Partnering with customers leads to faster clinical innovations

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Tech Community.

 

Claire Bonaci 

You're watching the Microsoft U.S. health and life sciences, Confessions of health geeks podcast, a show that offers Industry Insight from the health geeks and data freaks of the US health and life sciences industry team. I'm your host, Claire Bonaci. On this episode, I sit down with my colleague J.C. Layton, to discuss hospital borne infections and how technology can be both an enabler and a hindrance when problem solving for healthcare.  Hi, JC and welcome to the podcast.

 

J.C. Layton 

Hey, thanks. I appreciate it Claire. I'm glad to be here.

 

Claire Bonaci 

Of course. So JC Can you just provide a little bit or a brief intro about who you are and what you do here at Microsoft?

 

J.C. Layton 

Yeah, sure, Claire. Thank you. So I'm JC Layton. And I've been at Microsoft for a little over three years now. And Previous to that I was in the partner community for over 20 years. And so my job at Microsoft, I love because I get a chance to work with not only IT leaders, but also business leaders as well. And my job is really to take Microsoft technologies and apply them to solving the business challenges of our customers.

 

Claire Bonaci 

Great. I love that. Thanks so much for being here, JC. So you know, and I'm sure all of our listeners know that every hospital is concerned about hospital borne infections, and really how to minimize them. And recently, you actually worked with a customer on this very issue. Do you mind just describing the background of that issue, issue and your experience?

 

J.C. Layton 

Yeah, Claire. So definitely, hospital borne infections are a problem for hospitals all around the world. This is not something that any hospital can escape. And the real challenges is that lives are at stake. And so hospital bourn infections can come from anywhere, it can be something that's airborne, it can come from an IV, where they deliver medications, think about a patient that is in the hospital for a very long time. These are all challenges that can affect and infect the patient. And thus, it's a very important focus area for hospitals, particularly ones that I work with, but also ones that you know, around the world,

 

Claire Bonaci 

we've seen this in a lot of the customers we work with. And I think obviously, as you said, this is a huge problem around the world. So I guess what was your experience with this? Did you have a customer bring this to your attention? And that's how you got involved? Or was this kind of a passion project of your own?

 

J.C. Layton 

That's really interesting, I think it's probably both, I get the great fortune of working at Microsoft have the opportunity as a strategist to work with all kinds of leaders inside of hospitals, not just IT, but doctors and nurses and caregivers and such. So it really started and quite frankly, you know, my approach is always to start with a question. What is it that the challenge? What is the challenge? What is the problem that the hospitals trying to solve? Or the system is trying to solve? So one evening over dinner with a doctor, one of my customers, I just asked the question, I said, What is the thing that bothers you the most? What is your biggest challenge at work? And he said, hospital borne infections. And I have to be honest, at that point, I was like, I've heard of them. But you know, tell me more. And quite frankly, I think really the the issue is, is that instead of saying, oh, wow, we have technology that can solve that problem. I had to dig in and ask a lot more questions. Oh, well, tell me about that. What does that mean? And you know, then I realized that people could die from hospital borne infections. And that's when the personal part came in. So it's wonderful to work for Microsoft and have the opportunity to deliver technology solutions. But when you can truly impact a caregiver or a care team's ability to help a patient and potentially save their life. It's really, really great. So in the end, what we did was we just kept having conversations, it was over that dinner. I mean, candidly, the dinner was only about that discussion. And then we agreed, why don't we get some other people on your leadership team involved? because it involves the whole hospital? And then why don't we have a two day workshop and talk about ways that we could solve that problem. And also make one other point, I think that technology can be a great enabler. But I also believe it can be a great inhibitor. So the whole time, as a technologist, I had to kind of suppress the urge to say, Well, let me tell you about this technology, or let me tell you about the cloud or how the cloud can help. It was really more about what is the bullseye for trying to solve this problem and get us to NO hospital borne infections. And in the end, I knew we could deliver a technology solution that would solve the problem, but we really had to get to the center of it first. And so questions and and whiteboarding sessions and where have they failed in the past? And where could we help out? Those are the kinds of things that made it very exciting, not only from a business perspective, but a personal perspective.

 

Claire Bonaci 

Well, that's really interesting. I love the point that you bring out that sometimes technology can be an inhibitor and I think that's something that especially working in Microsoft, we might not always realize, I think obviously our first thought is always technology or AI or this or that and really, really, it's about focusing on that problem and then focusing on the brainstorming and coming up with that solution. So do you always approach you know, these issues more from that standpoint, its just very unique from from all the people I've talked to at Microsoft.

