A leader is there to serve others, and I put it into distinct practice.
Media 7: How have your leadership style and people management skills evolved over the course of your inspiring career trajectory?
As I’ve grown my career over the past two decades, what has become most apparent to me and most important to my leadership style is how much people matter. When I started at Sony, I grew a lot as a leader going from a front line worker and young engineer to a relatively high leadership position as the VP of Technology. That role really honed in on the importance of being people-oriented. I'm a very big advocate of servant leadership, meaning a leader is there to serve others, and I put it into distinct practice as I oversaw a team of more than 750 individuals with very diverse backgrounds and in various types of roles. I strive to instill a culture of servant leadership amongst my leadership team and all levels of management to enable them to worry less about their own success and more about the success of the people they serve. My people management skills have definitely continued to mature and evolve throughout my career. And all of that has led me to this role. It’s led me to be able to apply some of those things that I learned from others, as naturally, you learn from all those that you work with, and work for, over the course of your career. It's very rewarding to see people improve, to help them through challenges, and to help them grow their careers and see their own progression.
M7: What are some of the biggest trends and challenges that CTOs from the world of medicine face today?
One of the biggest challenges is around the interoperability of healthcare data. There is currently a significant focus on interoperability in the US. But the reality is, it's going to take decades to solve, and will really require some true innovation, creative thinking, and collaboration. Now, governments are stepping in to try and encourage this cooperation by setting certain types of rules and regulations. I think, in the end, interoperability will require us all, in the private sector, to embrace data sharing and standardization, and to an extent, self-monitor this exercise so that it can become a reality.
It's very arduous today for patients to have a seamless healthcare experience with the various doctors they see who are using different types of technology systems. Not being able to treat a patient holistically can mean that patient outcomes suffer as disparate systems can be less reliable and more cumbersome for providers.
The other challenge we face is on the clinical side. Doctors today are frustrated, because they're actually less efficient with software than they are with a pen and paper. It's our responsibility, as technologists and owners of the software and software development, to make the software solution as fast and convenient as a pen and a piece of paper. We need to ensure the software has all the other benefits that come from the fact that it is digital, searchable, and reportable, unlike a pen and a piece of paper. Our goal is to allow providers to focus on their patients and not on the computer.
M7: Kindly share your thoughts on how the rise of telemedicine and remote care is impacting the healthcare industry?
The silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic was the adoption of virtual visits, and the convenience that it provides. The efficiency that telemedicine provides to both the practice provider and the patient is a really cool win. I believe it's here to stay. Naturally, more of the in-person appointments have come back as pandemic restrictions have lessened. But we still see most practices on a daily basis leverage remote care systems, tele health being one of those. As we introduce more high-competence technology, wearables, and other devices that can provide confidence and trusted data, our challenge is to make sure our software integrates with those, and stays ahead as those trends continue to evolve.
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I think interoperability has also continued to be reinforced by the results of the pandemic and will drive policy and regulatory requirements of the future.
M7: How can healthcare organizations balance the need for financial sustainability with the imperative to provide high-quality care? Please shed light.
This is a tough one for independent practices. Not only did they not go to school to manage a host of software solutions, they also didn't go to school to be small business owners. So these are all new things for them. They often find themselves struggling to wrap their arms around all the software solutions they need to run their small business, from their EHR to billing and payroll systems. Being a small business owner wrangling all these decisions and systems makes it particularly challenging to survive as an independent healthcare practice. Of course, the rate at which they can see patients is the heart of their survival. When they look at what's impeding their ability to provide the quality care that they want, they want an efficient way to get rid of roadblocks, while increasing their revenue.
We must improve the clinical and billing healthcare software solutions. They must become more automated, and become more streamlined, so providers can spend their time caring for patients and getting the quality, maximum throughput they expect At Tebra, we truly believe we are a partner, an enabler to them, taking care of running their business while they do what they need to focus on, which is patient care.
M7: What are the latest trends in healthcare management, and what all problems do they aim to solve?
