R/x for Healthcare: Better UX Through Measurement and Deeper Engagement
Episode 506

Jay Erickson, Chief Innovation Officer at Modus

R/x for Healthcare: Better UX Through Measurement and Deeper Engagement

In this episode, Jay Erickson, Chief Innovation Officer at Modus shares his company’s focus on creating engaging and effective experiences for both patients and clinicians. He shares some of the things he and his team have done in other industries to create helpful experiences for clients, how they prepare to understand the patient perspective, and even calles out a problem investors may face in digital innovation. We hope you’ll also enjoy this interview as much as we did.

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R/x for Healthcare: Better UX Through Measurement and Deeper Engagement

Episode 506

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Modus

R/x for Healthcare: Better UX Through Measurement and Deeper Engagement with Jay Erickson, Chief Innovation Officer at Modus transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

R/x for Healthcare: Better UX Through Measurement and Deeper Engagement with Jay Erickson, Chief Innovation Officer at Modus 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.

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 the outstanding Jay Erickson on the podcast. He is one of the founding partners of Modus, a digital agency based in New York City. As a strategist and leader, he’s been designing and building digital experiences for 20 years in a wide variety of roles and industries. In his role of chief innovation officer, he collaborates with clients to drive digital transformation and solve business problems. He works with clients to generate new ideas, strategies and experiences and bring those experiences to life. His relentless focus in human centered design and putting customers at the center of the process is super interesting and for what we’re experiencing in healthcare. At Modus, he also heads up the health care practice and has worked with clients from the Cleveland Clinic, Ascension Memorial, Sloan Kettering, Pfizer, Amgen, GSK, J&J and the list is long, including the American Heart Association. So he’s not a stranger to our space. So it is extraordinary to be able to dive into digital with Jay. He’s also a contributor to industry innovation groups, including NODE.health, Junto Health and he regularly speaks at conferences and he’s written a number of articles that appear in publications that are important to all of us. So Jay, such a privilege to have you here to talk about digital and healthcare.

Jay Erickson:
It’s a pleasure and thanks for having me on.

Saul Marquez:
Yes, sir. So, hey, you just got back from Argentina a year over there.

Jay Erickson:
Yeah, that’s right. We have an office down there and I was doing some work down there and yeah, we just moved back last week. Interesting time to move back, of course, to be travelling around. But I love Argentina.

Saul Marquez:
Well, welcome back to the States. And you are also very focused on the digital aspects within healthcare. So tell us what inspires your work in the health care vertical?

Jay Erickson:
The core of my inspiration is very personal. So seven years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced metastatic testicular cancer. I spent about a year in treatment at Sloan Kettering. Forty five days in patient, three months of chemo, four big surgeries. So I was sort of a professional patient for a year. And I learned a lot of things. Six years, no evidence of disease now. So I feel very much cured. Thank you. Thank you. And as you can imagine, I learned a lot of things and allowed different levels. But one thing I I learned and observed in that role was just in my opinion, how poorly digital was being deployed in the space for patients and for clinicians. And this is not a knock on Sloan. They’re amazing. They saved my life. But it’s something that’s across the industry as far as for sure as I came back. And so before that, I was the chief operating officer and I was really just focusing on running the business. And when I came back, I said, this is something I really want to dive back into, working more directly with clients and focusing on this problem to be solved and doing what I can to put my shoulder to the wheel of making better, more effective experiences for patients and for clinicians. So that’s my touchstone of the passion that I bring to it.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think it’s a powerful story. Jay, and I appreciate you sharing that and congratulate for beating cancer. And it’s so great that you have taken this upon yourself, having been there, done that as a patient, better and more efficient. There are two things that we could definitely get from. From digital technologies. Tell us a little bit more about how you guys are adding value to the ecosystem through digital.

