In this episode of the Futurum Tech Podcast – Interview Series, I am joined by Ashok Kurian, Director of Data and Analytics at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Matt Hausmann, Director of Marketing for HPE Ezmeral, for a conversation focusing on innovation and technology advancement in the healthcare industry.
In our conversation we discussed the following:
- Opportunities and challenges that healthcare organizations face with AI, ML, and data analytics
- How Texas Children’s Hospital is leveraging data to improve the patient experience and expand pediatric research
- Unique ways that HPE and Texas Children’s Hospital are working together
Watch my interview with Matt and Ashok here:
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Daniel Newman: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Futurum Tech Webcast. I’m your host today, Daniel Newman, principal analyst and founding partner at Futurum Research. Excited about this episode of the webcast. We will be doing it in partnership with HPE and featuring a special guest, Texas Children’s Hospital, right here in my backyard, well, not my backyard, but I am here in Texas as is HPE.
It’s a Texas-focused show today, but really excited about this one. Going to have two guests joining me, and we’re going to be talking about some big trends that are going on, learning a little bit more about the healthcare space, the industry, but also the technologies, the multi-cloud, AI, ML, all kinds of innovation and technology advancement that’s going on in healthcare is going to be in focus today. So, without further ado, let me welcome my guest to this show. We’ve got Matt and Ashok. Matt, I’ll let you introduce yourself first.
Matt Hausmann: Great. Thanks for having us on. Matt Hausmann, the Director of Marketing with HPE as well. Just a short background on me. I’ve been in the data analytics space for the last couple of decades, really starting to age myself now. But I wake up every day kind of, I look at my journey of how to bring together data, apply analytics to it, and then see where it meets with technology and the latest capabilities to actually get the most out of that. So, thanks for having me.
Daniel Newman: And welcome to the show, Ashok.
Ashok Kurian: Daniel, nice to meet you. I’m glad to be on the show as well. I’m really excited about this conversation. My name is Ashok Kurian. I’m Director of Data and Analytics here at Texas Children’s Hospital. I’ve been here for a little over seven years. My background is not healthcare. So I think that talking about oil and gas, my background is oil and gas and now bringing everything that I’ve learned in oil and gas and applying it to healthcare and talking about the new trends, it’s really exciting to be here. And I’m really excited about what the future holds.
Daniel Newman: I guess at some point though, Ashok you’re going to say my background is healthcare because when you’re there long enough, all of a sudden you’re going to cross that chasm that no longer is it just oil and gas, but it’s oil and gas and healthcare. But I love all the industry stories. I actually really enjoy the opportunity to have customers on. We work very closely as analysts on the sell side with all the vendors, but having the chance to get up close and personal with the customers, hearing about what you guys are doing, how you’re applying technology is always super enlightening.
So we’re thrilled to have you here. Matt, of course, always thrilled to talk to folks at HPE. We’ve worked very closely with the company for many years, one of the leaders across just about every part of the enterprise IT stack. And so that shall continue. So the way I want to start this show off is, I want to talk a little bit about the industry trends. Ashok, I’m going to spend a bit of time with you getting to better know the Texas Children Hospital story.
Your organization is world class, has a reputation really throughout the United States and beyond for many of the services you provide. But I like looking at it through the lens of the technology that you’re building to enable. So we’re going to come back to that, but to start off Matt, with this being one of the customers you work closely with, there’s so many trends that are moving the healthcare space. What are some of the ones that you’re seeing most right now?
Matt Hausmann: That’s a good question. And I mean, there’s always a lot of things going on in parallel, I think specifically for this type of solution, even for the oil and gas solutions that Ashok has some history with. I think the move to hybrid and multi-cloud has really accelerated, right? If I look back a few years back, right, I was with Terra Data about a decade back and it was all about the data center and it was kind of, you had this thing out, nebulous IOT capabilities in the future, but it was kind of this one off that we’ll make use of that data whenever we can.
