HIMSS Accelerate Health Podcast

Accelerating Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Brent Lamm, Deputy CIO, UNC Health

May 05, 2021 Brent Lamm, Deputy CIO, UNC Health Season 2 Episode 10
HIMSS Accelerate Health Podcast
Accelerating Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Brent Lamm, Deputy CIO, UNC Health
Show Notes Transcript

On this week's episode, Rob Havasy speaks with Brent Lamm, Deputy Chief Information Officer for UNC Health, recognized as one of America's most connected hospitals. UNC Health is also a Davies Award winning healthcare system and has achieved an astounding Stage 7 for three  of  HIMSS Analytics models: inpatient, outpatient, and analytics. They discuss what digital transformation means for health systems today, the difference between being 'data-informed vs data-driven" and the importance of flexible governance that allows teams to create innovative technologies for the patient rather than for technology's sake. 

Rob Havasy  0:08  
Hello changemakers Welcome to this edition of the HIMSS accelerate health podcast. I'm your host, Rob Havasy, the Senior Director of connected health, and the managing director of the personal connected Health Alliance here at HIMSS. Today's topic is digital transformation. And my guest is Brent Lamm, Vice President and Deputy CIO of UNC health in North Carolina. Here in the USA, UNC health is widely recognized as one of America's most connected hospitals. They are a Davies award winning institution and have achieved stage seven for three of HIMSS analytics models, including inpatient, outpatient, and analytics. Brent, welcome to the podcast. And if you don't mind, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what your role is at UNC health.

Brent Lamm  0:51  
Thanks, Robert. And I really appreciate the opportunity to be with you today and talk about what we're doing at UNC health I on the grant land, like you said, I serve sort of three roles for our organization. First, I am our Deputy Chief Information Officer and in that role have responsibility for our technology teams across our integrated health system, as well as our application teams. And I also have the privilege to currently serve as the chief analytics officer for the organization and support our centralized analytics organization through our transformation journey around analytics and how we're leveraging that to improve our patients lives in the care that we provide them. And then third, also serve as the associate director for our Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute within our UNC School of Medicine. In that role, I have the privilege of helping work with our faculty research teams to help access through appropriate means the data that we generate for patient care operations and drive world class clinical research to help add to the general laws now. So it's really a privilege in my various roles. And I have worked at UNC health now for a little over a decade. And it's been just the most rewarding time in my entire career and really enjoy ever get on it.

Rob Havasy  2:20  
So over the 10 years that you've been at UNC, you must have seen a few Waves of Change. And right now it's at HIMSS. When when we listen to our members, when we hear what members are asking us, mostly we're starting to hear this word digital transformation. Right? I'm not sure it's it's the healthcare systems who would describe it this way, but it seems to be the way the market and magazines and and the newspapers are talking about what needs to happen in healthcare in the US and globally. And so I guess my first question is, what does digital transformation mean to you and to UNC health,

Brent Lamm  2:56  
I love the way that you frame that, Robert, because for us, our mission as an organization is so strong for us. I mean, we we are we do consider ourselves to help door into the healthcare system of the state of North Carolina. And that is rooted right in our mission, which is to improve the health and wellness of the North Carolinians that we serve. And we really feel that we serve the entire state, and we put the patient at the center of everything we do. And that's really core and Central. So when we think about what we're doing with our digital transformation, you know, while it's, you know, it is really exciting, and we're very thrilled to be working with new technologies and healthcare that other industries have had access to and have leveraged, you know, ahead of us. And it does feel like we're catching up on the technology front as an industry all the time. But you know, we don't really believe in driving technology for technology's sake, our tagline within our IT team is technology is what we do, but not why we do it. And we do it for the patient. And so our approach to digital transformation is really no different to than any other of the technology related transformations we've driven over the past decade, it really is in terms of what is going to benefit the patient, their families, and our care teams that are providing the care and services to our patients. And so we probably have a very discerning eye towards, you know, new and sexy, shiny technology, we really work hard to make sure that the investments that we're making are not for the sake of technology, but are truly going to improve our patient care.

