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athenahealth Names Jeffrey Immelt Its New Chairman

February 7, 2018
by Mark Hagland
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On Wednesday, the EHR and practice management vendor athenahealth named Jeff Immelt, former chairman and CEO of GE, as chairman of athenahealth

On Wednesday, the Watertown, Massachusetts-based electronic health record (EHR) and practice management vendor athenahealth, Inc. announced that its board of directors had appointed Jeffrey Immelt, former chairman and CEO of GE Healthcare, as chairman of athenahealth, effective today. “We are thrilled to welcome Jeff as the new independent chairman of the athenahealth Board,” said Dev Ittycheria, chair of the board’s nominating and corporate governance committee, in making the announcement. “Having considered a number of highly qualified candidates, the Board determined that Jeff’s deep expertise and broad relationships in the healthcare industry, combined with his drive for industry transformation through innovation, ideally position him to be a great partner to the Board and management team as we work to profitably grow and scale the Company and drive value creation.”


Jeffrey Immelt

The announcement, posted to the company’s website, stated that, “Over the past 20 years, Mr. Immelt has established himself as one of the most respected leaders in healthcare. While at GE, Mr. Immelt helped grow GE Healthcare from a $3 billion enterprise to a $20 billion respected innovator with unique assets and capabilities. GE Healthcare diversified its portfolio from imaging to life science and digital services, building leadership positions by delivering valuable solutions to providers and patients. GE Healthcare was a consistent grower in revenue and profits. Mr. Immelt also brings a deep understanding of system economics and patient outcomes given GE’s position as a larger payer of healthcare benefits.”

This management shakeup was not a complete surprise; in an article published on Aug. 1, 2017, The Wall Street Journal’s David Benoit had reported that “Jonathan Bush, the sometimes outspoken founder and head of athenahealth Inc., will cede his chairmanship but stay as chief executive in a shake-up that has the backing of two of his biggest shareholders, months after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. piled into the stock. Mr. Bush will also give up operational control of the health-care-software company to a new president. Both roles are expected to be filled following searches with external candidates, the company said Tuesday” (Aug. 1).

Then, on Feb. 3, MedCity News’ Erin Dietsche reported that, “During an earnings call with analysts on Friday, athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush said the healthcare industry is ‘in the midst of a sugar low after years of rapid growth, driven by government stimulus. Demand for our services has been weaker than we expected this past year,’ he added, according to the Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.” Dietsche’s story noted that, “On Thursday, the Watertown, Massachusetts-based company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $329.2 million, versus $288.2 million during the same time period of 2016. Full-year revenue also increased 13 percent to $1.22 billion.” Still, she reported, “Bush highlighted that the company didn’t meet its bookings goals for 2017. For 2017, the EHR vendor’s consolidated bookings were $293 million compared to $348 million in 2016.”

The MedCity's Dietsche further reported that, “During the Q&A portion of the call, one analyst pressed the issue, asking how much of the ability to drive better bookings is in athenahealth’s control. Bush said his company is moving toward being a national network that provides services, which is something everyone in healthcare will need.” And it quoted him as stating that “The economics of medicine just do not support individual kind of craft brewing of the back office of medicine, and it’s getting worse,” he said. “So we’re really down to not whether but when. What we are doing to draw people into market is, as I have said, deepening the services so that you can see real cash more certainly sooner by switching.”

In the official announcement Wednesday, Bush was quoted as saying that “Jeff shares our vision for more connected, efficient, and human-centered healthcare; and like us, believes a platform-oriented business and technology strategy is fundamental to executing against that vision. His appointment as chairman is one of many important steps the Company has taken over the past year to enhance the Board and management team, as well as to strengthen and focus our operational and go-to-market strategy. I’m confident athenahealth will continue to create sustainable value for shareholders, open new opportunities for employees, and is well-positioned to not only deliver highly-differentiated benefits to both our current and future clients, but also to lead the industry’s next wave of innovation, openness, and efficiency.”

The announcement went on to say that “Mr. Immelt’s appointment as independent chairman is part of a series of strategic initiatives that athenahealth launched in 2017 to create a more focused and efficient company, drive increased levels of profitable growth, and enhance shareholder value. As part of these initiatives, the Company has added new expertise to its leadership team, including the appointment of a new chief financial officer and a new independent director. The Company expects the operating initiatives will generate $100 million to $115 million of gross pre-tax expense savings and significant margin improvement. With the addition of Mr. Immelt, the athenahealth Board has been expanded to 11 members, including nine independent directors. Mr. Immelt will make a financial investment in athenahealth,” the announcement added, “and plans to purchase approximately $1 million of athenahealth common stock in the open market.”

 


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Why A.I. Will Never Replace Recruiters

September 12, 2018
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AI can be a great tool, but recruiters aren’t going away

I remember fear settling in like a big dark cloud when I opened my search practice in 2005 with all the dire predictions of how the Internet and all the online hiring websites were going to put recruiters out of business. Many articles were written on the demise of the recruiter as Monster.com would literally scare us out of business.

Then came other job opening aggregators like Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter and a whole host of other websites chasing HR gold as if there was a switch they could simply flip to eliminate the human touch that recruiters bring to the table with engaging candidates, only to be replaced by a text message alert or an email notification of all the new jobs that were now open. The only thing they were missing were qualified applicants.

