About Khal Rai

Khal Rai brings over 20 years of leadership experience to his role as President and CEO at SRS. He possesses a breadth of knowledge and expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors earned through a career that has spanned the globe. His passion for collaboration, strategic development, and delivering healthcare IT solutions that make it easier for medical professionals to deliver care while navigating the ever-changing healthcare industry, inspires and motivates his team, while positioning SRS Health clients for current and future success. Khal has a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

The Essential Elements of Value-based-care Success

For a medical practice to operate successfully, all its constituent parts need to fit together as seamlessly as the atoms in a molecule—because that’s what it takes to succeed in today’s changing healthcare environment.success-blog-image

In a water molecule, for example, the oxygen atom is balanced and supported by the push and pull of two hydrogen atoms. This simple structure nourishes all life on the planet. But remove one of the atoms and the molecule ceases to exist, breaking down into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen.

In much the same way, a medical practice is held together by the push and pull of different elemental forces. The doctor is supported by—but also has to balance the demands of—the clinical and financial sides of the practice. When this is done successfully, the result is a caregiving structure that nourishes the health of the patient. If the balance is lost, however, the practice begins to break apart, disrupting the equilibrium between the business of medicine and patient care.

Keeping this already precarious balance has become even more challenging with the shift to value-based medicine, which has altered the healthcare paradigm from doctor says/patient does to doctor/patient collaboration—adding another element to the healthcare molecule—the patient. Now, in addition to keeping up with the latest clinical developments and keeping the practice fiscally afloat, doctors have to find ways to bring the patient into the loop.

This year’s User Summit gave healthcare providers a forum for discussing what it takes to succeed in the evolving, value-based healthcare environment, and it gave us a chance to showcase the innovations we have developed to help you keep the right balance between the elements.

So how do we involve patients more deeply in the healthcare process? How do we make sure that they are informed and engaged with their care team, that they understand and comply with their care plan, and that they are financially supported in maintaining care?

For us at SRS Health, the challenge is to develop solutions that reduce the barriers between the patient and the practice. This means providing practices with tools that:

  • offer both speed and flexibility,
  • improve both the clinical and patient experience,
  • remove physician and clinical team distractions while still providing true mobility,
  • streamline the efficient collection of relevant data and corresponding intelligence at the point of care, and
  • address the healthcare consumer’s role in driving patient satisfaction and practice financial health.

In other words, finding practical innovations that support all of the elements of healthcare in achieving success.

Spring at SRS Brings New Growth

ceo-spring-blogThree months have passed since I took over the reins at SRS Health, and what I have enjoyed most over that time is sharing in our clients’ successes, as well as learning about the challenges they face, their experiences, and their visions for the future. So far this year, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of them on the phone and off traveling around the country to meet others in their practices or at conferences like ADAM, AAOS, AAOE, The OrthoForum, and HIMSS.

One recurring theme that has been a part of every conversation is the need to embrace change—to look forward, to anticipate, and to strive for improvement. Our mission is to help our clients do just that. We are excited to share the innovations SRS has been working on to help our clients excel at the practice and the business of medicine. Here are a few examples:

SRS Health launches the first end-to-end integrated clinical and financial solution suite for high-performance enterprise practices

I am pleased to announce that SRS recently debuted a unique and powerful new addition to our end-to-end software suite that leverages both clinical and financial expertise. What makes this solution unique is the integration that addresses true episodic care. SRS’ roots in the orthopaedic market combined with the new financial management capabilities offers a seamless set of tools for enhancing workflows, adapting to regulatory changes, adopting risk-based models, managing the increase in patient economic responsibility, and expanding programs in the employer market.

The Opioid Crisis and Drug Monitoring

As you know, the opioid crisis has become a top-of-mind political, social, and policy challenge. SRS has committed to joining the fight by being the first specialty EHR to offer PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program) checking and documentation integrated within the prescribing workflow—delivering a 67% time savings over current methods. More than 40 states already have PDMP mandates and it won’t be long before they all do. This is a great step in keeping our clients ahead of the curve.

Improving Our Clients’ Experience

While working on innovation, we haven’t forgotten about our clients’ day-to-day experience. To ensure their success, we have been formalizing the structure of the SRS Client Success Program. This year we’ve launched the Client Success Training Program and the Features Improvement Team. In addition, we have increased our clients’ ability to integrate with registries, HIEs, and more. These programs ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to fully leverage their HCIT solutions, the facility to share knowledge across their organization, and the connections to exchange information with optimal efficiency.

Medicine continues to put more and more demands on physicians, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals, and we’re excited that our integrated solutions suite optimizes performance and care before, during, and after the patient encounter. Our goal is to help our clients by taking care of the business of medicine, so they can focus on what matters most—their patients.