Rob Havasy  4:49  
I appreciate that and you're reminding me very much of a conversation I had with a colleague within the last couple of days actually. So I'm going to spring a question on you and see if I can get your reaction. This came from Someone in our HIMSSanalytics group who works on doing assessments at healthcare systems for our variety of maturity models, which I know you're familiar with UNC is has achieved quite a high level one of the most highly decorated, if you will hospitals in the HIMSS system. And I'm sure we'll talk about that in a second. But during one of those interviews, he was speaking with a CIO. And he said, he asked the question, was almost a throwaway question. Are you a data driven organization? And almost everyone says, yes. And there was a brief pause. And and this person said, No, we're not. We are a mission driven organization. That's data informed. Right. And I think that captures a lot of what you were just saying, right, by keeping patients at the center otherwise, so So what do you think about that distinction between being data driven versus data informed?

Brent Lamm  5:49  
I love that actually, I wish we had come up with that phrase. I mean, that is that's brilliant, whoever, whoever coined that, certainly kudos to them. That really, I mean, we really do, you know, keep the mission at the center, I think data informed is great. In the spirit of thinking through, you know, data driven decision making, I think, I'd be surprised if UNC health is very different than than our peer organizations in that, you know, we've really been on a big data, data analytics, you know, whatever, you know, word choices you want to use to that, that we've seen in the industry evolve over the years, you know, we've been on a maturity path. And I think, while none of us would have liked to see the pandemic happen, of course, we would love for it to never have happened, there are some things that have come out of that, that we haven't learned from and have grown probably more rapidly as health systems than we would have otherwise. And I know within UNC health, given the rapid pace of what we were having to do with our care teams, our operational teams, our leadership teams, you know, we really had to rely more heavily on data driven decision making. And so I think the pandemic has had the side effect of making us actually advance that ball down the field far quicker than we would have probably naturally otherwise. And so, uh, say that in terms of, you know, like, within our organization, we were very fortunate that we had invested in data sciences, advanced analytics. Prior to the pandemic several years before, we've brought on a team of PhD data scientists that are absolutely amazing and extremely talented. And we were able to quickly get up to speed in terms of helping predict and forecast what our operational facilities and our operational teams we're going to see in the coming weeks and months and over the course of the year. And we were able to leverage that predictive modeling that forecasting at our facility level to help them prepare for and make massive decisions around PP around beds around staffing. And you know what that did, because it was such a acute situation, it really forced us to leverage those data probably more quickly and strongly than we would have otherwise. And so your question was a little different. And I get that, but but I do think that while we are mission oriented, and I love that phrase, I think data informed is right. But we are as an industry moving more and more to what other industries have seen in terms of data driven decision making, especially operationally I mean, from a research perspective and patient care perspective. Obviously, our care teams are world class providers and care teams and leverage the data and information to the the, you know, bet current best practices, and evidence based medicine beautifully in pioneering new techniques and therapies. But probably for health systems like us, we had not seen that level of being data informed and really driving data driven decision making, operationally the way that we have since the start of the pandemic.

Rob Havasy  9:38  
COVID really stressed, stressed everybody system, right. But what I think I hear you saying is that you had come far enough in your journey, and you had enough of an infrastructure in place that you feel your response to the pandemic was really enhanced by the infrastructure that you had worked so hard over the last decade or so to put in place is that that Fair summary.

Brent Lamm  10:01  
That's exactly right, I mean, hands down, we would not have been able to work our way through the pandemic, nearly as well, as we have had it not been for those investments. So, you know, I mentioned just our forecasting and modeling. But, you know, like other peer organizations, we had enterprise dashboards being updated in real time, in terms of operations around critical supplies, around critical resources, like beds and staffing, and ventilators, as well as you know, other key supplies, that needles that are needed to support those critical devices and equipment we've had through the vaccination and for enterprise dashboards, working very closely with our operational teams, our vaccine clinics, our outreach initiatives to really help inform where we need to be geographically within the state to try to target populations that were being underserved in terms of receiving the vaccine and trying to really optimize matching supply and demand. So in every way, we have used data and analytics through this journey, I think last count was probably had 22 to 25 new enterprise dashboards and forecast models that have been stood up to help support various aspects of our operations during the pandemic. It's been exciting to for our data science team, because, you know, while prior to the pandemic, they were doing some really exciting work around helping our operational teams forecast census, working with a lot of our care redesign initiatives to think about things like sepsis, early detection, but what happened during the pandemic is those data scientists on our team who, you know, most of them did not have a background in health care before coming to you and see health and they've been able to get up to speed working collaboratively through fantastic partnerships with our care teams, quick, they quickly get up to speed. But what's happened is they've really also been able to see the value that they bring, they've, you know, we've had from our CEO and being on down personal thanks, and tremendous levels of gratitude from our care teams for what they're doing. And that just so enhances our analytical journey. And really, it accelerates it When, when, when you know that what you're doing is really core to patient care. And you hear from our medical experts and clinical leaders across the system that what you're doing is truly making a difference in the lives of the patients that they're taking care of. I mean, that just has such a compounding positive effect, drive additional energy and excitement. And it's catalyzing, you know, more and more opportunities to see analytics creeped into our patient care operations in really positive ways.

