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Building Smart and Healthy Cities

Episode 408

Recommended Book:

The Creative Destruction of Medicine

Best Way to Contact Dave:

davejackson@aahc.ca

Mentioned Link:

AAHC

 

Building Smart and Healthy Cities with Dave Jackson, Chief Technology Officer at Abrio Health transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Building Smart and Healthy Cities with Dave Jackson, Chief Technology Officer at Abrio Health was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have a the outstanding Dave Jackson. He's a chief technology officer for the Airdrie & Area Health Co-op (AAHC) It's a community wide initiative which aims to empower individuals, providers and organizations to own your own health with the goal of becoming Canada's healthiest community. Dave is responsible for developing a digital strategy for a digital health ecosystem through a connection of systems ranging from health and health care providers, municipal government, schools and local businesses. In April 2018, AAHC partnered with the City of Airdrie to submit an application based on this digital strategy for the first Canadian Smart Cities competition. Out of one hundred and thirty plus communities, Airdrie's application was selected as one of 10 finalists, with two communities eligible to win a prize of ten million dollars. A final application was submitted on March 20 19, with the winners to be announced in May. Dave was the co-lead for this project and responsible for guiding the technology strategy. Prior to working with AAHC., Dave has spent time with Alberta Health Services and the World Health Organization working on end user focused systems to connect and utilize data from disparate data sources, something that's on top of the mind of a lot of leaders listening to this as he was also the first data manager for the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network, which extracted and utilize data from over 15 different electronic medical records across Canada. So when we think about technology, when we think about interoperability and how to leverage this for insights instead of just for data sake, Dave is our man. And so with that, I want to give him a warm welcome to the podcast. Dave, thanks for being with us.

Dave Jackson:
Thanks for having me. Great opportunity. Thank you.

Saul Marquez:
So, Dave, what is it that got you into the medical sector?

Dave Jackson:
So my story is a little bit different. I grew up with a dad who is a rural family physician. And so my initial exposure to health and health care was while I never see my dad. He's always being called to be on call. Everyone else is responsible for his time and he's not. And I don't know my dad, but I didn't realize all the great things he was doing. So not just a rural community, a small rural community. So we had a hospital town of about 6000 people. So quite small. So a very busy, busy man. So I I actually started my career. I have a business degree. I started an accounting firm and wasn't the right fit. I had an opportunity to to manage a medical clinic, a primary care clinic, and fell in love right away. I said, oh, this is what my you know. You know, you grew up a teenager. You're all internal. That's all you think. And then it all this is what it's all about. And I saw this huge opportunity to be on the other side of that to say, well, how do I actually help these providers to focus on health care? How do I actually help them to have more of a balance in their life? How do we help ultimately patients to be healthier and so kind of fell in love with health care from the outside and move forward from there.

Saul Marquez:
That's amazing. And really interesting that it worked out that way. So now, you know, fast forward to today, Dave, you've done so many interesting things. Some of the projects that we mentioned in the introduction highlight sort of the flavor of what you like to dabble in to improve health care outcomes. What do you think needs to be on the at the forefront of leaders minds today and how are you approaching it?

Dave Jackson:
I think the big thing is and you said in the intro, as well as its interoperability and finally connection this is that we're moving away from a time where we have to have these big centralized, either centralized organization or centralized data repository where one kind of one place to rule them all. So we have to put my Lord of the Rings reference in there. But.

Saul Marquez:
I love it.

