Guest: Mathew Cherian
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Mr Cherian has been in the information technology industry since 1981. In 1985 he established Working Systems Software Pty Ltd in Perth, Western Australia. Mr Cherian was appointed CEO and Managing Director of the company in January 2002 to re-focus the group in the healthcare sector. The initial phase culminated with the re-branding of the company as Global Health Limited in December 2007. Mr Cherian plays an active role in product strategy and the development of overseas markets.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Global Health CEO Mathew Cherian joins us today to talk about their innovative and cutting edge software applications catering Australia’s health care industry for 30 years and many years to come. Their company’s mission is to apply technology to transform a patient’s journey across their multiple encounters in both the acute and community setting to support the clinical, administrative, decision-support and consumer engagement needs of existing and emerging healthcare delivery and funding models.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Matthew Cherian. Matthew is the CEO of Global Health, an Australian firm that has a story to tell us. Matthew welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Matthew Cherian: Hi Wayne, thank you very much for having me.
W: It’s my pleasure. Now Matthew Global Health is a technology company. Tell us what it is that you produce or offer or what you’re products and service are. And also, what is your geographical footprint because we have listeners in around the globe and that gives everyone a chance to go “oh, it’s of no interest to me.” So fill us on what it is that you do and where it is that you do it?
M: Okay. So Global Health develops as you said supplies and supports a range of software applications for the health industry. These applications broadly cover a range of … we tend to segment it into four areas – clinical system, billing and scheduling or back office, administrative system, connectivity and we’re now focusing on consumer engagement applications. Our initial involvement in health is back in 1992 and with what is a commonly called a PAS or patient administration system that we initially deployed in the public system but we’re now much more focused of independent private hospitals and into clinical system in the community.
W: Wow 1992 goes a way back in terms of E-health, isn’t it?
M: That’s right.
W: That’s the beginning of time when it comes to E-health.
M: That’s right. Well my personal involvement goes back 30 years in IT and that’s even a more more more ancient, it start…
M: with the number of cycles of technology I’ve been through.
W: Matthew you’re based in Melbourne Australia?
M: Yes, we’re head quartered in Melbourne. All our stuff is developed in Australia – supported, supplied primarily in the Australian market although we’re starting to develop quite a promising pipeline of opportunity overseas.
W: That’s interesting because we do have listeners who are overseas so maybe they’ll be some interesting things to come for them. Now expand out for me those four you mentioned you’ve talked about products in clinical, back office, connectivity and consumer – what’s the clinical range that you offer?
M: So the clinical range if you like, applications that support the delivery of healthcare – we develop from the onset the concept of a team based shared medical record. The product’s branded MasterCare and we see health as increasingly becoming a collaboration of providers that are looking after individuals so the clinical system cater for different roles in the healthcare industry so specialists, and GP’s obviously … decisions to board med’s management, pathology, radiology and so on. And for allied workers, allied health workers or nurses or even special workers in the case of chronic disease management, they have the appropriate functionality and the ability to sort of work with the other providers involved in your health. Particularly strong in the health mental area, this is an emerging area that’s recognized in Australia particularly in most developing countries and that’s been our star the reason past if you like. So even though we start at offered hospital system 20 years ago and that’s still very much a staple of our revenue. Our growth there is a very much in the area of chronic disease management, mental health in particular and connectivity in other words getting a clinicians across your patient journey if you like to share information securely and most recently with chronic to get into consumer engagement to get consumers to work with their providers and for consumers to sort of proactively manage their own health to stay healthy and wealth.
W: That’s kind of the future of a lot of the health industry, I think, is consumers seeking to be much more actively engaged in the management of their own health and has traditionally been the part.
M: Correct. It’s across all industries really I mean consumer empowerment it’s what’s driving a lot of the disruptors in industries across the landscape. And in health traditionally, it’s been fairly slow to take up innovation because it’s necessarily defensive and cautious but we see that as a strong area of potential if you like in terms of consumers starting to become more aware of their conditions – of being able to proactively work with their providers. And with the onset of wearable the home device monitoring and all those sort of thing, I think the future is very much but far more consumer enablement if you like in the management of their health.
W: Yes, we’re starting to see some serious clinical interest in the hospital at home now. The idea of consumers being home monitored and home cared and let’s face it hospitals are not particular healthy places to be. They’re full of sick people.
M: No. That’s right, the recent press about the number of deaths here in Melbourne from hospitalizations, that could have been avoided. I’ve heard stat’s that say up to a jumble jet of people die every fourth night unnecessarily due to all kinds of areas that could be avoided. These are areas that basically a lot of it is aside from infection, a lot of it is due to lack of the full information or the full story when care is delivered.
W: Yeah, that’s going to be I think one of the big changes in the next decade in health is the idea of full information. Matthew you mentioned “back office,” is that billing and scheduling? What do you put in your back office category?
M: So you know back office category, yes we’ve got billing scheduling in the case of hospital it’s “management of beds, management of theaters” and we’re also getting a lot of interest and take up of our bed warehouse which is really starting to get into the big data arena where we tend to fly constantly to let us “Look, I know it’s all in there in the operational system somewhere Matthew. We need to be able to get it out to able to slice and dice and look at the efficacy of this program versus the other program.” Be able to negotiate with the funders, will it be insurers or Medicare with meaningful evidence so within the back office sweep, we have the concept of a data warehouse as well. That feeds in from both billing and theater, stat as well as the clinical information.
W: Now is that cloud based or is that in-house?
M: So about 50% of our products, well all our products are often from the cloud. There’s always a little bit of well a variety of definitions of what the cloud means. All our applications can be hosted in the cloud as a manage service but in my view, a pure cloud application is when you start offering software for service so that you have a concept of multiple tenants across what instance of the application. So in that regard 50% of our applications are through cloud and the other 50% are often in the cloud but offers the manage service. That still gives you the advantage of being able to access your data anytime from any device that sort of thing but it does require if you like your own environment.
W: It does indeed. Matthew most of our audience are clinicians, what’s the take home message that you’d like them to have?
M: Well I think the biggest challenge in healthcare, in Australia the tendency has been to sort of import systems from overseas markets.
M: Particularly the US and the UK. And these systems fundamentally are different to our health system because in the case of North America or the United States they tend to be closed networks of HMO’s and a lot of these systems are geared towards almost dumbing down clinical practice. Increasingly in local environments in Australia the clinicians just want to get on with their work and they find a lot of these clinical systems quite cumbersome. So I think the take away message is really about in my view, getting systems that are fit for purpose that do the work or the speciality you’re after well whether it’s mental health, whether it’s obstetrics, whether its orthopedics do that well and look to work with other systems. So there has been a tendency for clinical systems to try to be all things to all people and you end up 75% of the functionality that is useful and the other 25% adds more than the 75% that gives you if you like. So I think if clinician looks at systems that are sleek if you like, they’d be much better off. Our clinical systems always look at the patients as the center of the universe and patients tend to have episodes that involve care in multiple delivery settings not just within the hospital but often within GP rooms, specialist rooms, theater, we have home, and there is a tendency to sort of automate a facility, a hospital or a clinic whereas our systems tend to look at it from a patient centric point of view. So it’s all about the patient and if you happen to be looking at the information in a hospital setting or in a clinical setting or in fact in a home visit, you really want all the information about the patient to be available regardless of the setting and that’s what we’ve been trying to do with our shared team based care approach to clinical setting.
W: Matthew it’s fascinating to talk to you given that you have obviously a great depth of experience in the field of E-health. What’s the biggest misconception about E-health that you see that drives you nuts and keeps you awake at night?
M: In Australia the biggest thing that keeps me awake at night is that we have some fundamental structural issues in our health system where we’ve got this fragmentation of responsibility if you like between hospitals which are generally state based and healthcare delivered in the community which generally commonwealth funded. So if you look at E-health it’s all about the patient, then we find it very difficult to be able to break this current thinking which is “I want to computerize my hospital.” So let’s look about what happens when that patient is in hospital when really, what we would like to say if a patient ends up in hospital because he’s got a mental health issue or a heart problem and so on, that is just an occasion of service within that particular patient journey. So it’s very difficult to sort of talk to a single body that’s responsible for the patient journey from the home, to the GP, to the specialist, to the pathology, radiology, pharmacy and the hospital sometimes. So the focus is very much on hospitals, 80% of our expenditures on hospital but to fix that problem we really have a little bit from a patient perspective, from a patient centric perspective and look at systems that work well across different settings and basically uses the internet which is about connectivity and not about one great big monolithic system. So I think the thing that keeps me up at night are mega projects, people try deal with the challenge of health through a single large monolithic system that inevitably fail. This is not unique to health, any large project in IT tends to have 80 to 90% chance of failure and we haven’t moved from the main frame thinking of the past to the mobile and the more specialized world of mobile applications that we live with every day on our phones in every other aspect of our lives. But in health I think we’re still stuck a little bit in the main frame monolithic thinking of the past. So these large projects are the ones that frustrate me no end. It all depends to exclude obviously innovative, agile, smaller companies like us.
W: I can sympathize with that view Matthew and in fact for our listeners, we have a six-part podcast in production currently on E-health. And that’s a view that a number of plans have expressed and in our E-health podcast series we are going to explore in depth that question of the frequent failures of large E-health systems around the world and what causes it and how it can be fixed and where the future’s going but that’s for another day. For today Matthew Cherian from Global Health, how do people get in touch with you?
M: So our website is www.global-health.com. The office number is 03 9675 0600. And yeah by all means, just come to the website or send an email at my own email is [email protected] or [email protected], lots of ways to get in touch with us.
W: Now I’m always in trouble when I give phone numbers, people send me messages on Facebook going “Oh I didn’t have a pen handy.” So for those people, pencils up its time for phone number again, just give us that number again Matthew please.
M: So that’s 61 for Australia, 3 for victoria and 9675 0600.
W: So fair warning, please don’t Facebook me if you didn’t have your pencil ready. Matthew it’s been a pleasure having you on the air with us this morning. We’ll put a transcript of this interview up on our website and a SoundCloud archive and also a YouTube archive. So if you just caught the end of us, please go on to our website at www.hpr.fm and you’ll be able to get the transcript and the audio archive there. My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio.