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Driving Change by Using Research-Based Evidence with Kaajal Singh, Principal of Client Engagement for RTI Center for Health Care Advancement
Episode

Kaajal Singh, Principal of Client Engagement for RTI Center for Health Care Advancement

Driving Change by Using Research-Based Evidence

In this episode, we interview the outstanding Kaajal Singh. Kaajal is the Principal of Client Engagement for the RTI Center for Health Care Advancement. She discusses how RTI leverages data and delivers health-focused interventions. These solutions are backed by years of research and presented to the table with analytical capabilities that are truly fundamental to a research institute. Kaajal shares RTI’s drive to improve quality and outcomes and reduce cost. She also talks about the benefits of relying on an independent third party to assess your business’s study or new technology. If you’re looking for a way to scale your business at a lower cost, or you need help in the decision-making process, a research institute like RTI can help you.  We truly enjoyed our exciting conversation with Kaajal. Please tune in to the entire episode to learn more.

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Driving Change by Using Research-Based Evidence with Kaajal Singh, Principal of Client Engagement for RTI Center for Health Care Advancement

About Kaajal Singh

Kaajal is a Principal of Client Engagement for RTI’s Center for Health Care Advancement. Kaajal‘s work focuses on operational and strategic improvement across health care, particularly in the health provider and payer markets. Prior to leading RTI’s Center for Health Care Advancement, she spent numerous years in advisory services as a management consultant, including several years at Booz Allen Hamilton and the Advisory Board Company. She also has also worked for UnitedHealth Group and the General Electric Company.

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Driving Change by Using Research-Based Evidence with Kaajal Singh, Principal of Client Engagement for RTI Center for Health Care Advancement 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:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez here. Today, I have the privilege of hosting Kaajal Singh. She is a Principal of Client Engagement for RTI Center for Health Care Advancement. Kaajal’s work focuses on the operational and strategic improvement across health care, particularly in the health provider and payer markets. Prior to leading RTI’s Center for Health Care Advancement, she spent numerous years in advisory services as management consultant, including several years at Booz Allen Hamilton and also the Advisory Board Co. She also has worked for United Health Group and the General Electric Company. Such a great mixture of experience across several different verticals in our health care economy. I thought it would be great to have her here to share a little bit of the work that she and her team are up to at the health care division of RTI. So, Kaajal, it’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Kaajal Singh:
Thanks Saul. It’s so nice to be on your podcast. Thanks for hosting me.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. So we’re going to dive into the neat things that you guys are up to. But before we do, I would love to learn a little bit more about you and what inspires your work to be in health care.

Kaajal Singh:
Thanks. I appreciate that question. I say I think the number one thing that inspires me is my role I work with clients and I have for many, many years. And the best days that I have had are when I leave my client knowing that I contributed to them finding a solution, creating a strategy, influencing care decisions in a way that is actually improving the quality as well as the cost of everything that’s going on in the health care system right now. So those are that’s that’s what really motivates me, the ability to make a difference with my clients and understand that at the end we’re making a difference in the way that care is delivered across the country.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Yeah. It’s a great reason to be in the position you’re in and the game that that we’re in, in health care. And so I’m just curious about RTI. You know, I want to help the listeners better understand who is RTI and what are you guys focused on specific to health care?

Kaajal Singh:
It’s a great question. I’ve been at RTI almost three years now and RTI stands for the Research Triangle Institute International. So we’re actually the Founding Research Institute in the Raleigh Durham, North Carolina Triangle. And we were founded over 60 years ago in partnership with USC and Duke and really, really focused around initially cutting our teeth and more of that hard core lab sciences that you would expect. Over the last several decades, we have grown into a team that focuses across multiple disciplines and multiple subject matter areas. Health care is probably more than half of our institutes, business as a whole. And within health care alone, we work in the international space. We work with commercial clients. We have a very large and robust business with particularly the pharma. And we have a more growing business now with providers and payers, which is where I’m affiliated. We also have a really, really strong and impactful business in our federal government. So for the past few decades, we’ve been supporting CMS with the rollout of a lot of the new payment models, both the quality and the cost for the design, implementation and evaluation of everything in the spirit of how we’re moving into the value space. We do a lot of work around social determinants and we have centers of excellence around certain behavioral health capabilities, including opioid substance use disorders, all of the things that really, really, truly matter to driving community based strategies and informing care before a patient becomes a patient, if you will. And that’s really important to us from a social science perspective. And I think it’s also hugely relevant to the market and particularly the pandemic market that we’re in right now where everyone is starting to ask the questions of how do we understand our population, how do we understand our communities. And what they’re looking for is research, looking for evidence. They’re looking for facts around what worked, what didn’t work. So it’s a really interesting time to be at a research institute, as you can tell, because we’ve got depth of content there.

