Developing insights you can trust with Paul Hess, research director at KLAS Enterprises

Episode 77 January 03, 2024 00:25:07
Developing insights you can trust with Paul Hess, research director at KLAS Enterprises
The Post-Acute POV
Developing insights you can trust with Paul Hess, research director at KLAS Enterprises

Jan 03 2024 | 00:25:07


Show Notes


In this episode of the Post-Acute POV podcast, our host, Tim Smokoff, general manager for home health and hospice, is joined by Paul Hess, senior director of research at KLAS Enterprises to share his personal experience and tips for enhancing your organization’s “Best in KLAS” rating.


Join the duo as they discuss how KLAS Research can help your healthcare organization develop insights you can trust to enhance and improve patient care and outcomes. Listen to their conversation.

Topics discussed during today’s episode:

1.      [00:35 – 01:50]: Tim introduces our guest, Paul Hess. Paul details his background at KLAS Research.

2.      [01:54 – 03:39]:  Paul explains what his role entails as a research director for KLAS and what KLAS does to help healthcare providers.

3.      [03:48 – 06:30]:  Paul introduces the “Best in KLAS” award program and the six pillars that KLAS uses to score providers.

4.      [06:43 – 08:50]: The pair discusses how the “Best in KLAS” awards work and what is necessary for a provider to score highly.

5.      [09:08 – 11:33]: Paul provides examples of how KLAS has helped healthcare organizations improve their EHR experience.

6.      [11:45 – 13:47]: Paul describes why interoperability and having a seamless system for sharing patient information between systems is crucial for patient care.

7.      [13:48 – 15:18]: Paul details how KLAS is expanding in the post-acute care industry.

8.      [16:06 – 18:33]: Paul goes into more detail on the future of KLAS and the importance of provider relationships.

9.      [18:35 – 21:59]: Paul shares three things organizations should focus on to improve the delivery of a better customer experience.

10.  [22:34 – 24:33]: Paul and Tim conclude the episode with their final thoughts.


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·       Find out more about KLAS Research: 

·       Listen to more episodes of the Post-Acute POV


The content in this presentation or materials is for informational purposes only and is provided “as-is.” Information and views expressed herein, may change without notice. We encourage you to seek as appropriate, regulatory and legal advice on any of the matters covered in this presentation or materials.


