BrightSpring Health Services Discusses Analytics, Project Scope and Agile Methodology
Dr. Brian Barnes - Louisville Tech Power Player Honoree
Dr. Brian Barnes
Executive VP and CIO
BrightSpring Health Services
Director, Sales Strategy and Development
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The Executive VP and CIO of BrightSpring Health Services, Dr. Brian Barnes, discusses analytics, project scope and agile methodology.
Hello, and welcome to the comSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit comspark.tech.
MP: We're here today with Brian Barnes, who's the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at BrightSpring Health, based in Louisville, Kentucky. My name is Mike Pratt and I'm with RoundTower, and I'll be your guest moderator today. Let's get started. So, Brian, in your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that's beginning to impact our work or lives?
BB: Yeah, so I would have to say it's analytics. And analytics is everywhere, from the car I drive to the refrigerator at home, to all the things that we're doing to care for our clients. One of the things that we do as an organization is we care for people with intellectual disabilities, folks who are struggling, you know, in life, as well as folks who would like to remain in their homes and not go into assisted living facilities. So as, as you think about the different populations of youth that are at risk, folks who have particular healthcare challenges that we solve, the ability to take all that information of what's happening with their care, wrap analytics around that to improve the level of care that's being given – it's a huge transformation for us and it's a huge transformation in pretty much every industry that's out there today.
MP: How are you using technology for positive change or disruption in your organization?
BB: Yep. So, there's three things that we're working on. Uh, I mean, there's many different things, but the three major things for us is really transformation, uh, what we call the connected home, which is our technologies that go into the homes where we provide care for individuals. And so, these are all the different pieces of things that we're putting in to improve the level of quality care, to improve the safety, to improve everything that we're doing around the care of those folks. So, our connected home is everything from telemonitoring capabilities, mobile applications, things that we're putting in the home to help get better visibility around the care that's being provided ,and to provide more accuracy around the reporting, at an enterprise level, what things are happening there.
Um, I would say the second thing for us is really the analytics that we've been talking about, and the ability for us to then roll all that information from our different facilities up into, uh, enterprise dashboards to be able to better manage our labor, to be able to better manage the quality of care that's being provided, and to just give our, give us a better ability to manage, um, the overall performance of our organization.
And then, the third thing is really digitization. So, while we have a lot of technologies deployed today, we also have segments where we have a lot of things on paper. And so, like many industries, we're seeing that transformation from things that are paper being digitized. And so, putting that into workflows, being able to make better decisions, better, being able to have transparency into what's happening out there, rather than having to read thick manuals of pieces of paper flying around the organization. It's just, uh, huge. All three of those things are huge transformative things for us.
MP: So, are you digitizing a lot of the records and stuff like that and is that then going into some massive database that you're then doing analytics around and helping?
BB: Yes. Yes. So we have several different EHR technologies that are out there that are special built, you know, purpose built for specific service lines, but then pulling that all back together into business intelligence function is how that’s done, yeah.
MP: How do you fuel innovation efforts on your team and organizationally?
BB: Yeah, so I, I think for us there, it's really participation in the community of innovation, and so it's people being able to plug into seeing what innovation is happening with our competitors, looking at what's going on across the different industries through different community groups that we plug into from a professional perspective, um, and it's also a little things like stretch goals and giving people the opportunity to learn new things with open source, uh, classes that are out there, cross training folks across our department from one department to be able to learn what's going in another area and giving people the opportunity. I think that's where innovation comes out best for us, is where it’s that intersection of seeing what's happening in other industries, how do we bring that to our industry, and giving people opportunities. So, having great ideas is one thing, but then being able to put them into practice and to try things out is a whole other, a whole other thing.
MP: You've been here for three months, at this company?
BB: Uh, just over two months. Yes.
MP: Well, you seem to get it pretty well!
BB: Well, I've been on both the payer side and the provider side of healthcare. And my last stop was Tenet. So, you know, over 87 hospitals, 200 outpatient treatment centers So-
MP: So, you get the industry.
MP: So, today we have an app for many tasks. What are the challenges in designing an application?
BB: I think the biggest thing really is usability. I mean, it all comes down, is this thing easy to use or not? And you know, many of the things in kind of a traditional IT background lead people to build products that are great for geeks like me. Um, but then when you get normal people using them, people who aren't geeks, they're, they're difficult to use. And so, that user acceptance testing piece really is where you end up seeing whether you had a good usability design upfront or not.
And so, finding people who are able to really do the art end of things and figure out how do things really look better, what's the importance of different colors, what's the importance of organization information, the use of white space – all of those things that typically come out of a very creative, artistic background are things that uh, IT typically doesn't have. But putting that into there makes the technologies much easier to use. You know? So for us, we have a ton of folks who work in our organization that, that aren't, uh, highly technically sophisticated, I would say. And so, like many consumers in the USA, we've been educated on how technology should work through our phones. And so that's got an expectation – it's got to be simple, easy to use, quick. And those kinds of things historically don't come out of IT departments. And so, you know, for me that's the biggest challenge that we've got to overcome
MP: As the business needs change, how do you balance maintaining quality with meeting challenging timelines?
BB: Ah. Yeah. So, the biggest challenge there, I think, is with scope. So, if you're trying to manage costs, you're trying to manage time, the only other lever you really have is with scope. And so, kind of transitioning from the old war, um, old world kind of model, uh, methodology around waterfall and things that take a very long time, and doing things in a more agile footprint allows you to better manage the scope. Um, so from that perspective, the ability to figure out what's really important, what are the things that we have to have versus things we'd like to have, and putting that flexibility out in different phases of releases in a more agile manner allows you to better manage the scope, which then, at the end of the day, allows you to still maintain high levels of quality and control your costs. Um, so if you think of it as kind of an iterative process, you know, if, if I gave you a certain piece of software that did basically what you needed, but it wasn't great, you know, that'd be a great start. But then as you get to use it and you learn it, you learn what more you need and how you can make it better. And so you continue to evolve it. Like, most products that are out there in the marketplace kind of start with a base product and then they evolve, evolve, evolve over time. And I think doing it that way allows you to control the quality and the cost while managing scope.
MP: Thank you for your time. This is Mike Pratt and Brian Barnes. To learn more about us, visit comspark.tech. Goodbye, until next time.
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