Pacific Dental is changing the game with rapid innovation in the Dental space. We sit down with their two hard-charging IT leaders to find out how innovation happens at Pacific Dental. Hope you enjoy.
Pacific Dental is changing the game with rapid innovation in the Dental space. We sit down with their two hard-charging IT leaders to find out how innovation happens at Pacific Dental. Hope you enjoy.
[0:00:04.7] BR: Welcome to This Week in Health IT Influencer where I discuss the influence of technology on health with the people who are making it happen. Today, special guests, two people that used to work for me who have gone on to bigger and better things. David Baker who I’ve had on the show before. He is the CIO for Pacific Dental, a DSO, Dental Services Organization out of southern California.
Billion plus – I think it’s heading towards two billion – dental service organization and the person we like to call our mad scientist, Mostafa Khairzada who is just a wickedly brilliant innovator within – he was within healthcare, now he’s within healthcare on the dental side and he and David are doing some really exciting, cool things at Pacific Dental and I can’t wait to share that with you.
My name is Bill Russell, healthcare CIO coach and creator of This Week in Health IT, a set of podcasts, videos and collaboration events dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders. This episode is sponsored by Health Lyrics. I coach healthcare leaders on all things health IT. Coaching was instrumental in my success and is the focus of my work at Health Lyrics.
I’ve coached CEO’s of health systems, startups, CIO, CTO’s, you name it. If you want to elevate your game in 2020, visit healthlyrics.com to schedule your free consultation. I recorded this episode a little while back, again before we moved. I went on site with them in their location. I really wish I could have given you the tour that they gave me of the really – they have this lab that they’re working in and they’re doing some great stuff around the dental experience.
3D printing and modeling, I can say these words to you but I couldn’t show you pictures of all the really cool things that they are doing. Great conversation. Hope you enjoy.
[0:01:41.8] BR: All right. Here we are from the headquarters of Pacific Dental Services. I’m here with two of my favorite people in all of healthcare. I’m going to say healthcare because I interviewed Steven Thorn and Dan Burk and they made it clear to me that the teeth are actually inside the head which is actually part of your body which is part of healthcare.
[0:02:02.5] MK: That makes sense.
[0:02:02.9] BR: They drove that home which is such an obvious thing and we just returned from the health conference and the thing I loved was the – Bernard Tyson, CEO, standing up there and saying, the head is – we have disconnected the head from the body and everyone’s thought was you know, he was talking about mental health.
You of course –
[0:02:22.0] DB: That’s also dental.
[0:02:23.6] BR: You leaned over and you’re like, “He’s talking about us!” and I’m like, “I don’t think he’s talking about you,” but you’re absolutely right and I think the industry is starting to recognize that. This was actually planned as our – this might be a little more familiar because we have worked together for a long time. These two gentlemen were on my team at Saint Joseph Health. David was innovating on the consumer experience and we define consumer a little different.
We were talking not only about the consumer of the services but we’re also talking about our internal consumers.
[0:02:51.5] DB: Patient and physician experience.
[0:02:52.5] BR: Yup. Mostafa was his secret weapon. Mostafa Khairzada and I’ve written blog articles about you and David has taken his secret weapon from Saint Joseph over to Pacific Dental and we’re going to dive into innovation at Pacific Dental because I think, you know, it’s a good continuation of what we’ve been doing.
Just to give you guys some idea, we planned this as our hundredth episode like extravaganza and I just published episode 147th.
[0:03:20.0] MK: Nice.
[0:03:21.6] DB: You should have done 150 then at least.
[0:03:22.6] MK: Good for you. It’s nice.
[0:03:25.6] BR: Maybe this will be 150, we’ll see. Because you guys have been very busy, there’s a lot going on in dental.
[0:03:31.9] MK: There’s been 47 episodes since we committed to that 100th one.
[0:03:34.2] BR: Yes.
[0:03:35.2] DB: You are a content producer, I’m impressed.
[0:03:37.0] BR: A lot going on. Give us an idea, you know, I’ve interviewed you twice and we’ve interviewed your executive team which was phenomenal interview but give us an idea of where are you looking to innovate within dental today? What are you looking at? What technologies and what things are going on?
