B.J. Boyle, Senior Vice President, Product & Strategy, Acute and Payer Markets

As the Senior Vice President, Product & Strategy, Acute and Payer Markets at PointClickCare, B.J. Boyle’s mission is to unveil opportunities for truly integrated care coordination at every point in the patient journey. In his role, B.J. is responsible for leading a team that is focused on enabling hospitals, health systems, and their long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) partners to better communicate, collaborate, and share critical patient data.

In this Vision Series interview, B.J. shares his vision for a health care system that is truly equipped to serve the aging population in North America and beyond. He discusses the timeline, technology and tactics required to achieve it, as well as the challenges that must be overcome in order to attain the highest level of coordinated care across all settings. 

If you could describe your vision for a health care system that truly is equipped to serve the aging population in America, what does that look like to you?

B.J. Boyle: We started with the easy questions upfront here! [Laughs] I think that this [topic] has been brought to the forefront even further by the pandemic and what we’ve been dealing with the last 12 months. But ultimately — I’ll include aging and all vulnerable populations — if we think about the aging population in particular, I think the expectation should be that I’m receiving the highest possible care that’s coordinated, and orchestrated, regardless of what setting I’m in. I think that we are all going to want to age at home as long as we possibly can.

I think that if that population has the need to receive services, whether it’s at the hospital or at a skilled nursing or rehab center or beyond, that those settings of the future need to foster collaboration between caregivers. I have my PCP or I have my doctor who helps with the procedure and the surgery at the hospital, and we shouldn’t be having blind spots of what was going on once I check in to the skilled nursing center and when I am discharged to my home.

I think the really interesting thing about the future is, not only do I want to stay at home, but I think we’re going to have a more active family than ever before, too. I think there are going to be expectations that I don’t necessarily just have to pick up the phone and hope the nurse answers and tells me what’s going on. [We’ll rely on] data and that information at my fingertips to make decisions.

Technology has enabled that. Throughout the pandemic, people who weren’t using technology for those types of communications now have had to.

They figured it out. For years, there was no way that my mom or dad could have done a telehealth visit. Guess what — they’re doing it all the time now.

How far away do you think we are from reaching that vision where things are truly coordinated and people have access to all that information that they need?

We all move at a different pace. It’s much like the telehealth example. I think it was starting before the pandemic, but the pandemic [pushed it forward and will] push us [further] once we get through the take-a-breath stage. We’re actually learning that we can innovate and apply technology and apply different models a little faster than we all thought. There’s a unique intersection right now of a new market demand with a new focus on regulatory pressure to share data and foster innovation from tech vendors. There’s a consumer interest to do that.

I actually feel like we’re probably going to enter into a really unique space. In healthcare terms, it’s probably, “What’s going to happen over the next one to three years?” I don’t think it’s 8 to 10 years out.

A couple of examples: If I take it back to the aging population and PointClickCare’s perspective, I think that [vision is] to expect that information [will] flow from the hospital stay directly into the skilled nursing stay, and not be OK with just the fax machine anymore.

It’s coming faster than we’ve experienced in the past. It’s not just because the tech is there. The tech has been there for a long time, but I think vendors realize we need to support that and drive that, and own that and do what’s right.

Tell me a little bit about how you got to your role here and what exactly you do at PointClickCare. 

I am SVP of product and strategy for what we call our acute payer business. I’ve grown up at the intersection of healthcare and IT. On the software side, I started my career in working in long-term care post-acute care and other technology, and spent three years at Cerner, with a little stop in between. I’ll have been with PointClickCare for five years in July.

Traditionally, PointClickCare sits here as the system of record across all of long-term post-acute care, focusing on anything that happens in skilled nursing, senior living at home and beyond.

We started seeing more than ever about three years ago, is that what used to happen, — which was post-acute care taking care of what happens in their silo — was really starting to change. They were starting to feel pressure from their referral partners at the hospitals, their health plan partners, value-based care, and bundled payments, and now everything is coming together.

We started to say: “OK, how do we help post-acute providers be strong partners in that environment?” At the same time, we see a really unique opportunity as an organization that now has access to more data about the senior care population than anybody else in North America. How do we create an opportunity not only to help the providers, but also help that true care coordination as someone moves along the journey, whether it’s through acute and in their senior years? My job started as driving analytics to really then looking at that business and that opportunity and creating, essentially a start-up within PointClickCare around what we think is really, truly integrated care coordination between post-acute and goading that bridge out.

As we’ve done that, we really started to [focus on] this opportunity to go deep in the post-acute stay. We made an acquisition in December of a company called Collective Medical, which has a broad network around notifications. We think it’s been a really good match made together forward that goal.