Saul Marquez:
And that’s super interesting. Kaajal. And so you’re right, right now, we’re all experiencing a huge need for certainty. Right. There’s so many things that we don’t know and the need for planning around the pandemic, whether it be economic planning or health care delivery planning, it’s important that we have the right information and do the right thing. So talk to us a little bit about RTI and what you guys are doing differently that can help the listeners gain insights into some of their toughest problems right now.

Kaajal Singh:
Yeah, thanks. And having been in health care for almost 20 years now, I’ll say that every organization that I’ve worked with and every client that I’ve had, you know, in many cases all asking the same questions, Right. were asking, how do we do better with less? How do we drive more value while cutting costs? How do we impact our populations on limited budgets and resources? And I will say that the differentiating point from an RTI perspective is we come to the table not only with the answers that we believe are meaningful, but those answers that we have are rooted in research. They’re rooted in 20, 30, 40 years of study that many of our practitioners have done. And they have looked at these problems not just in today’s environment, to say, oh, this is what works in 2020. They’ve looked at it across the last 20 years, 30 years, and said, you know, these problems have been around for many, many years. It’s not the first time we’re thinking about them now. They may require unique solutions that are tailored to 2020. But what can we learn from how we have dealt with these problems in the past? What interventions have worked well, what interventions have not? And how can we advise our partners around where should you be investing your resources, your time, your strategic plan in a way that’s going to drive you results? That’s rooted in the evidence of what has worked. So we come to the table with the research. We come to the table with experts who have been studying these topics for decades. We also come to the table with analytical capabilities that are really, truly fundamental to a research institute.

Kaajal Singh:
So the ability to inject large amounts of data and then use that data to generate insights, both in terms of decision making insights, but also in terms of evaluative insight. So in many cases, we have customers who are saying we are looking to do this, but we’re not actually sure if it’s going to do what we think it should do. Well, we can serve as an evaluation partner by coming to the table and saying, let’s design a study, let’s design a truly scientifically rigorous study that will allow you to say, here’s my goal. Here’s where I am today. What are the data set? What are the parameters of the intervention to make sure that when we get to certain milestones along that journey, we can reflect and we can thoughtfully say, are we achieving what we meant to achieve? And if not, how are we going to course correct. Rather than saying we’re going to spend this amount of money for five years and check on it at five years. We don’t necessarily believe it has to be that way. And the science will suggest that it doesn’t. And if you have the right analytics partners and the Right. analytic solutions, you can certainly generate answers more quickly and more rapidly for the interventions you’re putting in place.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s a good perspective. And, you know, a lot of times it really helps to put it in the context of of an example. And I love to hear if there’s anything that comes to mind around the themes that we discussed around improving outcomes or business model innovation. Any examples of what you guys have been able to do around those two themes?

Kaajal Singh:
Yeah, sure. I’d be happy to share them and share it more broadly just to protect client confidentiality. But broadly speaking, an area that I think is really important to talk about right now is anybody can tell you you’re an executive in a payer provider environment right now, that on a regular basis you’re getting emails, phone calls, outreach, et cetera. Some folks are all trying to sell you a new product and you have the new technology service, a new something or the other that is saying, I am going to be doing this, I am going to be doing that. And it’s got to be overwhelming. It’s got to be like to get inundated with those kind of pitches on a regular basis when you’re also trying to run your business. And we’ve seen some companies, some of these more startup type companies and also some of the payers and providers take an approach to say, OK, I do believe that I need to implement some of these newer technologies. I do believe there may be something there, but I’m not fully ready to commit yet to saying I’m going to make this full on investment in you when I want to do is do this in a phased way where I invest in you, but I’m going to do it in an iterative way and I’m going to bring in a valuation partner to the table. And that evaluation partner is going to be at the table from day one as we’re starting to think about what is the true value of implementing your product or your solution. And that partner in many RTI fill that role. We come to the table as an objective, independent third party to say here’s what we think is a true study design for how you implement this technology. For the most part, almost all of our studies involve some elements of evaluating total cost of care, because at the end of the day, that’s largely what is driving a lot of folks. We don’t do it just with total cost of care Right.. We will also look at quality measures. We will look at the patient experience.