Dave Jackson:
But it's a way where there's too much that personalization and variables that one organization can do it all, that you need the innovators, you need the different data sets from different places so you can have different ways of thinking. So when you think about things like precision health and precision medicine, it's about understanding the one. And where we have to move forward is that we've got to move away from this generic. We can do everything to how do we cater to the one by working together and getting those needs. And so the cool thing about technology is it's there to allow us to do it. Now it's the hard parts I'll be creating the relationships, the ownership, IP, all those things.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Now that's a that's a great call out. And it's it's exciting. I mean, we've been no opportunity to do some really great things. Things are already happening that are that are awesome. And so give us an example about some of the things that you and your organization has done to create results and improve outcomes by doing them differently.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So what we looked at is one of our initial where our organization came to be is the very beginning. There was a really big call to say, we need a hospital. We need a hospital. We're city. It's not a huge city. City about 60 thousand. Need a hospital due to different circumstances. That wasn't the case, but that was a huge blessing in that what we were able to look at and say, well, do we actually need a hospital? So there are studies out there. Canadian Medical Association did one. There's some in the UK that said, well, when we look at health, what actually affects an individual's health. Canadian Medical Association said, well, if you look at an individual's health action, twenty five percent of the person's health is health care stuff you do in a hospital and your family doctor, etcetera. UK added 15 percent. I've seen some studies as low as 5 percent. So we as an organization start to think as well, why are we? There's great stuff out there, but how do we start to affect the other seventy five, the other eighty five percent? What do we have to do? So we started to look at things like the social determinants of health environment and then we fell upon this project called the Blue Zones Project. I'm not sorry. Are you familiar with the Blue Zones project?

Saul Marquez:
I am not. I'd love to learn more.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So this project is highlighted by National Geographic and Time magazine. A few other things. So his name's Dan Buettner. What do you did as you went across the globe looking at different communities, Centurion communities, to say what is making people live longer? What are the characteristics of this area? Have you heard of that?

Saul Marquez:
Yes, I have now? Yes. Yeah, I remember.

Dave Jackson:
Yes. We started to investigate this little bit more and that they had a mantra that says to make the healthy choice, the easy choice by affecting the environment and creating a culture of health. So what we started to look at is say, if we're going to make a change, if we're really going to affect health in our community, it's not about us saying you have to do this or very sometimes it's a hierarchal approach. It's about a bottom up grassroots to say, let's make let's empower every individual to be healthy through their environment, through the culture, and then we start adding technology, et cetera, all these different layers on that. It's about the individual now to make help them to make the right choices. So going with blue zones, we started to investigate loosens a little bit more. We're currently in the process right now of trying to bring them to Airdrie, which would be there's 42 communities in the US right now that are blue zones communities. We would be the first one in all of Canada outside of the US and so on. So it's pretty cool.

Saul Marquez:
That is cool. And Dave, just to clarify, so so blue zone, meaning there's that there's a high density of centenarians within a square mile in your area.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Right?

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So what he did is he looked at the risk five communities that he looked at for the study to start at. So those communities you're going to put me on the spot here. Here as well. So it's Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Korea, Greece and Loma Linda, California.

Saul Marquez:
Amazing.

Dave Jackson:
So he took those five, put together a series of characteristics. And then created a program around those characteristics that can be implemented in other communities. So and so, yes, things there seems like something called the power of nine, other things that just pull individuals and focus on individual health. Right down to the built environment. And so what actually happens is when a blue zone, when it loosens project comes into play, there is a certification process from workplaces, from the municipal, from individuals that they have to do things to become health certified, certified.

Saul Marquez:
Fascinating. Very interesting. Sorry to interrupt you. I was just curious the classification and what exactly it meant by the wow. Yeah. And the different areas of the world where they were identified as blue zones. Fascinating work here, Dave, on the blue zones. So highlight some examples of how you guys are improving outcomes by doing things differently.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So what we're doing right now is we're still in the early stages, so we're still a fairly young startup. But what we're doing differently is actually involving everyone in the community. So we're not saying here's blue zones, everybody. You're welcome. Type thing. We're saying, OK, we're sitting down and finding the leaders in the community, different organizations, stakeholders in the community and saying this is a project that's coming. It can come. How do we actually make this? So it fits to us. We don't want to just say plug it in and say it's going to work. What are the needs that we have in our community? How do we customize this to make into Canadian to make the most success for us? So instead of it saying here's blue zones and there do, we're saying this is a collective initiative, health initiative with zones involved. And so it goes back to that grassroots approach to say it's not about one organization, it's not about some telling us what to do. It's us working together.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. I think that's a great approach. And, you know, I go back to the to the stat, the statistic that you shared, 15 percent to 25 percent of care is actually acute care. And do we really need a hospital? And I think approaching problems with the really fundamentalist perspective, you know, like counting the first principles idea is crucial to really, you know, hit your target objective. And that has really done a nice job of doing that there, Dave. Give us an example of a sound like you guys are early on, but maybe some some setbacks that you had early on and what you've learned from them that. Position you for success?

