There is no getting around it…there is a lot of room for improvement in our healthcare system. I think that the system, at a national level, has lost its focus. It’s no longer about the patient, but EHRs, policies, legal issues, money, and the increasing demand on providers. I think we need to take a step back and refocus on the patient. The patient is the common factor in all things healthcare. If the patient is compliant, there will be less delays and complications, and better outcomes. This will save time, money, unnecessary work, and will improve quality. Education is a big part of that. Giving a patient a stack of pamphlets is not quality service and education. Passively asking them to use a patient portal that doesn’t really provide them value won’t help them.
Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Stephen Holtzman, CEO of The Holvan Group and Mike Holliday, Co-Founder of the Holvan Group (www.theholvangroup.com). Dr. Holtzman has a Master’s degree from the Dartmouth Institute where he studied healthcare policy and continuous process improvement. He is the past president of the California Radiological Society and an active member of the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Quality Improvement Committee. Mike was very involved in many family businesses from an early age. He studied business finance at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and has consulted with and developed software and processes for businesses throughout the United States across a diverse selection of industries. Over those 18 years, Mike has designed, developed and implemented custom software solutions for businesses to increase efficiency and strengthen financials.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Dr. Holtzman — I’ve always been interested in the science of health, specifically how emotionality and psychology directly affects the wholeness of someone’s health. I studied psychology and biology for my undergrad and then went to medical school at Dartmouth. Healthcare changes with the times and yet I am still intrigued by the timeless and irreplaceable value of interpersonal relationships as a means to a positive healthcare experience.
It was in 2013 when I started to get frustrated with the little time I had to build relationships with my patients and get to know them on a personal level. To help save time, I started making PowerPoint presentations to help them feel more comfortable and educated about the care they were receiving. These would still take about thirty minutes though, and I found myself answering the same questions after each one.
It was around this time that I attended a California Radiological Society meeting, which focused on the importance of minimizing hospital waste and returning the focus to patient care. This is when I got the idea to turn the PowerPoint presentations into short, informative videos. I started working with consultants, and found the right people, including Mike Holliday, The Holvan Group’s Co-Founder, a software developer and IT consultant who helped turn the concepts into a reality.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Dr. Holtzman — I have learned so many things about our healthcare system while launching this company. Most notably, that there are too many patients and not enough hours in the day to give each person the attention they deserve.
One afternoon I saw two patients who were both referred to an interventional radiologist for lung biopsies. Neither of them knew what an interventional radiologist was or what to expect from their appointments that day. After reviewing our videos however they had an informed conversation with the physician which led to one patient deciding to delay the procedure and the other opting for a less risky biopsy. If these patients had not been given the opportunity to learn more about their procedures, the risks, benefits, and alternatives, they may have gone ahead with a procedure that wasn’t right for them, which was astonishing to me.
Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?
Dr. Holtzman — I’ve been immersed in healthcare for over 25 years now. During this time I’ve been the president of the California Radiological Society, an active member of the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Quality Improvement Committee and I currently serve as the CEO of Radiology Associates. I’ve always made sure to stay active, aware and connected to the larger perspectives of the ever-changing healthcare industry.
What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Dr. Holtzman — The impact we have on patients and physicians is what really makes us stand out. We introduce patients to the physician they will be seeing, tell them where to park, explain how to prepare for procedures and describe exactly what happens during them. These patients are now front-loaded with all of this preliminary information which helps reduce anxiety, gives their doctors more time to get to know them and reduces the burnout rate. I started getting home at 5:30PM instead of 8PM once I started showing my patients these videos, which really improved my quality of life and made me more emotionally available for my patients. It’s also reassuring to know that each patient is receiving the same information with all the important facts and details — it doesn’t vary depending on the energy level or available time of the doctor.
Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?
Dr. Holtzman- We have over 300 informational videos available in English and Spanish. We also develop mobile apps to enable healthcare providers to better educate and communicate with their patients. Gladstone for instance is an app which creates efficiencies in the day to day work of healthcare providers. We like to think of Gladstone as “the little black bag for clinical efficiency.” The apps complement the educational videos, expand patient engagement and streamline communication between physicians as they care for their patients. Both the apps and videos are also accessible to patients after their time with the providers, which helps prevent future visits.
The status quo, unfortunately, revolves around exhausted and burned out healthcare providers, and anxious patients who can feel alone and confused with their health. These advancements disrupt the status quo by making patients more educated and empowered. They also cultivate trust and safety, decrease burnout and help develop the personal relationships between provider and patient.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Mike — We just finished making several changes to Gladstone. We re-branded the app, added HIPAA compliant messaging, integrations with staff scheduling programs and a really neat feature to make evaluation and management billing much faster and simpler for nurses and physicians. I think that lots of front-line healthcare professionals will fall in love with this app.
We have another feature for Gladstone that is really going to be revolutionary and save tons of time in training and when nurses and techs are prepping for procedures. I can’t really say more about it now, but it is going to be big.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Mike — The biggest thing I wish I knew going into this was that selling in healthcare takes a long time and can be a difficult process. We have adapted and are becoming more successful in our sales strategies. The next biggest thing I wish I knew was the importance of hard data, such as being able to quantify how much better patients were educated or how many minutes were saved with each patient. Emory University did a quality improvement project that showed exactly how much better each patient understood their procedures, risks, benefits and alternatives which was extremely valuable to us. In the near future, they are going to do another project to measure how much time they save with each patient.
Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this studycited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high-income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?
Mike — There is no getting around it…there is a lot of room for improvement in our healthcare system. I think that the system, at a national level, has lost its focus. It’s no longer about the patient, but EHRs, policies, legal issues, money, and the increasing demand on providers. I think we need to take a step back and refocus on the patient. The patient is the common factor in all things healthcare. If the patient is compliant, there will be less delays and complications, and better outcomes. This will save time, money, unnecessary work, and will improve quality. Education is a big part of that. Giving a patient a stack of pamphlets is not quality service and education. Passively asking them to use a patient portal that doesn’t really provide them value won’t help them.
You are “healthcare insiders”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Patient Education: Patients who hold high health literacy can significantly contribute to improving medical safety. Videos have been proven to be effective in increasing patient understanding of their healthcare.
2. Physician Burnout: More than three-quarters of physicians experience feelings of professional exhaustion*. Technology can significantly lessen administrative burdens and decrease stress.
3. Internal Transmission: Enhanced, streamlined communication technologies make updating EHRs less manual and free up time for physicians and nurses.
4. Interaction Between Healthcare Provider & Patient: Investing in fast, efficient methods for patients to contact practitioners will ease the workload of busy healthcare providers.
5. Knowledge-sharing: Cases of medical error should be more visible so that we can continue to research, remedy and work toward its prevention through enhanced training and communication.
Thank you! It’s great to suggest changes, but what specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities and leaders do to help?
Dr. Holtzman — I think that steps have already begun and the changes are happening. We need to continue to improve and advance. The Holvan Group’s videos and apps are a part of this positive change. Ultimately, the gap between knowledge and patient needs to close. Healthcare providers need to embrace technology which can help reduce tedious and time-consuming tasks that lead to burnout.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
Dr. Holtzman — Podcasts: Medtech Talk Podcast, Radiolab and the TED Talks Health Podcast.
How can our readers follow you on social media?