I’m not a traditional CFO. I don’t come from an accounting background, so I view the world a little bit different than many CFOs do. I connect as much with the human aspects of business as with the financial aspects.
I’ve worked in a few different industries, and Vocera is my first healthcare-specific company. At the prior company I worked for, our technology was going into wireless cell towers and switching centers of the wire line networks. It was hard for me to get excited about the impact and the value we were providing with our products. I didn’t have a strong emotional attachment to the products we sold.
I wanted to find a company to work for that would cause me to wake up every morning feeling excited because I would know that its products and services were making a difference. That’s one of the primary reasons why Vocera was so appealing to me.
At the time I was interviewing, my sister-in-law, a nurse, was visiting here in San Jose from Utah. She was working for a hospital that is a Vocera customer, which I didn’t realize. We talked about some of the opportunities I was looking at and when I mentioned Vocera, she just stopped in her tracks and said, “You’re possibly going to go work for Vocera?” I said, “Yeah, that’s the idea. What’s the big deal?” She said, “We use their products extensively and they are beloved in our hospital.” She used that word – beloved. Her almost reverent response to my question caught me off guard and she went on to explain how Vocera’s solution transformed the way they did their work.
Improving the human experience makes financial sense
As patients, we’re all going to have a lot more choice in terms of where we go for healthcare. I’m personally going to choose institutions and places where the quality of the service is the highest. In fact, I’ll pay more for that quality. To me, that’s the economic effect of humanizing healthcare and the patient experience. I think the hospitals that do that well or do that better than others are going to be the winners in this game. Fortunately, there’s economic incentive now through HCAHPS scores and the measurement where particular Medicare reimbursement rates are driven by those scores. This is good for patients, and it’s good for hospitals; there’s a direct link between high HCAHPS scores and profit margins. Hospitals that score higher make more money.
Certainly numbers, revenue, and margin are all important metrics that illustrate how a hospital might be doing. But I tend to connect more with the value, the experience, and the human benefit we at Vocera are delivering through our solutions. What I bring to my role as CFO is not just a focus on financials. I look at healthcare from the perspective of a patient and family member. I view healthcare as a whole system that’s not optimally set up to provide strong emotional support and expertise as you work through the problem you’re encountering. I value being here at Vocera where we are passionate about changing this.
Patient and family experience – a firsthand view
Earlier this year, my daughter went into a hospital for a procedure to address some acute pain she was having in her foot. The procedure triggered a reaction where she was no longer able to walk, and my wife and I spent a week in the hospital with her. She was admitted around 4:00 in the afternoon on a Monday. She was completely numb from her midsection down to her toes and we’re thinking, “What’s happened here?”
The hospital is a very good one, with some of the best doctors in the world. There were a lot of positives to the experience and a lot of great people. The nurses in particular were amazing; they kept coming in and checking on us. But we were getting very few touch points or answers from the doctors.
Somebody woke us up at about 2:00 in the morning and said, “We want to do an MRI.” But nobody explained why. We put the thoughts together; they wanted to check her spinal cord and see if they’d done something to injure it. They rolled her in for an MRI, and she was just exhausted. And we still heard nothing from the doctors.
I was glad they did the MRI because it ultimately allowed them to say she didn’t have a spinal cord injury. My frustration was in the lack of communication. Nobody said, “We’ve ordered an MRI. Here’s the reason why: we want to rule out X, Y, and Z, and get to a more definitive diagnosis.” It could’ve been handled a lot differently.
The hospital did rounding on their patients, using a clipboard with a paper-based survey. The person administering the survey took down a bunch of notes; we gave some honest feedback, but nothing ever came of it. There might have been an opportunity to recover service at that point.
I was comparing the experience in my mind to what it would have been like with Vocera Care Rounds, where an entry triggers an alert to, say, housekeeping, who can bring a warm blanket or whatever is needed. This connection to service recovery is, I think, a critical part of the whole rounding effort. If you’re going to survey your patients in the hospital, embed an ability to actually recover service where you can. Because once they’ve left the hospital, you have no ability to recover.
At the root of it, what happens in hospitals is that physicians have so many patients to deal with. They’re so overworked that they often have no choice but to treat you like a bit of a number. Even though they may not want to, you just end up feeling like that.
More time for patients = better quality care
Our goal at Vocera is to enable the people who use our products to dramatically increase the amount of time they can spend on patient care.
I’ve walked the hospital floor with several of our customers and have seen our solution in action in multiple departments (OR, ER, ICU, etc.). What becomes clear after observing care teams using it is how much more time nurses and doctors are able to spend with patients than they could if they didn’t have our solution. When they’re able to spend more time with their patients, they feel much more satisfied as clinicians.
At Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, we did a pedometer study that showed nurses were walking one mile less in an eight-hour shift after a Vocera solution was implemented. The less chasing a nurse has to do, the more time she or he can spend at a patient’s bedside.
When care teams communicate better, it makes the patient experience smoother. Central Maine Medical Center opened up 350 hours of operating room capacity in their first year of using Vocera.
El Camino Hospital installed Vocera Care Rounds, our cloud-based rounding solution that they’re running on iPads, and saw a 25% improvement in HCAHPS scores. I just got an update from the COO this week and they love it.
At Vocera, we enable clinicians to spend more time bedside. We make it possible for patients to be admitted sooner and get through surgery faster. We make it easier for care teams to listen to patients and be responsive to their needs. This all plays a role in improving satisfaction scores and optimizing reimbursements. A traditional CFO might be satisfied with that value proposition.
But for me, there’s more to it. We’re helping hospitals make significant gains in terms of quality and humanizing healthcare. When we make healthcare delivery a little bit better, we make lives better.
That’s why I’m proud to work for Vocera.