So we had this very much a data center out component, hey, we’re going to bring all the data in here and then we’re going to get some insights from it. And we’ll try to leverage some of these other sources, when they come in. And then we’ve really seen the market evolve to then the cloud models. Hey, let’s get everything in the cloud and I don’t want to be in the business of IT anymore.
And this is efficient and agile, and we really like that experience. But now as we’ve moved towards the multi-cloud or the edge to cloud solutions, I’m seeing now the drive from the data center to the cloud to now an edge focus. So if we see the majority of our data is now being produced at the edge. We’re getting tiny, tiny compute footprints with a ton of power at the edge, which gives us a lot of analytic capability and processing capability.
So we’re seeing that move to the edge end strategy to support a multi-cloud or distributed analytics solution. Along with that, right we see some requirement changes, compliance, privacy, geo fencing, things of that sort, leveraging some of the bursting capabilities. But I really look at the opportunity. So we’ve got that data and we have that analytic power.
How do we apply the analytics at the edge to get those faster realtime insights? And then also, how do we provide the right data foundation so that folks like Ashok and his research organization can actually go develop the analytics, find those new insights from all those sources? So that’s, that the one big kind of common trend in healthcare and across a lot of industries that I’m seeing.
Daniel Newman: I love that you point that out because as I’m listening, I’m thinking there are some commonalities across many industries, certainly commonalities across the highly regulated with the complexities of both data at scale, exponential, trying to bring in the edge, trying to make data usable, dealing with all the privacy and the constraints related to privacy and securing data, creating that digital trust with your patients, and concurrently, trying to build next generation experiences that are sometimes limited by all that regulation. So how do you do both at the same time? Ashok, you have to be looking at a lot of things leading the group you do, but at the same time, there’s no way you can do it all at once. So what are those sort of trends and things that are in focus for you?
Ashok Kurian: Sure. I’m going to just go through what Matt just said, right the edge, it’s talking about futuristic data sources. So we do a really good job and I would say healthcare does a generally good job of capturing the structured data. What’s in your EMR, trying to understand the trends that are going on with that data. What we don’t do well today is talking about information that you can gather from, if you look at healthcare trends, the sensors, the wearables that we put on our little children, instead of all the tubes that you put in, right? The home health that you have, the wave form information that we’re collecting in our bedside right now. We don’t do a lot with that data today, but as edge expands and matures, we will be able to get some of that data now.
And I can layer that in with our structured data. And then I can hand that over to our really smart data scientists. And they’re going to start to look at pediatric deterioration. They’re going to start to look at when there’s an adverse event that’s predicted to happen, right? We can then intervene. And then at the end of the day, what that means is that we’re going to save lives. We’re going to improve quality of care for our patients, but we’re also going to save lives.
And so we’re looking at it from that perspective. As you mentioned, we are the largest pediatric institution in the United States. We are professionally ranked in the top five in US news and world reports, in the very top, right? And so it’s now taking that information and the data that we’ve collected in the last 20 years and now taking that and bringing and building data science models with it.
So we’re looking at it from not only a patient experience perspective, but also from a research perspective. And so there is a lot of work in both of those realms that we are hiring a lot of data scientists today. We have many open positions. There’s just so much competition for that particular position. But I believe that the mission here and the ability to help save children is one that you can’t get anywhere else. I can’t get it in oil and gas. Oil and gas is fun in its own realm, but you can’t get that anywhere else.
Daniel Newman: Making a difference, right? Feeling like all this technology, the investment, the application is genuinely creating next generation technologies that can, like you said, extend lives, saves lives, identify earlier things that could become risk factors. And then of course helping deploy to market.
I think the world became very aware of how data and science can come together to speed up solutions with the vaccines. We’ve seen that. We’ve learned a lot from it, doing this at scale to solve other problems. Very exciting to me, Ashok. Let’s take that step back, because you kind of started digging into it, you gave a little bit of that commercial on the rankings and by the way, it’s absolutely world class, but give a bit of just the kind of the one over on Texas Children’s Hospital.
