This article is part one of a three-part blog series with Dr. Michael McCoy.
We are thrilled to have Dr. Michael McCoy join the Truitt Health Advisory Team. Learn more about the skills and experience he brings to the team in this week’s blog post!
Can you share some background information about your industry experience? Which specific experiences or roles have been most impactful for you?
I graduated from medical school when I was 22, so I’ve been in the healthcare space for a long time. I’m an OB/GYN by background and delivered babies for 25 years. As I was doing that for the last many years at my practice, I was also involved in the technology side. Here in Atlanta, I was working at Gwinnett Medical Center, when one of the early agglomerations of healthcare hospitals, Promina came together. I was involved in some of the early work there and put an EHR in my office. Eventually I got more involved in the selection process for the hospital system and ultimately the people in the vendor space liked what I was doing and hired me to join them. I left the clinical practice after 25 years and got into the technology side of healthcare. Since then, I’ve worked with both large hospitals/enterprise EMR systems and OB/GYN-specific ambulatory office/practice software.
After I left, I was a consultant on the national stage. I was healthcare IT strategist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for a number of years. I was subsequently the CMIO for Catholic Health East, which is a faith-based organization that had hospitals from Maine all the way down to Florida. We put EHRs in 20 hospitals, so that’s a fairly large number to have to deal with governance, change management, and all the things that are involved from a systems perspective. How do you get physicians, nurses, and pharmacists to come together to collaborate to improve healthcare both from a delivery perspective and an outcomes perspective? How do you get everyone to work together as a team? Healthcare is not a solo sport but a lot of organizations still have a real problem with teamwork.
After I left that organization, I did consulting again and then joined the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) working for the department of Health & Human Services (HHS). I was the subject matter expert for interoperability and the unique health safety identifier work that ONC was doing. In that role, I reported directly to the National Coordinator, Karen DeSalvo, who became the acting Assistant Secretary for HHS as well. That was a great role for learning more about the federal government process and how bills become laws. I also got an inside look at the process of educating Senate and House staffers to help get such legislation put into place. Then there’s the arduous task of going from a law to actually implementable regulations and rules. It’s quite an interesting process and the “sausage-making process” is not for the faint of heart. That’s true across the spectrum with any kind of law that gets made, not just in healthcare.
During the last 15 years or so I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) International. I am a co-chair of their board and represent the HIMSS interest and RSNA. I’m a standards geek for helping with interoperability and getting EHR systems to talk to each other.
What expertise do you bring to the Truitt Health Advisory Team?
As you can tell, I have a variety of hats I’ve worn in the past. I have a good understanding of the federal space and a lot of the changes that are coming. For example, we’re shifting away from the current structure of “You see a patient and you get paid for seeing a patient. You do a procedure and you get paid for doing a procedure.” All of this is “piecework” because you’re getting paid for the stuff that you do. The government is making a shift so it will be paying for outcomes, or in other words, paying for value. It’s shifting from “sick care” to healthcare. Currently we don’t pay for health, we pay for sick. We pay for fixing sick rather than keeping people healthy, making good choices, and taking care of themselves.
One of the things I can help clients with is understanding the shift in payment models from current to future state. Part of what this requires is a change management culture shift for both the clinicians and the nurses who are delivering care. In the future, things are going to get paid for only if they’re a value-add. Organizations need to understand and provide a person-centered care approach where they engage with the patients, rather than dictating what they must do. Many patients want to have a voice in how their care is managed, and a person-centered approach allows them to do that. I can help people understand a person-centered approach and consumer engagement and understand how you need to look at new payment models so you’re doing things in a way that makes sense.
Federal government requires healthcare providers to look at health data that’s out on the Health Information Exchange. For example, let’s say you went to a lab a month ago and got lab work done. Today, you go to a doctor’s office and they order new lab work because they don’t look to see that the lab work has already been done. That office probably won’t get paid because they’re ordering tests that are duplicative and unnecessary. As a consumer, that’s a good thing. Why should you have to pay for lab work, X-rays, or imaging studies multiple times when you don’t need to? There are things that will come in from CMS that say “If you don’t go out and look to see if there’s existing data and you do something that’s duplicative, you won’t get paid.” There are a lot of things like this in a hospital setting so the executives and leadership need to understand what’s coming. They need to get onboard with it because it’ll impact their bottom line as well as their quality of care. I can add value by helping healthcare executives understand these important concepts like interoperability, culture change, and adhering to upcoming federal regulations.
I’m also very involved in the cybersecurity realm. I’m able to articulate some of the challenges that clinicians, hospitals, and care delivery systems have from the cyber hygiene and cybersecurity issues. I work as a consultant with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies about the threats that occur now, where they come from, and how they occur, so I can prepare hospitals for how to better understand how to prevent such challenges, how to mitigate risk, and how to have resilience when they are hit. Unfortunately, almost everyone has been the victim of a cyber attack of some sort. It happens, so everyone needs to be aware of the threats that exist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a physician or a hospital executive, everyone is at risk of a potential cyberattack. In Athens, GA recently, there was a major breach of an orthopaedic group. It ended up costing them millions of dollars between fines, lost business, etc. There are other physician offices that have literally closed their doors because they didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade their systems or pay the ransom. Cyberattacks can be extremely costly and difficult to bounce back from, so cybersecurity is something that needs to be on everyone’s mind.
[Look for part two of this three-part blog series next week!]