Getting Down to Business

“Be part of something greater than myself”—that’s what inspired my career in healthcare technology more than 20 years ago, and it’s what still drives me as I take the helm as CEO of SRS Health. As we close out the first month of the new year, I’m happy to say that the SRS team is devoted to the same goal: we are continuing to develop the solutions, services, and support that our clients need to succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s healthcare landscape.

Outcomes. Value Based Care. MACRA/MIPS. Yes, the healthcare world is changing at a rapid pace, and part of our mandate is to keep clients up tokhal-blog date on changes in technology as well as in regulations. But our larger concern is to preserve the one thing that has not changed—the passion that inspires individuals to enter medicine in the first place. We cannot allow technology and government requirements to diminish that passion, or to degrade the experience of physicians, clinicians, or patients. The SRS EHR was originally developed as an alternative to point-and-click technology that interfered with the doctor-patient relationship, and SRS promises to continue to protect our doctors’ ability to do what they do best.

How? First, by knowing our clients’ patient-care and practice goals, and then by collaborating with them and our partners to create intelligent, innovative solutions with the flexibility to fit both those blazing new trails in value-based care, and those that are just starting out. The challenge is to succeed not just at the practice of medicine, but also at the increasingly complicated business of medicine. At SRS, we believe your healthcare technology should help you do both. It should be simple, practical, and easy to use—it should take care of business so that you can take care of patients.

My experience in healthcare and frequent conversations with clients have helped me understand the challenges facing physicians and practices today. Rest assured that I will sustain SRS’ commitment to ensuring that our clients are well-informed and well-prepared to face today’s and tomorrow’s marketplace challenges: we will continue to develop core and partner solutions, services, and support that ensure that doctors can focus on what matters most.

I look forward to my new role at SRS, to further discussions about the challenges facing healthcare today, and to meeting you at an upcoming industry event!

Will Robots Replace Healthcare Providers?

robot-blogLeveraging interpretive intelligence in clinical workflows

Automation has been making human workers superfluous for centuries, but until recently, workers whose jobs required high-level cognitive skills have been able to rest easy, confident no machine could possibly replace them when it came to making nuanced decisions based on the evaluation of complicated, sometimes contradictory data.

But that was before Artificial Intelligence (AI) came along, stepping out of the pages of science fiction and into our daily lives. It now seems possible — even probable — machines will replace many mid-level knowledge workers and the question arises whether someday robots will replace doctors and nurses.

It’s a provocative question, certainly, but not the most interesting one facing our industry. A more critical question is will the healthcare ecosystem — the vendors and the solution providers — be able to survive without AI? I ask this because I believe doctors and healthcare administrators will increasingly demand answers to questions, and solutions to the challenges, that are difficult, if not impossible, to solve without the aid of AI-driven solutions.

These questions will range from practical issues of practice management to vital questions of patients’ health. For example:

  • How much will it cost to treat this patient?
  • How much and how fast will I get paid?
  • Is medication or surgery the best treatment option for this particular patient?
  • Where and/or when should I schedule this surgery?
  • When will this patient be able to return to his/her normal routine?

Some of these, of course, are the perennial questions that have always faced healthcare practitioners, but the truth is recent changes in technology have made innovative solutions possible in a way never before imaginable. For example, all kinds of data are now readily available in consumable (discrete) forms — from PHI to financials to protocols — and storing and managing this data is getting cheaper every day.

Additionally, healthcare providers are beginning to understand the shift from service to value-based care and are seeing how it can work for them, both clinically and financially. Finally, the healthcare practitioners themselves are changing: computer- and technology-savvy clinicians who got their medical education and training in the 1990s and early 2000s (the so-called Generation X and Y) are now entering into leadership positions where they can affect change.

In other words, there is both a greater supply of data than ever before and a greater demand for it. However, this demand isn’t simply for large data-dumps of undigested information. What’s necessary is for healthcare providers and administrators to have the critical data they need, and only the data they need, when and where and in the form they need it. This is where AI can help make critical decisions about amalgamating and filtering data.

There’s enormous potential for AI (or “smart solutions”) to optimize clinical protocols by drawing on a huge pool of evidence-based results. As we move toward a value-based environment, AI will be increasingly necessary to proactively and dynamically manage patient outcomes. This, in turn, will optimize the treatment experience, leading to greater patient engagement — and this greater continuity of care will promote both healthier patients and healthier practices. Clinicians will also gain insights into how to manage risks, which leads to lower costs and better margins.