Ashok Kurian: Sure. So we are located here in Houston, Texas. We have multiple hospitals here within Houston. We are expanding now to the Austin area. And so we’re expanding our reach, so it means that kids can get care further away from Houston. So we have, roughly a thousand beds, we have about 20000 employees. We are ranked number three right now in US the news and the world report and have many of our services here in the top one or two.
So we are across the United States. We do a lot of collaboration with other institutions as well. We do share data and we do focus … So, our mission here is really around patient care, education and research. And so we spend a lot of effort on improving patient care, educating our patients as well as our team members and then on research itself.
So I do want to talk a little bit about research and where we are going from a research perspective because I think that’s tremendously important, right? So if you look at research, there are grants and there are problems, real world problems to solve that we need to address. And so our researchers take those problems, they take the data that we’ve captured or we’re planning on capturing in the near future, and then they apply it to the problem.
They build their neural networks, they build their algorithms and they try to understand some real world problems to solve. We’re doing a ton of work with our COVID-19, trying to understand the disease a little bit better and participating in national grants with that in many other image recognition projects, national language processing projects, many other projects, but we are also putting together some platforms to help our research group in order to get them access to data a little bit better. And so hopefully that will help mature our research area a little bit in the future.
Daniel Newman: I love that you mentioned what you’re doing. The whole data pipeline is really exciting because it is the foundation of being able to get next level solutions, being able to improve upon. And that’s one of the things, this business people, kind of want instantaneous. We saw what happened with the pandemic. Hey, why can’t we have a solution? Why don’t we have a drug yet? Why don’t we have a vaccine?
There is a lot of iteration and a lot of innovation and a lot of data is required to truly make decisions because like you said, you can create a lot of risks too, by moving too fast in this business. One of the things I found very interesting in my sort of research about the hospital, Ashok is that you have one of the largest data sets in the world. You have a very significant data set. Talk about that. Talk about where is this data coming from, how are you basically able to take all this data and apply it meaningful ways?
Ashok Kurian: So, we do have one of the largest data sets in the country. And we’ve been collecting data from various sources, our electronic medical record, 70 other separate sources that today feed into our data warehouse and has really every single, if you’re looking at it from an encounter perspective, we have details about every single encounter that we have. And so we take that information and we ask questions and try to answer that through the story of analytics, right?
And so we have a question to answer. We have the data that’s readily available, and then we build our analytics to be able to help answer those questions. Now that’s just really static, basic analytics, but the trends that I’m seeing now, not only at Texas Children’s, but in healthcare is, since you have that data set, now you can predict out, predict future events happening such as pediatric adverse events, such as pediatric deterioration or intervening before something really bad happens to a child here.
So we are doing that as well. We have some, as I’ve mentioned, data scientists here that are really working on building algorithms to try to predict that. We have the highest quality of care, our clinicians are amazing here at Texas Children’s. And so they come very highly experienced, educated, but if I can layer in some predicted algorithms or risk scores into their toolkit that they’re using at bedside, it’s only going to make care that much better because now the computer is looking at trends that, hey, this patient seems similar to the patient that we had last year, very similar trends.
And this is how we treated that patient. And this was the outcome. But the computer now is churn through millions of records and is going to pop up on the computer when something is out of norm or when there’s a, hey, there’s a risk score of this happening. And then it’s up to the clinician to take that information and either make a decision based on the information or click the X button and close that box that pops up, right? Because it is about patient care. And so it is a trigger that can really help drive improvement in care.
Daniel Newman: In the end, all these are sort of underpinnings, it’s like plumbing, to be able to really deliver. The industry application of technology is always the real world sort of looking at what all this actually does, because all of us are technology people, everyone on this call. So we enjoy the tech for the sake of the tech. But when it comes to the patient, the children that you serve, the families, it’s about outcomes.
And that’s what this business, everything you’re investing in has to be outcome focused. Matt, I just got the thinking here, when you come into a customer like this with HPE’s focus on the data pipeline, data services, I have to imagine that you look at this and when Ashok talks to you and his team shares all the data at their disposal, your eyes probably lit up.