[0:03:54.5] DB: I’ll give you the high level, it’s probably good question here for Mostafa, seeing that he lives and breathes in that space. I think we’re at a pivotal point in dental for sure, and in healthcare. I think things are finally coming together more seriously, everyone preached and talked about interoperability for the longest time and I think it was just a nice to say, people falls in the conversation and that was good enough but we’re genuinely approaching a point where systems are coming together for sure, finally.
People are open to interoperability and it really meaning that we pass data between each other in some way or another.
[0:04:33.5] BR: You know what’s interesting is, we did an episode on Wisdom because you’re implementing Epic’s Wisdom solution. When you go to my website and you look at the search history results, when people are looking for Epic and dental, your episode gets hit a ton from Google search and people are – that’s what they’re looking for.
You guys are being looked at right now as what are they doing with Epic and is that interoperability play really going to be the catalyst for dental and medical to come together?
[0:05:04.8] DB: I mean, I hope it is, that’s the anticipation, right? I think the power for us is bringing together not only – you have your medical, both the primary care and the acute. Now you have dental and you also have pharmaceutical, dependent on who you’re with, should you be with a CVF for example, pharmaceutical will be there.
Should you be with the same them on the minute clinic. Primary care, and then with us, we’ll be the first DSO in the US to be able to bring that complete continuum of information together, that’s exciting.
[0:05:36.0] BR: That is. It’s really fascinating to hear but Mostafa, I want to get to you so the blog article I wrote about you. I mean, you’d think different when it comes to innovation. I remember one time I went over to the hospital where you were stationed. I said “Mostafa, what’s new, what’s going on?” You’re like “It’s awesome. We’re doing so many great things.” I said “Well, just – what went on this week.” It’s like “Well, I spent the entire day yesterday in a patient bed.” I’m like, “The entire day.” He goes like “Yeah, to get a feel for it. You got to lay there.”
I’m like, my first thought was, “Why is David allowing you to sleep during the day?” But then you went through – you said, “Here’s what I’ve learned.” You just rambled off like five or six things right in a row and it was interesting because from that point on, I ended up talking a lot about the ambient sound within those rooms and what we’re doing to address them.
But that’s what you really have to do, you have to put yourself in that environment to really see it.
[0:06:32.5] DB: That thing continues by the way. I think it’s awesome and he doesn’t get to sleep as much on the job anymore but he does – he’s in – even a whole week to demo recently.
[0:06:42.5] MK: Yeah.
[0:06:43.0] DB: He’s out there living and breathing it.
[0:06:44.7] MK: I think that that’s the secret to being innovative in any industry, I believe. I think that if – you know, most people say, “How do you invent ideas?” and all that. It’s really not really a big secret. You go, you look at the workflow and then you see what are the gaps and what are the areas that you think can improve. Now, you know, we were earlier kind of joking around about like my personal journey, right?
Part of what really drives that is that I experienced healthcare in such a not positive way. I mean, I didn’t have a great experience in healthcare, this is like seven years ago, right? When I was going through my own stuff and for me, it was like I made a commitment to myself and I think to people, if I was in a place of influence that I could change some technology or some component of a workflow to help patents while they’re in their most vulnerable state, that in the end that was going to be what I was going to measure myself with, you know? In the end of your life where you’re thinking about, “Was I a good enough person? Did I do things correctly and did I help people around me?” Because ultimately, that’s all that matters.
These experiences really helped me kind of figure out what I needed to do. Yeah, I did spend a couple of nights in a bed, I did spend – David and I have this joke, I did spend a Friday night from 6 PM until the following day, 2 PM that Saturday at an emergency department. Only just because I want to see that experience. When I tell people about like our own personal experiences, nobody really sees it that the same way because it’s your personal experience.
I thought, “How can I learn somebody else’s experience, other than you know,” the best way to do it is sit with them and just kind of feel it out.
[0:08:27.6] BR: Some of the things you were working on were kind of fun. Microsoft Connect in the OR. I mean, that was back in the day which was pretty interesting to even think about and you know, you watch surgery and you’re sitting there going, “These guys don’t really – can’t really interact with the technology because there’s no good way to do that.” Now voice has really taken center stage there but at the time, voice was nowhere to be found and connect was really coming about.