Will robots replace healthcare providers? It seems unlikely, but care teams will start to leverage interpretive intelligence in daily clinical workflow. Machine learning, along with AI, will become an integral part of the healthcare mix because the vast resources of critical data will only be truly available when clinicians have tools to track real-time data embedded in their daily workflows resulting in better patient care at a lower cost.

As seen in Health IT Outcomes.

The Year’s Innovations – Wrap-up & What’s to Come!

2017-lightbulbsDepending on your point of view, 2016 was either a year to remember, or one to forget—just look at the nominations for word of the year. Pundits have proposed everything from “surreal” (Merriam-Webster’s) to “post-truth” (Oxford Dictionaries) to “unhinged” (NPR’s books editor Petra Mayer). Which is just to say, it was a year when conventional expectations were overthrown. And 2017 promises to be just as full of surprises.

For all the uncertainty, though, some trends seem sure to continue, at least in healthcare. The movement toward value-based payment is unlikely to reverse itself, which means that the optimum long-term strategy for medical practices remains the same as last year—cut costs by increasing efficiency, maximize patient base by identifying and standardizing successful treatment approaches, and stay limber by not getting locked into a cumbersome, inflexible software system.

Over the years, we have worked closely with our clients to learn what they needed from us, and to gain the sort of specialty-specific expertise that ensures that our solutions are designed around our clients’ workflows, rather expecting them to tailor their workflows to our design.

This past year, however, has been particularly transformative. We have made a quantum leap forward by upgrading our EHR into something far more—an intelligent, data-focused solution that responds to today’s industry challenges and lays a solid but flexible groundwork for the future. It’s a unique, best-of-breed, specialty-focused approach that gives users the power to define and collect whatever data points are relevant to their success while still maintaining their preferred clinical workflow options.

What we have achieved so far – 2016 recap

We entered last year determined to expand our physician-centric approach to include all stakeholders in the outpatient healthcare delivery system. Because we put our clients’ requirements first, we had to take a fresh look at what their needs actually were in this changing landscape. The biggest need? Tools to capture the data they wanted, but only that data, without anything unnecessary that would distract from their primary focus. (Click here to read my other post about how we do data differently.) We realized that, to meet those needs, we had to transform our offering into more than just an EHR.

We achieved this by creating a  connected software system that lets practices distribute the data-collection process over the entire treatment encounter—before, during, and after the patient visit—in whatever way is most efficient and sensible for them. Here is what we have delivered:

  • Flexible Data Platform (FDP) – Discrete data collection and reporting, free from a forced template-based environment.
  • Smart Workflows (SWF) – Guided workflow to help practices optimize their daily schedules by letting them determine who does what best, where and when.
  • Patient engagement platform – A patient-portal solution that seamlessly engages the patient pre-visit. Success is measured by higher patient compliance, lower check-in costs to practices, and greater patient engagement in their own health post-patient visit.
  • Interoperability – An Application Program Interface (API) that allows for efficient data exchange between systems, and that gives practices the flexibility to choose the best solution to any given problem (e.g., clinical, financial) without sacrificing cost and/or productivity.

What’s next? – Even more data!

We have already laid the foundation for what is required today and tomorrow. The next step is to ensure that we maximize the value of what we offer by providing the following additions to fulfill our vision:

  • Regulatory compliance – Prepare clients to understand, comply, and succeed while retaining productivity and efficiency focus (e.g., MU / MIPS, AMC, PQRS reporting).
  • Outcomes – Invest in solutions and technologies to help practices drive, improve, and document clinical outcomes to improve patient care and increase reimbursements
  • Data and AI – Continue to optimize SRS’s recently released SWF and FDP solutions to leverage data and artificial intelligence to optimize clinical workflows.

We understand that no two practices are alike—they all have different rates and style of data collection. One practice may need to automate everything immediately, while another may only automate elements that will drive down costs, and decide to keep other processes manual. Our solution is designed with this level of flexibility in mind—to satisfy each practice’s requirements for today while having the functionality to support their evolving needs in the future.

Wrapping it up

The underlying SRS strategy is a physician-centric approach we call “practical innovation.” We are more than just a solutions vendor . . . we focus on finding a solution to the specific challenges facing specialists. We partner with practices to solve their actual business problems—we help them stay independent, drive revenue growth, lower costs, stay compliant with regulations, and demonstrate clinical quality.

If you’re looking for a partner who will really listen to you and understand your needs, who will help engage your patients and produce better clinical outcomes, who will keep your practice competitive in a changing environment, then SRS is your partner of choice—for today, and for whatever unpredictable tomorrow awaits us down the road.

