The key to physician buy-in? Listening, says Gray Matter Analytics CEO Sheila Talton + 3 more ideas

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Sheila Talton, president and CEO of Gray Matter Analytics.

Ms. Talton will speak on a keynote panel during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference titled "The Top Priorities for Health IT and CIOs," at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: Can you share your best advice for motivating your teams?

Sheila Talton: Share with your team where your strengths and weaknesses are. Remind them that you hired them to fill the areas where your expertise is lacking and that’s why you hired them.  As a leader, you should treat your team members as “teammates” and be transparent where the challenges are in the business, your strategy for addressing those challenges and how your team members can help.

Q: How does your organization gain physician buy-in when it is implementing a new technology or solution?

ST: Listening is the key to physician buy-in, or really any buy-in. Too many organizations start conversations with what they want to sell to physicians, and from there, try to work out how to make their round peg of a solution seem attractive enough to buy into a square hole. That’s a backward approach, which oftentimes isn't really effective or productive. You always start by listening and asking questions so you understand what physicians really need. Then, you can determine if it’s a square hole or not. Sometimes, what you and they both determine is needed is something completely different than what both you and they initially thought — maybe the hole is not as square as both of you imagined. Once this conversation has occurred, and it’s an ongoing conversation, and we deliver a solution that does what's supposed to do, then buy-in all the way around is earned.

Q: What do you see as the most vulnerable part of a hospital's business?

ST: The most vulnerable part of a hospital’s business is everything except healthcare delivery. Hospitals have outsourced non-medical operations including food service, maintenance and parking management. But that’s not enough. Hospitals need to partner for everything except their core competency of providing clinical care. The best executives ask how their medical staff can best care for patients and then forge partnerships that make that possible. So transfer everything that is not clinical care to a network of outside specialists who can support the medical team and ensure that they are performing at the top of their license. It’s not just outside partners who can do the work for less. It’s partners who can do it better and faster. If hospitals don’t figure this out quickly, the likes of Apple and Amazon will do it in their own way.

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in health IT right now? And what is the most overrated health IT trend?

ST: Data is the most exciting thing happening in health IT and equally the most overrated. It’s overrated because most are talking about it or trying to sell their solutions as using predictive analytics or artificial intelligence without understanding what those things are. Few solutions described as being predictive analytics are predictive, and most can’t handle unstructured data or analysis of more than two variables. After purchasing solutions that don’t live up to the sales pitch, executives can’t be blamed for believing data science is overrated.

But if data is utilized appropriately, and the implementation of solutions is not reliant on a legacy approach, data is incredibly powerful. The availability of high-quality, open-source software together with rapid iteration through software-as-a-service, means a good team with strong healthcare expertise can mount multi-variant, truly predictive analytics solutions than can digest structured, unstructured, financial, clinical, or really any data to find the actionable measures that can change a health system. More than anything, we may need a data literacy campaign to help bring everyone up to an effective level of understanding in terms of what data is available today and how it can best be leveraged.

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