Kaajal Singh:
We will be able to put in quantitative and qualitative strategies to the evaluation that are customized for really what is the payer or provider trying to achieve by investing in this product. So that’s a really interesting way to think about using the skill sets of a research institute. It’s also a really interesting way if you’re either a big provider or payer that’s thinking about investing in something that doesn’t really know if we should make the call. So it’s a really interesting way. If you’re a startup company and you’re saying, gosh, I’m really looking edged myself into more businesses, if I brought my own evaluator to the table, might I have more credibility, might be willing to my customers be willing to think a little bit more differently and take more risk if they know that I’m putting my money where my mouth is and saying I’m going to bring my own evaluator.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s really great. What are. Great example, and you put it in the context of what’s happening today. I mean, even pre pandemic Right., I mean, there was an inflection in and the use of digital health technologies and now forget about it, Right.. I mean, it’s never been as busy as it has been. I’m sure if you’re listening to this and you’re a payer or a provider executive, you’re like, yeah, Kaajal’s right. I’m like, I can’t even deal with my inbox right now. Why not? If you have a one or two of those that you feel could be promising, I consider an approach with the partner that can help you derisk that and and gut check a lot of the things that maybe you’re too busy, you and your team are too busy to do. A really great example. Kaajal appreciate you sharing that as you guys explore different projects and speak with different clients. What would you say is one of the biggest setbacks you feel like we’ve experienced know and you don’t have to get specific with any clients here, but just maybe take this one on on a more general us as a health care leader or stakeholder audience. What’s been one of our biggest setbacks and what’s a key learning that we could take out of it to be even better as we continue with things today?

Kaajal Singh:
The great question, I would say largely speaking, the business environment and the health care environment are built on the concept of largely speaking instant gratification. When we make investments as leadership team, you know, we want to see results in three, six, nine months. But we have to think about that in the context of what is it we’re trying to achieve with these investments. If we’re making a large investment and we want to reverse Type two diabetes in a significant amount of our population, or if we want to increase screenings for a certain condition, we’re not going to see results in three or six or nine months after making that investment. We need to design our approaches in a way that allows us the longevity to actually see the results. And more importantly, we have to design our strategy in a way that gives us great milestones where we can say at six months, how do we evaluate this to see if we’re directionally going in the right way and be willing to make tough calls. Right. Be willing to say, you know what what we what we decided on wasn’t working. Let’s change course. We’re not set up like that as a business, as an industry. And that’s driven the treatment in many, for many reasons, Right. their shareholders to answer to those boards, to teethers, leadership changes that happen, etc..

Kaajal Singh:
So it’s not an easy solution. But I do believe that organizations can start by looking internal to their own culture and saying, why are we here? What is our purpose and how are we going to plot a strategy that no matter where we are today, three years from now, five years from now, we can look back and say that every investment that we made was in alignment with our purpose and our goal, and that we had a really clear plan by which to evaluate those goals. I think that we all kind of get caught up in the flavor of the day Right. with everyone talk about what’s the buzz word. And the problems in health care haven’t changed over the last many, many years. And they’re not going to change. Right. So we focus on that as our as something that just gets to everything that we do. I think that’s where we need to go. I think we need to say more foundational to understanding our community, understanding our population. And and at the end of the day, the majority of folks who are delivering this space, we all want to do the right thing by clinicians, administrators, everyone. We want to do the right thing. The question is norming around what is that right thing? And it’s no easy task to solve for.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s an interesting call-out Kaajal and I think a big part of it too is is selling the idea Right. like selling the idea that a year, two years, three years is the right strategy versus, hey, let’s just get the number for the quarter. And I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this, because if you could put together a good strategy that makes sense in the long term, how do you break it down on the quarter? Because ultimately I feel like there’s some sort of Buy-In that needs to happen there. You know, that’s a challenge, you know, what are your thoughts on how to address that? Approaching it, getting buy in? Because I know there’s a lot of people listening and they’re like, yeah, that makes sense. But man, it is hard Right.. We want results now. Instant gratification. You said it. So what are your thoughts there?

Kaajal Singh:
Well, I think it’s the strategy I’ve taken in almost twenty years of serving customers is making sure you have the voice of your customer at the front of whatever you’re doing, what your patients want, what do your patients want? How do they want to be treated? How do they want to be reached? To to me, that’s the pinnacle of why we’re all in health care. We are trying to make people’s lives better. And if we lose that, then at the end of the day, does it matter if you pick this technology or that technology is either these technologies doesn’t get to what your patients are asking for them? What was the point in investing in that? So I would say rate yourself and what your patients are asking for yourself and what your workforce needs to be able to deliver to those patients, and if you’re not in the business of actually direct patient care, make sure that you understand when one or two degrees removed in the health care space, make sure you still understand how the work that you’re doing ultimately affects patient lives. Just I think the compass.

Saul Marquez:
And so as you reflect on what we’re going on today and what’s going on today and our situation, but also looking at the opportunity, the context of COVID and everything that we’re dealing with today is what would you say you’re most excited about?

Kaajal Singh:
Well, I’m most excited about the fact that people are starting to ask questions about science. There are many people who are in health care who have really got into health care, not necessarily because they intentionally chose to, but maybe they just kind of found their way in from other industries or other professions and now are really starting to ask some more fundamental questions about the science of population health management, the science of care delivery, the science of implementation. How do you put new processes in place? And for us as a research institute, that’s our bread and butter. That’s what we thrive on. We eat. We thrive on being able to, first of all, understand the science, but then also disseminate those findings. And so we’re excited when we hear people asking questions. You know, on the flip side, we’re also concerned about some of the real daggers that seem to be drawn against scientific news and scientific perspective.

Kaajal Singh:
Right.. And I would I would venture to say that the majority folks who are in health care, they recognize and appreciate the role that science plays. And so it’s going to be really interesting to be able to study this just from a social perspective, five, 10 years from now. How did we respond during the pandemic and how how did science play a role both positively and negatively in how the US and the Globe fared in terms of surviving this? So I think that’s it. And of course, as a research institute, we want to study and evaluate. We are looking for data. We want data on the pre covid world that would be encoded world. And then as we slowly start to come out of it to compare and contrast what really worked, what didn’t work. And certainly there are I’ve talked to clinicians on a regular basis who are just itching to get their hands on the clinical data around all of this, particularly in specialties like cardiology and pulmonology. They’re starting to dig into what is covid-19 and how does it really affect your body Right. what is the systemic in the root causes of this disease? So I think there’s a lot to learn and a lot to evaluate, which is, I think what makes us most excited.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, folks. The website is Healthcare.RTI.org. And if you want to learn more, they’ve got a really great summary about what they do, how they approach it. Experts. And so, Kaajal, if you were to phrase this as an invitation, you know, give us a closing thought and what should we be thinking about and what would you invite the listeners as far as engagement with you and the company?

Kaajal Singh:
Thank you for that opportunity. First of all, I’d say thank you for thank you for listening and involving my perspective on research and how Research Institute can help support daily decision making. I would say when you’re thinking about how to use an institute, a research institute like RTI, look at your own organization and say, where are there gaps in terms of my understanding, something about a problem that I’m trying to solve or an effort that I’m trying to move forward? Where are the gaps in my understanding? Where are there gaps in my data? Where are there gaps in my ability to take one data set and translate it into a set of actions? That’s exactly the environment where we thrive. Right. is to help you make sense of your own data, to help you compare and contrast how you are doing in comparison to your market. And we are also there to help you say, if I’m going to make some decisions and invest in something, how do I make sure I’m making the best decisions and evaluating myself and keeping myself in check? And again, going back to that concept of a third party, there’s something really, really beneficial about bringing in a third party independent. You know, we’re a not for profit institute to come in and say, here’s how you really did compared to your original goals, and use this information to now feed your strategy going forward. I would say if you’re if you’re facing any of these questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll have a conversation. If we can help you in an intelligent way. We’ll tell you if we think you’re better served in a different way, we will tell you that as well, because at the end of the day, all of our work is you have to be aligned with our mission, which is to advance the human condition and improve the greater good. And that’s that’s really what we are here for and why we exist as a research institute.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Yeah. And folks, that is the mission of RTI to research to improve the human condition. And if your organization, whether your provider or you’re an industry, I think ultimately that’s why we’re in this health care game. So take up Kaajal on her invitation to engage. Where can they do this? Health care fatigue, is there any other place where they could get in touch with you, or is that where they should go?

Kaajal Singh:
Absolutely. I can be found on LinkedIn. I’m also happy to provide my email address, Kusile, if you have folks to reach out directly. Don’t hesitate. We love to chat. We love to love. We love to learn. And really, we also are in the space of being a research institute. If you want to publish something and you want a publishing partner, we are. That’s that’s also a huge part of what we do. So we’re happy to be partners with you in learning one way or the other.

Saul Marquez:
What a great opportunity. Folks, check out the website again. It’s healthcare.rti.org. If you go to Outcomes Rocket, just go to OutcomesRocket.health, type in RTI in the search bar and you’ll see our entire interview with Kaajal as well as the transcript and links to everything that we’ve discussed. Kaajal, such an awesome time with you today. Thankful that you jumped on and share your insights with us.

Kaajal Singh:
Thank you for having me, Saul. And thanks to everybody out there for everything everyone does. It’s not an easy industry to be in right now and we’re making progress. I know we’ll all look back on this and say we learn a lot.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Discover the mission and vision of RTI
  • When making decisions, it’s important to have the right information and do the right thing.
  • If you have the right analytics partner and the right analytic solution, you can generate answers more quickly and more rapidly for the interventions you’re putting in place.
  • The healthcare environment is built on the concept of instant gratification.

 

Resources

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaajalsingh-mha-085a153/

https://www.rti.org/