Talk about that one a little bit I know it’s gone by the wayside but it’s just – how did that like, how did you go, playing with your kids at home, OR, these things should work together?
[0:09:05.5] MK: Yeah, I always sound like I’m on a soap box but part of being a successful technologist in healthcare is breathing and living the experience and so one of the things I did was I called a neuro surgeon and I said, “Hey, I’m a technologist. I’d really love to sit and watch you do brain surgery.” That was the best part.
He was just like, “What?” I said, “Yeah, you know, I want to know when’s the next time you’re going to do surgery. I want to sit and watch you.” And he says, “Look, I have a spinal cord surgery that I’m going to do in a couple of days. It’s six hours long, do you want to do it?” I said, “Absolutely, let’s do it.”
One of the things I realized while I was watching him and the coolest thing was he’s explaining the process as we’re in that room and there’s all these people walking back and forth and there’s all these assistances and he’s doing this thing, he’s standing in one place for hours and hours and he’s got his hands, you know, he’s using his hands to carve and do all the things that he’s doing and he’s got these images in front of him that he would periodically stop and he would kind of stare at the image.
These are PACS images, you know, the radiology images and there were some that were 3D, some that were just 2D X-rays and he would stop what he’s doing, walk around the bed where the patient was or – and then he would go on to the computer and he would use these special things so that he would still stay in the sterile field and then he would kind of play with the image, look at it and then he would walk back and then he would get into it. And then he would go back again.
That whole process made me think, “For every time he’s interrupted to do something, that takes him out of his flow.” Right? One of the most important things I’ve always felt was like, once you’re in the flow, you’re less prone to making errors and you’re much more efficient and you’re thinking, real sequentially and it’s processing better.
Then I thought, “You know what? My kids, when they go to the mall, they’re always just like playing with these things, what if I brought that device into the OR, attached it to the PACS system and then register the hands of the surgeon with that system so that no matter who walked in front or who else stuck their hand up, it would only register that physician’s hand, the surgeon’s hand,” and then we kind of built these rules that if you do this, it goes to the next image and if you do this, it’ll make it smaller and larger.
[0:11:17.2] BR: This was like back in 2014, 15?
[0:11:20.3] MK: My son was asking me, you know, he’s like “What is it like when you’re creating this stuff?” right. One of the hardest things is when you’re working in fields where you’re – I’m not saying it’s just me, it’s people that do what we do, we’re sometimes so far ahead of the industry and the way that we’re thinking of things that it’s really hard to sell the idea. That’s where the difficulty thing comes in, you know?
We did some of that with the hands free stuff and then you know, we brought in some of the robots to monitor patients that were at high risk of falling. Some of the executives like when you explain it to them, they get it, you know? You guys get it. But then there’s others that are like –
[0:11:58.8] BR: Our job is to represent you well. The other crazy thing was, just the – go over to Saint Jude’s hospital where you were at and I go into the basement, I’d look over and be like, “Are those 3D printers?” “Yeah. We just got like four of them.” “How did you get four or three printers?” He was like, “We’re like trying to figure out how they’re going to be used in healthcare and that kind of stuff.” I’m like, “I’m the CIO, you’re getting with the hospital but I can’t get them at the system.” Because you are where it was happening as they say.
[0:12:30.4] MK: And vendors wanted to – a lot of them still do, in fact, funny, I’m laughing because it’s the same now, but they’re more modern and in his test kitchen as we call it. It’s probably like six other things that lined up with all sorts of goodies and you know, I mean, we’re working with I think some true pioneers for sure in the Google and the AWS space. I mean, we’ve done some fun stuff.
[0:12:51.5] BR: Okay, that explains that a little bit more. The other story – actually, I want to get to that if you’re able to talk bout some of those things you’re doing with Google at AWS.
[0:13:00.7] DB: Yeah, we can touch on some of that. To go back just your early questions. Just playing around in my head – we got as far as Epic is not the first company I think of when we say like innovations. This is a topic around innovation, right? I think that they are in the healthcare space but ultimately, that tool has got to be an amazing operator’s tool physician’s tool, doc tool, clinician tool. Where they can get in and out the information that they need to as quickly as possible to name and make decisions.