Jay Erickson:
So our focus is really on creating experiences that are engaging and effective. And this mostly for patients, but also for clinicians and sometimes caregivers and bringing best practices to the industry that haven’t really been woven into the the way that the digital products have been built. I would say the industry and health has has been data centric and rightfully so. Right., this legislation was passed, you know, 20 plus years ago saying you need to get everything into the data. And that’s been a journey. And now that we have all the data and we’re starting to figure out ways to unlock the data and share the data and do more with the data, we need to stop being so data centric and start being more human centric and understanding that people are complex and their situations are often very unique. And we need to build experiences that meet them where they are and make things easy for them and sort of drives towards the outcomes that we want for them. So that’s a long answer and that can be unpacked in a lot of different ways. But how we sort of more tactically are coming into it is kind of doing really running like more design thinking processes that have been lacking. So picking up on sort of a clinical insight or a market research and research insight in the farm industry, for instance, and building on that, doing ethnographic research, actually talking to patients and really understanding their sort of holistic view, their longitudinal journey that might touch a bunch of different. A bunch of different providers, a bunch different mediums, a bunch of different co-morbidities or products, understanding those longitudinal journeys, doing rapid prototyping and co-design and collaboration ways, and then putting those back for really prototype validation before anything gets actually developed. So that process of design thinking is something that has been lacking in the industry and has led to a lot of digital experiences that are either painful or hard to navigate or create unnecessary cognitive load, especially in the case of clinicians.

Saul Marquez:
It’s interesting and I’m glad you mentioned clinicians as well, because bad experience exists on the patient side and on the clinician side as well. And to your point, right, there’s a lot that’s going on that’s great, but there’s an opportunity to do so much better. And so I’d loved it to hear from you Jay on what your team has done that’s made either outcomes better or business models better within healthcare.

Jay Erickson:
Yeah. So I think it’s applying that process that I described. By the way, you know, it’s all in the end is about outcomes. Right. So you really are trying to make better clinician experiences. They can spend more time doing medicine and less time on data entry or so they’re less burnt out. They’re less make make less mistakes. And in the patient case, you’re trying to keep them engaged. You’re trying to get data to flow and to have the outcome of their experience in their disease journey or health journey have a better outcome. So it’s not just about great experiences to create great experiences. I want to make that clear, too, but is specifically applying those cases. I mean, we’ve done everything from working with pharmaceutical companies to develop digital prototypes around using stress manage using behavioral change techniques around social support for stress management, working with behavioral scientists at pharmaceutical companies, or working with healthcare providers to provide better pathways for patients to navigate their journeys. So it’s a lot of it’s simple stuff and it can be starting with scheduling an appointment and navigating to the and helping with transport and access to the site of care. Just that doesn’t require blockchain or A.I. or anything fancy, but doing that in a way that is easy and as easy as Uber or another experience that we’re used to in our normal life, bringing that level of ease and utility to those experience. That’s table stakes, right. And then it’s going from there and moving more into factual medicine’s side of things. And we do a lot of stuff around adherence and getting people. You know, we know that that 40 percent of outcomes is driven by behavior. And there’s really nothing better at a scalable level in value creating level to help with behavior change than than digital devices. I mean, there’s a there’s a shadow side to that, too. Also, Right., like we’re all addicted to these things. But that same power can be used to drive behavior change, whether it’s adherence to medication or physical therapy or just a care plan. So creating experiences for patients that help them with that. So that’s we start to get into the closer to the medical side of things. So that’s some of the ways that we are bringing our skills that we’ve honed to also in other industries, like we’ve been working in hospitality and retail and e-commerce and all these other industries that have more or more mature digitally, especially from a human centric perspective. So bringing all those practices and tools to this space.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s that’s interesting. And, you know, I was traveling earlier this week and, you know, staying at the hotel. I’m just thinking, man, they got this thing figured out. So easy. The check-in, the check-out, the follow ups, the invoice is the everything. You know, the receipt.

