Navigating Innovation for Family Medicine with Paul Dow, eHealth Innovation Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians
Episode 564

Paul Dow, eHealth Innovation Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians

Navigating Innovation for Family Medicine

In today’s insightful Outcomes Rocket podcast interview, we feature Paul Dow, the e-health innovation strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Paul discusses how his organization is searching for long-term solutions to help independent practices and family physicians in this COVID season and even beyond. He shares his thoughts on the importance of having effective and transformational tools to give physicians more time to focus on caring. He also talks about finding solutions aimed at their members and his thoughts on telehealth. Paul dropped a lot of insights in this interview, so don’t miss it!

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Navigating Innovation for Family Medicine with Paul Dow, eHealth Innovation Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians

Episode 564

About Paul Dow

Paul has been working in the health space for more than 25 years. He is an innovative thinker and a strategist in the space.

Paul is the current e-health innovation strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians based in Leewood, Kansas. Before working for AAFP, he worked for Health Information Technology Associate, a leading cardiac society in Washington, D.C. He also worked ten years as a part of a medical device vendor in their clinical education space.

Navigating Innovation for Family Medicine with Paul Dow, eHealth Innovation Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Navigating Innovation for Family Medicine with Paul Dow, eHealth Innovation Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket. Saul Marquez is here, and today I had the privilege of hosting Paul Dow.

Saul Marquez:
He is the current e-health innovation strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians based in Leewood, Kansas. With the advent of covered 19, the goal is focusing on practice tools that will be robust in the rapid transition that telehealth and virtual patient engagement during the emergency and beyond. Paul is an innovative thinker and a strategist in the space. And I’m excited to be diving into what they’re up to at the American Academy of Family Physicians. And for him to share his message around practice viability and his him and his organization’s search for long term solutions to help with COVID 19 and beyond. Paul, such a privilege to have you here. If you can give us a little more insight into you and your bio. And then we could dive into the interview.

Paul Dow:
Sure, it’s great to be here, Saul. Thank you for having me. I’m a health informatician and have worked for the Academy for about a year. Prior to that I was at the leading cardiac society in Washington, D.C. for about six years and then prior to that worked for a medical device vendor for about 10 in their clinical education space. My clinical background is in radiology, X-ray tech from back in the day. But it moved over into health I.T. That really kind of seemed like the future. And it turns out it was. So I’ll have a variety of other predictions by the end of the podcast and maybe a few lottery numbers, if you check it out.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. I got my pen handy. Yeah. Yeah. Insightful Paul. It definitely was the feature and it is the present now. Health I.T. and the use of technologies like AI and digital health. They’re here with us and have been accelerated. What what is it that inspires your work and health care? I mean, you’ve been in it for a long time. What keeps you working within the bounds of health care?

Paul Dow:
To me, it’s endlessly, I guess, endless curiosity keeps me interested. There’s so much to learn. And it feels like that there’s always a new development, new insights that come out of research or technology advancements and trying to apply those into a clinical space. How can we make this the thing, this taking care of people more efficient and more effective? Not not in the sense of trying to make physicians, you know, more efficient hamster’s but more how do you relieve them of the monotonous tasks that their skills are not suited for? We don’t want to make physicians, you know, four or five stenographers, but we want them to use their clinical expertise and their deep insight into the diagnostic process, as well as also their deep empathy. You know, they got into health care because they care about people. And if we can have tools free up their time, then they can focus on caring for people. And you know, that that to me, is really a huge motivator of finding solutions that actually work and aren’t just cool. I’m doing air quotes now but actually are productive and help them on a day to day basis.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Yeah, it’s a great, great calling. And as we dive further into you, into the organization you’re a part of. Be it be great to know how you guys see yourselves positioned to add value to family physicians, but also to educate us on what your community looks like and the breakdown of the physicians that you guys are helping.