The interoperability’s key because the money if you like is in getting that data out, right? Once that data’s out, the way we’re manipulating it and what we’re applying on top of that is – that’s why I think we’re at this tipping point. It’s mind-blowing because the tools are learning right? Themselves, machine learning, AI, overused terms like that.
It’s here, it’s now and we can take it through some really pretty amazing stuff.
[0:13:52.4] BR: The thing I loved about our partnership, the three of us as sort of partners is fanatic, David was fanatical about the consumer and actually, usability around the stuff. Can we use it, can we get in and out? I understood the business innovation. There were some times where you guys were so far out there that I was like, all right, that’s not going to help the system and so I could help guide you in those kind of things. Mostafa, you were just always coming up with –
[0:14:17.0] MK: The clinical usages.
[0:14:18.3] BR: Clinical, I mean, I remember the day you came to me, you met a guy at the garage and you followed them all day through his –
[0:14:26.0] MK: Yeah, you remember that story? My god, that’s a good one.
[0:14:29.5] BR: That’s what you did well and then you’d say, “Okay, here’s where we’re falling down.” I remember you know, a couple of those things where they came together where we were trying to redo the clinical workstation. Now, we had state of the art, really, did have state of the art. I mean, we had the in provided client, we had smart clients, we had state of the art for healthcare.
I remember looking at each other going, “Yeah, this is state of the art for healthcare but this is not state of the art.” We’re like, all right Mostafa, dream up. What’s next, what’s the next thing? You just went into your lab or whatever you do and you came back and you’re like, “Here’s what we’re going to do, it’s going to be an android device that could run the EMR on it. They’re going to carry from room to room just dock it and it’s going to sort of look like this.
You were making significant progress on that when we left and you guys moved over to dental.
[0:15:20.4] DB: That was so far ahead back then. We made that video and same thing. I did the talk the other day on innovation and the power of making sure that internally you have that emerging technology as we call it here at our innovation team group and that those investments are like – it’s seen as a luxury but I would argue that it’s absolutely not and if you don’t invest in disruption yourself within like another overused term I know. But it’s true.
If you’re not there as a pioneer, you’re going to be the next Kodak moment. It’s so interesting to watch the amount of traditional companies that displace. You know, dental is traditional and that’s why I’m grateful here, that’s such an entrepreneurial tech forward thinking company. It’s like, “What’s next, how do we become the best and ensure that we maintain the status and the number one dental company in the US,” and it’s through a lot of those applied technologies.
Think about going into our office, right? The first thing I always recall, you know, when I came in to the company, when I was interviewing and I walked in to one of the offices and I’m like, “There’s a tooth printer. They’re printing teeth, this is amazing.” I still call it a tooth printer; it makes me laugh. But it’s a milling machine, it’s quite common now but we have every single office is enabled with one of these fantastic pieces of technology that enables you, same day dentistry and we’ll print or mill the crown.
Those days of putty in the mouth and waiting with temporaries and then calling you back in a couple of weeks, they’re gone. It’s like, “We will see to you same day in the chair and then you walk out with that crown.” I think that’s phenomenal and lots of folks are still not at that point but that’s just basics for us so I think it’s a good head start.
[0:16:52.8] BR: Talk to me about innovation in dental. The first thing is you know, there’s different levels of innovation and Epic is innovative in the dental space in that what you guys see is businesses coming together, medical and dental and the only way to really plug in to that is either to create a new kind of HIE that brings the terminology of dental and medical together, ergo, with the largest medical EMR that’s out there that has a dental –
[0:17:20.3] DB: Or do both.
[0:17:20.7] BR: Which naturally brings it together. I mean, that is a form of – I mean, the reason we talked about that from innovation is it becomes a platform which we can grow the business on.
[0:17:29.9] DB: We’re going to create DIE, then we will information exchange. I think, like, why not? This is one of the things that gets overlooked and in some of the work that we’re doing, it’s bringing you know, partners together for the greater good. You know, sometimes, you would as competitors, there’s areas where, you know, you can all come up together exactly the same with healthcare or HIE.
[0:17:47.2] BR: You can hold this. No one wants to hear me, they’re here to hear you.
[0:17:51.0] DB: I think, yeah, twofold, it’s a foot in the door quickly with an amazing partner like Epic who have, you know, such a footprint already. And then, how do we help the others come along? How can we even, you know, assist private practice. What’s good for us is good for other folks, right? It’s not just about flying solo all the time, we work really closely with some of our other counterparts and how we can affect the dental industry in general and bring that along.