 

J.C. Layton 

Yeah, I have to fight the urge, right? We work for the, to me, the greatest technology company on the planet, we can do a lot with our technologies. And it's wonderful to get all revved up and say, oh, I've got something that can solve this really critical problem. But and I'm speaking to myself, as well, as you know, anybody in technology, if we stay focused on what the outcome, the desired outcome is, and what the impact can be, then we can, you know, the way I look at it is we have the technology to solve the problem, there is no doubt in my mind, the cloud can do a lot of things to facilitate. But in the end, if we are not aligned with our customer, and don't know what we're aiming towards, and by the way, it's not just the outcome for the patient, this is what's so amazing about it, it's the outcome for their family. It's the outcome for the caregiver and the care team, how we can use technology to help them serve their patients better. And also, it's a financial outcome, its operational outcome, and in the end, it's the health of the business. And so that's what I think, particularly for me, and healthcare, makes it very unique, because there are so many recipients of the benefits, if we are aligned to the problem, and then deliver the the technology capability so to speak. So I have to fight the urge every day, but it's a lot more fun. Believe me, instead of watching somebody glaze over and go, Oh, okay, cloud and you know, whatever it is, here's how we're going to enable our your your physicians abilities to have more wisdom to solve a patient problem. I mean, that it gets me very excited. I'm sure you can tell I get excited about it. But it's it's really about solving the problem using the technology, not the other way around.

 

Claire Bonaci 

No, I love that. I mean, I feel like I need to be in some of these workshops. That sounds great. And if you don't mind sharing you, you might not be able to say too much. But what were some of the solutions that maybe you're not going to try, but that came up as a possible solution.

 

J.C. Layton 

Yeah, that's that's a great question. So when we decided that this was a problem that we thought technology could tackle, And oh, by the way, one of the things was, I asked the doctor, I said, Have you been able to come up with everything that you can try, you know, to solve the problem? And the great answer was no. And that's where we got our opportunity. So instead of having some kind of hypothesis, of how technology could solve the problem, we just knew it could like I said before, so what we did was we decided to get together with all kinds of leaders, innovation, quality, Chief, medical officer, chief nursing officer, all these types of folks, including IT IT leaders were there, too. But it was we had multiple ideas. Could we use IoT sensors in the room? Could we use video? Could we use photographs, you know, there were all kinds of possibilities. And so we said, bring all of your ideas. But at the end of the workshop, we're gonna decide on one that we're going to chase, we'll keep the others in reserves, but we're going to come to an agreement that we believe may be the fastest way. And this is important, the fastest way to fail, or the fastest way to exceed succeed is to pick one. And then what we would do is move very quickly to bring a technology solution to solve it, or try to solve it. And if it didn't work, we'd move on to the next. And that's the beauty of this type of challenge. The Pursuit never ends. So the idea is, is that as as long as we can agree that these could potentially work, and we knew the technology could deliver, then it was just a matter of walking our way through it. Now, unfortunately, COVID gotten our way a little bit. And, you know, we're still working through this. But it's, it's fun to know that there's kind of this never ending pursuit of how do we get to no hospital borne infections?

 

Claire Bonaci 

Yes, that journey, that journey that you talked about is so important. And I love just the fail fast mentality. Because really, I think we all say that we all say, oh, fail fast. And that's our goal. And that's our mission statement. But you're living it, you're doing it, which is it's so great to hear, in your opinion, JC since you've been so involved in this project, but also in many others in just health and life sciences in general. How do you see technology really changing healthcare in the future?

 

J.C. Layton 

Well, I will first say that health technology is changing healthcare right now. I mean, there's no doubt about it, the ability to bring AI and machine learning, and some of these other really, really advanced technologies, and to secure it effectively, all the data and everything. It's happening right now. I think in the future, it really goes back to what I said before, the pursuit is never over. We know particularly Microsoft that there is a lot in the pipeline of great new ideas and technologies that are coming. And I think, again, I think it goes all the way back to my original statement. There's going to be improvements in technology, and there's always going to be hospital borne infections, we're trying to get to zero. But, you know, that's a challenge we're going to be facing for a long time. So I think it's really making sure again, that we focus on what the problem is. Then bringing those technologies. In the end, I think it's going to be a lot about how we collect the data from the patient and the caregiver and marry those two things together. And then leverage technology to be that additional advisor, we have tremendous caregivers that have given their lives to understand how to heal us. And I do believe that technology has a very unique place, standing side by side with the care team. And offering additional wisdom, I mentioned that before these doctors, you know, the whole idea is not for technology to overtake the care team or the caregivers, wisdom or, or concepts, it's to be an addition or a helper to them. And I do believe in the end that will and now it will improve outcomes, and tremendously drive better impact for as I mentioned before patients and families and caregivers and even the business.

 

Claire Bonaci 

No, that is so true. I think what you just said, you know, technology really does save lives and the applicate, the right application of technology can really, really change the trajectory of someone's life. And this is just the epitome of what you're all taught what you're talking about. So I love that. And I think, you know, one thing that you've even mentioned to me in the past is really just that technology can can move as fast as you need it if that problem is critical enough. And I think we're seeing this with hospital borne infections, but with a lot of other problems that we're experiencing in healthcare. I mean, I think a great example was the pandemic, huge issue. And everyone came together, everyone worked very quickly to find a solution. So I love all the work that you're doing with this hospital system and many others. And thank you so much for being on the podcast.

 

J.C. Layton 

Yeah, yeah. My final comment to that clear, I totally agree with you is that technology can move at pace of the need, no no question about it. And in healthcare, that's so critical, because we have to continue, we have to continue helping the patients in the doctor. So thank you very much. I appreciate it.

 

Claire Bonaci 

Thank you all for listening. For more information visit our Microsoft Cloud for healthcare landing page linked below and check back soon for more content from the HLS industry team.

 

 

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