Jay Erickson:
Absolutely. And when I was admitted to Sloan as a patient. So just to touch back to my attorney. You know, they had trouble coordinating some form with some code with somebody in my insurance company. And in order to get me in to start my chemo, they had to push me through urgent care, even though I was not I didn’t have an emergent issue just as a way around getting in and getting it and getting a bed in hospital. So you can imagine this is the beginning of my cancer journey. I’m terrified and urgent care at a cancer hospital is not a happy place. And so I’m like, this is what it looks like when it goes bad. And it was just a terrible experience that was driven by just something that we know like, again, hospitality has figured out like get, you know, make it smooth, make it easy and iron out these logistical and data issues.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s a great point. And there’s nothing like having somebody that’s been there to help usher the process. You know, I’m sure your your leadership at the firm is highly impactful when clients are struggling with this. And, you know, I find the same things happening across a lot of companies and in our space and health care, they’re starting to hire more physicians, too. You’re starting to see more physicians and in leadership roles. And that’s because of that empathy factor. You know, you don’t know… been there.

Jay Erickson:
Absolutely. Absolutely. So there’s so many different techniques for doing that. And it is that empathy and that understanding piece. And so. One of the techniques we use is we go out and we do interviews and research and we talk to patients or clients and clinicians and we build personas and journey maps. So we make them pretty realistic and give them names. So we say, you know, Susan, who’s 58 and lives in Englewood, New Jersey, and she’s got this job and this thing, we really flesh it out. And this is her diagnosis and this or her medications. And what she’s has to pick up the kids every day at school, you know, all the all that kind of stuff. And put a picture and we put a name and we put it on the wall in the room where we’re talking about what we’re gonna do. And so that’s one technique. And it’s pretty simple. And and you can do as you’re saying. Well, what about this feature that fits you well? I don’t know. Would that help Susan? Does she really need that? And she’s there on the wall now, obviously, in other ways to get people who are actual patients to sit in the room. And that’s something that I advocate for, but can be can be difficult sometimes regulatory perspective, some times just culturally like. Sure. But I think it’s great. And in lieu of actual patient or clinician being in the room, you know, I do provide that role in when I’m in the room to say we’ll raise my hand and say, well, what about the patient perspective on this or, you know, share something from my experience. I do think it’s it’s so important that there’s a part of me sometimes which kind of irks at the term patient centric, like, oh, we’re very patient centric. Well, what is all of this for any. Yeah. If not…

Saul Marquez:
I feel that way about value based care. It’s like. No kidding, right?

Jay Erickson:
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, OK. Value. You’re not. You are provide value with your care.

Jay Erickson:
That would be nice. Let’s focus on that.

Saul Marquez:
I’m with you. I’m with you. So every company always has setbacks. I love to hear about one of the setbacks you guys have had and how it’s contributed to helping you deliver a better experience to health care company.

Jay Erickson:
I’d say from from a corporate perspective, based I was very early on. Like I said, we’ve been doing this since since 2000. And in 2001, we had to you know, there was a crisis and we had to let a bunch of people go. And it was really early, relatively early on. And, you know, there was there has been maybe another point in our in our journey where we’ve had a contraction and we need to let people go. And I think those moments, that’s the worst as a business owner and as a leader to have to sit down with someone and say, you know, because of other circumstances out of my control and or things that we have or haven’t done to tell them that that they don’t have, they’re not going to be able to continue their employment. It’s it’s it’s really hard. And those moments are very soul searching. And I would say that the lesson coming out of that is to be a good steward of your people. However, whatever that means, like you might not have Finnell responsibility. You might. But either way, that as a leader or even just as a as a teammate, that the sense of of being a protector and a steward of your people is important. Then the second being having empathy and connecting with people, and that the way to have those difficult conversations is to do it from a place of humility and respect and openness and allow yourself to go there. And that can manifest in a lot of different ways. But I think that’s those are a couple of lessons.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know, and I think we we all go through that. Jay, appreciate you bringing that up. You know, because when times get tough, everything gets tough and those contractions can happen. As a leader and as a teammate, you got think about how to most I guess how to do it in the most. I don’t know if nice is the word, but.

Jay Erickson:
Empathetic maybe.

Saul Marquez:
Human and empathetic way, right.

Jay Erickson:
Yeah. We’re doing great now. And we have been doing great. And I don’t want to paint a picture that we’re contract. I want to make it clear. But. But it’s also. Keep it. Keep in mind those those lessons in the good times. Right. And like to always, always, always being that the intention of being real and being human and realizing, you know, when we’re in business and we’re we’re in conference rooms or in these corporate environments and you’re playing a certain role that there’s a tendency to to see like, OK, I need to be that role and speak those things and kind of stay within those boundaries. And there’s truth to that. You’re there to serve a purpose. But this also just from remembering that like everybody’s a human being. Right. All in the room with all that, all the walls and making for those looking for those those ways to connect on a genuine level.