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. Well, so I think the big learning we're learning is that anytime you have change and obvious big change, there's gonna be resistance and that there's going to be people that may not understand. And so they see that as a almost as like an attack where it doesn't mean to be an attack, but it's a worry to say, well, how does this affect us? What are we gonna do? And are they trying to do what we're trying to do? And so are learning and throughout is that we've had times where we've run into some organizations where it was a rocky start because they simple way to say. Are you? You're trying to do something different, that that's not what we want. Are you sure that's what we want? What we found along the way is it's about having the strategic communications of not telling listening first, understanding exactly what their concerns are and where they're coming from, and then showing how our story fits within the group Right. random picture and how we're working to actually highlight. And so what we've found a couple times has recently got this great thing. This is what we're trying to do here, is it is that that. And without providing the other organizations or other individuals an opportunity to really tell us what they are doing or to provide their insight. Their first reaction is defensive and not so much the collaborative. So by starting with actually saying, tell us about you first and how we're going, and even if we already do that stuff, given them the opportunity to feel like they have a platform to speak t,.

Saul Marquez:
Great call out for sure. And especially with the initiative that you're you're going with grassroots. And I think this applies to any any situation where you're trying to institute change. So I love that you highlighted those learnings, How about one of your proudest experiences to date.

Dave Jackson:
Yes. So lots of cool things along the way. You know, we mentioned in the biography. It's been pretty neat this last opportunity we've had to be part of this infrastructure, Canada. The Smart Cities Challenge. This is the first time that's ever been done in Canada. And so we had this digital strategy that we were working on, which is all about interoperability and connecting data sources and not typical data sources. So lots of time when you hear about interoperability, we're talking about let's connect the NMR in the year. Let's connect all the medical systems. We're talking about connecting their medical systems with the community systems, things like something from a food bank or a municipal or a school that's bringing them all together. And what was really neat is we had that validation that when we applied to the Smart Cities Challenge with a health focus saying if you're really that a smart city, let's focus on health, because that affects everything in your city from the economy to the innovations to bringing future growth, etc, etc. There's the validation that we were selected as a as a finalist. And like I say, we're not a huge community. We're a proud community. But it showed that we're we're doing something that can really make a big change, not that huge.

Saul Marquez:
And so when do you find out if you won the prize?

Dave Jackson:
May 14th. So we will have a big event in Ottawa at the time. It's in Ontario, in eastern Canada for any of the listeners who don't know what I'm talking about. And it's so it'll be exciting to be, you know, even if we don't win, it's still exciting. The process and the learnings the last eight months just driving down and working on all the details as to what it takes. What a great learning experience.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. Well, we'll definitely keep our collective fingers crossed for you and your team, Dave, for you to win the prize, because we want you to win. Thank you.

Dave Jackson:
Thank you.

Saul Marquez:
So tell us about an exciting focus within the project that you're working on that's really got you fired up.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So one of the things that we're working on right now is when you look at data and you look at all the information, first and foremost is you think about that comes along with that is the risk and the privacy issues. And a lot of that comes when you create this big central data warehouse. You're prone to hackers and different people because there's a lot of value there. So what we said is, do we actually want to be a data manager? When you look at a lot of the organizations out there that are really successful, they actually don't have a lot of assets. You look at the airbnb in the world, the uber's, yeah uber has assets now, but it's about a service driven industry. And so we start to look at that here for what we're doing, as well as saying, do we need data? I know that's a tough. We always need data, but do we need to be the manager of the data? And so we started to look at. Block chains and decentralized databases and things of that sort and started to put together a plan to say we don't need to hold the data. The technology out there allows us to provide data in a secure way that you can provide data just as it's needed without actually having to store that data, that you keep the data or owners and custodians, they're the ones that are managing the data. We just borrowed that data for a second to tell a story and to empower only those that need to have access to the data with that data going to that own your own health monitor that we talked about a little bit earlier. And so what's exciting is we're still working out the details on how to do it. But a way of one of the partners we're working with now, as they put it, is knowledge from data, not risk. And so that's what we're trying to figure out, is if we can put the way that we can work together, people could still have the data where it needs to be, but we don't all have to have that same big, huge master data. We were able to put the power back into the individual's hands and control their own data.

