We have a broken healthcare system. From coding and billing issues to rising drug costs, the system is currently flawed, and we are not doing enough to combat this. All the right entities –from providers, vendors and government regulators — must come together in order to truly make a change. We will not be able to fix the impending issues and complexities facing our healthcare system if the industry continues to work in silos. From healthcare corporations to insurance companies and private practices, we must all work together in order to make a change.
Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Kali Durgampudi, chief technology and innovation officer at Greenway Health, a leading health information technology and services provider. A health IT industry veteran, Kali has extensive knowledge of highly complex, enterprise-class products and solutions. He has a reputation for delivering innovation and organizational excellence and was awarded with The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Foundation’s 2018 Industry Leader Award for his dedication and contribution to the healthcare information technology industry. Currently, he serves as an international advisory board member of CHIME.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I didn’t necessarily plan on dedicating my career to the healthcare industry, that’s just how it worked out! I started out as an automobile engineer and then transitioned into working as a developer/project manager at Sprint. I then joined Eclipsys Corporation, which was a publicly-traded healthcare technology company, and served various roles from product leader to R&D operations before finding my sweet spot in product development. Fast forward several years later and I am thrilled to be at Greenway Health. The number one thing that excites me about working in healthcare is that I have an opportunity to make a true impact on millions of lives each and every day.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Greenway is unique in the fact that we pride ourselves on customer service. We listen to our customers’ needs and experiences and take that feedback to ensure our solutions are helping, not hindering, them. We rely heavily on our Customer Advisory Board (CAB), which is our group of selected physicians and various practice personnel — from IT experts to administrators to revenue management staff — for these insights. For example, as we’ve continued to develop Intergy, our cloud-based EHR and practice management solution, into our next-generation platform, we have sat down with physicians and their office staff to better understand their daily workflow and biggest needs, and then we used nuances and details from their experiences to further develop the product.
This user-centric design approach is essential to creating value for providers and patients. In fact, for the second year in a row, KLAS named us as its 2019 Category Leader for Ambulatory RCM Services (2018–2019). Additionally, Intergy was named 2019 Best in KLAS: Most Improved Physician Practice Product in the 2019 Best in KLAS: Software & Services report. The distinct recognition was based on customer satisfaction responses and overall value, placing Intergy highest among other competitive solutions. These rankings show that we’re setting the bar high when it comes to quality and innovation in healthcare, and that’s rare in any company.
What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?
Establish an agile culture and team from the very beginning. Innovation in healthcare cannot truly happen unless individuals feel encouraged and supported to take risks, explore new ideas and spend the time necessary to cultivate those ideas. The most successful organizations embolden all teammates to be continuously curious and at the same time challenge employees to find new ways of doing things to solve problems or address unmet needs. By establishing a strong and passionate team and deep-rooted thinking, teams can provide their customers with the best experiences.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited 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?
Not only is healthcare technology my career, but I’ve experienced firsthand how the U.S. healthcare systems differs from many other countries, as my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and received treatment both in the U.S. and in India. Due to this unique blend of professional and personal viewpoints, I have a few thoughts why the U.S. may have ranked poorly on this list:
- We have a broken healthcare system. From coding and billing issues to rising drug costs, the system is currently flawed, and we are not doing enough to combat this. All the right entities –from providers, vendors and government regulators — must come together in order to truly make a change. We will not be able to fix the impending issues and complexities facing our healthcare system if the industry continues to work in silos. From healthcare corporations to insurance companies and private practices, we must all work together in order to make a change.
- We are still focused on fee-for-service. While there have been great strides in transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based care (VBC), we still have some work to do. In order for healthcare practices to achieve VBC successfully, innovative technologies must be implemented to ensure there is a solid foundation for participating in many value-based programs, including Comprehensive, Primary Care Plus (CPC+), Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which incentivize better care for lower costs.
- Patients are not involved and empowered. Consumers must become more involved in decisions about their own care. Research shows that patients who leave their doctors’ offices with even one unanswered question about their care report the lowest level of improvement in their symptoms. Moreover, these patients also report being less satisfied with their care. We must help patients recognize the crucial role they play in making personalized healthcare decisions, and further encourage clear, ongoing communication between them and their physicians in order to truly make a change.
Ok, its very nice to suggest changes, but what concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?
For individuals, I would empower them to play more of a role in their care, as mentioned. Without stronger involvement from patients, our healthcare system will always face challenges. This means patients should ask more questions, do their own research, and take better control of their desired health outcomes.
Health IT companies must be focused on innovation. Too often in healthcare we see corporations rush new products and solutions to market without true understanding on how these technologies will make a change. I encourage all healthcare software and hardware brands to first take a step back and focus on functionality and operation of new technology to ensure the quality and usability of products before introducing them to the marketplace.
For communities, this is where population health comes into play. Population health can only be improved if the healthcare community in specific geographies increases interaction with patients in settings where costs are lower. To better understand what patients need and to ensure providers are delivering care when and where appropriate for each patient’s situation, the healthcare community must leverage today’s cutting-edge technology and data to gain insights that drive optimal decision-making.
And for healthcare leaders, I would encourage them to get involved and collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations. When groups of people come together, it’s amazing the variety of perspectives and ideas you can gain. Greenway is currently a College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Innovation Partner, which provides us with an opportunity to work with other industry leaders to advocate on best practices regarding the effective use of information management in healthcare.
How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?
In my eyes, an excellent healthcare provider is someone that is passionately focused on the patient and providing them with a seamless experience. These providers are committed to providing patients with the best, most cost-effective treatment, and also serve as an advisor and resource on ensuring individuals make the right healthcare decisions.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now we are focused on building our next-generation, state-of-the-art EHR and practice management platform. Currently under development as Project Polaris, this new technology is designed to improve the patient experience and the health of populations, drive practice efficiencies to help providers avoid burnout, reduce costs and support new government payment models.
We are excited about Project Polaris because the technology is truly an investment in our customers’ success — and in our business. Greenway launched the initiative following months of gathering input from our customers, who have been playing a key role in developing the platform. In addition, Project Polaris is an opportunity for us to provide a single cloud native platform that enables clinical, financial and population health capabilities, combined with an underpinning of analytics that offers insights, intelligence and other artificial intelligence components.
Very soon, Intergy, our current cloud-based EHR and practice management solution, will evolve into Project Polaris to ensure a seamless transition for our customers. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting initiative.
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Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!