Corner Cube, People of NetApp Healthcare: How IT Can Bring 24/7 Availability

Joey HobbsMeghan Fintland of NetApp’s Corporate Communications sat down with Joey Hobbs, Regional Chief Information Officer, Healthcare Division, for another “People of NetApp Healthcare” interview. Joey talks about what brought him to the healthcare technology industry and eventually NetApp as well as changing business realities.


Meghan: What inspired you to get into the healthcare industry?


Joey:  When I was studying at the Purdue University, I worked in the shipping and receiving department at the local hospital, which was actually the same hospital I was born in. 


This led to an internship in the hospital’s IT department where I got to experience the impact IT has on everyone within the organization; the administrative staff, executives, physicians and  patients.  It was then that I knew I wanted to spend my time working with people who were making a difference in other peoples’ lives.


Meghan: Can you tell us about your career prior to joining NetApp and what brought you here?


Joey:  Following my internship, I worked in a variety of roles at the hospital including desktop support, radiology systems, supply chain and the back end storage systems.  Similar to a general practitioner, I was a jack-of-all-trades, working in all areas of the IT organization helping to improve efficiency and patient care.


In 2007, as the Director of the department, I led the search and implementation of Meditech, moving all of the hospital’s systems to a single integrated platform.  Following the adoption of the hospital’s centralized electronic health records system (EHR), I became involved with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). I attended CHIME’S bootcamp and became a certified healthcare CIO.


Through CHIME and other affiliations, I got to know a lot of great people and organizations such as NetApp.  When a colleague flagged an opening at NetApp for a regional CIO, I knew it was a great opportunity to help hospital CIOs from around the country.


Meghan: Since your initial internship, there has been a massive transformation across the healthcare industry from not only a technological perspective, but also from an operational and regulatory perspective. What do you see as the biggest impacts that have or are currently affecting the healthcare industry?


Joey: Obviously, the advancement of technology – EHRs, mobile devices, cloud and big data – has had a major impact on the nature of patient care - how patients are seen, diagnosed and treated. I would also argue that the systemic transformation currently underway in the U.S. is leaving an equally impactful mark on the industry. 


The introduction of the Affordable Healthcare Act, enhancements to Medicaid and rise of retail clinics has led to a major shift in the industry’s business realities.  The shift in payment structure from the fee for service to the affordable care model has been a tough transition for healthcare providers. Coupled with the rise of the retail clinics from CVS, Walmart and Walgreens means competition amongst healthcare providers is becoming fiercer.  Additionally, the rise of the connected patient has meant organizations need to invest in better patient education and engagement. 


What this means is that as revenue drops, competition grows and investment in patient education and engagement rises - healthcare organizations need to do more with less.  As a result of these new business realities, healthcare providers are looking to new technologies to optimize care and improve operational efficiency in order to survive in the modern healthcare industry.


Meghan: How is information technology helping healthcare organizations in this new business reality?


Joey: As a result of the new challenges facing healthcare organizations, healthcare CIOs and IT will play an increasingly important role moving forward. EHRs, cloud and mobile optimized physicians will be fundamental in improving efficiencies and collaboration, while reducing cost and complexity.  Ultimately, we’re only scratching the surface on how EHRs are improving the coordination of care.


Innovative technologies like the single integrated EHR platform help organizations streamline and simplify operations. An automated, intuitive system across an organization not only improves patient outcomes, but contributes to an organization’s research through the wealth of patient data being created. It also improves efficiencies across purchasing lines; ultimately leading to reduced costs.    


EHRs and mobile technologies are also fundamental to improving patient engagement by driving them to take a more active role in their own treatment.  As a result of improved patient engagement and their feedback in real-time, physicians are identifying, adjusting and optimizing best treatment options on the fly - allowing physicians to not only see more patients, but deliver better care.


Meghan: What can vendors like NetApp do to help physicians deliver the best care?


Joey:  At the end of the day, today’s healthcare providers cannot afford any downtime. Physicians and nurses are expected to be available and productive all the time, requiring patient data and infrastructure to be available 24/7.


NetApp supports the infrastructure that ensures physicians can access patient data anytime, anywhere.   Additionally, healthcare CIOs look to vendors, including NetApp, to reduce complexity by providing the tools to manage the system in the most cost effective format.   


The Corner Cube is a series of interviews and feature posts that highlight the people of NetApp. Whether you're hearing  from an engineer, marketing, sales or executive leader, The Corner Cube brings you an unfiltered point of view around a variety of topics in technology and business today.