Saul Marquez:
I think it's fascinating. And yeah. You know, it's the approaches for block chain. I think this is this is an interesting case where it might be useful. And kudos to you guys for for really thinking outside of the box from the very beginning, from do I build the hospital to a blue zone project to even data, you know, management. You guys are definitely doing some cool stuff there Dave.

Dave Jackson:
Thank you.

Saul Marquez:
So we're gonna get into the lightning round. And then after the lightning round, we'll ask you about your favorite book. You ready?

Dave Jackson:
Yeah, I'm ready.

Saul Marquez:
All right. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Dave Jackson:
Information and collaboration. So you need the data. So it's funny I said that earlier, but you need information, not the data itself, but the information about the data and why it tells a story.

Saul Marquez:
What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Dave Jackson:
Jumping quickly into a problem without actually understanding what you're trying to solve.

Saul Marquez:
How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Dave Jackson:
Connections, learning, outreach. You can't isolate yourself.

Saul Marquez:
What is the one area of focus that drives everything in your organization today?

Dave Jackson:
Owning your own health. So making it about every individual and the customized experience for everyone.

Saul Marquez:
These next two are a little more on a personal note for the listeners to get to know you. What's your number one health habit?

Dave Jackson:
My number one health habit. Oh, good or bad?

Saul Marquez:
Good.

Dave Jackson:
Spending time with my family. That's I think, without taking too much time. But when you talk about determinants of health is that it's the awareness that health is more than about getting exercise and what you eat. It's all the other things in your life. And it's our workplace. It's our time with family. Those things are huge drivers. And so for me, that's the one.

Saul Marquez:
I love that, Dave. That's a great one. And what is your number one success habit?

Dave Jackson:
I think for me, it's not being content with doing things the way that they always were. I'm stubborn in that I like to find new ways and I often think I like to believe there's always a better way.

Saul Marquez:
Well, your work is definitely a testament to that belief and habit so I love that you share in that. And what book would you recommend to the listeners?

Dave Jackson:
A couple ideas. So I'm a huge spy book fan. I love spy books and that there's two characters. They're my my favorite. There's a Mitch Rapp series. The movie doesn't give it justice, but there's a Mitch Rapp series and there's a great many series, awesome books. If you're a spy book fan. But one book, if we're talking going back to health care, one that really had a big effect on me is there's a book, it was written by a Dr. Topol, I think in 2012, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, where he talks about things from genomics to the importance of digital and the future of where things can go. And it just opened my eyes to some of the potential of just looking at things differently and how it's not that technology is going to replace us, but if we can work properly together with technology, we can truly change the world. And so he's a visionary. So it's pretty cool.

Saul Marquez:
Great book and a great recommendation, Dave. Folks, for more information on today's interview, including a full transcript, the short notes, as well as links to the books and the project that Dave is working on. Go to outcomesrockethealth. in the search bar type in Dave Jackson. You'll see that episode of pop up. Before we conclude, I'd love if you could just share a closing thought, Dave, and best place where the listeners could get in touch with you and continue the conversation.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. Closing thoughts, I would say is don't wait for someone else to do something if you've got an idea run with it and be confident that one of the things I'm learning is that there's so many great ideas out there, but too many people are just sitting on them. So for me, I can be accessed any I'm available. I love talking to people, learning more. The more I talk to, the better it is for us. Our website is AAHC.ca. I can be reached in my email. I don't that type of details that what you needed for me on this one as well.

Saul Marquez:
Sure. Yeah. If you want efforts to have your email.

Dave Jackson:
Yeah. So give me email me any time at davejackson@aahc.ca.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. Dave, really appreciate the conversation today. So interesting, the approach and the philosophy behind what you're doing and even the method. So really inspiring for us today to to take a look at what we're doing and how can we do a better and different. So really appreciate you and your time today.

Dave Jackson:
Great. Thank you very much for having me on.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.

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