©2023 by MatrixCare

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:02): Welcome to the Post Acute Point-of-View podcast, our discussion hub for healthcare technology in the out-of-hospital space. Here, we talk about the latest news and views on trends and innovations that can impact the way post-acute care providers work. We'll also dive into how technology can make a difference in today's changing healthcare landscape for home and facility-based workers and the people they care for. Let's dive in. Tim Smokoff (00:35): Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Post Acute Point-of-View podcast. My name is Tim Smokoff, and I'm the general manager for Home Health and Hospice here at MatrixCare. Today, I'm joined by Paul Hess, the senior director of research at KLAS Enterprises. Paul's here today to talk to us about how KLAS can help your organization develop some insights you can trust in order to improve your patient care and outcomes. So let's get started. (00:58): Paul, could you take a minute and give us a little bit about your origin story, your background, and how you ended up at KLAS? Paul Hess (01:06): You bet. Yeah, Tim, it's good to be talking with you again. Yeah, I've been with KLAS going on 12 years now, so it's hard to remember what I did before, but I actually worked in the payer side of healthcare, some would say the dark side, saw the light, came over to KLAS. What intrigued me about KLAS was the mission. We are a healthcare provider advocacy group. We seek to help out healthcare providers, and ultimately ourselves, as patients and our family members. It's only a matter of time until we're patients in the healthcare that we have in our country, and so we're ultimately helping ourselves and our family, our loved ones, as well. But I love that mission of wanting to help improve the world's healthcare, and we do that a number of different ways. But that's my journey, my story, in getting here to KLAS. Tim Smokoff (01:50): So maybe you could spend just a little bit of time talking about your role at KLAS. Paul Hess (01:54): Yeah, so as you said, a research director, and what I do in my job is I spend a lot of my time talking with healthcare providers in Teams calls or over the phone, Zoom, and I'm getting their anonymous real-life perspectives on the technologies they use, and hearing the successes that they're having with it, some of the frustrations or opportunities for these vendors to improve and get better to better suit and meet the needs of these healthcare providers, and so that's a big part of my job. (02:26): A lot of the insights that we provide to the industry, I would argue all of the insights we provide to the industry, come from healthcare providers who are willing to just hop on a call with us and share their perspective, and we aggregate all that together and publish that on the KLAS website, and any healthcare provider that's looking for insights can access the KLAS website for free. They can go on themselves, or with the help of us, log in there, and just see what their peers are saying about healthcare technologies across the continuum of care, in the hospital, in post-acute, in ambulatory, and so on. (03:00): So in addition to those conversations and providing those insights, we also work on, as research directors, we work on reports, we publish several reports throughout the year as individual research directors, and we also will do some consulting work with the healthcare vendors. We'll go on site, spend time with the executive teams, when they're open to that, and walk through their customer feedback, and identify opportunities for them to improve, to get better, to better meet the needs of their customers. And frankly, that's the center to all of it is how they can best meet the needs of their customers. Tim Smokoff (03:39): Yeah. So as you think about who your customer is, you really serve two markets, the provider side, as well as the vendor side. Paul Hess (03:48): Yeah. And I think what keeps us on the straight and narrow, so to speak, is that we always put the providers first, and their interests, and the interests of their patients. And if we continually do that, we don't get swayed by vendors, one vendor over another, we don't have a horse in that race. Frankly, we want all healthcare IT vendors to be great for their customers, and that's why we do what we do. So if we can see the healthcare providers as our partners in this, and providing the insights that they need, that keeps us honest, accurate, and impartial. Tim Smokoff (04:22): So within that context, we often hear about being best-in-KLAS. Can you talk a little bit about what that is? Paul Hess (04:28): Yeah, so in the process of these calls I just talked about, there's 22 questions we go through, how long they've been live with the technology, are they on the most current version, and we get into some yes no questions and some ratings questions. At the end of that, we aggregate all of those scores together with the other healthcare providers who use those same technologies, and publish those on the KLAS website. And we do that on an ongoing basis, it's a rolling 12 month window, so when we talk with a healthcare provider, their ratings go on, and it's on the KLAS website in aggregate for 12 months before it drops off. We seek to try and talk with most of the healthcare providers we speak with on an annual basis to get annual updates on how things are going. (05:11): Healthcare providers are amazing from that perspective. It's one of the great joys of my career here at KLAS is having the opportunity to work with these healthcare providers that are extremely busy, but they're willing to hop on a call with KLAS, share their perspective, 'cause they know that it helps serve the greater good, they know that this can help their peers, and it also helps them know where they're at in their technology journey, and if their relationship is an outlier or if it's common for them to have these types of experiences with the vendor that they're using. (05:46): But what we do with these overall scores is, at the end of the year, we identify a date, and we pull those scores, and then we announce the top performing vendor in each market segment that we watch in late January of each year, and those are called our best-in-KLAS