Paul Dow:
Sure. So we have about seventy-five thousand members of AAFP. If you include residents and medical students, that swells to about a hundred and thirty. But as far as practicing clinicians in the field, it’s about seventy-five thousand. We have fifty thousand who are employed at a variety of locations. Every qualified health centers, academic medical centers and the other twenty-five thousand are independent practices. So basically these are small businesses that are run by clinicians and we’re trying to find solutions to help all of them. Certainly there is no one perfect technology that’s going to fix everyone’s issues. But if we patch some of these technologies together and then provide some insights on workflow, best practices we share within the house of family medicine, you know, then we can start to build some trends and build some improvements that can be shared along the way.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. And so give us some examples, Paul. I’d love to hear, you know, some of the resources that you guys are coming up with for your members. And, you know, maybe some examples of how something has surfaced that has helped and how it’s helped. A great story to share is always good in this part.

Paul Dow:
Sure, sure. So we’ve been working with a company called Sutin s u k i and they have a digital clinical assistant that works. So it’s a little bit like Alexa. But for EHR so that they are able to interact with each are just what their voice patients reviewing the results so that they aren’t there typing and keyboarding quite as quite as much. We’re seeing. We’ve heard stories from clinicians who said that they have about two to three hours per night of data entry, basically that they had to do after clinic. And then after using Suki, you know, they were able to leave the clinic on time and that actually leaving on time felt like a vacation to them.

Saul Marquez:
Amazing.

Paul Dow:
To be able to have that, you know, 10 hours per week back into their back and that they could choose if they wanted to do, they could go to their kid’s soccer game or exercise and show some self-care. Or you can just, you know, talk to their family and have dinner at the same time, as opposed to begging round for a quick snack at 10 o’clock at night, you know, and then going to bed.

Saul Marquez:
Suki, Suki dot AI?

Paul Dow:
Yes, Suki dot AI.

Saul Marquez:
I just noticed them.

Paul Dow:
Yes, they are a fantastic solution. You know, where we you don’t recommend specific products at the academy. What we’re trying to recommend our classic products, but definitely Suki is one that we’ve worked with and installed with our innovation lab with a couple of practices in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in Chicago and some other places. You know, tha to encourage tools. Our goal is to find tools that are effective and are transformational, to be able to say, you know this, I can’t live without this tool. This isn’t just a, you know, five or seven percent increase in efficiency. This is a 30 percent, 40 percent increase in efficiency. Docs actually feel like they are getting substantial benefit from their investment.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s great, you know? And I love the word transformational over a word like disruption. And you said it. Paul, I can’t live without it. Right. one sheep once you see it. It just totally changes for good the way that you do things for the better. And, you know, like you think of a product category of A.I. for EHR not necessarily Sukhi, but just that category. It’s transformative because it’s such a pain point for a lot of physicians, right? This EHR and putting data in there and less, less time with patients. And you gave me a visual that was like so on point is being better. It’s more than just being a better hamster on a wheel. Like it’s you know, it’s about adding fulfillment. It’s about adding joy. And so I think it’s great. And a great example.

Paul Dow:
Yes. We’ve heard that from a number of clinicians. You know, that they are the push, again, PRE-COVID was for productivity. You know, that they had to try to cram in that that extra patient per day or two extra patients, which is overtime, had been leading to burnout. And that is a huge symptom that I don’t think it’s going away into consideration. It will be different. But certainly the you know, the emphasis is going to be on, you know, how do you efficiently treat your patients? You know, it’s the year 2020. We’re still writing, you know, keyboarding and, you know, the patients, you know, reports your shortness of breath, you know. Is there a way that we could pull that data in from a wearable device or a team based documentation where you have other members or even open notes where the patients themselves can say, I’ve been feeling very tired. So that it’s not just falling onto the shoulders of the M.D. to document that?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. I love that. It’s a great opportunity to think about some of these things, to innovate and transform, you know, everybody’s practice. And you mentioned that today a big focus area is practice viability. Tell me a little bit more about that and how you guys are helping there.

Paul Dow:
Certainly with the shift to almost 100 percent telehealth, Patients are now being screened for COVID like symptoms. But we’ve seen that a lot of the chronic conditions are kind of going on the back burner. People coming in for their have a wart look that or their yearly skin cancer assessment might not be at the top of the list. So practices aren’t doing procedures. They aren’t doing other other other care mechanisms to be able to provide services to patients. What we’re seeing, if you if you’re doing everything remotely, you might not need as many office assistant.

