virtual rounding and when we think about rounding, we think about going from one hospital [00:13:30] room to another, in reality, virtual rounding, we could do it from one home to the next home, to the next one with an entire team of care providers, which really changes the game.

So, so let’s talk about. Home based care, virtual, remote monitoring, and tracking, and those kinds of things. how does, how does Lenovo approach that and what do we anticipate to be the new focal points for healthcare? 

Cathy Meister: I’d love to love to jump in on that, on that question, Bill. So, Lenovo has been focused on [00:14:00] remote patient monitoring for a while  . The rise in chronic conditions, has something that’s been going on for a while. 

And  recently certainly. these chronic conditions, which has put a certain population, even at greater risk with COVID-19 on perhaps a shed, more of a spotlight on the need to address this challenge for, for really, for our country, for the world. You know, these chronic diseases and conditions that are [00:14:30] contributing to, usually 90% of healthcare costs, require, focus, and targeted care, consistent, targeted care. You know, if outcomes are going to be improved. So with Lenovo virtual care, we’re providing really a continuous connection, between the physician and the patient. Essentially a bridge between how the physician can monitor the patient and in his or her office. so being able to monitor them, [00:15:00] from their, from their own home.  And Lenovo virtual care is a little bit different from other, solutions, because of our virtual  assistant or virtual nurse Rosie  who encourages, positive habit, formation and care plan, compliance.

Lenovo virtual care really allows the provider to remotely monitor, the patient’s compliance, guide them through adherence to their care plan, and even educating the [00:15:30] patients, or family members and caregivers, around, around the condition. and this solution really combines, trusted Lenovo hardware. So it’s a tablet, as well as, biometric and, FDA approved biometric devices. So for example, a glucose monitor or a blood pressure cuff, right. And then AI powered software. And that’s really where that habit formation and reinforcement of the care plan comes together. 

Bill Russell: Yeah, [00:16:00] the thing I like about that as you’re bringing together all the, the components, right?  The biometrics, AI, the software, you’re bringing the hardware together and hopefully creating that solution. You know, one of the things I wanted to, you know, really as a former CIO, I have it in the back of my head. It’s like, you know, we’re heading into a time that’s going to be a really tight financially for healthcare systems.  You know,, with the  loss of the elective procedures and the rise of, [00:16:30] really the loss of commercial payer, with 30, some odd million people being unemployed, how, you know, how has, how I guess head on, I’ll go to you on this. You know, how’s Lenovo gonna partner with health systems to help them to navigate this.

Ed Gillispie: Yeah. Well, great question. You’re absolutely right. Cathy and her dedicated healthcare team in the U S have been, dealing with this now for several weeks as elective surgeries or, or down or nonexistent and, you know, hospitals for. No, not in their, [00:17:00] their normal operations and obviously have a huge financial impact.

So they’re going to be looking for creative ways to deliver technology solutions and ultimately provide patient outcomes and operational efficiencies. And we hope leaning on folks like Lenovo. you know, one of the ways we’re addressing that with this specific solution that Cathy unpacked around virtual care is providing a monthly subscription service.

So being able to deploy hundreds, if not thousands [00:17:30] of this technology in homes, and be able to do that on a subscription basis so that there’s not a big upfront cost, in, in operationalizing that versus capitalizing that if, if the health system, you know, we’re allowed to do that, and we think that’s an advantage for us, we think it’s good for our customers and our customer’s customers.

Bill Russell: Yeah. And I, you know, as I think through this, there’s going to be an awful lot of pull around digital and digital [00:18:00] solutions. Like the one you’re talking about, which actually is going to improve care just across the board. Right. We’re going to, we’re going to be able to help people with their care plans, keep them, keep them moving towards better outcomes, because we’ve always talked about how do we increase the number of touch points.

Between the health system and the patient, because generally speaking, you know, someone who’s healthy, like, like three of us might only see a doctor once or twice a year, maybe three times a year, at most. [00:18:30] And a lot of care happens between those settings and COVID has really increased the need for some of these specific things.

But as I was saying before, I think a lot of health systems now. Are going to look at these building blocks and go, Hey, we can do this for our chronic patients, but we can also do this for our, you know, walking well and our, you know, our active, healthy patients. There’s a lot of ways to increase the number of touch points in a pretty cost effective way.

And I think that’s what I’m hearing from you guys. 

Ed Gillispie: It is for [00:19:00] sure. Thank you Bill for, for teasing that out and being so intuitive. I mean, that’s the, one of the things I love working with you when you are a healthcare CIO, was, how demanding you were of yourself, your vendor partners. And when we reached that status with you, how much you trusted us to be a true partner, because you were right in the middle of digital transformation many years ago, when folks didn’t know what that meant.

We’re now squarely in the middle of it. Years later. Now this [00:19:30] pandemic is accelerating that opportunity for all of us to take advantage of the acceleration of really scaling solutions that are very practical and very real. we’ve got, this smart vertical strategy for us is not theoretical. It’s very practical, virtual rounding solution and the virtual care solution are just two examples of things that we are launching into the market and scaling.

And we’re very excited about it. Continuing to serve the healthcare customers with these [00:20:00] type of technology solutions. we’re very committed to doing, and we love working with customers. Like you that are innovative, that are wanting to challenge the status quo to be, in the forefront, helping lead with technology.

We think that this virtual care solution is right in the heart of our smart vertical strategy, because it enables practical care providers to coach patients through individual care plans, improving, you know, Patient care, experiences, patient [00:20:30] satisfaction, even incorporating family engagement, which I don’t know about you, but I’ve been engaged with my family more than ever with our three daughters at home, from college.

And you know, whether you’re together in the confines, in, during a COVID pandemic or whether you are dispersed. you know, you need your care team, especially if you are a chronic care patient. And we believe that this is right, at the helm of providing that, in terms of helping.

Deliver care management with the [00:21:00] family and with your loved ones that may be critically ill or chronically ill. And it’s certainly aimed at helping reduce hospital admissions, which we know is a huge issue. we don’t want to use, hospitals as a regular their care need. So this innovative approach that we’re taking at Lenovo specifically in healthcare, us to provide a cost effective solution.

For chronic care management is really important and a big passion of mine personally, and of the companies we plan to continue to [00:21:30] invest in smart vertical solutions and provide more value to our healthcare provider customers. And we just appreciate Bill the opportunity to talk a bit about it today, and share it with all of your listeners and hope we have an opportunity to serve more of our customers with these types of solutions.

Bill Russell: Yeah. And, and thank the two of you for taking the time to meet with me today. We’ll have to, stay connected and see, you know, see how things progress. I’d love to, you know, potentially pull some of your clients and, you know, in [00:22:00] six months or so three, six months or so, and, and hear about some of the things, that we’ve, we’ve really been able to do to push all of these things. Push care forward. Really. 

Oh, we would love to do that bill. Thank you for the time today and Oakland Horns. 

Cathy Meister: Thanks Bill. Great being with you today. 

Bill Russell: So, Cathy, what is the phrase? What’s the phrase from Carnegie Mellon. You have no idea do you? 

Cathy Meister: Oh goodness you put me on the spot. Sorry Bill.

[00:22:30] Bill Russell: That’s alright. I don’t know what the Graven college one is either. Don’t worry about it, but. You know, but I do know the Brayton one SIC ’em bears. So thanks for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. That’s all for this week. Special, thanks to our sponsors. VMware, Starbridge Advisors, Galen Healthcare, Health Lyrics, Sirius healthcare and Pro Talent Advisors for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders.

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Please check back often as we will continue to drop shows until we get through this pandemic together. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now.