THU AM News: Obama-era tech advisor calls on startup leaders to better equip care providers; Panelists weigh in on breaking down health care silos

— An Obama-era tech adviser says entrepreneurs in the health space should seek to equip care providers with better decision-making tools.

“We’re in a very critical moment right now,” Aneesh Chopra said yesterday. “An entrepreneur and innovator, in my view, is in the best position to listen to the signals as to what the future might look like and help lead us toward that future.”

Chopra, a data expert and author, served as the first chief technology officer for the United States under Barack Obama, and is now the president of a Virginia analytics firm called CareJourney. He spoke yesterday as part of the OnRamp Healthcare Conference, put on by the Wisconsin Medical Society, nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor and other partners at Lambeau Field.

“When we study the academic literature about economics and startups, there’s often a moment when an industry is undergoing such change, that it is the entrepreneur that can get to the future faster than many of the incumbents,” he said.

In an interview, Chopra told he sees a few key areas for innovation in this space.  

First, he said doctors need to better understand the needs and issues of the patients that aren’t entering the clinical setting. Chopra noted many patients are at risk without knowing it, and a lack of outreach could land them in the emergency room or worse.

“Be my eyes and ears for folks that are not in my office,” he said. “That’s a pretty fundamental task.”

For patients who do enter the clinical setting, care providers only know what the patient chooses to disclose and what’s in the electronic health records system. Chopra sees an opportunity for entrepreneurs to fill in gaps in that knowledge.

See more:

— Achieving greater collaboration between various health care providers will take more community outreach and a new approach to data management, panelists at the OnRamp conference in Green Bay say.

“From the pharmacist’s perspective, it’s identifying what are the barriers for the patient and connecting them with the right resources,” said Dimmy Sokhal, of Hayat Pharmacy. “What we’re working on at my practice in Milwaukee is to collaborate with local community partners… The more collaboration the better.”

She spoke yesterday as part of a panel focused on breaking down the silos of health care. Panelists touched on the waste and harm to patients from having these separate realms of care and discussed strategies for improvement.

Krisa Urchil, key accounts manager for Pfizer, noted a culture of distrust and misunderstanding between care providers, adding that contributes to burnout and sometimes worse outcomes for patients.

“The fallout is really vast and detrimental to all of us,” she said.

As an independent pharmacist, Sokhal says she has no idea what happens to her patients when they go to the hospital or another care provider. She says some patients could be using multiple different pharmacies, and she would have no idea what medications are overlapping or potentially interacting in harmful ways.

To overcome this hurdle, Sokhal said her pharmacy has been visiting patients’ homes for in-person consultations.

“And when we go to these patients’ homes, it’s just an eye-opener,” she said. “I see [medication] bottles from different pharmacies, different prescribers, different hospitals… Most of them probably didn’t know that this patient was just hospitalized, and what happened to their medications.”

Certain patients are at particular risk, she said, such as older people with lower health literacy and a long list of needed medications.

Across the spectrum of care, data is being collected from patients like these and others at many different entry points. But according to Chris Elfner, vice president of accountable care strategies at Bellin Health, much of that information is being kept separate, which makes it difficult for providers to work together.

“Part of that is really getting the data, the piles of data which are out there — which are vast and wild — to bring them together,” Elfner said.

He explained while both drugs and physicians have their own unique codes that allow for some degree of interoperability, patients’ Social Security numbers can’t be used in that way.

“So now we have to figure out a way to bring all that data together, and hook it up so we can look at the different pieces of it,” he said. “There are always gaps, and we need to fill in those gaps.”

In Brown County, where Bellin Health is located, Elfner said the county has a “cradle to career” community information system combining data from health care, schools, social programs such as daycare, and other sources.

He describes the project as a “grassroots effort that’s bringing data together to tell the story of the community, and driving the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Elfner also said providers must update their workflows to “think more broadly than our own little core team.” Rather, he said they should be thinking of the entire group of providers across organizations that are responsible for patient care.

“Because the patient doesn’t care whether it’s health care, or primary care or specialty. They just want to be cared for,” he said.

— A new nonprofit group advocating for more investment into UW-Madison is aiming to take a new approach to drumming up support for the state’s flagship public campus.

Rather than targeting the lawmakers and policy experts inside the Capitol, Badgers United Executive Director Amber Schroeder told the group is seeking to educate Wisconsinites who reside outside of Dane County about the economic value UW-Madison provides for the entirety of the state.

“We’re connecting the dots,” she said, borrowing one of Gov. Tony Evers’ favorite catchphrases. “We’re trying to give them an opportunity to engage with this university in a way that makes sense to them and has real impact for them and their wallets.”

While the group formally launched earlier this week, Schroeder said it has been in the works since September of last year. Quizzed by WisPolitics on the timing of the unveiling, which comes at the back end of budget deliberations, she said the group was “here for the long haul.”

Schroeder also noted the group’s sister organization, Badger Advocates, lobbies for their collective interests in the Capitol and worked behind the scenes throughout the budget process. The role of Badgers United, she said, was primarily to educate the public.