AI has always been top of mind for us; this is not a new topic by any means. AI is definitely something we need to leverage, and it’s something we talk about regularly at Tebra. AI is leveraged by most industries and can be a powerful tool to bring automation and innovation to the healthcare space. We need to marry machine learning with AI. That is super critical to making a true difference. AI is only as smart as the data and the people behind it. In any scenario, it can only produce quality content based on the data that it's leveraging in the first place.
There are tons of ideas - we have to leverage these technologies to improve efficiency and drive new value in automation.
The other big advancement that is a consistent theme with the survival of a small business independent practice is around the desire for an all-in-one software platform. When providers are dealing with 15-point solutions that don't talk to each other, it’s very stressful and costly. They end up duplicating data and data entry, and it's very inefficient. So what we've done at Tebra is exactly what the market wants. Providers want one complete operating solution where all of these transition points along the journey of patient care and billing are seamless, and they can see the whole lifecycle. What's really great is, in the end, we're going to be able to show a provider the kinds of metrics that we track as a business, like lifetime value. We will be able to show them what it cost them to acquire that patient and how much value they have gotten from that patient. As a business, it'll be really quite ground breaking.
M7: How does your organization ensure the privacy and security of patient data?
We take our clients’ privacy and patient data very seriously at Tebra. You can actually never be too careful. We engage external certified bodies and independent auditors to ensure that the Tebra environment meets or exceeds applicable regulatory requirements and industry best practices. We also regularly give webinars and share thought leadership with our clients to make sure they are current with cybersecurity best practices, such as keeping software updated, using a password manager, and enabling multi-factor authentication.
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It's very arduous today for patients to have a seamless healthcare experience with the various doctors they see who are using different types of technology systems.
M7: According to you, what are the best practices that modern healthcare entities should adopt to serve patients better?
KR: An all-in-one solution is a best practice because it gives providers improved efficiency. After they adopt it, they'll have a lower operating cost of their business and an overall less stressful and simpler life. In turn, patients will have improved quality care since their doctor can be more focused on them and have an overall better experience.
M7: Brief us about Tebra’s solutions.
KR: In 2021, with a combined mission to unlock better healthcare, Kareo and PatientPop joined forces to form Tebra — the operating system for the connected practice of the future. With an all-in-one, purpose-built platform to drive practice success and modernize every step of the patient journey, Tebra provides digital tools and support to attract new patients, deliver modern care, get paid quickly, and operate efficiently. Tebra helps providers meet the needs of the modern healthcare landscape and makes it easier for their patients to access the care they need and have grown to expect from their providers.Kareo, a Tebra company, enables powerful EHR and telehealth solutions, as well as helps providers manage billing and payments and much more. PatientPop, a Tebra company, helps those providers grow their business with leading marketing solutions and communicates with their patients via two-way texting, online scheduling, and a patient portal.
M7: How has the pandemic impacted healthcare policy and regulations?
KR: One positive thing that came from the COVID-19 pandemic was the fact that there were policy changes. For example, telehealth visits have become reimbursable.Prior to that, they weren't really considered official appointments, and it was very difficult for a provider to receive payment from a telehealth visit. That's all completely changed. It started off as a temporary reimbursement, and then only recently has extended. While it's still not officially permanent, It is anticipated to become a permanent change. I think interoperability has also continued to be reinforced by the results of the pandemic and will drive policy and regulatory requirements of the future.
M7: How has Tebra evolved since its founding, and what are its plans for future growth?
KR: Tebra now has more than 1,000 employees dedicated to supporting 170k providers who provide care to 113M patients across the country. Since its inception, Tebra has mainly served smaller practices, but the company has been incrementally expanding its service to larger ones of up to 20 doctors. Tebra is also currently expanding the number of medical specialties it supports, an initiative fueled by its new capital injection from Golub Capital in 2021, which earned the company unicorn status.
As it works to develop an end-to-end platform to modernize healthcare practices, Tebra is investing first and foremost in completing the combination of Kareo and PatientPop’s software. The company is also scaling across sales and marketing with the goal of expanding its platform’s network. Additionally, Tebra plans to build out new capabilities for its SaaS platform to extend its business into new areas, including developing card-payment software and entering the fintech space. It also is creating a consumer-facing facet of its platform where patients would be able to easily find local, in-network healthcare providers.