Paul Dow:
So the practice size is going to be impacted. And what makes it extremely difficult is the unknown length of time. You know, how long will be in this situation? Certainly some states are easing their stay at home requirements. I think people will be nervous sitting in a room of people coughing, much less at a movie theater or on a cruise. But in a doctor’s office. Right. So I think that’s going to be a challenge going forward.

Paul Dow:
What we can do to help with that, you know, maybe it’s something along the lines of how Apple runs their stores, their retail stores. You know, you have all this lots of times, a little more effectively. So people who do need some in-person attention can arrive effectively and safely, you know, sequestered off into a separate area. But we sort of try to figure out what those best practices are. You know, I don’t think anybody knows those yet. So we’ll take a little trial and error and try to figure this out.

Saul Marquez:
That’s for sure. And it’s great to have an organization like AAFP to provide some guidance and, you know, articles and resources to the membership. Family medicine practitioners. What would you say has been one of the biggest setback you guys have experienced that produced the key learning?

Paul Dow:
I think just the resource availability has been a challenge for us. You know, we hear from tech companies who say, oh, we’ve got this greatest thing since sliced bread and it only cost, you know, 15 hundred dollars per provider per month. And, you know, you’ve got a practice of seven doctors, it gets real expensive real quickly. So trying to find that sweet spot, I mean, not that we expect everything to be free or only, you know, nineteen ninety five per doctor per month. But you know, that, that it kind of meets that, that point that says, hey, it is a bit of a risk financially, but not such a huge risk that it could sink the practice. So you really have to try to balance those things so that. We’ve had a couple of times where we’ve seen some presentations and, you know, we’re thinking, hey, this is great. They make it to the pricing. We’re like, you know, quietly trying to catch our breath and say, you have an eye -watering price. Who were you aiming for with this solution? Because it’s not family practice.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s a challenge. So how are you finding the best way around that? And have you found, you know, vendors that align well with the budgets, you know, factored in for solutions that you’re looking for?

Paul Dow:
We we have found some. I think certainly it takes a little give and take on some of these things, you know, where we’ve got some volume, you know, with members that we can offer and say, look, you know, we if you can meet a slightly lower price point, you’re going to have a wider range of potential customers, subscribers to a service. And some of those who are willing to work with us on that. What’s really exciting is when we find someone who says, you know, we’ve got this product. It’s still in the developmental stage. And we are trying to figure out, you know, how would it best fit family practice? And that really is exciting to us because then we can bring in a box and say, you know, does this meet your needs? Is this something that you know? And if not, why not? And how can we help make it better? And, you know, companies are willing to listen. You know, we really have not heard a lot of well, you know you know, you people just don’t understand what this is. And it’s technology beyond you really have been responsive to. OK, well, how does it get better?

Paul Dow:
How how do we get fit your world, which is exciting and gratifying to be to be listened to and to. Yes. And to have our members, you know, say, hey, I really felt like, you know, they want to make something. They’re not just trying to middle years, just a, you know, a credit card number and something for their their monthly sales goals. They really want to help me. You know, Doctor, you know, in Kalispell, Montana, a better person.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I love it. I love it. And it’s a there’s a great opportunity here. And so, Paul, you know, as you as you look for solutions to help the members and somebody listening potentially says, hey, I have a solution and I could be pretty price competitive. What’s the best place for them to reach out to you guys and get more information to you to see if there is a partnership opportunity?

Paul Dow:
Oh, I say sending me an e-mail is a classic way to go. P D O W at AAFP dot org. It’s a great way to get a hold of me. You know what? We’re attending a variety of meetings today. We used to meeting. You know, I went to the health conference, the HELTH conference in Las Vegas last year, and that was fantastic. We were planning to go to HIMS, but obviously that was passed over. So we had a registration roll over for next year. And attending some of those events. So we’re actively out there talking to talking to companies and startups who are interested in family practice and family medicine and say, hey, this is the place we want to play.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. So there you have it, folks. Paul shared his email. Make sure you reach out if you have something that you believe could be of service during COVID and beyond, because they’re interested in both not just COVID times. They’re looking at the long term practice, transformation and aiding of family medicine. What are you most excited about today, Paul?