award winners. We have an award ceremony, typically, at the HIMSS Conference, and it is a great opportunity to just celebrate vendors who are performing at the best of their class, the best of their peers, in a given market segment, and reward that, highlight that, and hopefully promote that vendor excellence to others so that they can do that the following year. So that's a fun part of our job as well, is to be able to recognize vendor excellence. Tim Smokoff (06:30): So you talked about scoring across multiple different categories and the breadth of the questions that are out there. Can you go just a little bit deeper in terms of how you put those together in, say, pillars of excellence? Paul Hess (06:43): Yeah, so there's six pillars that we zero in on. There's culture, there's loyalty, operations, product, relationship, and value. And with each of those, they're just rate on how these vendors perform. So like for example with culture, three questions that we ask are, does the vendor keep all their promises? Does the product work as it was promoted to you as one of their customers? And how proactive are they in their service, and keeping you abreast of all the changes or challenges that are coming your way? That's the culture of the vendor, and being customer-centric and keeping their promises. (07:25): Loyalty, there's actually five questions that make up that one. Is this product part of your long-term plans, do you plan to keep it? Would you buy it again if you could do it all over with the vendors that exist today, if you had to make a choice? How likely are you to recommend it? Your overall satisfaction? And then, even your forecasted overall satisfaction, do you see that getting better over time, or do you see it getting worse, or staying the same? And then, that helps us gauge the loyalty within their vendor's customer base, if they're planning on sticking around, or if they're looking at leaving. And then so on, I could go through all of those, I won't bore you with the details, but that's how we get to these pillars and help these providers identify these specific areas when they're making a decision on a technology. Tim Smokoff (08:13): So when an EHR vendor is awarded best-in-KLAS, do you see those vendors competing to win that? Paul Hess (08:19): Yes, frankly, it's a prestigious award. If you go to different shows, like HIMSS, you'll see KLAS everywhere, best-in-KLAS awards, and they're touted. This is not KLAS that's giving these awards out, this is their customer bases that are rating them and deciding who wins based on how they rate their experience with these vendors. So from that standpoint, knowing that the healthcare providers are giving these awards out effectively, yeah, they're quite prestigious and people do compete. From a vendor perspective, they want to see their technology, their solution, win for that year. Tim Smokoff (08:50): As a vendor that participates in that, I can tell you, yes, we love to compete, and we love to win and be called out, so good point. Can you point to a couple of examples where a provider organization worked with you folks and really changed their business upon using your research? Paul Hess (09:08): There's a really exciting initiative that we've doing for the last several years, where healthcare organizations, it started in hospitals, we sought to work with them so that they work with the technology in a better way, in the most efficient way. What we've found with this, it's called the Arch Collaborative Initiative, what we found is we work with health systems, they could be using... We could take a sample of hundreds of different health systems, and we could identify all the ones that are using a specific EHR, the same EHR. So what we can do with the health systems is that we can identify several health systems that are using the same EHR, and then survey their physicians, all of their physicians and all of their nurses, and see what their satisfaction is with their EHR. (09:58): What we found is that these organizations can have the same EHR, and some can be at the very top of the spectrum of really satisfied physician satisfaction, and at the bottom, you can have the same EHR customers having a really bad or poor experience with the EHR, same EHR, same specialties, and so on. What we realize is that a lot has to do with how an organization interacts with the technology, how they set it up, how they allow their specialists to have a voice in how it's customized or personalized for their specialties, and how the data governance interacts with the technology over time. (10:36): And we benchmark them with their customers, it's anonymous, but they can see where they stack up with their peers, and we'll do an assessment in one point in time, show them where they're at, and then we'll show them best practices based off of what these more successful healthcare organizations are doing, and how they interact and set up the technology, and what they could do perhaps better with identifying these opportunities for them. And then, we'll go out and do a reassessment and see if they've improved after some time has passed. And almost without exception, these organizations improve because they recognize some of these industry best practices that are out there. (11:14): So we do that quite a bit and that's been a lot of fun, really exciting to identify the best practices from the most successful organizations out there, and help the rest of the health systems understand what the very best of the best do to make sure that their physicians and their nurses are satisfied with their EHR experience. Tim Smokoff (11:33): Yeah, I love that example. We often find that employee engagement and continual refinement of the systems is critical in terms of getting the most value out of those systems. Paul Hess (11:45): It's a partnership between the health system and the vendor, and sometimes each side needs a little bit of a nudge, or some additional insights to help them to know where they can improve and make that a better experience for all. Tim Smokoff (11:58): Absolutely agree, partnership is key in that. So switching gears just a little bit, interoperability has become more of a hot topic over the last year or two years. Can you give your perspective on why that's become important? Paul Hess (12:10): Yeah, I would argue that interoperability has always been important, and it's a broad term, so let's be specific of what we mean here. Interoperability, in the nuts and bolts of it, is how well one IT solution interacts with the other technologies in their area, in their ecosystem. If there needs to be a sharing of information from one technology to the next, how seamlessly does that happen? That's what we're talking about when we're talking about interoperability. (12:38): So it's general, but then we can get really specific on that and identify if there are interoperability successes or challenges in any given care setting, and how well vendors do with interoperability, and we base it all off of the healthcare provider's perspective. Is it supporting their interoperability goals, how they would like this technology to interact with other technologies that they're using? Do they have some even as an option for them? So that's critically important as we seek to be more automated, more efficient. And frankly, the whole reason we shifted towards EHRs was so that we could share information more readily amongst patients and providers and things, and help improve healthcare. In some ways, we're a long ways from that still, there's still much work to be done, but it is important to recognize the small wins too that we have along the way. Tim Smokoff (13:37): Absolutely agree. And as you noted, it's really important that that information flow across the ecosystem for the patients and the caregivers to be able to effectively do their job. Paul Hess (13:47): Right. Tim Smokoff (13:48): So Paul, as you look at the future and the focus for KLAS in the post-acute space, where do you see new areas of activity and engagement from your organization? Paul Hess (14:01): Yeah, as we talk specifically about post-acute, we have watched the home health and hospice and long-term care spaces for 20 years, we have data in those areas. We're always looking to expand, and we're very careful in what we choose to expand into. We prioritize healthcare providers, if they come to KLAS and say, hey, we need some help with this area. Do you have anything, any insights, with this specific technology that we're trying to make a decision on? We prioritize those. (14:34): In our day-to-day jobs, we come across vendors that are doing some really innovative things, and it may be that we aren't talking with the healthcare providers that would utilize those types of technologies, so we're cognizant of that as well, and approach things in one of those two fronts, based off of what we understand in healthcare, that this vendor is being really innovative and it should be called out so that healthcare providers can take advantage of some of the things that they're building, or the healthcare providers are experiencing some angst or some interest in a particular technology that shows some promise, and they need a third-party, or a company-like KLAS, to go and do some measuring there. (15:18): In post-acute, we've looked at, recently, we've opened up segments with analytics around patients, and how those are being utilized to prompt assessments and improve the care of patients and drive rounding even, knowing how to prioritize their patient rounding within a skilled nursing facility, or how they go about visiting with their patients in home health. There's other things we're doing with the transitions of care, which is a broad term, it's an umbrella term that means a lot of different things, but there's a lot of vendor technologies that fall under that umbrella that we're seeking to measure and call out to the industry, and especially those successes, where technologies and use cases have gained some traction and they're really making a difference for healthcare providers. (16:06): That continues to be a really messy process to get a patient's data from a referral source, like a hospital, for example, out into the home health agency, or the hospice agency, by reducing the need to dual entry the patient information, so take it and then enter it into their EHR. Well, could that be automated? And the patient referral process, is there bandwidth for the organizations to take it on? And there's patient analytics around when the patient is discharged into the post-acute organization, what's the risk of re-hospitalization for that patient at any given moment in time? Hospitals love to know that, the payers love to know that, especially when value-based care arrangements are in place. So there's a lot of things to unpack and highlight and uncover there in that space, so that's one where we're doubling down and doing more and more all the time with vendors there. (17:01): I'll say that one of my most fascinating calls, and I've shared this several times over the last two years, one of my most fascinating provider conversations is talking with the intake manager within a home health agency or a skilled nursing facility, and just hearing what they have to do in order to receive a patient from one of their referral sources. So if they have eight referral sources, eight different health systems or other referral sources, they have to do eight different things depending on where that patient's coming from. And it's amazing what those patient intake managers do on a daily basis to feed their agency, their company, and provide ongoing business for them. (17:43): So we would love to identify things that would help clean some of that up and make things more automated, especially with how challenged all organizations are today with staffing, nurse staffing, and different things like that. So they need to be able to do more with less, be more efficient, more effective, and if technology can help with that, great, we'd love to call it out. Tim Smokoff (18:07): Yeah, I think you might've been sitting around our leadership table yesterday as we talked about our forward-looking strategy with your responses there. Those pain points are clear and evident, and it really is about driving efficiencies for our customers that allow them to spend more time providing patient care- Paul Hess (18:24): Right. Tim Smokoff (18:25): ... less time around trying to find information driving a better outcome, both for the patient, as well as the financials for the organizations themselves. Paul Hess (18:33): Right, absolutely. Tim Smokoff (18:35): So one last question. In your opinion, if you were to narrow it down to three things, what would be the three things organizations should focus on to improve the delivery of a better customer experience? Paul Hess (18:48): In general, see, we get more specific when we're working with vendors and how to help them improve, but in general, I would say this. Number one, how you sell and set expectations is the fountainhead of the customer experience, so how well you do that matters. And that means that, as a vendor, when you sell, you don't sell something to them that you know is not going to lead to success. You don't allow things to be cut out of the deal that are critical to the overall customer success and experience. (19:22): One of those that often is cut out is training. As a vendor, they should know roughly what type of training each organization receives, and they should not even make that an option to cut it out. Time and time again, we see vendors that have great products, great functionality, but because they allowed the training piece to get cut out, it wasn't set up correctly, and these organizations aren't able to take full advantage of the functionality that's been built, and they blame it on the vendor, the product itself, when we know, from an outsider's perspective, that it was actually the training that led to a lot of these problems that happen downstream from the sales process. So the fountainhead, paying particular attention to that is important, and being aware of the downstream effects that it has. And how you set expectations, not over-promising, under-delivering, that just sets up customers for disappointment and frustration, so that's number one. (20:17): Number two, how you communicate on an ongoing basis, that boils down to just how strong you are as a healthcare IT vendor, as a partner with your customers. Do your customers see you as a partner? Do you listen? A definition of success is a great relationship with good technology equals success in healthcare IT. Great relationship, good technology, and we see that over and over again played out, where if you have that great relationship, you have good customer account managers that are taking care of their customers, you have good support processes, tickets get addressed quickly and efficiently, and fully addressed, they're not closed before things are addressed, that all boils up into the communication, just ongoing communication, all those touch points. (21:12): And then, the third one would be how the vendor innovates and delivers on their technology. Is there a forward-looking path that these organizations have? Do they truly understand the market, the regulatory requirements, and how to innovate going forward, and be able to communicate out those roadmaps to their customers? And then, and this is probably even more important, is do they hit their timelines? When they say they're going to deliver a functionality, do they keep that promise that, by such and such a date, they roll it out? And they're hitting those on a consistent basis, so they're known for their development and their innovation. Those are the three things that stand out for the most successful healthcare IT vendors out there, they hit on those consistently. Tim Smokoff (21:59): Absolutely agree, and I appreciate you sharing all three of those. It's interesting, when you dig into the more negative feedback, the roots of that is always mis-set expectations, something doesn't work as advertised, or we didn't complete the training and provide support long-term in an effective way. And so often, that can be dealt with through that proper expectation setting, and by taking a true partnership approach with the customer and the vendor. 100% agree with that feedback. (22:34): So Paul, this has been a tremendous opportunity to sit and talk with you. We've worked with KLAS as a vendor relationship long-term, and you and your team have always been a tremendous source of insight. It's great to get unfiltered feedback as a vendor. I can tell you that, at MatrixCare, we take that feedback serious, it drives our focus areas, it drives our roadmap, it drives our areas of investment, and we find those insights across the six pillars that you described to be tremendously valuable for us. And we've also seen our customers, who also use KLAS, get a lot of value out of best-in-KLAS, best practices, comparisons to other vendors, and really how they drive and deploy their own systems. So it's been a really good partnership for us, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. Paul Hess (23:32): Well, Tim, it's been a pleasure. We've appreciated the work that we've done together to help improve the world's healthcare. We cherish these opportunities to work with vendors who are willing to listen, and put their customers first, and put their money where their mouth is, and listen, really, truly listen and engage, and identify these opportunities and dig into those and work through them. And with MatrixCare, I've found that to be the case over the years, that you guys listen, you want to improve and be better. (23:58): There's a lot of challenges that we're going through in post-acute in general, as healthcare providers, as healthcare IT vendors, regulatory requirements, staffing challenges, the transitions of care challenges that I mentioned earlier, and just interoperability in general, and so there's a lot of opportunities ahead for us, and the industry's going to require vendors that are willing to step up and help and be true partners with their healthcare providers. So I appreciate what MatrixCare has always done to try and listen to the customers, and strive to do better. I appreciate the time today. Thank you. Tim Smokoff (24:33): Yeah, thank you, and thank you to those listeners out there, and always appreciate your feedback. Speaker 1 (24:39): That concludes the latest episode of the Post-Acute Point of View podcast. We have a lot of guests and topics coming up that you won't want to miss, so be sure to subscribe. To learn more about MatrixCare and our solutions and services, visit You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you for listening. Be well, and we'll see you next time.

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