Bill Rogers of Orbita: “Another way digital can take your organization to the next level is its scalability”

Another way digital can take your organization to the next level is its scalability. Instead of manually calling a hundred patients every day to remind them to get the flu vaccine, a digital campaign can automatically push these reminders out to patients on their preferred device. Conversational AI can add an engaging and meaningful layer […]

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Another way digital can take your organization to the next level is its scalability. Instead of manually calling a hundred patients every day to remind them to get the flu vaccine, a digital campaign can automatically push these reminders out to patients on their preferred device. Conversational AI can add an engaging and meaningful layer of personalization and empathy to these messages.


As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Rogers, CEO, Orbita.

Bill Rogers is a serial entrepreneur and technologist with roots in enterprise software and healthcare. Most recently, Bill was CEO & founder of Ektron — a digital experience management platform acquired by Accel-KKR in 2014, and prior to Ektron, Bill co-founded two other companies. Now, the CEO and co-founder of Orbita, Bill is focused on transforming healthcare and life sciences organizations through the power of voice and conversational AI.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

It has been quite inspiring to experience the development of the three waves of the internet which I consider to be web, mobile and now the third wave: the internet of things and connected devices. In my previous roles, one of our main challenges was the scalability of our digital tools, and this has been a major motivator throughout my career. Today, conversational AI has incredible potential to expand outreach and connection opportunities for companies — which is revolutionizing industries.

I am often asked, “Why healthcare?” and I believe that by scaling outreach and leveraging the significant benefits of automation, we can reduce many preventable health risks.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

One of the earliest mistakes in my career that I’ve identified was during my time serving as the chief technology officer of a telemedicine company. I found that the goals we set for ourselves down the road actually contributed to tunnel vision within the leadership team. While setting these goals was important and fueled our mission, it created this inexorable attitude and prevented us from identifying consumers’ needs and how they were changing.

This is a general mistake I have seen several times at companies when they see early success and are unwilling to adapt. If you don’t pivot to accommodate consumer preferences, current events, technology advancements or other external factors, that success may be short-lived. The lesson I took away from this experience was that in the creation of long-term goals, it is essential to continue learning about what people are talking about and want right now, while challenging yourself to meet them where they might be in the future by anticipating how those needs are changing. Most importantly, if met with unexpected demands or events, remaining open-minded and flexible to accommodate these changes will extend your success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When I was in college, I had a physics professor who completely transformed how I think through and approach problems. For our senior project, he assigned an incredibly challenging task and after some significant collaboration and hard work, we completed the project. When we went to submit our results, he seemed surprised that we were able to deliver a solution and when asked why, he said, “I never ever thought you would solve the problem, I just wanted to have you spend time on how you would go attack it and then learn from that approach.”

Ever since, I try to break down any problem into smaller pieces to then tackle each piece individually. This takes the magnitude of the whole problem off my shoulders and makes the journey of reaching a solution much more manageable.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I found the movie Apollo 11 particularly inspiring. For me, the main takeaway is that no matter what the problem is or how large the obstacles seem, people can rise up to the occasion and together, overcome anything. In this film, they successfully complete their mission through teamwork, adapting from mistakes, and persevering.

For me, that mission is to improve patient engagement in healthcare by revolutionizing care delivery with conversational AI, and it’s going to take an amazing, joint effort to solve that.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

The vision for Orbita sprouted from our co-founders’ personal and familial challenges with healthcare. We identified obstacles in the continuity of care relating to patient communication and engagement opportunities, and then the ability for technology to fill these gaps. We particularly saw tremendous potential in increasing access to healthcare resources by offering a variety of interface modalities (text, voice, and touch).

Our goal was, and still is, to create a variety of solutions that meet the different needs of healthcare and life sciences organizations by creating operational efficiencies, reducing costs, and automating communication opportunities. We also look to reimagine the patient experience by opening doors for patients in healthcare with empathic, automated encounters. Once engaged, we want our solutions to also contain the mechanisms to lead patients through their whole care journey.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

AI technology is moving in a direction where it can understand sentiment analysis which could enable devices to determine frustration, sarcasm and other body language that devices are currently unable to read. Right now, we are looking forward to the future of biomarkers, which is a concept that will be more broadly applied across industries in the future. Particularly in healthcare, this has the potential to transform remote patient monitoring and elevate the presence and level of empathy in any automated conversation with a patient.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?

The purpose of a digital transformation is typically to reimagine the customer experience and create operational efficiencies through the integration of digital tools. There is not one way to define what this actually looks like, because the needs and goals of each organization differ.