Data Done Differently

data-funnelAs I mentioned in my previous post, The Truth Is Stranger Than Friction, some physicians are so dissatisfied with their EHRs that they wish they could return to the days of paper charts. The main culprit is the data collection process, which causes friction between doctors and patients. I argued that workflows should, first of all, adapt to each doctor’s style so that doctors can concentrate on patients rather than technology, and, second, enable seamless data collection during patient interactions so that doctors don’t waste time recording data later. Traditionally, EHRs have been vendor-led in how they were built rather than being designed around how clients wanted to use them.

The role of an HCIT vendor is to understand its clients’ and prospects’ requirements. This step is often overlooked. We are seeing huge dissatisfaction in practices’ experiences with their current EHR solution. This can be seen with the impact these solutions have on the doctor-patient relationship; many practices have seen a reduction in the amount of face-to-face time with patients, as well as a decrease in the number of patients they can see.

According to a recent Medscape study, 45% of patients made complaints either occasionally or frequently about lack of eye contact, excessive questions, or providers focusing more on the equipment than the exam. On top of that, a recent article on Healthcare Scene reinforces that doctors are frustrated by using EHRs because they don’t match their workflows, feel clunky, and require too much time for documentation. The article goes on to say that these frustrations lead to both physician burnout and a decrease in EHR use.

However, is technology the culprit? No. I believe these problems are not a reflection on the technology. We see in other industries how technology has been optimized to improve business operations and improve customer satisfaction. I would argue that the fundamental problem with EHRs is a lack of understanding of what challenges practices face, and how to accommodate and plan for both today and tomorrow’s needs. This lack of understanding usually results in a poor implementation plan that is set up to fail from day one. Unfortunately, with the move toward a valued-based model, this misunderstanding is likely to cause even more problems.

What is needed is not only a way to capture and share relevant data, but a way to do this without disrupting the physician’s workflow. This is especially important for specialty practices with a high-volume of patients. Workflows should be personalized so they fit around the physician’s way of working rather than interfering with it, and a crucial part of this is cutting out the clutter and showing only relevant information as defined by the physician and practice.

Our team’s philosophy has always been to put the clients’ requirements first in everything we do. We work closely with clients to understand their workflow, and then we provide a solution that improves their operations in a way that makes sense to them. Our years of experience in providing best-of-breed specialty solutions to ambulatory practices has given us a strong appreciation of the importance of designing an agile solution that effectively handles a high-volume patient intake and put through while improving practices’ bottom line.

When it comes to data, we feel just as strongly, if not more so! We want to enable seamless data collection during patient interactions, so that doctors are not spending hours recording data later. We want to empower practices to determine who should capture the data they want, when and how they want, in the context of patient encounter. This means providing a flexible solution that is future-proof, leveraging mobile platforms and predictive technologies, while incorporating Outcomes and Analytics that not only keep up with busy specialists, but actually help move them forward.

That is what we mean by data done differently.

Frictionless Product Delivery

upgradeWhat if I told you that software deployment could be simple? You’d likely accuse me of smuggling Kahlua into my morning coffee. It seems like only yesterday that installations required CDs and that every workstation needed hands-on attention. Once you got to a particular unit, you would be greeted with an array of screens and prompts that could conceivably require hours of monitoring. Allow me to assure you that those days are over!

The term “innovation” is usually applied only to product development, but at SRS, we have pushed this approach to all facets of what we do, including procedures and processes. One of our many innovations this year has been the incorporation of a software deployment tool, which silently installs applications without user interaction.

While I would love to take all of the credit for this major advancement, I can’t. We first heard about it during our IT Round Table collaboration session at our User Summit last year when we were discussing the tools IT professionals use for software, patches, and file deployments across their infrastructure.  All were pleasantly surprised by the ease of use, consistency, reliability, and advanced options offered by this software deployment tool, and they all agreed that it was much more reliable than Group Policy deployments and other well-known software deployment tools on the market. We took this feedback and did our homework.

How does this Software Deployment Tool benefit you?

  • Quick and easy deployments – only one resource needed to create and deploy a package across multiple sites without any user interaction
  • Deployments scheduled at your convenience
  • Detailed report provided in real time during and after the deployment is completed
  • No prior technical knowledge required

In some cases, the workstation deployment time of an SRS upgrade has been reduced from 3.5 hours to 20 minutes. That is an outstanding 90% improvement! A simple adjustment to your process can have a dramatic impact on both the time and cost spent in the deployment process.

You must be wondering, “There has to be a catch!” I assure you, there isn’t! Perhaps the best part is that there’s no need to review a complex manual. At SRS, we provide training and testing, and have confirmed that non-technical users can configure the deployment and re-use it without our assistance—it’s that easy!

Whether your focus is software development or deployment, or sales or marketing, innovation designed to remove friction will always lead to increased efficiencies and better results!