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Reducing Provider Variability with Artificial Intelligence

Episode 370

Recommended Book:

Reducing Provider Variability with Artificial Intelligence

Best Way to Contact Anay:

anay.patel@mdinsider.com

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Company website

MD Insider

Reducing Provider Variability with Artificial Intelligence with Anay Patel, Head of Revenue & Strategy at MD Insider, Inc. | Convert audio-to-text with Sonix

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 that I have the privilege of hosting Anay Patel. He’s the Head of Revenue and Strategy at MD Insider, a health solution partner that is redefining the way consumers search for care by democratizing clinical insights through data and technology. In his role, Anay stewards MD I’s go to market and commercial operations while also applying leadership over product and solution advancements. The move to consumerism and healthcare is inevitable. And as providers and organizations try to grapple with how to do it, the work that he’s doing there is crucial to defining success in the years to come. Prior to MDI, they served in various leadership roles at multiple industry leading management consulting firms. His area of concentration and expertise include helping organizations develop sustainable growth and emanate strategies designed multidisciplinary care delivery models and the implementation of Innovative Decision Support Technologies. He has served entities across healthcare including not for profit systems, government organizations, tech and private industry. So with that intro, I want to open up the microphone to Anay to join us today. Thanks for being with us.

Anay Patel:
Thanks for having me Saul. I know you’ve been trying to get this on the books for quite some time and you nailed that intro. Nice and concise.

Saul Marquez:
Thank you man. I appreciate that. So what is it that got you into the medical sector?

Anay Patel:
You know I’m not sure. I’m not sure, sir excuse me. My story is unique in that regard. The initial interest stemmed from having quite frankly a family chock full of health care professionals surrounding me ever since I can remember. When I was much younger, I recall my parents sharing a daily healthy discourse let’s call it about the various research and clinical projects that were going on at work and though I had at that time at least virtually no knowledge of the subject matter I could see that it interest to them and seemingly that they were being challenged in their work. And so as I just started develop my own thinking around a career where I wanted to spend my time I leaned on the fact that there are just so many ways health care impacts our everyday lives. And there are quite frankly few industries and professions that provide that same opportunity to influence meaningful change over time as my career has evolved, I find that there’s still endless opportunities to essentially reinvent yourself and put your past and present skills to new challenges within the industry. And so for me it started with that initial sort of immersion and exposure and presently it’s a driven based on the ability to solve new problems.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Yeah. So it’s so interesting. We’re surrounded with the family that was challenged then and really stimulated by it. Eventually you got into it and now you’re pushing the envelope on what we could do in healthcare to make it better. Now give us an example or just what you believe a hot topic that needs to be on the leaders agenda today and how you are approaching it.

Anay Patel:
Yeah. So we hear so much today about the prevailing I’m using air quotes you’re consumerism trend in healthcare and we had MDI firmly we believe that today’s health care purchasers are more curious. Let’s let’s say that then they were in the past. And as a result more informed about their expectations of our health care delivery system. So this is important right. And you’ll hear me say this a lot but this is a bi directional business challenge for providers and consumers alike with heightened consumer expectations comes a greater strain on providers themselves. So one of the emerging trends is that of provider burnout fatigue and the increasing dissatisfaction within the profession in general. So on one hand if you’re a provider delivery organization your primary objective is to attract and retain consumers and you do this through improving patient experience. This can include things like becoming more digitally sophisticated to embracing and implementing learnings from the hospitality industry and so on. But at the same time you have to find a way to keep your primary assets the provider themselves equally happy and satisfied in their day to day. So at MDI you know we’re helping solve for this on both sides of the aisle if you will from a consumer centricity perspective. We’ve built digital tools that enable individuals to search for and learn more about providers in every zip code of the country. So that dearth of information transparency historically is no longer a barrier in today’s health care experience. In large part to organizations like MD Insider and you know as it pertains to providers themselves we’re helping resolve key friction points related to patient access fragmentation the misalignment of patient and provider selection and the information accuracy across the millions of disparate data sources that are out there to learn more about healthcare. So there are many other challenges for both consumers and writers. But these are some of the areas we’ve chosen to intentionally impact.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s interesting work. Now maybe you could give us an example of how you and your organization have created results by doing things differently.