It’s disparate. There’s so little information sharing, there’s so little interoperability. It makes healthcare seem ahead.
[0:18:23.1] BR: Mostafa, what’s in the lab? What crazy things are you working on? That you’re able to share.
[0:18:28.7] MK: We’re focused on precision medicine right now a lot.
[0:18:32.0] BR: Really?
[0:18:32.8] MK: Yeah, a lot of precision medicine. We want to use math to solve healthcare problems and so we’re playing a lot with augmented, artificial intelligence. There’s a big movement, there’s a lot of companies that are doing some of these stuff. For us, we think it’s not a big deal, we think it’s just a natural course in evolution and technology in healthcare but precision medicine, customized medicine, those are the areas that we’re most interested. We’re looking at tying –
David touched on a little bit of oral systemic health. So we’re the head, the body, right? How can we do that in the most effective way other than taking complex mathematical formulas, putting in some inputs and getting the desired outcomes that we want. One of the coolest things I’ve always had in my mind in the last 10 years is that – and this is a quote, it is on my whiteboard. It says, “We have all the answers, today it is the questions we seek.” It is how do you ask the right questions so you can get the answers out and then make it make sense for your business, whether it’s improving patient satisfaction, reducing cost, increasing revenue, whatever.
[0:19:39.8] BR: So let’s talk in each area. Let us talk about the consumer experience. So you guys are retail. So I want to talk about the consumer and then I want to talk about the dental practice owner and then I am going to talk about – we’ll start there and then I want to come back to the system because you guys have done some innovative things there as well. So let us talk about the consumer. What are some things that you guys are looking at from a consumer experience to start with?
[0:20:03.1] DB: We should have talked and thought about what we are going to speak about here because there is a ton we are working on. Some is really some secret sauce and some is, I think we can unleash on the world now. I think –
[0:20:14.6] BR: Put some stuff that is in pilot, you know, we are going to be reading about anyway here shortly.
[0:20:19.1] DB: So from the consumer experience, why don’t we talk briefly because there’s stuff that’s 101. It is not viewed as innovative but it is – a lot of dental that can’t get it right, right now. So, online scheduling, one of our amazing success stories this year and that was Mostafa came in and really pulled the group together that did that. We were told it couldn’t be done. Technology is too old for the middle ware and applying some of that.
I mean now 30% of all of our new patient bookings are done through that system, right? So it is leveling the playing field and just given the basics. I can book a haircut online, but why can’t I book a dental appointment? Now you can so we crush through a bunch of smaller wins. There big wins and then on the consumer experience side it is just making it – how do we make it easier for the patient to communicate with the office in the way they want to communicate as quickly as they can.
So he’s bringing together again on the patient experience a series of products, of self-service opportunities to gat that point to point communication right between patient and office. Text messaging was one.
[0:21:22.0] MK: Sure. We are taking a lot of the value-based purchasing concept ideas and applying it in dental using technologies. So we’re constantly thinking about how do we improve the patient experience. You know, one of the things that we are going to do and very shortly is with Epic our patients are going to have MyChart on their phone. So they are going to be able to be a lot more mobile. They are going to have a lot more access to their data.
This is something that I don’t remember my mom – my mom was a dental assistant for almost 30 years and she worked for – with her dentist and she was amazing and I can’t wait to talk about with them about this stuff that we are doing now because he is retired but nobody ever thought about electronic records much less your record in your pocket and now you are seeing your tie back between what your dental health looks like and using Epic, we can then look at other information.
And then being begin to look at correlating your overall health so we are doing some of that. We are looking at how can we effectively predict for our patient population, what their wait times are going to be like when they come to a supported office. So we are looking at where are our patients at any given time. We are looking at technologies that will help us understand for different types of cases that the clinicians are working on, how long those cases take and how long they ought to take.
You know some of the learnings that we had in managing operating room efficiencies and we are bringing those ideas into this environment and then we are looking at using some IOT to help us build that information for us. Some stuff like that and then the AI stuff.