These predictions never came true and all the prognosticators simply forgot what recruiters actually do every day that their technologies will never replace. CIOs need to remember the critical nature of hiring leaders and team members for key roles in their organization. Candidates need to be vetted and coached to listen to an opportunity to join your team when we call the candidates. You have to remember:

  • We talk with people. Yes, we use a cell phone, or now a VOIP phone, and actually engage in a dialogue with candidates about opportunities. It’s a novel approach—I get it.
  • We engage with people that will never look on those job posting sites because they are not looking for a new job. Period.
  • We contact passive candidates that up until our call were never going to leave their job because they are so focused on the now that they don’t even think about looking on a website for a job they are not even interested in.
  • We help clients and candidates come together on the right offer and provide two-way communication during the hiring process, so each party has a deep understanding of the other party’s point of view. Online sites—well you get the picture…
  • We hammer out the details of relocation packages with our clients and the candidates and their families to make sure the move is done smoothly to allow the family to begin their transition to a new city. It’s the personal touch that matters here because we are dealing with people’s lives.

Fast forward: The next wave of artificial intelligence (AI) products for hiring are cropping up everywhere and we are hearing similar calls for recruiters to give up and retreat as the latest algorithm and data analytics tools are able to speed up the hiring process supplanting recruiters. Within seconds, these tools are touting they can determine who the perfect candidates are based on the analytics and machine learning tools designed for hiring. Guess what? It won’t happen.

AI can be a great tool, but it falls dreadfully short of meeting hiring managers' expectations. It won’t wave a magic wand suddenly making hiring enjoyable and much quicker with the same quality as the work performed by most search firms. I’ve been in technology in some form or fashion for a very long time. I love technology and what technology can do to speed up productivity and actionable data I can use every day in the work we do. It’s awesome!

But to be clear, I’m not going away. I have seen this movie before and I am fairly certain I can tell you how it ends. The work recruiters do to find and recruit great talent is something humans must do.

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Cerner President Zane Burke to Step Down This Fall

September 10, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Cerner president Zane Burke, who first joined the company in 1996, will step down November2, the Kansas City, Mo-based electronic health record (EHR) company announced today.

“Cerner has been a disruptive force of positive change across health care throughout its history, and I’m pleased with the accomplishments we’ve achieved together with our clients and the broader industry community,” Burke said in a statement. “Complex and evolving challenges remain, and Cerner is uniquely positioned to continue innovating for the good of consumers and health care providers.”

 “We thank Zane for his contributions to Cerner across more than two decades,” Cerner Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer said in a statement. “Zane leaves the company with a strong client focus and commitment to continued innovation, partnership and sustainable growth deeply engrained in our culture and leadership philosophy. I am very confident in the capabilities of Cerner’s strong and experienced leadership team.”

John Peterzalek, executive vice president of worldwide client relationships, will assume Burke’s responsibilities and the title of Chief Client Officer.

Since joining Cerner in 1996, Burke had a range of executive positions across sales, implementation, support and finance. He was named President in 2013 after leading Cerner’s client organization. Burke came to Cerner in 1996 from the consultant KPMG, and has held a number of positions in the company, including president of Cerner west from 2003 to 2011, and, more recently, executive vice president of Cerner's client organization.

During his five years as president, Burke has been involved in a number of significant deals, including playing an instrumental role in Cerner winning two massive EHR modernization contracts, first with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2015, a $4.3 billion contract, and then just this past May, with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in a $10 billion contract.

During Burke’s tenure, Cerner also completed one of the biggest deals in healthcare IT history with the acquisition of Siemens healthcare IT business for $1.3 billion in 2014.

The Kansas City Business Journal reported on September 4 that Burke had exercised option to sell nearly $10 million in stock.

 

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Leadership Changes at HHS as CIO Transferred to New Role

August 21, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Beth Killoran is stepping out of the role of CIO at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is moving over to a new role at the Office of the Surgeon General, within HHS.

The news was first reported by Federal News Radio. In an email, a HHS official confirmed that Killoran, who stepped up to the HHS CIO role in July 2016, has joined the Office of the Surgeon General at HHS to develop a "comprehensive information systems strategic plan for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”

The HHS official also confirmed that Ed Simcox, the HHS Chief Technology Officer, will take on the added role of serving as the HHS Acting CIO, until a permanent selection is made. “Simcox has led multiple, large IT transformation efforts, both as an industry executive and consultant. As HHS’s CTO, he leads HHS’s efforts on enterprise data management, data sharing, technology-related healthcare innovation, and public-private partnerships,” the official said via email.

Simcox started as the HHS CTO in July after serving as acting CTO starting in May and deputy CTO since July 2017, according to Federal News Radio.

Killoran began working at HHS in October 2014, moving over from the Department of Homeland Security. At HHS, she has served as the acting Deputy Chief Information Officer and as the Executive Director for the Office of IT Strategy, Policy and Governance. The HHS official stated that Killoran has served in a number of high-level information technology positions at HHS, “providing leadership on a number of high priority projects.” Killoran also worked for the Department of the Treasury, where she provided IT infrastructure support and operations for over 20,000 employees across 1,500 locations.  During her tenure, she provided IT operational support in response to the 9/11 and Oklahoma City bombing events, the HHS official said.

Federal News Radio reporter Jason Miller reported that, during her time as HHS CIO, Killoran tried to move the agency forward in a number of areas through an updated strategic plan and a more aggressive approach to cloud adoption. “Recently, Killoran led a reorganization of the CIO’s office, naming Todd Simpson as the first chief product officer and promoting innovation,” Miller wrote.

Killoran becomes the fourth major agency CIO to be reassigned during the Trump administration, joining former Treasury Department CIO Sonny Bhagowalia, former Agriculture Department CIO Jonathan Alboum and FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner, according to Federal News Radio’s reporting.

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