Anay Patel:
Yeah sure and this piggybacks on the previous comment. When you think about how individuals have sought care historically it’s been a really subjective in word of mouth process right. So you relied on references from someone you knew you maybe went to your insurance carriers patient portal where you search the Internet if you’re a progressive and savvy enough. And after all of that you had to wade through all of this conjecture and information fragmentation without knowing what was important and so to further complicate this. Each data source has its own underlying bias often unbeknownst to the average health care purchaser. So with a lack of transparency the question becomes what information should you trust and why. So Saul, I’ll flip this back to you. I’ll play host for a second. When was the last time you look for a care provider and how did you do it?

Saul Marquez:
Well we moved in November and we were looking for something for my son and I was at the – we were getting a haircut for him and my wife started asking around and the stylist some of the moms in the shop and and sure enough we got a physician referral. So from there we we went and research them further on Google and got some reviews and determined “Hey. This is the person for us.” So yeah kind of to your point. Through word of mouth.

Anay Patel:
Yeah that’s that’s interesting right. Because they’re in lies sort of that bi directional business problem we’re solving for we’re trying to fundamentally rewire how consumers think about care and subsequently look for that care. So while also enabling priors to see the types and types excuse me of patients that are best suited to see to our platform is essentially created based on subjectivity and is there to inform provider selection through data not the sort of reliance on subjective opinion in isolation. So we do this by analyzing clinical data from providers directly so medical claims as we know it. That helps us understand what they do how they do it and where they provide care. The result of that is essentially a more efficient path for patients to find doctors based on their own clinical need matched with a provider’s true area of clinical experience and expertise. And we’ve created this level of detail for 97% of physicians nationwide. When you think about this concept in general it sounds pretty simple and common sense but this type of clinical evidence hasn’t been analyzed and then organized in a way that benefits consumers let alone at the scale and coverage we’ve been able to produce at MDI. So you know we recognize there’s room for both approaches the subjective qualitative combined with a data driven data and form and the two models really complement one another. But our aim at MDI at the very core is to ensure that consumers have access to useful and tangible information. And with that information we’re trying to improve outcomes for both the patients and consumers as well as for providers. And these outcomes are things like quality of care standards. As I mentioned previously patient access inefficiencies and then provider and patient satisfaction.

Saul Marquez:
Fascinating. They so walk me through it. Then the relevant data that you guys help aggregate is that then served through a provider’s platform, is it served through a campaign that’s searchable by Google. Can you kind of walk me through the delivery method?

Anay Patel:
Yeah that’s great question so we work with and we like to say this quite a little bit generically. We work with essentially everyone across the healthcare ecosystem. And so by that I mean we work with hospitals and health systems so when you think about going to a hospital systems website you go to the find a doctor page you know often or historically it’s been archaic. You can either only search by a doctor name, a specialty or a ZIP code but if you’re going to find a new physician much like you had to do for your child you may not know the doctor’s name right. And then searching by specialty and zip code alone is insufficient because when you think about the example of an orthopedic surgeon not all orthopedic surgeons do knees, hips, joints, shoulders etc. generally tend to sub specialized. So you need a more data informed approach that enables or powers that search engine on a hospital system’s website. So that’s one example. We also work with insurance companies so that healthcare carriers employers who want to embed a search solution for their employees to make sure their employees are not only staying in network but also seeing providers who have a high degree of experience and quality outcomes related to that particular clinical condition that’s salient for that employee. So we’re really working with organizations who will ultimately are again trying to improve the patient experience ensure that there is appropriate access to care wherever in their employee patient consumer might be located in the country and ultimately much like a lot of your guests on the podcast trying to improve outcomes as a whole, right. And we’re trying to tackle that from anywhere in a local market to a national macro coverage scale. So that’s that’s really how we’re working with everyone across the industry to try to improve this process.

Saul Marquez:
Love that. Thanks for clarifying that and for the folks listening, thinking through what your portal looks like whether you’re a provider or a payer I’d say challenge yourself, challenge yourself to make it better because in today’s day of one button pay on Amazon, consumers are becoming more demanding and expecting more in the way that they find their physicians. I think this episode is very timely. So give us an example an a of a setback you’ve had and and what you learned from that to make you better or even the company that you’re with.

Anay Patel:
I actually liked listening to the responses from many of your interviewees. This is I think there’s a lot to learn right from not only your own but others, I won’t call it failures but missteps.

Saul Marquez:
Agree. Yeah.

