Insights from a Healthcare IT Buyer: Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum, CIO/CMIO St Peter’s Healthcare
In this podcast, you will get valuable insights from a Healthcare IT Buyer perspective. I talk to Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum, a physician turned CIO and CMIO at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Dr. Jordan begins by talking about his career background, how his Healthcare organization has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this has affected the services that their patients currently seek.
Key Highlights With Time-Stamps
- [2:18] Dr. Jordan’s Career & Transition to Healthtech
- [6:37] St. Peter’s Healthcare Coped With The Pandemic
- [12:05] Centralized Remote Patient Monitoring
- [16:05] How Technology Changed Decisions
- [17:35] Defining Mature Telehealth
- [21:16] Insights As Target Buyer Or Influencer
- [24:15] Marketers Identifying Buyers Problems
- [27:34] Dr. Jordan’s Pet Peeves With Marketers
- [20:12] Advice To Marketers On Cold Calling
- [29:37] Dr. Jordan’s Experience On Vendor Side
- [33:38] Dr. Jordan’s Advice To Healthtech Marketers
Healthtech Marketing Podcast 3 Video – Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum, St. Peter’s Healthcare System
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Healthtech Marketing Insights – Episode 3 Podcast Transcript – Guest: Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum, CMIO/CIO, St. Peter’s Healthcare Systems. Host: Adam Turinas, CEO, healthlaunchpad
[0:26] Introduction By Adam, healthlauchpad
[Adam]: Hello, and welcome to the health tech podcast brought to you by healthlaunchpad, and hence, thank you for joining us today.
I’m Adam Turinas, I’m the CEO and founder of healthlaunchpad, and I’m your host, so marketing to healthcare is tough, and we could all use a little help. So the health-tech Marketing Podcast is a chance for you to hear from experts in the field, people who are either marketing to healthcare organizations, or people at healthcare organizations.
You can share insights about best practices and how to market and sell to them.
And so this show aims to give you practical advice, things that you could apply today to improve your sales and marketing.
Podcast Courtesy of HIMSS & healthlaunchpad
So this podcast is brought to you by HIMSS, a global advisor thought leader and the leading organization that’s committed to transforming the healthcare ecosystem.
It’s also brought to you by healthlaunchpad, a marketing consultancy that specializes in helping healthcare technology marketers grow their business.
Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to our guest; Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum. Dr. Jordan is VP CIO and CMO at St Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
So, Jordan, you’re one of the few people almost like a polymath.
You’re both an MD, you hold an MBA and an MPH. And I think it would be fascinating to start with, tell us about your story about how you, how you, you started in healthcare, and then your transition into the technology space.
[2:18] Dr. Jordan – Career & Transition to Healthtech
[Dr. Jordan]: Thank you Adam and thank you for having me today.
So, I am a pediatrician, you know, I went to medical school, decided to become a pediatrician, opened my practice back in 1982, and I was in practice for half that time in private practice. And then, we sold our practice to the hospital. I worked as a practice leader and continued my practice for a total of 30 years.
And at the end of 30 years, the first patient I ever touched who I ever delivered; you know I wasn’t delivering the patient that was there for the birth, he came in with his baby, the time to retire!
End of pediatrician Practice
During the end of the year as a pediatrician, however, my CEO, way before meaningful use, the advent of the EHR, wanted to get our hospital’s hand on EHR early, and went ahead and purchased the product.
And since I was one of the few people in the hospital at that time who knew what a mouse was and understood, you know a little bit about computers, he says you’re going to be the one who helps us roll this out.
We started rolling it out on the inpatient side. We went to outpatient products and went through all the practices and did that.
And, kind of, I developed at that hospital what was then becoming the CMIO, the Chief Medical Information Officer.
So I ended up leaving at that time at the end of my 30 years not only having 30-year pediatrics experience but having about a four-year career, implementing EHR hours. And you know, that’s how I began to serve as Chief Medical Information Officer.
