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HIStalk Interviews John Gobron, CEO, Aventura

May 19, 2014 Interviews No Comments

John Gobron is president and CEO of Aventura of Denver, CO.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

We were founded at Denver Health. We were built to fix and improve a problem called clinical work flow. In the Denver Health case, especially with respect to roaming desktops. In the process, we came up with some pretty neat ways to solve security problems and came up with some mobile innovations as well.

I’ve been in healthcare IT for 20 years. I helped build a company called Sentillion. I spent time with Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group in the UK and ran the healthcare vertical for Symantec.

 

What are the big issues in trying to balance clinician convenience, access to systems, IT security, and device standardization and setup?

The big challenges often come down to workflow. Ultimately, we’re trying to facilitate a system that improves patient care and does it largely in a digitized way.

If you go back 20 or more years, everything was paper. The physician-patient relationship was based on intimate eye-to-eye contact. The doctor wrote stuff down and still maintained eye contact, but that wasn’t perfect. 

We’ve tried to introduce computers, with a lot of success in some areas and less so in others. Innovations like CPOE tried to help with the mistakes that were being made largely through human error, like handwriting and things like that. But the problem is that computers tend to interrupt workflow, especially when it comes to a physician or a nurse treating a patient. 

We get in the middle and make the interactions faster and more intuitive. For all the great work computers do, they are fundamentally dumb instruments. They don’t know what to do until you tell them what to do. We provide what we call awareness to the computing experience. We try to know what the user wants to do and tell the computer that before the user actually interacts with the computer itself.

 

Who are your competitors?

We’re doing new stuff. We don’t have any directly line-of-sight competitors, but we have a lot of what I will call peripheral competitors.

The most notable is probably Imprivata on the single sign-on front. We’re often compared to the traditional space of access and identity management and you have Caradigm in there and Imprivata as well. Two big ones. On the virtualization side, we’re largely complementary to our partners like Citrix and VMware.

In the sense of awareness, we really don’t have anyone. We can provide user awareness and that’s largely thought of as a single sign-on. but we’re also providing location awareness, device awareness, patient awareness and a combination of those. There’s really not anyone in our direct line of sight.

 

What can you do with that information?

We create effectively an immediate and customized user experience for the doctor and nurse. Capture their badge or otherwise identify themselves to a machine. Because of who they are, where they are, and what they want to do, we custom-mold that desktop to say, the user might need this set of applications. They might need to be in this area of this application. We deliver it in generally four to six seconds.

 

You can do this with any major system, such as Epic, Cerner, and Meditech?

Yes. We’re 100 percent application agnostic. We’re really managing the desktop itself and then the applications on the desktop. We haven’t had an application we couldn’t interface with or a workflow we couldn’t solve. We’re pretty agnostic when it comes to what applications a doctor and a nurse might be using.

 

The earlier challenge was to get clinicians to use systems since that use was not mandatory. Now it’s mandatory in most cases, so instead they complain about the overhead required. Is that better or worse for the company?

That’s a very interesting way of saying it. It’s very accurate. In my life with Sentillion, we were largely dealing with a voluntary user population. The nurses today and yesterday were largely employed by the hospital and had to do what the hospital told them to do. Doctors weren’t employed.

Today, there’s still a mismatch and there’s acquisitions going on. But from a hospital perspective and even an outpatient perspective, they’re needing to use the EHR or risk not getting money or getting fined. It doesn’t fundamentally change the need to make it better because it’s not optimal.

But the way we go about it is different in that the days of, “We can save you some time, that’s great, let’s buy this system” are mostly in the past. The world in front of us, the world we live in now, is “show me the hard ROI.” If I’m going to buy something like your solution or anything like it, show me how you reduce my actual spending or increase my actual revenue into the hospital.

 

It must be tough with EMR optimization and mandatory regulatory work to convince people to look at your system in addition to everything else.

It is. Probably every vendor reading HIStalk probably has a similar perspective on this. We look at what’s important to the hospital we’re talking to, overlaid with whatever will bring the most amount of value. Then we have a good match, and if we don’t, we come back and talk to them at a later date.

 

Hospitals are interested in anything that can help them with Meaningful Use, integration acquisitions, or connecting with physician practices. Does Aventura’s product look more attractive with those issues?

Absolutely. That’s where we stand out. 

I mentioned awareness. A lot of the core measures go way beyond just getting into the application. That’s good, but that’s commoditized technology. The next generation is not just getting me to an app, but getting in the right place of that app, eliminating a lot of the clicks and menu choices and navigation that get me where I need to be in order to hit my Meaningful Use number, in order to hit my 60 percent CPOE or my core measures or things like that.

That’s where we’re looking to innovate and have been innovating, with respect to putting information up. We can help navigate to a patient record. We can put some information there that may assist with helping the hospital achieve their Meaningful Use numbers in particular.

When you think about acquisitions, you largely think about the drive in healthcare across America right now to move care outside of the four walls of the traditional hospital and out to an outpatient setting, or even ideally out to the home. That’s the ultimate mobility. Historically we saw mobility as a doctor and nurse going from room to room to room rounding or providing care or surgery. That happens in the inpatient workflow. But the outpatient workflow is where we as a health system or as an ecosystem are going to see some of the bigger financial savings and impact and obviously outcomes as well. People heal better faster and less expensively in their homes, in places of greater comfort. 

As healthcare looks to do that, people will still need to use the computer systems. They’re just going to be more mobile. That’s a really good place for us to innovate with the ability to go back and forth between desktops and mobile devices, whatever they may be. Still bringing access to the information, but doing it anywhere they want to be.

 

You’ve worked outside of the US and for big companies outside of healthcare. What is the most striking thing about healthcare right now?

I had a wonderful experience in the UK. I had moved there in 2008 to lead Sentillion’s European expansion. It was a privilege to learn about how healthcare is delivered in different parts of the world.

The striking similarity is that workflow, is workflow, is workflow no matter where you are. Clinicians in Birmingham, England see patients and use computers largely the same way as doctors and nurses in Birmingham, Alabama do. In socialized medicine countries, these systems are obviously less concerned with transactional billing, but the core focus of improving patient care is still the same, as are the core struggles of improving this workflow

 

Where do you see the company going in the next three to five years?

The excitement that I have, and that is shared by Aventura and our customers, is that we’re really onto something with respect to a platform called awareness. We can be aware of a user, their location, their device, and the patient they’re in front of.

But my favorite question when I wrap up meetings is, what else should we be aware of? What else could we be aware of to help you? Those discussions are fun to have and they help drive our innovation in the company.

At a high level, where we will be going is an expansion of our awareness platform, to be able to do more things to drive efficiency, security, all those good benefits into the clinical workflow.

 

Do you have any final thoughts?

I just wanted to say thanks for HIStalk. I’m a huge fan and I really appreciate the work that you do. It’s not only informative for people like myself, it’s fun to read. I helps foster a nice sense of  camaraderie in our industry and I’d just like to say thanks for that.

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