Saul Marquez:
And that’s critical. What are you most excited about today?

Jay Erickson:
I’m most excited about the potential for digital and in health care. I think we’re just beginning. I think where there’s frustration with how slow things move in the industry and, you know, there’s reasons for that. I don’t think we should focus on that. I think we should focus on the fact that we’re probably not even in the bottom of the first inning. And there’s just tremendous potential to both to solve huge problems in our health care using digital. It’s not a silver bullet. Right. And there’s a lot of things that need to work together. But just to transform the way that we do healing in the way that we do medicine in this country, that’s going to lead to better outcomes, less of a burden financially on our society and better. Experiences do more empathetic experiences. So that’s what I’m excited about, the potential for digital to do. Move those walls forward significantly.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And you look at the landscape of what’s happening every day. You see a digital health company getting fifteen million dollars. One hundred million dollars. Like there’s so much investment going on in this space.

Jay Erickson:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Saul Marquez:
You know, it’s just it’s incredibly. You were gonna say something.

Jay Erickson:
I mean, I have. I’m like, what is the term cautiously optimistic in that realm. I think there’s there’s a I have mixed feelings about that. I think there’s a lot of in a lot of easy money. And this is part of what we our mission and Node.health is to kind of help bridge the gap between digital innovation that’s happening outside and Silicon Valley and places like that that is very busy driven. And that kind of raising a lot of money and bridging the gap between that and actually deployed scaled technology in health systems are in an actual operational environments because most of those companies are going to fail. Somebody’s going to fail spectacularly and maybe raise a billion dollars. I won’t name names. So I think there’s a big we need to really optimize those dollars and also bring more evidence based thinking and practices to those dollars. And I think that’s not that’s just growing pains, I think in part. But yes, I agree. It’s exciting that we’re we’re investing in it. But sometimes I think I’d rather give 15 million dollars to a bunch of nurses to do a bunch of design thinking, prototyping than a bunch of folks sitting in an office who don’t really understand how it all works.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I think that’s a great callout. Jay, appreciate you mentioning that. And we’re talking about two different things, right, where that digital innovation that’s being outsourced vs. home ground and the stuff that you guys are doing to help the app, existing operational things being done within the hospital and some great gains to be had there, some greater efficiencies and better experiences. So it’s so great that you guys are working in this area.

Jay Erickson:
You need both. You need both to be clear. And I we do work we work across both. And there’s there’s definitely startups that we work with. And often that’s to your point, they have clinicians in the room or on the staffer in the board who are bringing that perspective and that. That’s helpful.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, well, this has been great, Jay. The importance of being human centric and design thinking. It’s the tip of the spear. And so I love if you could leave us with that closing thought, but also, where can we continue to learn more?

Jay Erickson:
So you can go to our website, which is modus-made.com, or you can look at the node.health Web sites, which is which is node.health. And as part of that, working with leading a group to develop a set of measures for user experience in in healthcare and in medicine specifically, and that’s a tool that’s available there now and can be downloaded and you can score any digital experience and baseline it and measured over time. And I would love your feedback. It’s a tool that’s bunch of startups have already started using and shipping product with features that are more human centric. So that’s available. And yeah, I appreciate it. And in terms of a closing thought, I would just say let’s all remember we’re all on the same team and to be widely collaborative, to be bold and make fearless choices and to remember that this is all about the patient at the end.

Saul Marquez:
That’s a great message, Jay. And I appreciate you sharing that with us and the work that you guys do. Listeners, check them out. There’s an opportunity for you to do more with with your existing way of doing things. And I think Jay and team are doing an outstanding job of helping improve the way that we offer our patients a better experience and better outcomes. So, Jay, really, really grateful that you stop by and and spend some time with us.

Jay Erickson:
Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed 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, resourses, inspiration and so much more.

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