Matt Hausmann: Yeah. I think just the art of the possible that’s out there, like I said, and I think Ashok really, talked it through really nicely kind of that multi-cloud concept of, hey, we’ve got all these data sources, we’ve got our researchers back here, but at the end of the day, we need to apply the insights out at the edge, out at the hospital. And when I think time to value with any of our solutions, this is time to saving lives. This is time to better outcome.
So, that’s always a much more exciting outcome as opposed to just saving money and optimizing and beating your competition. So actually helping to move research forward and using our nuanced technology. So, one of the things I wanted to highlight because Ashok was really getting into the data piece, and that really is, like you said, the foundation of this solution and that’s one of the cruxes of an edge to cloud or multi cloud solutions, how to bring that together.
And I think the flexibility that we’re working together on and delivering and delivering blocks, files, streams, and objects all in one single logical data lake house, lets them have that art of the possible, bringing in new data sources, bringing in new data types as they move forward, to give them that flexibility and be able to see that data across.
And I think another point that he touched on was the sharing capabilities. So to do research, right, you all need access to the same data. And we’ve seen a lot of cases where people are making the same copies or copies of copies and then everyone’s working off different … It’s very inefficient to deliver that. And then they’re all kind of out of sync. So being able to then share that same logical short, everyone has access to that full range of data. You can get those deeper insights. But to your point, right, the fact that we can have outcomes that save lives and improve the outcomes is amazing.
Daniel Newman: It makes a big difference to know that all this effort is paying off and you guys have something quite tangible over there to measure that these results, they matter. One of the things I did wonder though, Ashok as were you talking about this right, is we talk a lot about that patient experience, the outcomes and how all this in the end ends up delivering that, but for these researchers, all this investment that you’re making, right, they’ve got problems that hopefully this is going to be simplified, whether that’s basically being able to utilize data while still meeting all that compliance and regulatory.
And also just being able to get access to the data, simplify the way they’re interacting with it, to get to the next stages. Because there’s a lot of stages between when research starts and when a patient is actually going to be affected by that quite a bit. What are you learning as you’re working through this and with partners like HPE, what are the steps to making that researcher experience more ubiquitous?
Ashok Kurian: I think the key is making it easy, right? And you have to look at the researchers as well. There’s many different types of researchers. One person doesn’t fit the bill for the next, right? And so making that experience easy and seamless, the data wrangling, getting the data out of the source systems or the IOT devices that’s really hard. But do they care about that? Or should they care about that? No, they shouldn’t.
They need to understand what that quality of data is. They need to understand what that data is. They need to be able to go into a system and provision that data and use it in their own tool set that they’re used to using, right? And so our goal with what we’re working on to help support our research team here is to make it easy, make it a shopping cart experience.
We talk about, it’s just like you go to any website that you want to go shopping. It’s very easy to select and buy and then just pay for it. And that’s essentially what we want. What we want to do here at Texas Children’s is we want to make it very easy for our researchers to use because they don’t want to spend the time, and historically they’ve spent the time with their IT departments trying to get data, putting in a request and waiting in line for when it’s their turn to get that request fulfilled.
But our purpose now is really self-service analytics and self-service building of deep learning models and neural networks, right? And that’s what we want to do because if our researchers are able to get the data faster, they’re able to solve more problems, right? And that’s, what’s important because that’s what we want them doing.
Daniel Newman: It’s all the blocks and squares and the flow chart that’s in between the start of a research concept in the end where, a patient or a physician is able to improve that noticeable experience or outcome. So Matt, I have one more question for you, we’re kind of coming to the end here, but you work of across the industry. So of course, Texas Children’s is one example. Are there challenges consistent with what you’re seeing for AI, ML ops up and down the scale, bigger, larger healthcare organizations and other industries that you’re dealing with?