Anay Patel:
And I think what I’ll do is I’ll walk us through actually a two fold misstep for us and you know the first part was lessen our control but the failure was related to essentially mis timing the market for our design solutions. And believe me obviously that’s a big friction point when you’re at a growth stage company. So you know in our early days at the beginning of MDI where transparency wasn’t a full market dynamic the concept of socializing even fundamental information about care delivery partners let alone performance data was a big no no. Right. And so as we talked to a lot of organizations they believed in the premise and could reasonably articulate the value, value proposition to doing so. But generally the market again as defined by purchasers across the healthcare ecosystem was hesitant to get their feet wet. And so for us this of course was a considerable amount of inertia. Right here we are trying to revolutionize how consumers and providers access important information but seemingly didn’t have or accepted the receptive audience to service. So put simply the market hadn’t matured or warmed to our point of view as quickly as we thought. And this actually led to the second part or the second misstep if you will which in some ways predicates the first we did what most companies do in the beginning. We went all in and designed a set of solutions which we believe was best suited for our original market segment. And given that sort of aforementioned inertia we started to think about different ways to reposition our assets and capabilities. So we pivoted right. And then later came another pivot. And I think you get where I’m going with this but changing directions is resource and time intensive both of which come in limited quantities early on you know. So we took a bit of time to identify who we were trying to serve. And this was clearly a large decision as it impacted everything from product development to marketing and sales and the relationship between the two is so obviously important because the market hadn’t matured as we expected. We took the product and marketing in a specific direction. And then lastly I would I’ll say here knowing what we do now and having the fortune of hindsight of course yes there are a lot of learnings to be had. Right. In the end we learned an incredible amount about the market space wherein the fundamental consumers and buyers and really how our solutions should be deployed going forward. And you know from my perspective at least one of the biggest takeaways through that process is to really stick with your gut. And if it’s not your gut always align back to the mission of why the company was created. So why did we start down the path at the beginning? Are we still striving to achieve those same objectives? And then really anchoring around that should always be top of mind whether you’re at a growth stage company like ours or a more mature organization should really be about that mission and what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re trying to serve.

Saul Marquez:
Anay, a great story that you shared and I agree and I love what you said. You know the fortune of of hindsight and frankly this question in particular is one of the ones that I enjoy the most to. So it’s good to hear from you that you’ve enjoyed that that piece and wow you guys have come a long way and now I have traction. You’re delivering your service in a way that’s making an impact. Let’s see the other side of that. What’s one of your proudest experiences with the company to date?

Anay Patel:
Yeah. You know that’s a great question because as an early to mid careerist you know I’ve been afforded a tremendous amount of opportunity to work with really talented professionals on quite frankly really important business issues and I think all of your listeners and interviews are likewise the same five to pick one this far. You know I would have to say my time and work here at MDI as a whole as a whole has been incredibly gratifying and rewarding as many of your guests can attest right. Working at a growth stage company is an incubator to really develop and refine new skills. So you undoubtedly wearing several hats, some of which most of which you’ve never worn before and frankly you may not want to wear right. And to further compound that not all ideas and solutions are embraced by your target market on day one, day one hundred or even the first year as I mentioned, right. So you learn how important perseverance is as a trait and as a result how to lead your team through sort of these ever changing market expectations and consumer requirements. So I’m proud of what we’ve built. The people we have building it today and most importantly the impact that our technology solutions are having on the way carry sought again across the country. To think now that our solution thing is available to millions of people it’s a great accomplishment. Our team and you know we have so much more yet to do so you know I’m proud of that but I’m also proud of where we’re going next.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. That’s huge and a great call out about three fourths of the way done with this book called The Platform Revolution. Have you ever heard of it or read it?

Anay Patel:
I’ve heard of it. It’s on my, one of many on my to read list.

Saul Marquez:
And just hearing your story really kind of highlights some of the some of the premise of the book. It’s like when you’re able to do what you did you know like being agile in your management systems and having the ability to pivot and figure out what the market’s looking like just in time. It gives you an advantage of a smaller player versus a larger institution that might have more resources might have more more talent to pull from where the main reason being their management systems are not as agile enough to respond and so love your example because it plays right into that and a testament to the success that you guys are having early on.

Anay Patel:
I couldn’t agree more you know I think having come from let’s call it big industry you see some of that red tape and the bureaucratic process which those are necessary requirements right. Those large organizations become large organizations because they have these processes so it is a blessing and in some ways a curse it can be for us fortunately unfortunately right we didn’t necessarily have those structures and today obviously we’re working to develop them to become much much like an Amazon and such but it’s been a good ride.