Jordan T. Vendor Role With McKesson
But, I was not ready to retire and was interested in still working in the industry, was able to procure a job with our vendor, which was McKesson.
Yeah, and I worked for McKesson for four years as a physician Executive and in that role, What I did, my initial role was demos and sales.
So, I was on the sales team and we used to go to hospitals and demo the product. And then they shifted us to more of a consultancy, and I was doing interim CMO roles across the country, they would send me to hospitals all around and testing patients or optimization.
I ended up being sent here at St Peter’s where I worked as a consultant for a year because their CMO had left.
Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum – CMO/CIOM
And at that time because it had sold, in the process of selling their IT division, it just worked out, they offered me the CMO job. You know, I didn’t know what was happening on the other end.
I’m sure it would have been fine either way but I decided to, you know, take the CMIO job.
Four months after I took the CMO job, there was reorganization. You know one of those complete organizations of senior staff, and I was tapped to be the CIO. So I inherited the CMO job and the CIO job, and that’s been the same for the last four years
So, it’s kind of a steep learning curve. I am fortunate to have an excellent, excellent crew beneath me. I have a great department, and they supported this decision, and, you know, taught me a lot on the CIO side. We worked very well together. That’s where we stand today, that’s how I, that’s how I got here.
[Adam]: What a fascinating journey. So let’s change gears a bit and talk about your healthcare system.
So, you know, the same pieces are in a pretty busy market also. Very competitive market from a health care system, but you know, we’ve all been dealing with one of the most serious events in a generation. So, I’m really curious to know: How has St Peter’s coped with the pandemic, and what has been the role of technology in helping sort of getting through this.
[6:37] Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum – Healthcare & The Pandemic
[Dr. Jordan]: So, we’re about 170 at the teaching hospital. We have one hospital and several outpatient clinics. Before the pandemic, we had about 20,000 admissions a year. We had about 65 to 70,000 admission visits to the ED.
We have a medical staff of 1000 of which 250 are active at the hospital, so, that’s kind of a quick overview of where we are.
So, we have a pandemic and you know, New Jersey was one of the early epicenters so it was our test, if you remember, right into the tri-state area.
We’re all learning as we go. And as one of our other Vice-President says, we’re building the plane as we’re flying!
And that was very true for a lot of hospitals early in the pandemic. I think our response was quick and decisive. You know we cut off all other care that was not urgent.
Formation of Teams For Specific Tasks
We formed teams to do specific functions, people we deployed to do specific functions and made sure that the patients would be taken care of as best we could within the context of what we understood about the disease at that time.
So, where was IT’s place? Well, IT came in and in a lot of ways. But the first thing that happened was, okay, if you’re not necessary to do care here if your job does not require your body in person, we wanted you to know that you never needed to be in the hospital.
You know, at that time we didn’t understand the disease very well. We were trying to limit exposure, and so, everybody had to go remote. Well, fortunately, we had two things in place already. One is zoom.
Migration to Teams
Okay, but the other was that we had started our migration to teams, Microsoft Teams. So we had teams in place, especially for the IT group.
So, literally by day’s notice, they went remote seamlessly. They already had laptops, and we had a VPN connection.
And we had both tight teams and the Zoom. So we were ready to go. So, on a Tuesday, we said go home, don’t come back and they never have.
They are going to be permanently remote, and we needed some desktop people for the help desk, we had to tighten things. Everybody else went remote, and they’ve stayed remote.
We had to do that for other departments that weren’t traditionally remote, particularly finance, and many other departments, you know.
Some do the discharge planning, they need to look at the chart, make decisions, but they don’t necessarily have to see the patient.
So, they went remote, and, you know, they were able to work in the background getting these people placed in this chart was very difficult if you had a COVID patient that you placed at that time. There was very little place to put them.
Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum Details How They Handled Reporting
We got everybody remote so that was the first thing we did. The second thing that happened is that there was a lot of reporting, HHS, and the New Jersey Department of Health wanted all this data. The New Jersey Hospital Association stepped up and established a portal that the hospitals in New Jersey, all dumped their data into, and they sent it to whoever needed it.
