Two GMs, one vision: The imaging-led, outcomes-based enterprise

With more than four combined decades of experience, Ashish Sant and Tomer Levy are leaders in healthcare technology. Recently imagingBiz sat down with the two of McKesson’s General Managers to discuss their views on important current imaging issues.

Sant is McKesson’s GM of Radiology within the company’s Imaging and Workflow Solutions division, which provides radiologists, technologists, imaging administrators and IT staff with diagnostic tools and image-management solutions.

Levy is McKesson’s GM of Workflow and Infrastructure, leading McKesson’s efforts on vendor-neutral archives (VNAs), enterprise worklists, imaging quality workflows and consulting.

Here are excerpts from this conversation.

Although not a new topic, value-based care is still top-of-mind in the imaging industry. How does McKesson support hospitals that are working to transition from a volume-based care model to one that is value-based?

Levy: As we talk to imaging providers, many tell us they are struggling to understand what, exactly, the concept of value based care can mean to them. We see that the challenge is not just about implementing technology; it’s also about organizational transition. Providers are realizing that they must adjust how they operate in order to align themselves with new payment models.

To help them address these many changes, we’ve developed a set of professional consulting offerings that can support organizations as they undergo this transformation. We can help them plan for many aspects of governance, process, and change management.
Sant: In addition to our consulting services, we are also helping with the transition to value-based care by partnering with our customers to help improve outcomes.

It’s a challenge in radiology to directly measure the impact of a particular tool on patient outcomes, but an example of how we know we create impact is with Conserus Workflow Intelligence. It‘s a workflow orchestration solution that dynamically manages and orchestrates radiology interpretation and quality workflows across facilities. This solution helps our customers manage their costs while leveraging their existing assets in an intelligent way, and it allows departments to better manage and use their resources. When you have the right radiologist reading an appropriate study, improved outcomes occur.

We believe that focusing on improving outcomes while also reducing costs will help our customers move in the right direction.

Levy: I’d like to add two things to Ashish’s points. First, our customers need to navigate new business landscapes brought on by changes like mergers, acquisitions and different models of affiliation. Physicians from throughout the enterprise need to connect to the care team. We have an array of solutions that enable hospitals to digitally connect. For example, by connecting a radiologist at an interpretation workstation with a referring physician in the community, the radiologist can interpret studies and also provide consultation.  This interaction adds value to the entire clinical delivery process, which is the true meaning of value-based care.

The second thing I’d add is that here at McKesson, we are aligned as a customer success organization. This is the inherent culture at McKesson. We believe that can only be successful if our customers are successful.

Our customers are focused on outcomes, and to be a partner in their success, we focus on bringing new solutions and services to market. We understand that outcomes-based reimbursement creates risk for our customers. As a partner, we share the risk and commit to outcomes. We are expected to be more than a technology vendor. We have to provide solutions that include technology, services, consulting and knowledge to help our customers transform their imaging business.

Speaking of partnerships, what is McKesson doing to help radiologists work more effectively with each other and with clinical colleagues in other specialties and departments?

Sant: If we think back to how this interaction was managed 15 to 20 years ago, when clinicians needed to consult a radiologist, they would walk to the imaging department and talk face-to-face. This collaboration is happening less often today for many reasons, including the fact that a radiology department may include clinicians spread over a wide geographic area. In the world of value-based care, an imaging department needs to prove the value it brings to the care team and its stakeholders. When they have solutions that help facilitate connections, regardless of location, they demonstrate this value.

We provide tools, technologies and associated workflows to clinicians so they can get fast and easy access to radiologists. We’re also helping radiologists orchestrate their workflow in such a way that they can provide valuable insights to the patient care cycle - for example with timely feedback on critical results. All of this is centered on the important goal of improving patient outcomes.

As IT has grown in its reach and influence, it has become more important to consider balance between IT and clinical staff. What is McKesson doing to help facilities achieve this balance?

Levy: We are a company that has deep expertise in both clinical healthcare and technology, which puts us in the crosshairs of these two groups. It is our mission to bridge the gap between IT and clinicians, with systems that help both groups meet their needs.

I think the core challenge right now is how to bring these groups together and move them from competing over the budget to working together for better clinical outcomes. 

I can give you a simple example. When you think of a VNA, it’s basically a big storage bucket. It was perceived for many years as an IT investment - something IT wanted to do to save on the cost of storage. But now, the conversation is changing.  Hospitals want to know how to use an image repository to help deliver better outcomes and better quality. How can it reduce redundant, duplicate and unnecessary procedures? How can it provide prior studies from across the enterprise to the physician when he or she needs that clinical information?

Once you ask those kinds of questions and start to define success through outcomes, you see synergy between the IT and clinical groups where you used to see tension. Delivering measurable outcomes does a lot to resolve those conflicts.

What innovations do you think are going to be most important for the imaging industry going forward? And can you talk about how McKesson is innovating?

Sant: The first wave of innovations in imaging revolved around transitioning the workflow from analog to digital and over the last 10 - 15 years, that problem has been solved. The next wave of innovation is moving towards how to transform workflow. At McKesson, we are looking at how we can help our customers leverage the assets they already have, whether the asset is raw information or specific intelligence.  There are many areas and sources of insight in imaging that that we have not fully tapped into yet. Those are the frontiers to which imaging is headed.

Levy. I agree that intelligence is the next frontier, which is why McKesson is making significant investments there right now.

But it’s not only about product-based innovations; it’s also about how you deliver them. Customers have lots of great ideas about how to improve workflow and how to improve care.  One of their challenges is how to take that great idea and execute on it; how do they integrate it with their existing operations? One of our core beliefs is that it’s vitally important to partner with our customers, listen to their ideas, and work together. Many of the innovations we’re working on started this way.