Matt Hausmann: Yeah. So I think there’s a ton of overlap with other industries, especially because the vision here is very broad, right? There’s an edge piece to it. There’s a core piece for the research. There’s a reach out into the multi-cloud for bursting and then carryover. So if you look across all those, right, they’re solving the whole entire spectrum here. But in general, like I said, they trend towards being distributed, they trend towards looking for more flexibility with the data and with the self-service of the tools to bring in other sources, that’s very common. And that push towards again, that’s always been in my experience the time to value, but really the push to those insights to the edge as we’re seeing more and more people looking for that and looking to provide those better experiences.
And I think the other trend that was kind of being articulated as well, is that right, I articulated kind of the data center out kind of cloud out edge in kind of progression, but what people really jumped onto was the cloud experience. And that’s, that self-service of the tools, that’s ubiquitous access to the data. That’s also the ability to bring your own tool. So that experience and delivering that across a distributed environment, I think that’s where people are really driving towards, I want that cloud experience, but this solution is outside any one cloud vendor at this point. So how do I deliver that consistently across? And so that’s one of the things that we’re working to address here is to provide that consistent cloud experience, data tools, infrastructure, whatever it may be, and continue to have that self-service along with it.
Daniel Newman: Absolutely. Sounds like you’ve been able to apply a lot of the knowledge that you’ve gotten from across industries, hopefully brought it in to Ashok and his team. Of course, these types of ecosystems and partnerships between tech companies and healthcare companies or industry or users is always pretty symbiotic, at least when it goes well, that relationship has to be really strong.
But Ashok, I’d like to end with a question for you. It seems that you’ve got this agile strategy in motion, you’re expanding, creating an extensible data platform. You’re helping researchers to be more flexible, move quicker, solve more problems in less time. It sounds like a winning checklist to me.
Having said that, technology moves very fast. We all saw how fast the pandemic forced transformation to move forward, what are you thinking about next as you’re kind of finishing and building this out, creating this scale, enabling all the research to grow, what does Texas Children’s and your team specifically need to be focused on to keep advancing, to keep that leadership role, those great rankings, and of course, deliver important research and outcomes to patients and children around the world?
Ashok Kurian: From my perspective, it’s always about knowing what you have, right? So we have a lot of uncaptured data sources. So it’s really understanding what is still out there that we have yet to capture, at lease catalog. It could be on the edge. It could be a structured data source somewhere within an epic note that’s out there, but it’s understanding what’s out there today.
Now, I don’t think you need to go out and capture every bit of data that you have. That doesn’t make a lot of sense in the world that we’re in today. But I think you need to understand what’s out there. I think you need to catalog it, but the most important thing is you need to be able to ask the right question to figure out what that next step is in solving a specific disease related question or how to improve patient safety, right? These are the questions that we need to ask, and it should start with the question and you should work backwards and be able to answer the question that way. That’s where I think you should focus.
Daniel Newman: Absolutely. I think that’s probably been one of those foundational leadership techniques that works across tech, inside tech, outside of tech is what is the problem we are trying to solve here, and then of course, do we have the right partnership, the right capabilities? Are we moving quickly enough? And if you do all those things, that’s really how you do become a leader in your respective industry.
So I could talk to you guys for a lot longer, however, do have to say goodbye now. Ashok and Matt, I want to thank you both so much for joining me here in The Futurum Tech Webcast. I really do love the opportunity to share real world experiences and data from the company’s organizations, enterprises that are leading meaningful change and implementation of tech. So Ashok, thanks for doing that. And Matt, thanks for getting Ashok here on the show.
Matt Hausmann: Really appreciate you having us on today.
Ashok Kurian: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Daniel Newman: All right, everyone, there you’ve heard it. I want to thank HPE for their partnership on this episode. I want to ask you to hit that subscribe button because we do love when you come back. We have tons of great interviews, conversations, podcasts talking about the tech space, just like this one. So hopefully you’ll tune in for more in the future, but for this show, for this episode, it’s time to say goodbye.
Thanks for tuning in. Hope to see you again real soon. Bye now.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio