Interview with Dr. Mark Ereth
November 6, 2017
[Our communications team caught up with Dr. Mark Ereth, our Chief Executive Officer, after he returned from the annual meeting of Society for the Advancement of Blood Management at Portland, Oregon. The following is an excerpt from this discussion.]
Thanks for speaking with us today, Dr. Ereth. You’ve been associated with the field of Blood Management for many years, first as a practicing anesthesiologist and now as the CEO and Co-Founder of Transfuse Solutions and ApriHealth. What are your thoughts on advances when it comes to Patient Blood Management?
We still have a long way to go, as far as advancing the field of Patient Blood Management is concerned. We have an enormous clinical opportunity to improve patients’ lives when it comes to transfusion. I’ve noticed is that there are enormous gaps in data and analytics in health care. Every tool that has been commercialized or home-grown to date has basic reporting functions but has little or no ability to normalize data or to deliver real insight and predictive analytics. It is this ability to normalize data that would be meaningful to the individual clinician who prescribes blood.
You mentioned that hospitals lack visibility and comprehension of their own data. For a hospital to better-manage their practice, they need a sound understanding of their data and benchmark their practice against their peers. What security risks are there when it comes to exposing a hospital’s data, and how are they mitigated today?
First, many hospitals lack the bandwidth to dedicate significant resources to derive and implement sophisticated data science activities. Second, patient health care information security is obviously critical, and enormous resources are focused on this issue. Third, hospitals need to understand that advanced data science methodologies have been used in most other sectors for decades but have not been adopted in healthcare using the security argument.
In general, without extraordinary internal resources, they cannot gain insight from their data without sharing their data. At ApriHealth, we have in place security processes and methods that go far beyond current healthcare standards. We operate at the level of security common in the financial and banking sector (which is much more stringent than that in health care).
I understand that there are some major changes going on in health care today. For example, Electronic Medical Records are becoming mainstays, and health systems around the country are merging. How has this impacted blood management?
EMRs are necessary for a hospital to function. Having said that, EMRs place extraordinary demands on financial and clinical resources, which limit innovation and compete with numerous patient quality initiatives, including blood management programs. We need EMRs to make the jump to the next level, where integrated analytic and reporting engines interface seamlessly. Integrated EMRs do not, on their own, facilitate optimal Patient Blood Management. While our ability to extract data from these systems may get easier in the future, the rationale behind blood transfusion decisions is complex, and beyond the scope or competencies of current EMR vendors.
When we look at current solutions in PBM as a value-based care initiatives, do you think any EMR is capable of integrating its workflow?
To my knowledge, none of the current value-based care solutions does anything more than a superficial job at integrating cost and outcome. The majority do not measure value in any way. To my knowledge they do not provide insights that could drive value-based care.
Your primary clients in the blood management have been hospitals in the US, often of very different sizes. What would be your advice to a top academic medical center and to a lower-tier, resource-strapped medical center?
- A tertiary level academic medical center with adequate resources probably thinks they can optimize transfusion themselves, and they likely can. However, by their nature, it will take a long time and require a huge amount of resources to institute a successful Patient Blood Management Program. As a result, the rewards will come late.
- To a smaller, resource-constrained facility, they will have to look elsewhere for expertise beyond that which they have inside their hospital. Immediately gaining subject matter expertise, from an outside group, can yield immediate results.
- In summary, both parties will find it very difficult to generate a quick, significant, and sustainable ROI without outside help.
- That’s where can help, delivering subject matter expertise, insight driven analytics, and comprehensive solutions…all aimed at rapid return on investment.
How have clients connected with you in the past? Rather, how do hospitals find Apri Health, and their Patient Blood Management Solution?
People find us through professional meetings and associations where our clinicians and data scientists frequently speak. We’re found via web searches, announcements for grants and publications, through word of mouth, and via our large distribution partners such as Vizient, Quest, and Medtronic. We are also fortunate to be funded by the National Science Foundation on developing the next generation of Patient Blood Management decision support tool, and any academic medical center could partner with us as we develop and test this next-generation Patient Blood Management solution for healthcare providers around the world.