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Saul Marquez: Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have Jo Rivard. He’s the Chief Technology Officer at Healthcare Academy on the podcast. Jo is a very passionate leader in healthcare. He’s super engaged with healthcare process system and quality improvement through the marriage of technology and culture change. His particular area of focus is enabling healthcare institutions to identify, manage, and track events of commission and omission through internal process evaluation via custom engineered software. He believes firmly that software is only part of the solution, that we need to definitely engage with continued follow up at the user level in order to make the best results happen within healthcare. He’s had various different roles in technology and healthcare including role at the Mayo Clinic and such it’s a true pleasure to host Jo on a podcast today to dive into some of his thoughts on the matter so Jo, welcome to the podcast.
Joseph Rivard: Thanks for having me.
Saul Marquez: My pleasure Jo. Now did I leave anything in the intro that you want to share with the listeners?
Joseph Rivard: No. That’s a pretty good introduction. My focus in the past 10 years or so has been on healthcare improvement, process improvement, issue identification, and things like that. Over the last couple of years since I’ve migrated over to Healthcare Academy, some of that focus has been converted into education educating health care institutions on requirements and regulations and items like that and we’re also diving into some dipping our feet in the water into the competency assessment of healthcare practitioners as well.
Saul Marquez: Some pretty cool stuff that you guys are up to there. So Jo what is it that got you into healthcare to begin with?
Joseph Rivard: It’s funny you ask. Like any bright eyed young young guy going going to school. Well I’m not any but when I got into computers my goal was to be some sort of video game developer or something like that. I just really like technology. Getting into the medical field was kind of I wouldn’t say by accident, what I would say is that I didn’t know much about the technology in the medical field before my wife had started working at the Mayo Clinic. And that’s when I really started diving into what types of things you can do with technology and things at the Mayo Clinic was doing at that point in time they were pretty neat. So that is where it started. At the Mayo Clinic when I first started working there.
Saul Marquez: Love it and so now your work at Healthcare Academy the role that you guys are playing as I understand is training, web based training, to post acute care facilities, long term care facilities.
Joseph Rivard: That is correct. Yeah. So what we concentrate on is making sure our clients have access to the necessary required training modules to meet the necessary requirements for usually its yearly requirements for these healthcare practitioners to in order to be compliant with their state regulations, government regulations, things like that to keep their licenses. All those types of things. We’ve also started working with our clients in offering some competency evaluation where we’ve got a system where folks can do real time valuations on their employees you know nurses and assistants and things like that to men. These are all part of requirements for these healthcare providers. So what we’re basic where we’re trying to assist the with meeting their requirements and following regulations.
Saul Marquez: Yeah it’s definitely hard to do and providers and nurses and any other skilled clinician needs to keep up with their CME’s or continuing medical education. It’s great to have companies like you that make it easier. What would you say Jo is is a hot topic that needs to be on medical leaders agenda today and how are you guys addressing it?
Joseph Rivard: And I just mentioned it. It’s the competency assessment. That’s one of the buzzwords out in the industry today is helping these organizations assess their healthcare providers skills, making sure they’re meeting or exceeding the minimum requirements for certain skill sets. One of things that we can do is offer metrics trending over time, skill mastery scores across the board as an organization not just as an individual not Did Sally is Sally competent in this skill? What we can do that but what we can do is we can also say is the whole nursing department competent in this skill and what we can also do is we start building data. The idea is to be able to track the outcomes of these assessments and show if there are any initiatives inserted into that timeline. Did they have an effect on these people’s competencies? Was there an improvement? And you can also see pain points in the competency assessment matrix where do you have a problem area that needs to be addressed. So to help drive future initiatives for training on certain aspects of skill sets of your practitioners.
Saul Marquez: Love that. Yeah it sounds like it’s definitely giving a bird’s eye view to the folks in charge of the learning plans helping them get the insights needed to keep their practitioners ahead of the game. We’d love to hear from you maybe of how what you’re doing has has made a difference or create a results by doing things differently?
Joseph Rivard: So one of the things that we can offer as well that we have along with our competency assessment and other systems that we have in place is recommendations on U.S. Department of Education accredited courses to assist with training on any pain point. So if we’ve got a pain point or an identified deficiency and in competency in a certain area we can offer automatically offer certain courses or lessons that should help alleviate some of that deficiency to help decrease the risk of an error occurring and increase your employees overall knowledge in certain key areas.
Saul Marquez: And this all is directly tied to outcomes and you know making sure your people are ahead of the game. If you are in the post acute care space and haven’t thought about potentially solutions like Healthcare Academy, definitely something to consider. Jo you’ve done a lot. I mean you definitely have been working to solve for this need. In the process, I’m sure you’ve had setbacks and things like that. What’s one setback in particular that maybe you want to share and what you learned from that that has made you guys better?
Joseph Rivard: It’s funny you bring that up there’s always setbacks here and there that’s just part of life. It’s what makes a difference is how you how you adapt and overcome any setbacks that you see. One of the issues that I’ve seen in my experience personally is when I’m the Chief Technology Officer so I do a lot of technical based work items and things like that. Handling releases and things like that. One of the things that I’ve seen in the past is in my experiences when an organization is too rigid. If an organization is too rigid and you’ve got a very good developer or you’ve got a software engineer that sees a problem. I’m a firm believer in the if you see a problem say something. If you see a problem there’s an easy fix to it you should fix it. Now one of the items that I’ve had happen to me in the past is where I had seen a problem, was not allowed to fix that problem within the scope of that release. And because of that and the only reason that the issue was not addressed during that release was because of the natural rigidity of the organization I was at. And due to that there were some waterfall effects with the new release. Now we ended up rolling back the release, apply the patch, and we released shortly after. In what came out of that was that notion that if you see something say something. If you see something and you can fix it, you really should. Of course you log that you add it to the release notes and you gain proper approval but making sure that you have the ability to do that is key for a successful release in overall product improvement. Do you want your products to go out and you want them to function well you want them to do the work as intended. So you want to make sure that if you push a release out, then it has every fix that you need in place for everything to properly run as designed. So I don’t want to get too much into the weeds about the particular release or anything like that but there is a need to be able to be flexible to be agile and on the other hand of that to you don’t want to be too agile. It’s a fine balance between the two. You know you’ve got to have guidelines, you need to have scope, and you need to follow regulations but you also need to understand that we’re serving our customers, we’re serving our users and our users need to have functioning software the way that it was supposed to be designed. So if there’s a piece that is not functioning properly for release even though it’s not part of the patch notes if it’s discovered in the middle it should be addressed.
Saul Marquez: Love it.
Joseph Rivard: Not be left alone just for the sake of it wasn’t part of this release plan.
Saul Marquez: Totally man. Yeah if you see something say something. Get it done, get it fixed. How about one of your proudest leadership experiences to date?
Joseph Rivard: There’s been a couple. I would say the most proudest experience I would have is there was a piece of software I developed while I was working at the Mayo Clinic and for a number of years it was used inside of the Mayo Clinic. Then just at the main campus the three main campuses, the Rochester, Arizona, and Florida campuses and then we push that out to some of the smaller satellite organizations at Mayo. And then one of my colleagues, actually the driver of the software Dr. Gene Huddleston, she would go out and she would speak to conferences and talk about the system and what we were seeing was a pattern of folks saying “you know hey that’s a really great system. Is there any way that we could see it and can we use it?” And the resounding answer was repeatedly no well we could show it but they couldn’t use it because it was so tightly coupled with the Mayo Clinic and over time it got to the point where we had to re-evaluate should we refactor this and make it available as a software as a service of some sort through the Mayo Clinic. And we actually did not do that internally. We did not reach that point where we could actually put a team together and do that within the Mayo Clinic. But what we ended up doing was finding somebody a company that came in, licensed the software and then I was brought on out of the Mayo Clinic. I left Mayo and went there and basically rewrote the whole thing from ground up to get it ready to be utilized by organizations outside of Mayo Clinic. So when you ask the question, “What was my most what was my proudest moment?” That was like I was very proud seeing that whole thing unfold the way it did. And it wasn’t really a moment. There was a period of time spanning over the course of a couple of years. It was pretty exciting you know…
Saul Marquez: For sure.
Joseph Rivard: Once we finish up refactoring it and getting it ready to go we piloted it to a number of different companies. And at that point in time it was it was being utilized by some pretty big organizations around the United States. So yeah…
Saul Marquez: Yeah lots of good products.
Joseph Rivard: Yeah I would say…
Saul Marquez: You know homegrown product that sort of gets commercial interest then takes off,I mean definitely some… a testament to how good it worked and what it did. What would you say today is an exciting project that you’re working on?
Joseph Rivard: Oh boy I’ve got a lot of projects I’m working on.
Saul Marquez: You have to pick one.
Joseph Rivard: You know what, if I had to pick one project I would probably say we’re starting initial talks on trying to figure out better ways to deliver our coursework to our users. That involves you know different learning management systems. But what I am always and have always been interested in is data and being able to track certain trends and things like that like I mentioned earlier with our competencies. So one of the things that we’re working on is a way to have a central repository of data for our users across all of our systems and kind of building relationships between all of our systems and giving our customers an overall view of their data and how their how their students are doing how their employees are doing, in terms of education, in terms of compliance, in terms of improvements, in terms of any issues that any of the users or departments or certain facilities may be having. So my favorite project right now is basically taking all the data from all of our systems that we have and working it all together into a centralized meaningful data warehouse that our users and administrators can utilize to drive their organizations and their employees to be better to improve their outcomes and their experiences with their patients more basic you just improve their outcomes with their patients improve patient safety improve customer satisfaction with user satisfaction as well as patient satisfaction, patient satisfaction with their customers and with the organizations themselves. That’s another big thing that we work on as is helping our customers determine what their patients are thinking. Do they feel that that they’re being treated well? Do they feel that there are issues inside of the organizations that they’re being housed in and the extended care facilities that we work with? So we have a whole system that allows for sending out anonymous secure surveys to their patients that they could fill out anonymously and and give honest feedback to help that organization make improvements for their outcomes on their in their healthcare facilities.