All had to go to their specs but they changed every two weeks. So our decision group, support group, and report writing people were working literally around the clock including weekends and nights to get the latest version of the data. And then there were all sorts of data definition
Get the latest version of the data and then there were all sorts of data definitions about, because in the beginning…what’s a COVID patient? There wasn’t even a code for COVID, there wasn’t a diagnosis specifically when coding.
So how do you filter those patients out? What markers are you putting in the EMR, how are you going to use those markers to define a patient?
Remote Monitoring Of Patients
Are you going to report on those patients, or what things do you need to report? Things got broader and changed rapidly, and so, our decision support team, I think did a fantastic job keeping things up, that was hard
Then the other thing that came up was remote monitoring of patients. Okay, so rather than having the nurse, you know, in a traditional situation, we would put remote monitoring cameras in the room, and centralize the station where they could talk to the patient, and be able to see the patient.
[Adam]: In the inpatient room?
[12:05] Dr. Jordan – A Centralized Remote Patient Monitoring Station
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: So we built it from scratch. We cobbled together these webcams, IV poles, sent them to a central station with multiple monitors, and we had an RN tool watching all the patients. They were able to communicate with the patients and allow the nurses who are very overwhelmed, to do more direct nursing stuff, and not have to just check on a patient.
Then the sad thing was, you know, there were no visitors, and people who were in their terminal stages were alone. This was just devastating. So we were tasked to get some kind of communication between families and the person in the hospital. We came up with, a tablet and iPad to establish some kind of a zoom session, and that worked out
Dr. Jordan On Immediate Response – Phone-based Solution
So those were some of the things we did that were immediate responses. And then from there, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about incident response and coordination occasions.
And, just the other day we had kind of another week, you know every few months we regroup and say, okay what do we do right what do we do wrong, and you know one of the things that came up is incidents response which was very good.
It was phone-based, and teams based. What were we doing with communications? As you are well aware, we have a texting solution. So, we did leverage that enough and expanded that use. So there’s a lot, always a lot to think about after it’s over you, you learn.
And that’s the idea, you learn and implement what you think is the right thing, it’s a horrible thing to go to, but for the next thing that comes, maybe you’ll be a little more prepared.
We’ve established a solution. And then the CMS said: look you don’t have to use a solution; you can use FaceTime or Google Do, or whatever you want.
The Patient Remote Monitoring Limitations
Those products are great for consumers but not great because the patient had to load an app, the provider had to load the app and the patient & provider knew each other, you know, the doctors and the patient would call back!
Right, it wasn’t good, so we went with a temporary solution that we found, and then our EHR vendor quickly incorporated it into their product. This was terrific.
And we started using that. So, you know, and I’m sure you’ll hear this throughout the industry, just took the bull that literally just floated and showed his benefit, that we all knew was sitting there.
[Adam]: It’s fascinating how it’s become an accelerator for remote patient monitoring. But, as you now look ahead, taking stock of some of the lessons, I know we are not out of the woods yet, how is it changing your priorities as an organization? How does that affect your technology decisions?
[16:05] Dr. Jordan On How Technology Changed Decisions
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: That’s one of the biggest things now. We were all on the technological side, I think most of us knew what we could do, but we were held back for reimbursement considerations, especially from CMS.
For instance, in Medicare, before COVID, unless the patient was in a designated rural area, you really couldn’t be paid for. Nowhere in New Jersey as a rural area with a lot of funds, was a true designated rural area.
So then, when they opened it up, we were able to do all this here. You know, it became evident, the genie is out of the bottle, you know, we saw the power of Telehealth, and I think that’s one thing that is carried over.
You know, we were doing, maybe dozens of Telehealth visits a month before COVID. Then we were doing like 1000s of total health visits during COVID.
Now we’re down to hundreds but we want to expand that, expand value to the patient and ourselves with more focus and maturity. So we’re looking at that.