[0:22:54.9] DB: And then you know the chair side as well in terms of say for that same day at industry, how do we get good, amazing information in front of the patient, stuff that they are not used to seeing in the average office. So for example, oral DNA is big for us, the salivary testing, things that you wouldn’t normally see we are now able to present and present chair side and build this dental dashboard, right? This portfolio of so many feedback points to help the patient make better decisions around their treatments.
It is more than just the human who a lot of folks don’t trust especially in that new dentist. You go – you know what it’s like. I think everyone’s got a story. They go to the dentist and everyone’s got a great dentist and everyone’s got a horror story from a dentist it seems because it is just that one doc that is in front of you giving you their opinion and it differs. So you go to one dentists, you need four fillings and crown. You go to another and everything looks pretty good, you just need a clean. It’s like who do I believe? So for us it’s applying technology there as well to help facilitate that expedited trust. We’re really giving good feedback and giving good options. There is no harm in verifying as well with the technology and putting it in front of you and there’s so few folks who are able to do that.
[0:24:07.4] BR: So talk to me about – so Steve was on the show and he talked about growing over two billion in four years or something. I mean the growth curve is pretty significant. So you guys are adding new offices constantly and some of those are rural, some of them are local, how are you doing that? I mean that was hard for us with physician practices in major cities. How are you doing it in Louisiana? I mean you’re in 30 states, 20 states, I forgot what it was.
[0:24:35.2] DB: It does change, 21 I think.
[0:24:38.0] BR: 21 states and there is some rural locations, some city locations, what kind of innovation did you do – and this is like incremental innovation right? We have been doing a lot of this stuff but you have to get faster at it, better at it, more efficient at it because you are growing at a faster pace.
[0:24:54.8] DB: All right, I mean for me it’s about modeling the amazing business blueprint that’s in place for PDS. I don’t think that –
[0:25:04.6] BR: So you have an office blueprint that exists.
[0:25:07.3] MK: Yeah, it’s a checklist now –
[0:25:08.8] BR: This is the phone list or phone system looks like.
[0:25:11.1] DB: It’s the magic sauce in general, right? I mean when you can prescribe – I have seen so much success from the company with our own dentists, in the practices and then just having these amazing flyaway successes because they follow the model and the partnership and we are there to support them, right? So you are taking everything off their plate, they are focusing on the art dentistry and building their practice and that proven model was behind them.
And it just keeps improving because we’re just pushing this incremental technology improvements a long way into the office. We just want to give minutes back every day and we want to be able to help them work with the patients more expeditiously and getting that better quality of data so that they can just commence treatment. So, I mean we solicit the feedback from those offices constantly and are looking at what else can we put in there and there is a whole pipeline, right?
But right now there is a specific blueprint and it is only getting better and next year is going to be pivotal year for us. So I say that obviously because our big Epic deployment is coming. Our data will be fully liberated. We will have a pretty impressive I would say data warehouse and the way that the visualization of some of that stuff and the AI that we are planning at the top is incredible then you’ve got the foundational stuff like SD WAN in every office, right?
Not many folks have done that. We’ve embraced it, we’ve deployed it, we have really, really fixed and good solid architecture on the back end with fail over, with speed, enabling media in every office, enabling the touch screen and digital signage. I mean it’s really – this has been a couple of solid foundational years. Next year is the year when a ton of this comes together in our future state office.
[0:26:51.7] MK: And you know what? There is another cool project that we’re working on. Now imagine this, we’re looking at CB Cone Beam CT technology to look at the human anatomy at the head side. Not only are we going to be able to – this goes back to precision medicine. Not only are we going to be able to diagnose better using better technologies but now we are moving into things like airways and looking at sleep apnea issues and starting to look to see if that becomes part of that is one of our offerings as an organization, right?
And so these are some of the interesting things that we are working on and including our partnership with some of the primary care offices that we’ve lit up in the last year or so. Those things are super exciting.
[0:27:38.0] BR: Actually when you were just talking there it took me back to imagine this – you did this all the time with me. It was like, “What if we could do this?” So I’m sitting there going, “Okay, well if we could do that that would be really cool.” And you start a lot of conversations that way.
[0:27:54.3] DB: We did. We are in the middle of our corporate plan cycle right now where we start to look at what does next year look like. Really mature process around where do those R&D dollars go. What do you want to achieve as a company against our strategic business plan and it is the same thing with this. This is the fun thing. You did a – what did you call it, the offsite the other day?
