Pioneering the Future of Healthcare through Tech Partnerships

Health System Challenges: How a Strategic Partnership Between Tech and Care is Transforming an Industry

Welcome to an insightful conversation where Chitra Nawbatt of General Catalyst sits down with two prominent figures in the healthcare and technology sectors: Dr. Bruce Meyer, President of Jefferson Health, and our very own Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, CEO of Commure.

Dive into their discussion to understand the significance of the strategic partnership between Jefferson Health and Commure. Learn about the transformative potential of this collaboration in streamlining health technology platforms, bridging data fragmentation, and enhancing patient care. Their dialogue provides a deep dive into current health system challenges and how technology can serve as a pivotal solution.

Watch the video below or read the full transcript to explore the vision, mutual goals, and the roadmap they envision for the future of healthcare.

Uniting Tech & Care: A Deep Dive with Industry Leaders

Continue reading for the full transcript.

Chitra Nawbatt:
Hi, I’m Chitra Nawbatt with General Catalyst.

Today we’re joined by Doctor Bruce Meyer, President of Jefferson Health, and Doctor Ashwini Zenooz, CEO of Commure. Bruce, Ash, welcome.

Today is an important day for the both of you, Jefferson and Commure, signing a critical strategic partnership. Tell us about it.

Dr. Bruce Meyer:
Well, for us it really a critical step in establishing a tech platform that is singular for us, that allows us to attach all of our technology to a singular platform that enables ease of use and ease of management of patients, of our staff, and of new companies that come in to join us in our journey on health assurance.

Ash, your perspective?

Dr. Ashwini Zenooz:
You know, I mean, we’re here at HLTH today. So what I’m seeing around me, Chitra, is a lot of innovation and that’s great. I think healthcare definitely needs — I don’t know if you agree, but I think you do, Bruce — we definitely need responsible innovation. And especially in this evolving landscape where you have digital care, in-person care, hybrid care, you need lots more innovation to bring these together.

But what we’ve been seeing at Commure, and the reason that we exist today, is because we see that all this innovation — while it’s great — causes mass data fragmentation and puts the onus of bringing all of these different parts together on health systems. And individual health systems have to then, you know, attach, integrate, bring all the data together to make it useful.

And so this partnership allows us to collaborate and bring Commure, which is a universal platform, and it provides the common infrastructure and the architecture for, you know, really bringing all of this data together and making it more valuable and allowing not only Jefferson, but Jefferson plus all of these other innovators, to come together to bring new solutions to the market that are meaningful.

At the end of the day, really, Jefferson providers, regardless of where the data is coming from on their patients, have it all accessible at the point of care. So that they really know their consumers, their patients, whether they’re providing it virtual, whether it’s in person or healthcare at home, or really anywhere that care is being provided. And I think that’s the benefit of a platform and radical collaboration with the health system.

How do you think about the barriers? And Ash, for you, for your previous experiences of the VA, being in large technology companies serving different constituents in the healthcare industry, how do you think about the barriers and how this partnership can address some of those barriers at scale?

Dr. Zenooz:
Yeah, I think the barriers are, like I said, there’s a lot of data fragmentation because you have so much innovation. Just this year alone, I think there’s been about $20 billion that’s been invested by venture capital into digital health companies, and that’s fabulous. I think that’s great. Hopefully that means more access for patients, you know, building lots of different ways for people to get care. But at the end of the day, I say this many times — you can only go to your Zoom dentist so many times before you have to walk in the door and get a root canal or a cleaning. And that means data has to transfer back and forth. And that’s really a simplistic way to look at it, but you really — the linchpin of all of this is the health system that’s providing the sickest care, that’s providing well care, that’s really the transient connecting the dots. And so if you have fragmentation and barriers where you’re bringing, bringing and connecting the dots, the one that suffers is the consumer and the patient at the end. And you don’t want that.

And so working and collaborating together to kind of remove the technology barriers, removing any sort of organizational barriers with the patient in mind, at the end of the day is the best case for all of the things that we’re all working towards in the health assurance network.

Dr. Meyer:
I think sometimes we talk about access as like anybody can get an appointment to come in and see anybody at any time, but access is really much, much more than that. It’s about getting care where you need it, when you need it, and when your care provider has all the information that they need.

One of the huge barriers that we see for patients and families is getting test results, getting imaging results, getting procedural results from one system, from one office to another office, so that when you’re trying to get holistic care of your whole problem, you’ve got to gather stuff from four, five, six, seven different places and the onus is either on you or on your provider to go gather all that stuff to get it together.