I’m a little unique in that I’ve played a lot of different roles having grown up in health care. I have that perspective from not just the long-term post-acute care side, but on all sides, to try to drive that vision.

What can individual care providers do to better facilitate care transitions for the aging population? Who do you think should be responsible for overseeing that continuity of care?

I think working together and having great partnerships [is critical]. PointClickCare’s core customer base is the skilled nursing provider or the post-acute provider, and one of the things we always say to them is, “Form really strong partnerships with your referral networks. Form good relationships. Be proactive about getting information, about sharing information.”

It wasn’t long ago that those same providers held all that performance information close to the vest. Even 10 years ago, CMS started publishing data on the web and that was a little bit controversial, but frankly, it was dated. It wasn’t always the most accurate. The regional collaborators within the networks need to collaborate. They need to form good relationships and put the patient at the center. I would focus on that.

I do, however, think that at the local level, it’s really important to start with the health system, the physician, or those participating in, let’s say, a Medicare Advantage plan. The role of legislation is important but I don’t think we should be looking at national or statewide answers necessarily. We want to introduce technology and strong partners like PointClickCare to help solve, enable and bring some of that innovation to that [local network].

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for providers of housing and care for the aging population? Do they need to do anything differently to execute on that opportunity?

I’ll go back to one of my previous answers. We hear a lot about the silver tsunami. Nobody wants to go into an institution if they don’t have to. What can we do as housing providers or caregivers that have a responsibility to enable that care at home for as long as possible? Traditionally, a lot of care homes or senior living communities started from a hospitality DNA. Where do I have the best dining options and the best activities? All those things are really still important, but [those communities are] having to move a little more into a health care DNA. How do we enable IoT devices, and data collection devices, and telehealth centers? How are we applying technology to avoid things like isolation? How we look at really interesting models around acute services at home or skilled nursing services at home and technology that housing itself provides, I think is really important.

You’ve talked a lot about technology. Are there any developments currently that are very exciting to you in terms of how they’re addressing age-related challenges?

In addition to some of the things that we’ve spoken about, we focus a lot on data accessibility and data interoperability. I think data is going to be more and more available. The future then becomes, what do we do with that data? How do we provide actionable insights and drive behavior?

As an example, I think [we need to look at] the accessibility for things like machine learning and AI to be sitting at a more local level to help identify where the case manager needs to intervene or where the physician should jump in before it’s too late. We have the data, now how do we empower workflow? You’ll hear us talk at PointClickCare a lot about moving from a system of record to a system of intelligence. For me that means we started with these big electronic filing cabinets now in the cloud, so how do we move that from being consistent where the data drives behaviors, so that we can make caregivers better and meet the patients where they need to be met?

A lot of that innovation is around data. How do we normalize it? How do we take action on it? How we empower care teams is probably most exciting, because again, it’s tied back to keeping people at home as long as [possible]. Let’s make sure we avoid avoidable hops along the journey and use data to drive that.

How is PointClickCare supporting the future of aging and eliminating silos of the past?

As we combine now with the Collective Medical network, which has a large network across all the different nodes, we’ll [target] innovation and investment into data in the post-acute or senior space. It’s really about how we make sure that the right information and the right team is in the right place along that patient care journey. I think that’s where silos start to break down.

We mentioned the hospital at home model, but a lot of people receive home care services at their senior living community. A lot of health plans would really like to understand what’s happening at the assisted living center or how the med reconciliation is happening proactively. If we think about a senior’s journey, it doesn’t start the first time they show up at a hospital. It starts as they’re at home. So how do we get deeper into the home to follow that journey across the network, whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a service, so that we can have that holistic view? I think that’s really part of our journey.

Final question. How has the pandemic changed the course for aging?

It certainly feels like a mixed bag. In March, April, even into May of 2020, the long term care providers and specifically skilled nursing providers, were all over the news and in a bad light in the press. It was unfair. But if you look largely at what was happening, it was an indicator of what [the public] didn’t know, right?

At the institutional level, I think there are going to be a lot of interesting benefits as these organizations recover. [We’re all thinking] about how they provide different types of care and how they can innovate within the space. We’re embracing technology. We’re doing telehealth visits. We’re socializing over FaceTime and other platforms. We’re looking at blood glucose monitors and electronic scales and all these different devices. I think the interesting challenge, like a lot of us will face, is around social interaction. What’s going to happen to both the caregivers who are working for the aging and then the senior population themselves? What new technology is needed?

It’s going to be quite interesting. I am really interested in how we at PointClickCare enable care team members that may not know that they don’t have to show up at the skilled nursing facility or the assisted living center, or even at home, as much as they used to, because they are now able to do some things remotely. What does the role of that look like in the future? I think that is still to be determined.

We’re all debating the future of work in every industry. It’s going to be interesting in health care more than in anything.

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