Over the five years I’ve worked at Dimensional Insight, I’ve met several of our customers either in person at one of our user events or over the phone as I’ve talked to them about customer success stories. It’s only recently that I’ve started to go out on the road to meet our customers where they work – and this has provided me with a whole new perspective as I write our user stories.
I visited Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) on a sunny California day in January (the perfect respite from what was then brutally cold Boston!) to talk to Audrey Parks, CIO, and Tim France, programmer. What followed was a great conversation about the challenges the health system faces, where healthcare is going, and how Diver can help the organization get there. Here are some highlights.
Challenges – from the unique to the not-so-unique
When I was first preparing for my discussion with Audrey and Tim, I expected to talk to them about how SVMHS is remaining independent amid an uptick in hospital mergers across the country. I figured that especially in California, there would be pressure to merge with a bigger hospital system.
It turns out that’s not really the case for SVMHS right now. Because of its location – close-ish to the Bay Area, but not too close (about 100 miles south), and away from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley – the larger health systems haven’t made too much of an overture to merge with hospitals in the area.
What is challenging to SVMHS given its location is its patient population. Salinas is home to a very large agriculture industry. In fact, many refer to Salinas as the “Salad Bowl of the World” and 70% of the nation’s lettuce is grown there. What this means is that the area has a diverse immigrant population, and as Audrey explained to me, many people live in the same house and have similar names. Thus, it can be hard to link patient records correctly. As data becomes more and more critical to the organization and patient outcomes are paramount to reimbursement, this will become an even bigger challenge.
Audrey, Tim, and I also talked about some more typical challenges that the health system faces, including:
- Value-based care: How the health system responds to new payment models such as MACRA and MIPS that impact how its physicians are paid.
- User adoption: How to convince users to move to new technology-based systems and overcome their fear of change.
- Medi-Cal’s PRIME initiative: How to meet measures put forth by Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, in order to gain financial incentives. Although this initiative is specific to California, it is representative of many of the various state mandates that hospitals face.
Another challenge that looms large over SVMHS is population health. As Audrey explained to me, everyone is talking about population health, a lot of vendors are selling pop health solutions (KLAS Research is currently tracking 26 different products!), but no one seems to have verifiable results.
So what can SVMHS do? It doesn’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an unproven pop health solution, but it knows it has to start doing something. This is where Audrey and I talked a lot about the potential of Diver Platform to help the health system. For example, Diver could help SVMHS get a handle on its current patient population by enabling it to identify high-impact areas of improvement, such as with its diabetes or CHF patients. The health system could then identify ways to improve the outcomes of those patients or reduce costs.
Odds and ends
- When I visited SVMHS, Tim walked me over from the hospital entrance to the building where IT is now housed. It moved locations because of growth of services in the hospital, which was nice to see.
- I mentioned that Salinas is known for its agriculture. The area is also the former home of John Steinbeck (who wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Grapes of Wrath), and it is the setting for many of his stories. In fact, during my trip to Salinas, I visited the National Steinbeck Center, which has several exhibits on the author and his works. I also stayed on the famed Cannery Row in nearby Monterey, which is the setting for Steinbeck’s book of the same title.
Want to learn more about how SVMHS is using Diver Platform and the Measure Factory add-on? You can download the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System case study from our website.