[Adam]: What is that mature? That’s interesting; I’ve not heard anybody say that.
[17:35] Dr. Jordan Explains a Mature Telehealth
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: Mature Telehealth is using Telehealth in the right context. So, you know, as a physician, you know that at some point, you probably have to examine the patient so you can’t do everything.
But there are a lot of things you can use for things like low acuity, acute care, and follow-up care. You know, to be able to say something to somebody who you don’t need to see in person for follow-up, but you’d like to talk to them and work through how they’re doing, you can do that in some cases, as follow up.
And, you know, many of us did that on the phone. You didn’t get paid for that. If you’re doing it as a visit you’re going to get paid if the current reimbursement system states.
So that’s another element, and then we didn’t get into remote patient monitoring as much as some of our peers did.
But I think that definitely, we were going in that direction before COVID. We hadn’t gotten there, if we got there we would have done a lot better on the discharges, you know, getting them out earlier in the home.
It’s an area where there’s a lot of value in the right patient, people, you know, like those with congestive heart failure, COPD, you know how they are doing, letting them get on the electronic scale and they participate in weighing themselves.
And then: Okay Mr. Jones is gaining weight here we need to get him on the phone. What are you doing? Stop eating the hot dogs!
You know, you can intervene early, before they end up in the ED, and then hopefully before they end up in the hospital, and you know, a lot of studies have shown it’s very effective.
Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum on Remote Patient Monitoring
So, at the deficit that we have, that we don’t have that capability quite yet that requires a lot of back infrastructures, who’s monitoring all that data, how are you filtering the data, what’s the escalation path, there’s a lot of infrastructures.
We’re not there yet. We are getting there. We’re doing a patient pilot on this which is a whole other topic to talk about, but we’re getting there. We are getting there and I think a lot of organizations who are there found a lot of value in that as well.
Adam – COVID’s Positive Influence On Healthcare
[ Adam ]: Truly interesting seeing how you know if there’s anything good that could be described as good related COVID, positive it has sort of got healthcare organizations to kind of move over big hurdles in terms of implementing a lot of the things that they had been talking about for a decade, you know, a lot of these things have sort of been there in theory and the shift to value-based care.
It sort of feels like this has been a forcing function to get organizations moving towards. It’s because; you know the benefits the patients get as well as the healthcare system and providers. That’s one positive thing that’s coming out of this.
I want to change and talk about what it’s like being a buyer, or influencer?
So, when a lot of the people who listen to this podcast are marketing and sales folks and are trying to figure how they can engage with folks like yourself in a respectful way, so that you appreciate and want to talk with them, as opposed to sort of, you know, the opposite.
What it is, what’s it, tell us first of all sort of like, what’s it like, what’s your inbox look like, what does it feel like to be “marketed at”?
[21:16] Dr. Jordan’s On Being The Target Buyer Or Influencer
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: Yes, I mean, that’s a great point because most of my email, especially external email, is marketing. Cold calling or cold emailing about different products, and, you know, there are different approaches as you well know. They try to get your attention. Some people call the office.
So, you know, it’s a constant struggle to balance looking at that, and you know, to be fair, you know, a lot of the things that we get marketed to, we already have a solution, we’re not in the market for it, we’re not going in.
Once in a while, and I’m gonna say four times a year that a company gets me and I say:
Wow, I want to contact that person because of a: a problem we are trying to solve, or b: I had no idea that was in the market, that it was a solution because you just told me I had a problem that I didn’t know I had for free. Or, I’m unhappy with what I’m doing now, and maybe what you’re selling sounds like what I need. But you have to tell me, exactly.
You know, although healthcare is behind technology, I think we can all agree. If you look at most other fields, adoption of technology, especially digital consumer-facing technology is behind.
Marketers Should Focus On Benefits
But, we also do have a lot of technology in place, so you can bet on whatever you’re trying to sell me, I probably have, and the fact that you are selling it to me isn’t enough. You need to tell me how you’re better than your competitor or how you are better than the standard solutions in your space. That will get my attention. I’ll be keen on what the benefit is against your competitor.