[0:28:15.7] MK: The innovation offsite?
[0:28:17.5] DB: Yeah, so he does an innovation offsite, he gets a bunch of people there and it was like kids in a candy shop for some of us right? So it’s like, “Imagine if time and money were no barrier,” and then he just went crazy for a couple of days but out of that, these visualization sessions are great. This is stuff over the years, right? I think we have learned from some of the big five. We are so good at stealing stuff now from really clever people.
And so we’ve got all of these great visioneering kind of methodologies that we run through and just watching everything go from nothing is crazy, let’s just go and put everything out there and then you whittle it down to maybe those top five – 10 and then that is what you begin to frame up and then you frame it up in such a way that you get a little enthusiasm and some backing around that stuff and they become our goals for next year.
This stuff is going to help to move the business along. It is going to be a better situation for the patient, better situation for the office. So it is fun going through that but the crazy stuff, just going back to your point just then about yeah, he is in element and in his mad scientist invention point.
[0:29:19.5] BR: So the last question I really want to get into is, one of the challenges I always had in managing was you wanted to do the innovation stuff. You always want to be the mad scientist. Just give me a lab, I’ll come up with really cool stuff and we always pushed you back into an operational role, not one that was too overbearing but one that sort of kept you grounded was one of the things I did and I am wondering if that continued mostly because I want to look at David and roll my eyes.
I am wondering if that could continued and does that help you or does that hinder you. I mean how do you – because we all have parts of our job that we don’t really enjoy.
[0:29:58.2] DB: Don’t roll your eyes first of all but sometimes I roll my eyes and I’m like, “Damn it, I sound like Bill, why would I? Stop it.”
[0:30:06.9] MK: David and I talked about that actually when I was first starting here and I think that we both agreed we’re both pretty inventive and it is kind of a weird – because most people are very alike don’t tend to get along very well. So there is moments where I am starting a sentence and then he’ll finish it and there’s moments where he’s like, “Hey, what if we did this, this and this,” and then I will say, “Yeah and then we can do this, this and this,” and then it’s just like this package, right?
That kind of relationship is really cool to have. That is one of the success criteria I think. You need to be in line but we talked about operations and one of the things we both agree on is that in order to be inventive, you have to know where the holes are or the gaps are or the problems are and you can’t not know that and you can’t know that stuff if you are not involved in it and if you are not seeing it day to day. So one of the groups that I am responsible for is the clinical operation support team.
Which in big healthcare is like the BioMed Group and so this group is split into two. One is the architect, so these guys are constantly thinking about the next iteration of the systems we’re bringing in and then the other folks are responsible for supporting those existing clinical applications and systems mostly and not so much applications but I feel that it is really good to have that honestly.
[0:31:17.3] DB: You can’t get too stuck. It has to be a well-oiled machine really. So he has a reputation for obviously the great invention –
[0:31:25.4] BR: Nobody talks about, “Oh my gosh you got the database to go 15% faster.”
[0:31:30.7] MK: Yeah, he’d see that.
[0:31:32.2] DB: He is also a good operator as well, right? He can go in there, streamline a team, build the culture of the team and get them delivering amazing customer service. So he’s had to get that dialed as well. So that’s come along but you’re right, they go hand in hand. There is a whole other side that folks don’t see and there’s the balance that you don’t want to get sucked into operations because you’ll never get to spend time on the innovation.
So it is a balance but I think we’re at a point now I think it is balanced really well. You’ve got a great team out there supporting those folks clinically on the clinical devices, right? And yet you’re able to spot gaps. How can I make their life easier? You don’t always know, you can’t glean everything just sleeping in the bed for one night in the ED. You need to live it and breathe it a bit more and owning a piece of the operations helps with that I would say.
[0:32:16.4] BR: He is not making you do the Epic implementation is he?
[0:32:19.2] MK: Well I am responsible for the MyChart implementation and deployment so that is one of the pieces that I do own. I have to say though honestly Bill, the most important part of having an inventive company has a couple of key pieces. One is that it has to have an executive group that is very mindful of the future and not so much the present. The present is great, I love it but what’s next is what we should be constantly thinking about and how do we adjust for that.