Paul Dow:
To me, certainly the potential for change, I think that is the pivot to telehealth was incredibly fast. You know that the responsiveness of medicine to say, you know, we have a situation, let’s adjust, you know, shows to me that it’s there. You know, the ability is there. So, you know, if we can demonstrate value and, you know, show this is a tool that can help people I think are now going to be open to the idea of asking for help and saying, yes, I need this. Let’s try it and see what works and what doesn’t. And then share those lessons learned and then learn for next time. So, you know, it’s like like the old saying from Nelson Mandela, you either win or learn. And this feels like there’s going to be a lot of learning going on in the next eight to 24 months.

Saul Marquez:
That’s well said, Paul. I mean, you really summed it up well, and it’s about it’s challenging times, without a doubt. And the epidemic is is is really hurting a lot of businesses. A lot of health care businesses and practices. And it’s that framework of learning that will have to embrace to make it through and be stronger as as health care group on the other side of this. So I’m appreciative of your words of wisdom there, Paul. And so as you as you’ve been spending these last few weeks. You know, learning what what what books would you recommend to us to sharpen up our perspective and knowledge in these times?

Paul Dow:
Well, there is a couple. Beat Medicine by Eric Topol about artificial intelligence making health care human again. Basically, he says the idea is that A.I. can handle a lot of routine tasks to allow clinicians to offer deep empathy to their patients, which I think certainly strikes a chord with all the physicians I recommended it to. And then also a book by Dr. Shannon Valor, Technology and the Virtues, A Philosophical Guide to a Future Work One Thing. it’s definitely a deeper piece. It’s looking at philosophical traditions and asking, you know, how should technology benefit mankind and benefit all people? So it’s a little more philosophical, a little deeper read, but definitely kind of a Where do we want, if we want to control the technology as opposed to the technology controlling us. How should we think about it? So it’s definitely a fascinating look, a deeper look at A.I. and some of those tools.

Saul Marquez:
Some great reads. Thanks for that, Paul. And folks, you know where to go. Outcomes rocket dot health in the search bar. Type in AAFP, American Academy of Family Physicians. You’ll find that in the show notes.

Saul Marquez:
We have a full transcript of our discussion and links to the books and other resources that Paul has shared with us. Paul, before we conclude, I’d love if you could just share a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could get in touch with you. I know you shared it already, but this would be a good place to repeat it.

Paul Dow:
Sure, you can get a hold of me through email at a P D O W at AAFP. That a word? Certainly that the mailbox is always open, as I say. And I guess my thought is there’s so much. Health care is so big, it’s frequent here. The phrase boiling the ocean when trying to solve some of these things, you know, daily interoperability, all of these things. So I ran across a quote from Leo Tolstoy that said, there is only one time that is important. Now, the most necessary person is the one with whom you are and the most important thing is to do that person good. So to me, it feels like, you know, it feels overwhelming to try to solve the world’s problems. You don’t even have to try to solve for that. Just helps the person that you’re with and do that person good. And that will take you pretty far.

Saul Marquez:
Great message, Paul. That’s a great way to end our conversation today. And again, I appreciate you sharing what AAFP is doing for your members and obviously the folks listening make up some of that membership. And so and also for the ecosystem of companies that feel they have an opportunity to collaborate or a resource that’s priced right for family practices. Definitely reach out to Paul. And Paul just want to say thanks again for spending time with us today.

Paul Dow:
Thank you very much, Saul. It was an honor to be a part of this. Hopefully you can stay safe and be well.

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Things You’ll Learn

For innovators, demonstrate the value of your tools.

There’s going to be a lot of learning in the health space in the next eight to 24 months.

You don’t have to try to solve the world’s problems. Just help the person you’re with and do that person good. That will take you pretty far.

References

https://www.aafp.org/home.html