Schroeder touted the university’s $15 billion economic impact on the state and added that fiscal data shows a near 24-to-1 return on every dollar that the state puts into the Madison campus. But she noted that state funding for the UW System as a whole has dropped at a rate of nearly $1,150 per student over the course of the last decade.

To combat the loss of state dollars, Badgers United is calling for a move that may ruffle feathers around the state Capitol: ending the in-state tuition freeze. That measure has kept the costs of higher education stagnant for Wisconsinites and has broad support amongst lawmakers of all political stripes.

But Schroeder highlighted UW-Madison’s tuition as the lowest among Big 10 schools and called for a “thaw” in which tuition rates would be tied to the cost of inflation.

“Students who are highly talented don’t want the cheapest education; they want the best education and tuition helps fund the best education,” she said.

Badgers United is also calling for an increase in state dollars for UW-Madison. But unlike with the so-called tuition thaw, Schroeder said the group didn’t have a specific monetary goal or fiscal threshold for state spending.

“I think that our goal is that we’re not standing on the steps of the Capitol with our hands out,” she said.

Rather, the group is trying to make the economic value that UW-Madison brings to the table more widely known across the state, and let Wisconsinites have conversations with their legislators about funding levels.

— Foxconn has paid $9.5 million for an office building on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, a report from BizTimes Milwaukee shows.

According to the report, the building was formerly owned by BMO Harris Bank and will be renamed Foxconn Place Madison.

A separate report from BizTimes Milwaukee shows construction crews have started pouring cement that will form the base of Foxconn’s first manufacturing facility on its planned Mount Pleasant campus.

See more in Foxconn Reports below.

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bill to restore funding for navigators, which help rural residents and other underserved populations enroll in health insurance.

Since 2017, federal funding for navigator programs has been reduced more than 80 percent, making it harder for state-level organizations to help people secure coverage.

In Wisconsin, that funding drop has significantly diminished resources for Covering Wisconsin and the Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, two of the state’s largest official navigator agencies. Because of the loss of federal support, in-person navigator assistance services have been cut in the Fox Valley, Kenosha and Racine counties, as well as rural southwestern, northern and western counties and other areas.

The ENROLL Act was introduced alongside U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat. It would allocate $100 million in annual funding for the program, and would also require states have at least two navigator programs located in the state, including one “community-based organization.”

Covering Wisconsin is backing the new legislation along with more than 60 health care and patient advocacy groups around the country.

See the release:

See the bill text:

See a previous story on navigator funding in Wisconsin:

— UW-Madison’s Program for Advanced Cell Therapy has appointed a new director of cell manufacturing to oversee lab operations.

Ross Meyers previously worked at UW-Madison’s Waisman Center, performing quality control for the center’s biomanufacturing program.

PACT researchers are working on developing various types of stem cells and other cells for human trials being conducted at UW Health in Madison.

See the release:


# Why is Illinois hemorrhaging residents?

# City of Racine to push high school degree attainment with nationwide economic mobility grant

# More bad buzz for bees: Record number of honeybee colonies died last winter

# After 2018 challenges, Wisconsin farmers weigh the risk of industrial hemp



– Escalating China tariffs on ginseng create ‘shock to the system’ for Wisconsin farmers

– Second Pig Welfare Symposium slated for November

– State & national milk production fell in May


– Potawatomi Hotel & Casino plans opening of new hotel tower in mid-August


– State cranberry crop rebounded in 2018


– Milwaukee-area execs back UW-Madison advocacy group


– Trump EPA rolls back Obama rule on coal-fired power plants; foes pledge court challenges


– Foxconn pays $9.5 million for Madison office building

– Foxconn pouring concrete for Mount Pleasant LCD screen plant


– DNC chief confirms downtown office site, says convention to hire unionized security firm


– Furey Filter & Pump acquired by Ohio firm

– Harley partnering with Qianjiang to make smaller motorcycle in China

– Harley-Davidson to develop smaller motorcycle for Asia with Chinese partner


– Here’s how much home $300K will buy you in Wisconsin vs. rest of the U.S.

– Germantown close to securing anchor for business park


– Kwik Trip adds CBD products to shelves

– Wisconsin Cheese Mart to open on State Street


– City Council approves task force to study future of Madison’s four public golf courses


– Prime event space near Fiserv Forum rented for DNC


– Metro Transit pursuing federal grant to help fund bus storage facility


– Madison’s Focus on Energy leads nation in cost-saving energy programs, study shows


– Matt Cordio: Trump’s tariffs endanger Wisconsin’s booming economy

– Plain Talk: On health care, Donald Trump just doesn’t get it


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Foxconn: Begins concrete foundation pour for Gen6 Fab Manufacturing Facility

J. J. Keller: Launches Alexa skill for HR Pros at 2019 SHRM Conference

SHINE Moves Closer to Domestic Production of Life-Saving Medical Isotopes

Hamacher Resource Group Offers Informative Sessions at McKesson’s ideaShare Conference