Saul Marquez:
Now that’s great and that’s a good call out too. So. So tell us about an exciting project that you’re working on today.

Anay Patel:
Yeah absolutely. So our primary focus as you know is initially led us down the path of pursuing the measurement of quality and outcomes as it pertains to providers and hospitals. We have plans today to go deeper and more granular in that space. Looking at different measurements both proprietary and industry recognized standards as well as different data types to accomplish this. But the project that I think say I’m most excited about is tackling the cost side of the equation. So what’s impressed upon me in our discussions with the industry is a notion of cost reduction is widespread right. Everyone knows about it. The issue itself for change and reengineering nascent and novel attempts to address it and so on. But what hasn’t been agreed upon is a standard way to measure it. And if you can’t measure it, it’s hard to improve it and at least that’s our guiding principle in philosophy. So we want to focus on the measurement part first. And so in addition to that focus on cost we’re building new ways to create a more personalized search experience incorporating different data points like cost as an example in quality and potentially using things like unstructured data applying principles like make natural language processing, sophisticated A.I. and machine learning principles. So we’re certainly not short of ideas and applications for those ideas and we have a pretty robust and active roadmap for 2019 and beyond. But that cost is a is a big thing for us.

Saul Marquez:
Now I love it and it’s a it’s a very important thing to focus on. So I love this. Let’s get into the lightning round. You ready?

Anay Patel:
I’m ready.

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

Anay Patel:
You know I’ll take a little bit of our work at MDI and also past experience in consulting. I think you have to take it a multidisciplinary team model approach and that includes the patient themselves.

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

Anay Patel:
So I think you know change is incremental. You don’t have to boil the ocean to drive innovation or inspire that change.

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

Anay Patel:
So this is where borrowing a page out of I think industry leading brands like Amazon is important you know staying relevant is a confluence of being close to the voice of the consumer and also being agile enough as an organization to act on that feedback received.

Saul Marquez:
What’s one area of focus that drives everything at MDI?

Anay Patel:
Well that’s a big one. I’d say like I hope every company it’s our mission which is to build a better way to connect the provider community and the patient community.

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

Anay Patel:
Oh I love this. I’m a big proponent of high intensity interval training so at the moment it’s orange theory. It’s a good balanced way to start your day.

Saul Marquez:
And you’re in Chicago right?

Anay Patel:
Yep. I’m Chicago based.

Saul Marquez:
So I tried the one in the old town for a couple of weeks and that’s pretty intense.

Anay Patel:
Oh yeah. It’s all the rage these days so I’m a big fan of it. It’s really organized predictable and you’re in and out in an hour.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. I love it. And what’s your number one success habit, Anay?

Anay Patel:
You know I’d say mentorship. The mentorship process always finds a way to pay you back if you share your time and experience with others as much like you’re doing with this podcast. You know whether it’s students learning more about our industry, colleagues seeking advice or someone just to bounce ideas off of. Definitely have to default mentorship.

Saul Marquez:
Love that and what book would you recommend to the listeners?

Anay Patel:
So I enjoy all of Malcolm Gladwell is writing but if I had to pick a single book it’d be Irving Janice’s book called Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes enlightening to say the least but I highly recommend this for any leader who’s working in a team based decision model. So really I think streamline the decision process going forward and really bring broader consideration as to how you arrive at those decisions.

Saul Marquez:
That’s a great one. Folks for the resources that we’ve discussed links, to the book, a full transcript as well as the short notes go to outcomesrocket.health and in the search bar type in MD Insider or type in Anay Patel. We’re here at the end, Anay. This has been really, really fun. Why don’t you leave us with a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could continue the conversation with you?

Anay Patel:
Sure. So in terms of a closing thought you know most everyone I think in health care can agree there’s no shortage of problems to solve across the industry. And so back to one of my previous comments. Big change can be accomplished through incremental advancement. So as you look for that problem solved. Keep the patient in mind and know that even the simplest idea can create that meaningful impact. And I can be reached at Anay.Patel@MDInsider.com or on LinkedIn Anay K. Patel.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. Anay, this has been a true pleasure and I really appreciate you carving out time for us.

Anay Patel:
Absolutely. Thanks Saul.

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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