Rob Havasy  13:07  
There's a few issues in there that I'd love to spend the rest of the day talking about. But I don't think either of us can can donate the next eight hours to this, nor would our listeners stick around. But the first one is, is this concept that's obviously come up throughout HIMSS. And every institution we talked to during the pandemic, which is flexible governance, how flexible Can you make a governance structure so that when you have the time, you use it effectively to make appropriate decisions. But when pressure is ramped up, when there's a pandemic, you can make changes quickly, without, you know, stepping over a line into into making them dangerously or recklessly or uninformed. And so the the fundamental question that comes out of this is really, what does a flexible structure look like? And I'm asking you in particular Brent, because, you know, as I said, UNC, I looked at your web page, and I know our own history between HIMSS and UNC health, right? You've won numerous awards. You've clearly spent decades decades and I know you've only been there for 10 years, but UNC health has spent decades driving towards some clinical goals, this digital transformation, we're talking about the incorporation of data into into driving better outcomes. So you clearly have processes for how that data informs you how it identifies problems, how those problems are prioritized all the things that go into an important governance structure for driving change. And then all of a sudden, we're presented with a new disease. No one's ever seen clinical protocols and have to change literally, literally overnight when we weren't sure where ventilation was important where it was not important. What we needed to do with with this new respiratory disease. And it sounds like right, it sounds like your governance structures held up well and enable that kind of rapid change. Can you tell us a little bit about what you know what attributes you have in your governance process. That may enable the kind of flexibility that a number of organizations are looking for. And while I'll give you a second to think about this, again, I'll tell my own story right? When I entered healthcare, I came into a large system here in the northeast, I'll let them remain nameless. And I remember the very first change we wanted to make to an Electronic Health Record system, long before epic was deployed, right, this was still an in house homegrown record system, to get an extra button enabled on a flow sheet for blood pressure readings, took me about six to eight months of work, and at least a half a dozen meetings, just to get on the priority list only to have to wait another six months for a couple of releases to make that happen. Right. Clearly, people weren't waiting a year to make changes during the pandemic. So what is it about? or what have you learned over your journey that goes into this kind of flexible governance that makes these things possible?

Brent Lamm  15:54  
That's a great question. And I appreciate the acknowledgement, we you know, sometimes we we never know if what we're doing is advanced, if it's, you know, more, you know, where everyone else is, or if we're lagging others. And and we've enjoyed, you mentioned a while ago, our strong partnership with HIMSS. And I'm meant to touch on that a second ago. And, you know, we've really valued that partnership, and primarily, because it's allowed us to stay connected in a thoughtful way with with what we're doing, and be able to learn from others through the HIMSS network and talk to peers, and in a way that we can all hopefully help improve the National Healthcare System overall. And so the organization and the work that you're doing is just tremendous. And I apologize for failing to mention that while ago, but we have heard through that process, that our governance model does to pick up here to be effective, and maybe even somewhat differential. And that really means a lot to us, because it is something that we have worked on, you know, tirelessly over the year. So this specific question about how we were able to leverage our governance in a flexible way, in response to the pandemic. So rapidly, I think it really comes down to the way our governance is designed, I think our structure. So we purposely have a concept in our governance model to take into account emergent situations. So my boss, our Chief Information Officer, she chairs, our IT governance, but she is literally the only IT team member that is a member of our governance. So we like to really preach and tout that our IT governance is not led by technology, it is led by our clinical and business leaders. So they bring that clinical overall business, the patient value perspective, to every IP decision that we make. And so when we're talking about a pandemic situation where we might need to throw out the latest and greatest technology in a moment's notice. And, you know, I like to say we, we often we need to serve, optimize it in order to make sure that we're optimizing what we need to do for the patient. So when we need to do that, it's really easy when your governance is comprised of the Chief Medical Officer for the system, the Chief Financial Officer for this system, a community physician representatives who can speak to what they're seeing a chief nursing officer from one of our hospital facilities, who represents their teams, so forth and so on a CEO from one of our community hospitals, you know, and so, when they're the ones that are helping inform, and really making the IT governance decisions and have oversight, we really don't run into issues of well, we need to go left because of the pandemic. But our teams are currently going right because we're working on maybe some, you know, digital solution, it's an investment that's a year or two out, we can put that on pause overnight and shift quickly and be able to focus on on the pandemic. The other thing that I would say is we don't have frequent turnover in our governance membership. And I think that has allowed us to have a situation where we can really leverage the relationships between the various leaders in our organization and in a deeper way. We have a very specific prescribed charter around what that turnover looks like and it's done. Perfect. To sleep very slowly and methodically. And I think, like I said, I think what that means is when we find ourselves in a situation like this, we can pick up the phone and call those individuals and say, Hey, we need to make a quick decision here to change what we're doing rapidly. And because those relationships are so strong and so deep, we can do that very effectively.