The importance of a digital transformation should not be overlooked. It’s clear that businesses that do not adapt and adopt are in jeopardy of falling behind competitors. This was visible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; those healthcare organizations with digital transformation strategies in place were able to swiftly transition to a high volume of virtual appointments and digital communications, while those who delayed adoption or did not have comprehensive strategies saw extreme call center overwhelm, patient frustration, and clinician burnout.

Digital transformation gives healthcare organizations and other companies the flexibility to adjust when necessary and ensures that they are able to meet consumers where they are.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Really any company can benefit from a digital transformation. That’s the beauty of digital — it’s broad and all-embracing and can span industries. The success of a digital integration depends on the organization’s specific goals and how they set out to achieve them. In healthcare, there are many risks that can be minimized with digital tools. Not only can these resources improve patient access to information, but in doing so, instill confidence and self-efficacy in patients as they play a more active and informed role in their care journeys.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.

I had an experience recently that highlighted several areas in healthcare that could be improved with automation. I had a pinched nerve in my neck and was misdiagnosed three times until I suggested to my doctor that I should see a physical therapist — where I was finally correctly diagnosed. I truly believe if I had known how to access and navigate to my healthcare provider’s resources, I could have gained a better understanding of what I was experiencing and what the pain might be from. A symptom-checker (delivered through a virtual assistant, for example) that asks patients questions about their pain or conditions and then produces the most probable diagnosis to then discuss with a doctor could have significantly improved this process.

Beyond that, once I started physical therapy for the pinched nerve, I was given several pages of printed exercises that gave me minimal information on how to perform them. The digitalization of this information such as videos, reminders, and clearer illustrations of these exercises that I could access on my phone, computer or even through a smart speaker could have enhanced my care journey and reduced risks of over-exercising, going off-schedule and beyond.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

The bottom line is that it really depends on the company and their strategy for digital implementation. For example, people who are less ‘digitally literate’ are going to have a much harder time learning how to use new devices and technology tools than others. If a digital transformation strategy has an omnichannel approach, its speed of adoption can be significantly optimized and improved. Remember, the goal is not to completely upend a company but rather to add another item in their toolbelt that can enhance processes and reach consumers where they are.

Here are my tips to resolve key challenges you may face throughout a digital transformation. First, from the top of the organization all the way down, everyone needs to be committed to the transition. Without a unified movement, these changes may not be successful or take significant time to prove beneficial. Next, there needs to be leadership in implementing and driving this transformation forward. From the beginning, remember to collect metrics that can show the efficacy of your digitalization. This can also help to achieve external support and funding. Finally, take a look at your competition. How can a digital transformation help you cut through the noise in your industry? What are other companies doing to be successful? What is not working for them?

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. A digital transformation can optimize your organization’s online presence to support easier discoverability when consumers search. Many companies focus on traditional SEO, but not many are prepared for the growing wave of voice search. Getting ahead of this curve can make sure your website is front and center no matter how your consumer base is searching for answers.
  2. Expand the ways in which consumers can connect with you by taking your company beyond a phone number and [email protected] email address listed on your website. This is so important in healthcare as patients get easily bogged down sifting through medical jargon and waiting on hold. Increasing touchpoints such as implementing a chatbot into your website, and then automating them can improve the patient experience without overburdening healthcare providers.
  3. Integrating more digital communication opportunities such as SMS, email, and phone calls can also set your organization up to proactively reach your consumer base. We’ve seen this proactive outreach drastically improve appointment no-shows, rescheduling, and medication adherence among our customers.
  4. Another way digital can take your organization to the next level is its scalability. Instead of manually calling a hundred patients every day to remind them to get the flu vaccine, a digital campaign can automatically push these reminders out to patients on their preferred device. Conversational AI can add an engaging and meaningful layer of personalization and empathy to these messages.
  5. Finally, the data that your company is able to collect from digital processes and engagement is invaluable. This can help identify areas to improve, what is working well, and how you can continue effectively reach your consumers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If there are no competitors, it’s probably not a business you should be in.”

This quote came from an old neighbor of mine who actually never graduated from college, but built and developed a successful crane company. He identified an area that was growing and augmented that growth. This quote has stayed with me as a serial entrepreneur and has helped me identify industries that are maturing and segments that need enhancing — and that’s how I have stayed motivated and inspired.

How can our readers further follow your work?

You can keep up with Orbita through our podcast, Conversations with Orbita, our blogs, webinars, and white papers on LinkedIn and our website, orbita.ai.

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