Guillaume Castel, MBA is CEO of PerfectServe of Knoxville, TN.
Tell me about yourself and the company.
I’ve been with PerfectServe two and a half years. We offer clinical communication collaboration software. We have put three main assets together covering optimized scheduling, clinical communication, and patient engagement. We believe that putting the three capabilities together three years ago is what the market needed to provide collaboration at scale the right way. Prior to PerfectServe. I spent time as an executive in a health system and then a few years with The Advisory Board Company, which was an amazing experience. I grew up in IBM and Cisco Systems.
How are health systems using your platform creatively to address clinician burnout?
This is a bit of an overused term that has lost a bit of its integrity, but we have been in a number of discussions with clients of all sizes about helping with the most important issue that health systems face today, which is to find good talent, retain them, and help them provide care for their patients. We help in a number of ways, but the most practical is probably through our scheduling capabilities. A fair, balanced schedule leads to a better work-life balance and a better disposition for clinicians to provide good care to patients.
We allow administrators and practice leaders to understand who has been on call more than others and who hasn’t received the schedule they wanted in the last 3-4 weeks and therefore is likely to be disappointed and at a high risk of burnout. We allow for that data and analytics piece to be available to the majority of our clients. We also do spot surveys for users of our technologies to say, are you happy or not happy today? We try to balance that in contrast that with the reality that is showing up in the data. We’ve been involved in not just diagnosing burnout, but also predicting it.
Your competitors Voalte and Vocera have ended up being owned by huge medical equipment companies. What drove that?
First, I have congratulated the Vocera team for their news last week. Vocera is a high-quality company, and I’m happy to be collaborating with them on a number of contracts, clients, and locations.
A great deal of consolidation is happening. You’ve seen it in our space, and it’s happening in other spaces. Clients want to deal with enterprise-grade vendors. There’s this connectivity around patient care that stays in place and goes occasionally past the communication lens. What some are trying to do is connecting medical device with clinical workflow, which makes good sense. People have wanted to do that with beds for a long time. I suppose they are trying to connect it with other areas of the care continuum.
We believed that we had the right thesis three years ago. We believed and continue to be a strong proponent of the fact that collaboration at scale, no matter the care setting, is what is going to win the day. For that to be successful, you have to have intelligent scheduling. You have to have cloud-based, rules-based clinical communications. You have to have the ability to engage with patients wherever they are. We know that care has moved from mostly being inside the hospital to being in the outpatient setting, the ambulatory network, to now increasingly the physician’s office. More and more we are seeing that care is going to be done at home. We’re focused on ensuring that we equip and help all of our clients with the ability to seamlessly deliver good collaboration and good communication among their care teams, regardless of the care setting.
You told me last time we talked that your goal was to make acquisitions where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As someone who has done that, how hard is it to find complementary offerings, figure out how they fit, and then actually acquire a company? [note: PerfectServe announced the day after this conversation that it had acquired anesthesia staff case assignment software vendor AnesthesiaGo].
The hardest part by far is to have the right pieces. I can tell you that I’m grateful for the thoughtfulness we put into thinking about what pieces to put together. The second piece is integration, which is something that people don’t want to talk about a lot. It’s a lot more exciting to talk about deal terms and multiples, but the reality is you get true value by integrating the pieces properly.
In our case, it has taken us at least 18 months to get to a place where we could start to see the equation equal or exceed “one plus one equals two.” Now we are far in excess of that, and I think our clients see it. We are continuing to be focused on messages getting to the right person, care going faster, care providers finding happiness again, and being an element at the disposal of large health systems all the way down to small physician groups to allow them to gain productivity and anticipate the next phase of care delivery changes. We’re very happy that we made the acquisitions three years ago. It has taken real work to get them to work in a way that made a difference for our clients.
How do you see the company responding to market demand for remote patient monitoring and chronic condition management?
The way your platforms are architected will either help you be flexible and go beyond where you shine — either inside the hospital or in the ambulatory network — into the patient’s home, or not. In our case, our premise was to be present across the continuum. We had that ability to have a technology that was flexible enough to branch into areas that we weren’t known for. Our PFC, Patient and Family Communication offering, was put in a bright light during the early stages of COVID, where we engaged with patients wherever they were. We helped health systems deal with an onslaught of patients who were in the parking lots waiting to be seen because they thought they had COVID. I’m simplifying a situation that was dire, confused, and tricky for health systems to manage.
What we believe now is that it was easy for folks to say that telehealth really jumped through that period. Yes, virtual care visits increased. They’ve come back down a little bit, but we’ve made a lot of progress, all of us, in allowing care providers to do virtual visits and care delivery with patients wherever they are. That is good progress for our clients and good progress for society.
What we believe is happening now is that virtual care is just one aspect of changing the way care is being provided. Increasingly sophisticated and innovative health systems will want to actually touch patients in their homes to the extent possible. If there isn’t a reason for someone who is not well to get in the car and go back into the emergency room, the person should stay home. The health system and the care provider should be able to serve them and care for them in the safety and quality of their homes.
Remote patient monitoring — and it goes beyond that to the ability to do remote exams — is going to be core to the next level of delivery. We are deeply embedded in continuing to ensure that communications flow naturally with that new care model. It’s not just about engaging patients, it’s about ensuring that the engagement is routed properly, that care teams are aware of the feedback loop, and that actions are being triggered and taken. That’s what good care looks like. It’s much more than just a bunch of solutions that are solving very small problems.
How do you see the industry and the company changing in the next 3-4 years?
We are committed to making certain that we have a very direct impact on accelerating speed to care. Everything we do at the end of the day is in a search to allow our clients to accelerate the way they provide care and improve the care they deliver to their patients. Full stop. There are adjacencies that we are very interested in that fit into that. We want collaboration among care teams to be increasingly more intuitive. We continue to believe that schedules and the routing of messages to the right person using the right channel in any care setting and at home is a differentiator.
We know that we’re having a good month when usage of our platforms is up. We track this religiously because it tends to be a good indicator. There are areas that we continue to track pretty closely. Extensions of our capabilities and our scheduling suite of products. Extension of our capabilities and our ability to engage with patients differently. Extension of our capabilities with our core clinical communication products, which could include the ability to track devices that are being delivered at patient’s homes so that we can enable this remote patient exam paradigm that is upon us. We are looking at a ton of stuff.
We are excited about where we are. We are grateful to have patient investors who like what we do and respect what we do, and we’ve done very well with it.