I think what we’re tremendously excited about, and this is what I love about working with Ash, is that we come from the same place as a provider. What you want is you want all that information at your fingertips, at the moment that you were seeing the patient, whether that’s in a virtual environment, whether that’s in their home environment or whether that’s in an office environment or an inpatient environment. So I know everything that I need to know about the patient so that I can make easy decisions, quick decisions that are beneficial to the patient rather than saying, “Hey, come back and see me in a week after you’ve gathered all your imaging results, and I go get your laboratory results from so and so, and I can get an operative note from Doctor So and So, and then we can figure out what to do.” All that does is create incredible anxiety for patients and families.

What I’m incredibly excited about with working with Commure, and the portfolio companies that are attached to Commure, is it provides all of that data instantaneously. And so when you come to see me once, I can do all of those things at the same time, I can relieve anxiety — which is a huge part of the barriers to care in this country — and I can create a plan for people so that they can actually, you know, execute on that plan and have a better quality of life.

Bruce, how did you know that it wasn’t another shiny object? Because Ash talked about this earlier $20 billion being spent every year in new digital startups, health systems evaluate and look at hundreds, literally hundreds, more than 200 sometimes, of different entrepreneurial companies coming in, whether they’re data, tech companies, whatever, in whatever category.

How do you suss out the shiny, the noise, in terms of landing with Commure and having anchored values alignment?

Dr. Meyer:
Well, I think it really starts with a shared vision of what the future ought to look like. And then it goes on to, “What are the problems that need to be solved,” as opposed to, “Here’s a solution that’s in search of a problem.” Because a lot of what you’re describing is people who come up with solutions, and then we have to figure out how it applies to the problem we want to solve.

What we’re doing together is saying, “These are the problems we need solved. Let’s create the platform that allows us to solve those problems.” And then it means that the efficiency of the effort and time and human capital that we commit — beyond the billions of dollars that folks are committing — really becomes value that creates a return on that investment. Because a lot of the problem with the shiny object is it’s really hard to figure out how it actually eventuates in something that’s valuable to a patient, or to a care provider, or to a system. In what we’re doing together, we start with the premise of, “What is the value that we’re going to create? Alright then, let’s go create that value.” It’s about creating a true partnership, not a vendor-vendee relationship of “pay me for this thing that we’ve made.” This is about saying, “We’re partners in trying to solve this problem.”

And of the code development aspect that you talked about, what do you think in terms of capability- and competency-building that you’ll be able to learn from each other or co-create in each other’s organizations?

Dr. Zenooz:
We are a technology company at our core — a healthcare technology company, but technology at our core — so we really need the clinicians, the providers, the people inside of the health system to help us build more intelligent workflows. We can’t do it without the clinicians and the people on the other side, because otherwise it’s a technology that’s looking for a problem — just what we talked about. So we can’t build out, uh, all of the valuable not only clinical workflows, but efficiency workflows for the health system, bridging those efficiencies to the billing and payment workflows. All of them have to be continuous.

You know, a lot of times you think about an EHR or some other system as just a building tool, but really think about it when you go to a health system or healthcare, you know, place where you get your care, nobody wants to think about the bill coming, you know, three months later and not understanding what that is for, right? If you kind of create all of that together to say, “Don’t worry, this is covered for you,” or you know that this is going to cost you $10 and there’s a transparency, it just creates a much better system for both the people on the providing side of the care and also for the people getting the care.

So we couldn’t build any of that without the systems working and collaborating with us.

Dr. Meyer:
And I think as a provider, it is sort of the flip side. We see the frustration both on the providers who are spending a lot of time doing wasteful effort that’s just, you know — every problem that we have, we tend to throw more and more human beings at. What we’re working on is saying, “Let’s throw some technology at that,” and so freeing the human beings up to do the human interaction that actually has value add to outcomes for patients and families.

And so, you know, the secondary part of that is that $20 billion is coming from somewhere. It’s actually not coming from health systems. Margins for health systems are squeezed and squeezed and squeezed harder and harder over time, and COVID has actually made that even more complicated.

And so the idea that a health system would have that kind of billions of dollars to invest in that core infrastructure — no individual health system can do it. We need a partner to be able to invest and so together we kind of fill gaps for each other. But we have a shared vision of what we want to create together.

Bruce, Ash, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Meyer:
Truly a pleasure!

Dr. Zenooz:
Thank you so much.