Guest: Gavin Robertson
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Gavin Robertson, CTO and SVP of WhamTech, after earning a BSc (Hons) in Chemical and Process Engineering and a MEng in Petroleum Engineering both at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, Gavin spent more than 15 years in the domestic U.S. and international oil and gas industry, often working with data-related projects. After a period as a consultant to WhamTech, Gavin joined as CTO and Senior VP in 1999, responsible for product design and development, and technical sales and marketing.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Gavin Robertson CTO and SVP of WhamTech, discusses topic of interoperability in healthcare as well as an give an introduction to WhamTech.
Transcription – Whamtech
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio on this Health Supplier Segment. I’m your host Neal Howard, in studio with Mr. Gavin Roberston. He is the Chief Technology Officer of WhamTech. He’s here to discuss with us the topic of interoperability in healthcare, as well as to give us a little bit of an introduction into WhamTech. Welcome in the Health Professional Radio, Gavin Robertson.
Gavin Robertson: Yes. Thank you Neal. I appreciate the opportunity.
N: Thank you for joining us today. Give us a little bit of background about yourself, Chief Technology Officer, what type of experience do you have?
G: Actually, I come from an engineering background, international Oil and Gas but I primarily dealt with data management issues on a large scale with some of our international operations. I got involved with WhamTech when, they were a previous company, they just acquired a very large database technology that they were trying to kind of figure out how to take advantage off and I kind of was involved in steering them towards the current solution right now which is externally indexing and creating multiple different types of data sources across the multiple large organizations and multiple locations, and so on. So that formed the basis for our current offering and our recent efforts in healthcare in general.
N: So that is where they termed ‘Interoperability’ comes in? This hot topic in healthcare right now?
G: Hot topic, yes very much so. Healthcare is, we used to actually work a lot with DOD intel type projects, very large scale, high performance, mainly … processing and analytics, enabling that in this kind of secure environment. Healthcare is not so different from that in a sense that a lot of the data that you deal with is highly sensitive, subject to a lot of combined rules, ACA, a number of regulations whereby it’s not easy to access and work with healthcare data. Another factor is that the healthcare data itself can exist in multiple locations. We’re dealing with one company that has literally tens of thousands of data sources and multiple locations across the world. They are looking for a way to work with that data in a kind of a seamless way, but not have to force it to be moved to a single location somewhere which is kind of a lot of the typical approach of data warehousing and so on. And some of the problems they faced in healthcare particularly interoperability is it’s very much application to application. It’s not really an integrated view of the data and kind of what we’ve brought the table from an interoperability point of view is a single patient view of all the data that’s associated with the patient in many different data sources. One of the key benefits behind our technology is that, you actually leave the data in sources themselves and work with it in a kind of abstract layer or a transparent layer that allows you to do a lot of the operations that people have traditionally done in a centralized data warehouse source or central database… A couple of other things that we bring to table also is allow standards to be imposed in this virtual view if you’d have it across these multiple data sources. Regardless of what the data format or the scheme of the data type of the sources themselves, you can still view it in a standard view. And by doing so, you can both read and write back to some of the sources that we’re dealing with. Now the healthcare customer can work with multiple data sources as though it’s a single database effectively, but living the data in place which allows it to be secure and prevents a lot of the issues that you hear about in the press about data being stolen and so on from these large centralized systems.
N: How does this differ from data mining? Are you just doing it on a more precise level as opposed to the shotgun type of approach that may have previously been in effect because of so many differing sources and differing locations?
G: Yes. You used the term shot gun, that’s a good approach because what they basically did was just move all the data into one massive location and see if what they could do with it basically. But then data analysts today in healthcare and other vertical markets are spending up to 80% of their time addressing fundamental data management issues that should be addressed in our opinion as soon as you moved data from a source, you should be able to deal with all the different data quality, data security. A lot of the data management issue you should address upfront so that these analysts who you’re paying about $250,000 a year in some cases should not be spending 80% of their time manipulating data, they should be spending their time analyzing the data.
N: How does WhamTech take some poor quality data and enhance that data so that it’s in a more usable format? Not necessarily the content, but the format, do you actually change formats from one source to your standardized location for distribution? Or do you record it in your standard for distribution and as you say, leave it as it is at its source? How do you do that?
G: That is a great question. That actually goes to the heart of what we do. You really picked up one of the key differentiators is that, when we build indexes that it’s like Google for database, except the information that goes into the index has a lot of the data quality, data security, data management have dealt with, with the data when we read it to be converted over to a standard format. Typical of what’s used in healthcare like HL7 in a standard format and FIRE API as we also named … as well. We impose the standards on the virtual view of the data. The data stays as it is in the source system, being updated in real time and when we pull data from a source system, you can combine with other information, we do the transformation, the conversion to the standard at that time.
N: Do you train your clients as to how you actually assist them in their needs? Or is this something that is so client-friendly that it’s basically you give us an assignment, we complete that assignment for you and you come back and give us more?
N: That’s another good question. Our training for the platform is about two days, it’s actually not that complicated. Mainly because of our approach. We simplified things in many ways. A lot of companies have to deal with the variations on the back-end system to deal with data quality, the lack of pre-optimization and so on whereas we officiate the need for that by creating our own indexes and we process our own query. Though from a low work flow point of view, it’s relatively simple and the application is relatively simple to understand. And then the second part of that I would say is once we’ve dealt with a single type of data source like a particular EHR system for instance, we will create an adapter template that our customers can just pick up and use without any real work on their end to configure and get things running.
N: Alright. Where can our listeners go and get more information about WhamTech and WhamTech’s healthcare initiatives specifically?
G: Whamtech.com, our website is a great place to start that’s whamtech.com. And from there, we’ve got various content on healthcare and then we have some other information we can make available to anybody who submit a query to us, we can get very specific about the kind of ongoing work that we’re doing where we can’t typically share publicly with the kind of companies we’re dealing with and so on, but we can talk about the type of work that we’re doing.
N: Great. Well, I appreciate you coming in and talking with us today Gavin.
G: Neal, I appreciate it too. Thank you for the opportunity.
N: Great, my pleasure. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio in this Health Supplier Segment with Gavin Robertson, Chief Technology Officer of Wham Tech an innovator in the healthcare technology space that’s seeking to disrupt the roadblocks to that access that many providers are experiencing. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes. Listen in and download on SoundCloud.