[Adam]: So, I have three things. First of all, you know, I imagine that you probably get 300 emails a day. Whatever it is, can be hundreds of emails over the year, not a good hit, right.
Number two, something you said, which I thought was interesting. Telling me about a problem you didn’t know was an interesting notion, tell me a little bit more about that.
[24:15] Dr. Jordan – Marketers Identifying Problems Buyers Don’t Know
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: Well, you know, I’m trying to think of an example, what I’m working on right now right, you know, and then you start thinking, ok, I didn’t know there was a much better way to do that, I didn’t know there was any other way except what you’re doing.
So, okay let me give you without mentioning names here, you know, we have our usual process of sending bills and doing collections, and a lot of companies come out and say:
You know we can improve your collection rate and improve your turnaround. This company sent me a screenshot, just one screenshot that says:
We know that you have this EMR, we work with that EMR. When a customer or patient comes to your practice, your registration people come up to his screen. An entire one-shot picture of what’s going on, and the screen was so compelling.
I’m not the finance person, but I phoned the finance person. We have been having discussions about how we can improve collections, decrease bad debt, all those usual conversations. I said: this looks like a tool that’s so well put together and integrates into our EMR. What do you think?
You know, just the screenshot was enough to get a meeting together which we just had. I don’t know where they’re going to go with it. Again, I don’t know the value of the collection, but that was something that solves this problem.
Jordan T On Why Markets Should Show Value To Buyers
Yeah, the way that we would not have done, we would not have thought about. And of course, you know all these companies. They start with one thing and they say we can also do this and this. They create this universe where these are connected products that work for you.
Of course, that’s what they want to do, They want to sell you more, that’s okay. I don’t mind that as you know your solid company and you are showing me value. I mean that in any basic industry, you’ve got to show value to the buyer.
[Adam]: There’s something about what those guys did where it felt like it was personalized to you, because they take the time to say we know you’ve got this EMR, and this is what your people see when they are going through collections, whatever that financial task is really.
Interesting, it got your attention because it solves the relevant problem. An insightful way, but it was also personalized, yes.
Interesting. So, I mean what are your pet peeves? I didn’t know how many 100s or 1000s of marketers are listening to this. If you could send them one message saying: Please stop doing this, what would that be?
[27:34] Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum – Pet Peeves With Marketers
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: Don’t pretend we had an appointment that I missed.
[Adam]: Somebody did that to me today, or they’re going to, and I’m going to hold the appointment because I’m going to give them a lesson. That’s hilarious.
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: You know, that is: sorry you missed our call. Well, I try to be very diligent with all my calls. I don’t have to miss the meeting, and they know that we never had a call. I don’t know who you are. So, don’t do that.
[Adam]: You know, it’s insulting,
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: Yeah
[Adam]: Insulting intelligence.
[20:12] Dr. Jordan Advice To Marketers On Cold Calling
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: And the other thing is, and this is just common for all cold calling. You know, an email for me is better than a cold call.
I’m not going to take time out of my day to respond to a cold call, it’s just not right. I try to tell people who call, as they start their pitch and I say: Listen, I don’t have time to talk to you right now, you have my email. Usually, they have my email from whatever source. I say, just send me what you want me to look at.
If I’m interested, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, if you don’t hear from me, I’m probably not interested at this point. And if I say I’m not interested, just leave me alone.
If I say, please contact me in six months, which I do. I may be interested but right now, I’m too overwhelmed. Or, we don’t have the money but I might want your product in six months. Just put me in your Salesforce, whatever it is, the CRM, and contact me in six months.
[Adam]: So, you, you move from being a physician for 30 years to working for McKesson. Well, when you switched over to the vendor side, what was it that surprised you?
[29:37] Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum – Vendor Side Experienced
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: Well, I tell you, it was a positive surprise. I was a little hesitant to go to the vendor’s side. As a physician, I’d never been on the buying side in terms of technology. I had worked closely with the CIO in my CMO job. I thought I was going to be a salesman, go pitch.
The company I worked for was very sensitive to their customers and our potential customers. I don’t feel like they did a hard push. No, maybe that was happening outside of my environment.
When we came in to do what we did and later in the sales cycle, we were very much trying to come in as a full partner. And to give you value where we thought you might need it, or you think you might need it.
Good Relations & Mature Sales Approach
It was very much a positive experience. I would say, 90% of the demos we did, we had a very good experience. We had a good conversation with the medical staff and some of the CIOs and the executives.
It wasn’t a matter of you need to buy this. It was a matter of we think this might be fit for you, what do you think? In some cases, the product didn’t fit and we all moved on, and that was fine. And in some cases we thought it wouldn’t be a fit, let’s explore it further.
So I guess my surprise is that it was a very mature process. I know that a lot of organizations do that.
Dr. Jordan On Customer Focus
I was also pleasantly surprised when customers had issues. The focus was the customer. Nobody wrote off the customer. When customers had a serious issue from the physician side that we are involved. We would be sent at a moment’s notice.
One morning I got a call, you know, we traveled back then before COVID. I remember those days sitting at home on a Tuesday morning. I was scheduled to go that afternoon, someplace else. And we got a call that this hospital had a major issue. Can you be at this place? How soon can you be at this place? How soon?
You know, looking at the bookings I said well, I can make a flight in two hours. Okay, get on it, go, we’re sending this person. Meet him at this place, and we’re going to take care of it.
So they immediately responded by sending in the appropriate people when they could.
[Adam]: Very Interesting
[32:33] Dr. Jordan on The Customer Experience
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: My experience on that was that, yes, I understood the sales cycle on the funnel and then, you know, the whole back end making sales targets and all that, we weren’t really in that division, but we were part of that sales team and saw how it worked.
I felt the customers’ experience was a pleasant surprise. And, you know, but I did also understand economics. You can’t sell something without making a profit.
[Adam]: Got it, really interesting perspective. Well, Jordan, it’s been a great pleasure here, having you today on this podcast. I mean, you’ve given us a lot to think about, so I want to thank you for your time.
Before we go, I do want to ask you one last question. If you could give the audience one piece of practical advice that they could act on today, what would that be?
This would be something that you’ve learned in the last few years that you wish you’d known earlier.
[33:38] Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum – Advice To Marketers
[Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum]: Well, I think that’s kind of a personal question. I was in practice for 30 years, but I always had this interest in computing and all other things.
Final Advice By Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum: Follow Passion
But, you know, I didn’t pursue it because I was a physician. I think if I was going to do something again, I would say, take more risks. If you have that interest, just explore it and see where it goes
You know, as you mentioned, I always thought I wanted an MBA. So, I went and got an MBA. I didn’t know what I was doing but helping.
And then I got a Clinical Informatics degree and then I got the Masters of Public Health. I got that before COVID. I got the Masters of Public Health because I felt like my medicine was moving in terms of addressing larger societal issues like sexual health. So, I needed to get that.
Do what is in your heart, what you are passionate about. I give the same advice to my kids. view of myself.
[35:01] Adam’s Thank You Note
[Adam]: I appreciate you sharing that. Thank you, Dr. Jordan, that’s a great piece of insight and a great piece of advice. I appreciate your time today
[ Dr. Jordan Tannenbaum ]: Thank you, Adam.
[Adam]: I also want to thank our listeners today. Before you go, I just want to let you know that if you have not subscribed to this podcast already, you can do so on Apple Spotify or other podcast channels.
It’s available across all channels. You can also view the podcast’s video. There’s a link on the show notes.
We’ve got a great program of guests coming up, and hope you will subscribe. If you’ve got a topic that you want us to cover, you can get a hold of me directly.
You can either email me at Adam@healthlaunchpad.com, or you can find me on LinkedIn. I think I’m the only Adam Turinas out there.