And when executives are thinking that way, people like me flourish because I am not thinking about today so much. I am thinking about tomorrow, and then the next is how can you build a team that you can trust. The one part of what I do that I’m absolutely the most proud of is my team. My team is so, so good. I have 24 team members right now. I mean, every one of them is just an amazing human being that has a great sense of empathy and care for what they’re doing.
But one of the things that we did very strategically is we’re building these smaller groups with product managers. All of our product managers come from hospitals so they all have that clinical background, that clinical experience and I think that is part of the thing that makes this kind of a thing successful.
[0:33:35.2] BR: That’s fantastic. What I forgot to add. Are you guys, I assume, based on the way you are doing cloud, you are doing AWS, you’re doing Google with their insights, all things you can’t talk to me about.
[0:33:46.7] DB: I mean it’s multi-tenant. We’re equal opportunities. So who’s got the best product. We like to look at ourselves as a platform company. By that I mean we could pull in and out the components of best of breed as we go with as little impact overall. So we have a phenomenal set of middle ware tools I would say and some great data transformation tools assigned to bring it together but yeah, we can do a ton of stuff.
The nice thing with going multi-tenant is that you could bring – Google have come in and sat down, talked to us about areas of AI and image recognition and stuff that it just is best of breed naturally out of it. That is what they do, right? And then Amazon on the back end with more of the traditional cloud compute layer right? I mean, they’re nails at that. It is just common place now.
[0:34:34.4] BR: And you replaced the phone system with the cloud based phone system as well.
[0:34:38.7] DB: Yeah we did. I am just laughing at this because that was a big pain point initially. So I am a big fan of RingCentral, have been to partners, you know we work real closely with them. We have great relationships with them that take time to build and you know that’s been a vendor, we got a huge amount of success on something as basic as the phones. We’re trying to get people off the phones. Who like speaking to humans anymore right?
But we are still a big part of the day in searching the offices so yeah, they need to work right? So email is going to work, the phone is going to work. None of this stuff is going to win you CIO of the year but it is all unnecessary. So I think that our foundational product line is solid. It speaks volumes in the up times that we enjoy now and it’s making IT boring and then we are keeping the trains running on time Bill but then we’re building track and he’s building airplanes. I heard that song somewhere from someone.
[0:35:29.7] BR: IT needs moving the background and sort of disappear but be enabling everything. Guys, I am looking forward to the 200th episode where it will definitely be the three of us hanging out maybe in the lab that would be –
[0:35:42.8] MK: That would be cool, yeah.
[0:35:43.6] BR: That would still be a lot of fun. Of course you would have tarps over a bunch of stuff.
[0:35:46.6] MK: We do, we do have some tarps.
[0:35:48.5] DB: Top secret science.
[0:35:49.6] BR: There is nobody gotta see.
[0:35:50.9] DB: So this would be 150?
[0:35:52.3] BR: This will probably be 150 yeah and we go from there.
[0:35:55.7] MK: Nice, after all the editing you’re going to have to do.
[0:35:59.3] BR: Well thanks gentleman, I appreciate it.
[0:36:01.0] MK: Bill thank you.
[0:36:01.5] DB: Thanks a lot man.
[0:36:02.5] BR: Great seeing you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:36:03.1] BR: I really want to thank David and Mostafa for taking the time to join me. They are just fun. Just flat out fun people to be around. They are innovating. They are pragmatically innovating and changing the dental space. It is a lot of fun to watch and I appreciate them taking the time to share some of that with me.
Special thanks to our channel sponsors, StarBridge Advisers, VMware, Galen Healthcare, [inaudible 0:36:28] Advisers and Health Lyrics for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders. 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 is impacting health IT.
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Don’t forget, we are – right around the corner is Hymns and we will be dropping a lot of shows during that week, going a little bit off schedule from what we normally do. You will see we’ll probably drop three, four interviews a day over the course of that week. So you will probably get 20 shorter type episodes in which week our format is the This Week Health Events format.
We’ll do that so there probably won’t be a Tuesday news day and there won’t be a Friday episode. There’s just going to be a bunch of great conversations with industry influencers and product companies and you name it. We’re going to try to vet those and give you just the best content we possible could.
Thanks for listening.
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