Rob Havasy  20:24  
There's a theme in in a couple of things. You said that I want to see if I can tease out here and what the way you ended your description, that was exactly what was rattling around in my head. And the next question I was planning on asking you, which was, if you're going to sub optimize, if you will, it, how important are those interpersonal relationships and making this happen? And it sounds like they're critical. When I was doing a little background for this interview, I looked at your LinkedIn page, and I noticed somewhere right near the top right. Apparently, a team member had joined and you reached out, they've mentioned it on LinkedIn, you said, We're so happy to have you on the team. So the question I have is, because I agree with you, I've been to dozens, hundreds of hospitals, I've worked in several. And governance works. Because the people either work well together, or it doesn't work, when you start to get the turf battles. And the individuals who are who are for whatever reason, looking out for their own groups, their own departments, or whatever. But when I see you say that the relationships at top are strong enough to to enable that rapid decision making when you need it. And you can pick up the phone and call who you need. I see that somebody joined your team, and you reached out on LinkedIn and said, welcome to the team. It sounds to me like that's a priority, right? That's part of sub optimizing it putting the technology not pushing it away. But making sure that the people come first. And there was there was something else I want to acknowledge. Because it's near and dear to my heart that you said in the beginning of this, I'm an I'm an immigrant to healthcare, I'm a chemist by training, I worked in labs for years. And then I spent about a decade or more in Telecom, before y2k, and soon after, when it was it was big, and I came to healthcare. Later in my career, one of my crusades, one of my one of the things I noticed is that as a clinically driven enterprise, healthcare is one of the few scientific endeavors in my opinion, that doesn't recognize the contribution of amateurs as much as other sciences do. Right. So you will find that there are, there are, you know, astronomers who have named things after a guy in a backyard with a telescope or undergraduate students who found them, you will find the American Chemical Society giving awards every year to people who, who do material science experiments at home or have discovered things in their basement, geology, paleontology, all recognize the contribution of amateurs. Healthcare barely recognizes the contribution of patients to their own care, right, nevermind the ancillary people in the system who contribute, but early on, you acknowledged how your leadership really helped, thank helped acknowledge how your IT staff how the data scientist, how the other people were contributing to this overall enterprise. So tell me a little bit about the culture, and how hard you have to work in a culture to foster those kinds of relationships that that are either following the lead of a strongly tight knit, you know, leadership team that works well together, or that leadership team is a result of the other HR and sort of, you know, human management processes you use.

