Episode 26: John Supra – Imagine What’s Possible for Patient Outcomes

John Supra, Chief Data Officer at Prisma Health, explains how cloud-based technology can create new opportunities and solutions for healthcare organizations looking to improve their patient outcomes.

John Supra knows firsthand how cloud-based technology can transform other industries, and he’s eager to develop similar innovations in healthcare.

As Chief Data Officer at Prisma Health, Supra is working to marry technology with processes and culture change, because he believes those three components are the key to improving patient outcomes.

In this episode of How I Transformed This, Virsys12 founder and CEO Tammy Hawes and her co-host Clark Buckner talk with Supra about the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare transformation. Supra also shares advice for other leaders looking to foster innovation in their companies. 

The Benefits of Cloud Technology

Healthcare has been one of the last industries to really embrace cloud-based technology. Early on, Supra realized that cloud technology like Salesforce and other CRMs would be extremely useful for companies looking to manage a network of providers.

“My experience said, those are directions we need to go if we want change in how we deliver care and how we operate,” he explained. 

Supra knows that any kind of major transformation comes with challenges, though, so he emphasized the importance of helping the whole team understand the process changes and creating a culture where people can become comfortable with change.

He also encouraged leaders to focus on the specific needs or problems they’re trying to address, and allow that to drive transformation, rather adopting new technology or processes just for the sake of it. 

“Technology isn’t replacing the work people are doing, it’s augmenting, accelerating, shifting, or freeing people up to do work that technology systems can do more reliably,” he explained. “It’s not our comfort zone, but we’ve got to be open to it if we want to see the results of a different future.”

How COVID-19 is Driving Innovation

Though the healthcare industry has traditionally been resistant to change, the COVID-19 pandemic helped accelerate some of the innovations that people have been talking about and working on for years, like the rapid expansion of telehealth. 

At Prisma Health, Supra and his team were already working on bringing together clinical records across multiple organizations and platforms, and they were able to take that work and use it to create a COVID-19 dashboard for their whole system. They also started using data and visualizations to identify communities that needed more COVID-19 testing.

“Those same skills proved valuable as we moved into the vaccine stage,” Supra shared. “We were able to start vaccinating within our healthcare worker community, expanded and grew to some large sites, and then also looked at, where were people in our communities not getting vaccinated.”

Improving Patient Engagement

When Supra thinks about the next steps for improving the healthcare industry, he believes patient engagement should be a key focal point. Instead of people just going to the doctor when something is wrong, he wants patients to view engagement with healthcare as a regular part of life. 

“How do we continue to modernize the infrastructure, the technology that is part of healthcare, so that we can do the sorts of things that we take for granted in other industries? We know that many of the packages that may be headed to our home, where they are right now, but we still often have to reach out to our healthcare provider to engage and make an appointment,” he explained.

In the long run, this will require a new approach to the payment models in healthcare, as well as a greater emphasis on funding social determinants of health like nutrition, transportation and housing. 

“I hope that some of the things that we’ve learned — the what ifs, what is possible — [that] we use this opportunity to move forward this engagement in our health…So that we redefine healthcare, not as something that happens once in a while, but something that we’re thinking about, talking about and are supporting our communities each and every day.” 

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