Saul Marquez: Some good stuff. Yeah. It’s really great. And it’s just overall getting the insights to the leaders of the organizations to get a pulse and and be able to effect change more broadly. And so love these examples that you’ve given us Jo, you guys are definitely making a difference there in the post acute space. In this part of the other podcast we’re gonna do a quick syllabus. I’ve got five lightning round questions where you could give us your perspective. So with that we’ll follow up with a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?
Joseph Rivard: Sure.
Saul Marquez: All right. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?
Joseph Rivard: I’ve always been a firm believer in improving healthcare outcomes by not finger pointing. So you can do a root cause analysis but you shouldn’t do a root cause analysis to point out a particular individual. Most healthcare outcome issues or incidents or anything like that stemmed from systematic failures. So when I say systematic failures I say I’m referring to things like there’s an issue in the way a process is standardized inside of an organization. We should address that process that internal process instead of saying John should have done X instead of Y, focus on the system the environment don’t focus on the people. The people will adapt to whatever system that you put into place. And if the system is proper then your likelihood of decreasing unfavorable outcomes is much better.
Saul Marquez: What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?
Joseph Rivard: Finger pointing.
Saul Marquez: I think it goes back to the first one.
Joseph Rivard: Don’t don’t… yeah. Don’t blame people. It never seems to work right. When you try to blame an individual or a group of individuals it always seems to work much better when you work as a team to improve your eco system to improve your environment to improve your systems that you have in place and processes that you have in place in order to have a favorable downstream effect to your patients.
Saul Marquez: How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?
Joseph Rivard: So in technology, technology is ever changing. How do we stay relevant? Well we have to stay on top of regulations making sure that we’re compliant with you know different types of technologies that that emerge, keeping on top of what is emerging as a new fad but also the opposite side of that is to not get caught up in new fads. Make sure you stay grounded even though they’re always going to be constant changes in the environment that you work in especially with technology. You need to stay grounded and not keep going and chasing off in different tangents. You have to stay the course. So you need to plan, and you need to evaluate, but you also need to not deviate much from industry standards even though there are changes but you have to evaluate certain items. You have to evaluate potential changes before you actually commit to them. That’s one of the things that I feel helps regulate what you’re going to change and when you’re going to change it because there there’s always going to be changes. But I think it’s key to say change with caution. I guess you have to make sure that you’re not making changes just to make changes and not to fall into any fads or trends because they as any other technology related individual or leader would will tell you is there are always changes always something new and shiny around the corner. There always is. It’s being able to identify what is new and shiny that can actually help you.
Saul Marquez: Love it.
Joseph Rivard: So…
Saul Marquez: A great great one. What book would you recommend to the listeners?
Joseph Rivard: Well I’m not big on reading books for fun persay. I’m more into podcasts. I do really enjoy listening to Radio Lab especially some of their older stuff where they got into you know science and technical aspects of certain topics. I think that’s a great podcast to listen to as we’re reading. I read a lot of textbook type materials unfortunately I’m pretty bland in that but I do recommend Radio Lab as a podcast. One book that I do recommend I guess would be better that is not a super technical book would be The Phoenix Project. It gives a really good insight to the inner workings of software development I.T. those types of things in a business place. So it’s kind of one of those staple books for individuals that would like an insight into what it’s really like to develop software from start to finish develop a product or what it takes to do that and expectations and in those types of things Saul.
Saul Marquez: Love it. The Phoenix Project check that out folks. So if you want to get a full transcript of today’s podcast, you can get that just go to outcomesrocket.health and in the search bar type in Jo Rivard or type in Healthcare Academy you’ll find all that there. Joe take us home. Leave us with that closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could get in touch.
Joseph Rivard: Sure. Yeah. So closing thoughts would be there are many different ways to improve outcomes in the healthcare industry but one of the best ways is to evaluate system failures, to evaluate issues in such a way that they’re ignored stick of the people involved with any issues that may arise. The other piece I would say is to keep track of data, keep track of when issues had happened, and keep track of what you’ve done to try to improve them. And then you can develop an efficiency formula basically for what works, what doesn’t work. When did you do this? What did we do? Did it stick? Did it not stick? So I think that’s important especially when it comes to outcomes and also with outcomes is and in the healthcare industry there’s a lot of folks moving around the field from different organizations, one organization to another to improve outcomes as well you have to repeat that education, those initiatives, the training pieces, over periods of time usually yearly sometimes bi yearly sometimes every four years. I’ve found in the past that some initiatives require more frequent revisits than others and you can start to determine that if you are properly keeping track of your data and if you are properly trying to trend what you’ve done in the past and what you should do in the future. The other piece is listeners everyone to get a hold of me. You can contact me through LinkedIn, you can just search for my name Jo Rivard.
Saul Marquez: Outstanding Jo. Hey I really appreciate you sharing your insights and some of your thoughts on health tech and best practices. So appreciate that and and looking forward to staying in touch with you.
Joseph Rivard: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.
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