Brent Lamm  23:33  
So let me let me begin my answer, sort of in reverse order of how you ask that and really start with an anecdote I'll rewind to about one year ago, or maybe a little bit longer than that, you know, during the very beginning stages of the pandemic. You know, part of what I was personally helping support at that time was really our work around the analytics and the modeling we were doing for what cases and hospitalizations and critical supplies that we were really going to need to forecast and figure out how to help give every day of headlights to our operational and clinical teams. And, you know, we were struggling. There was a week there where we had we thought we had some breakthrough. We if we didn't quite get there. And I had to have one of those very uncomfortable situations to come present to our senior executive team, including our CEO and gain and share that, you know, we needed a little more time and to make this work talking about our culture. Literally that afternoon. I got a phone call from our CEO and Dean said, Brent, Hey, no worries at all. We really appreciate what you and the team are doing. How can I help? I mean, and and then I think probably speaks more volumes than any other words that I can share about the culture that we have at UNC health from the top down. And I really do believe that permeates from the top down and it drives it. So I mentioned our, our sort of tagline that we we share all the time within our IT organization about technology is what we do. But not while we do it, we have another one that we talk about all the time, which is you know, lasting transformation begins with people, right. So, transformation is not about technology deployment or some, you know, looking for the next shiny toy in the industry that we can potentially deploy and, and really tout and experiment with, we need to do that i'm not saying that we need to be blind or shy away from new technologies, we need to push the envelope in technology, adoption 100%. But at the end of the day, if we're really going to see transformation, if our practices and care teams are going to adopt virtual care if they're going to embrace remote patient monitoring, if we're really going to see, you know, providers work with patients on mobile devices around, you know, eating disorders, or weight management or whatever in ways that we have not done in medicine, traditionally, that's going to come through our people working together, the technologists, the clinicians, the providers, etc, all work in harmony together. And if you don't have that mutual respect, then you're not going to see the lasting transformation. And so one of the things that we did, you know, seven or eight years ago, we're really beginning to integrate our IT organization across all of our hospitals and practice organizations into our centralized, integrated IT organization that we have today. We purposely said, we need to make sure that we're not just going to be a team of IT professionals or technologists. So we actually have on staff over 80, plus license conditions that are part of our IT team, and they work hand in hand, with the technology professionals, they're doing it work, but they really help align it and drive it from a patient care orientation. That folks like me, who grew up as IT professionals don't have that when you work shoulder to shoulder cube to cube office to office together all these problems, all these challenges. What happens is is you really forget who's the clinician who's an IT professional, it's how do we how do we work together to make this happen and really hope that trend and help that transformation, be a lasting transformation, see real use in real adoption by our care teams and operational teams?

Rob Havasy  28:10  
I think I thank you very much for that. And and I guess I'll ask one quick question. Hopefully we can we can hit this one quickly. So in your role, right, and you've told us is deputy CIO as Vice President, as you know, the analytics person, do you see your role primarily as a technologist or as a team builder?

Brent Lamm  28:30  
That is a great question. And I can assure you that a lot of our team would probably love to hear my answer to that and have some fun with me. You know, I, I have the privilege of working, you know, directly, obviously, with our technology, our deep technology team, and and I love to joke around with them about the fact that I used to be a programmer, you know, I used to be a technologist and you know, they look at me with a lot of flash and we have a look at me with a lot of faces that we have a lot of laughs about it. I am not a clinician I love would love to be able to say unskilled and IT professional and technologists just fill in the heart I am. I see my role as cheerleader in support. I, I really am here to help our technology teams, our clinical informatics teams, our analytics teams, I really am here to help remove barriers to help champion what they're doing. And probably I suspect, they would probably say if they were here in this conversation, I think they would probably say that my biggest role is to help align what we're doing with the business and clinical priorities of the organization. I spend the vast majority of my time communicating with our stakeholders and our senior executives, and our teams, and really helping make sure that we're aligned that we're not working within our IT organization or analytics teams, on things that are outside of where our core purpose and focus is. And you know, we've done a lot under Dr. Burks, our CEO, and Dean, you know, he has really brought a new strategy, strategic vision for the organization, we call it one UNC health, it's, you know, much more complex and, but it's rooted in, like I said, that mission of really working to improve the health and wellness of every North Carolinian. And so that top down sort of vision and strategy and mission that we have, is really core to helping us stay focused. And I spend a lot of time helping our teams focus, helping make sure that they're, you know, working on the transformation initiatives that our organization feels is important, and really helping keep a lot of the other stuff off their plates, a lot of time talking about prioritization and, and just championing and cheerleading everything that they're doing, to help our patients and help make sure that we communicate that in a way that is aligned in terms of patient balance.

Rob Havasy  31:25  
So I'll throw a quick anecdote in here. One of the more important in transformation articles I read a few years ago about health care and digital transformation of care was in the Economist magazine. And it began with this anecdote which was a CEO of a major Wall Street bank was speaking with a someone CEO of a major health care company, at a wonder another conference. And the banking CEO looked and said, you know, for years, it was banking and health care, that had not yet embraced digital transformation of our businesses. And now you stand alone, right, saying that finally banking had even left healthcare behind. And when I was in graduate school, that was the discussion, right, that healthcare lags behind every other industry and whatever. And that's the truth. I think what you've said is, when you have the kind of strong team culture that it appears that UNC has, you're not alone, right? Maybe as an industry, we stand apart from other industries, but the people trying to make this transformation happen aren't alone. If if they can find a home and organizations that allow them to work together on each thing, so that that line just came back to me as you were speaking, right that that maybe we're not quite alone in this right. And, and maybe our role at HIMSS is to highlight the great work that organizations like UNC health have done, and to make sure that you don't feel alone. So So hopefully, we're fulfilling that mission. And if we're not, let us know about it, and we'll, we'll see what we can do to to do it better. I want to bring this will bring this to an end Brent with one one more question. And as we sort of come out of the pandemic, because every podcast I've done for the last year, of course, has been about COVID, and the pandemic and something but as people I'm fully vaccinated, so lucky me and I think a lot of people around healthcare are as we start to look to the future. In many ways, we're gonna have to start looking back to what we were working on in 2019. Right. And UNC from what I can tell, from from looking at your website, and some other things was part of the trend that a lot of us were in for years before this, which was the consolidation. As you mentioned it right. UNC has experienced a lot of growth, you're bringing other practices in? So I want to ask an IT question. There are some individuals I've worked with, over my time at HIMSS, who look at the consolidation that's happening as they acquire practices or whatever their particular flavor of that looks like. And and they look at it with dread. And it's been a problem for it. The integration problems we have is the way we often hear the sentence begin. Conversely, I think with the right platform, the right underlying infrastructure, you that problem becomes an opportunity. So the question I have for you as as UNC has seen that incredible growth over the last decade or more. Do you feel that your your platforms your governance, your people have have turned that integration into into a joy and a strength? Or is it has it been a chore and a slog and a distraction?

Brent Lamm  34:30  
Because a great question, you know, my first response to some of that, Robert is, you know, I do, like you read a lot about, you know, sort of a negative perception of the healthcare industry in terms of being behind in technology adoption, and, you know, the threat that that brings, you know, to health care organizations, especially related to some of the non trivial national healthcare organizations entering our markets, I really would encourage people to flip that thinking and think about it in terms of this is really an exciting time for healthcare. Because if you think about it, what we're doing as an industry is, we are evolving to a place where we are taking advantage of the latest digital transformations that improve the experience and the access to care that consumers and patient need, like, you know, many other non healthcare industry to have done, you know, over the past several decades. So I think what that means is, as citizens, as consumers, as patients, you're going to be able to more effectively engage with your healthcare system, and be able to engage with your care teams and engage in your own personal care, in ways that we've been aspiring to as an industry for the past decade that I've been in healthcare. But you know, it's hard, it's hard to get traction. And I really think we're on the cusp of seeing real traction in the industry in terms of having our patients and consumers truly use technology to engage and improve their own care and wellness. So I'm excited about this, this time and this opportunity. And if you could remind me of the set the first part of your question, because I want to I wanted to answer that.

Rob Havasy  36:32  
Sure. And it was really about really other part of the question was very specifically to UNC. Has your has your structure, your team's your governance made the growth that you've seen in the integration? Is that been? Is that been fun? Has that been something you dread? Or somewhere in the middle?

Brent Lamm  36:49  
The integration questions is a great one. There are some probably widely varying philosophy on this. And I've seen a lot of CEOs in healthcare across the country speak very eloquently on approaches to integration around, working to interoperate between disparate technology sets and bring the data together in a way to help provide, you know, a seamless record and experience while not having to do massive technology, migration and integration. We have set out on a different path. And our philosophy has been over the past seven or eight years that we really think the one plus one equals three effect comes when we take the time to actually make that enterprise scale migration of technology. And so when we bring in new hospital organizations into the UNC health family, when we bring in practice groups and provider groups, when we bring them into the UNC health family, we actually do take the time to implement our enterprise IT solutions and technologies. And what that means for us is, we might be a little slower to accomplish that integration. But by doing so, once we have that new component or entity of our UNC health family fully integrated into our technology suite, we can deploy new capabilities, new features, overnight. And I know we've talked about the pandemic a little bit here. But you know, the pandemic is a great example of where we've reaped the benefits of that. So as we deployed virtual care, you know, enhancements and new rollouts, we were able to do that across the breadth of our 10 plus hospitals are hundreds of practices literally overnight, as we were able to roll out new analytical solutions, like chatbots for our patients to be able to check their symptoms, you know, and then, you know, move immediately in activate into a potential virtual care visit or an appointment, we were able to do that across the breadth of emergency help, literally overnight, as we rolled out chat bots to help deliver COVID test results to patients more effectively and quickly. During the pandemic, we were able to do that across the breadth of the organization literally overnight. And so, what I have seen is the integration joy or pride and satisfaction has come by, you know, early on, it's tough, you know, to to bring a new entity into the organization. But as a result of doing that and taking the time to make that investment. We you know, see The rapid results and the massive scale, we can do that so quickly. I think that really is where, you know, we're at the end of the journey, we see that that's when the joy comes for our teams, and for our organizations. And if I can make one more comment about that, the approach that we've taken to that integration to that enterprise technology deployment, you know, we think we've taken a relatively innovative approach to that. So, you know, we've been growing so fast, like you said, virtually every metric has five or six, increase by five or six fold since I started in my current role in 2012. And

read, so rather than sort of saying every new hospital every new practice and provider group, rather than building a timeline around how we bring them on and trying to navigate the complexity of doing dozens of those at a time, what we have done is we've actually sort of flipped it, we've taken the approach to internally, our organization, those that is our rocket, we call it our rocket at one of our leaders years ago, coined that term. But what we do is we create slots throughout the calendar year of when our teams as they sort of go through the process of integrate, go stabilize, and then you know, continue to repeat that cycle, we have a timeline of slots throughout the calendar. And then as new entities join the UNC health family, we work based on business and clinical priorities, to assign those entities to slots, and it helps our IT teams do a much better job of being able to proactively plan to be able to increase the experience and the customer service for the new parts of our organization, and helps us actually, we seem to be able to accomplish far more integration over a shorter period of time. And so it's really been a model has worked well for us. And it's something that our clinical and business leaders who not always were in love with that approach have really come to respect and, and value in terms of our ability to be able to help support the growth and expansion of the UNC health system,

Rob Havasy  42:31  
I think we're gonna, we're gonna bring this episode to a conclusion. But for our audience, I'll let them know that UNC health has been for many years, an award winning healthcare system, if you go to their web page, you know, it should be a thing of pride that maybe maybe some of your employees even have on their wall, how many different accolades that your system has collected. And I think that's a testament to to leadership and the teams that are working hard and the focused effort over such a long time. Among those awards, there is Davies award from from HIMSS. Um, you've achieved stage seven, on a couple of different HIMSS analytics models. So I congratulate you on that, because that puts you in, in some rare company, among hospitals globally. And so for more information our listeners can always find, can always find information and things by going to hims.org searching for you and see health. And you can see a number of different use cases and other things that have been generated over the years. But Brent, personally, I'd like to thank you, this has been a great conversation. I know we've touched on a couple of topics near and dear to my heart, which always makes these, these interviews a little bit more fun. I thank you for giving us a good 45 minutes of your time this morning, it sounds like you are a busy man, in a system that is is doing well and growing. So I know time is precious, and we really appreciate you sharing it with us. So if you have anything else you'd like to add at the end of this, feel free to do so. Otherwise, just know that you have my thanks. And thanks to our listeners for sharing your stories with us today.

Brent Lamm  43:58  
Thank you, Robert. And really, I just want to say thank you to the HIMSS organization for all the support you've given us for helping us access, you know, our peers in ways that we may not have otherwise, I think though the work that your organization is doing to really help organizations like even sea Hill, understand where are we positioned in terms of being able to leverage technologies and serve as a benchmark and a ruler, if you will, to evaluate what we're doing and catalyze our efforts to make sure we're pushing ourselves to take more and more advantage of what's available. So thank you to the HIMSS organization. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you this morning. This has been a lot of fun for me as well.

Rob Havasy  44:48  
Thanks very much

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