Features

Julio Gonzalez – US MED

Taking the sting out of insulin tests—and operations

Diabetes patients have a familiar if unpleasant routine: hold out your finger … and jab! Soon, the finger becomes a pin cushion, albeit for the sake of obtaining important information about blood glucose levels.

Though still common, those painful tests are no longer necessary, says Julio Gonzalez.

Julio Gonzalez | Chief Information Officer | US MED

His employer, US MED, partnered with manufacturers to create the Continuous Glucose Monitor, a lightweight patch that attaches to the upper arm and reads glucose levels more than 1440 times a day, storing those readings up to 90 days to share with doctors and family members. There’s no painful prick involved.

The company’s CIO, Gonzalez helped transform US MED’s business model—from sales to customer service—to help get the improved product to diabetes patients more quickly and easily.

“We’re continually looking at new programming and technological advancements to help diabetic patients live a life that isn’t tethered to difficult, manual devices,” Gonzalez says.

Keeping doctors away

The idea for the Continuous Glucose Monitor originated prior to Julio Gonzalez joining the company. Instead, he was hired to make it a reality, helping both develop new systems and processes to get the blood monitor to US MED’s customers.

Shipping, for example, was an issue, because it previously involved so many steps. Those ranged from inputting addresses to packaging and, perhaps most importantly, ensuring customers have health insurance that covers the product, so they aren’t unnecessarily paying out-of-pocket.

Gonzalez and his team automated many parts of this process, including obtaining health insurance approval on the ordering website.

“These efforts, including using available technology in more innovative ways, helped US MED drastically grow CGM sales, making it a significant contributor to the bottom line within a year’s time,” Gonzalez says.

When Gonzalez joined the company in 2017, however, adding the blood monitor to US MED’s available product line wasn’t the only transformation needed. Customer follow-up needed to be more rigorous, and systems had to be altered for automations even to be added.

Before anyone began writing code, however, Gonzalez’s says company culture needed a refresh, too.

“We had a history of talking in the air, which meant people worked from experience,” not defined processes, he recalls. “Since everyone had different ways of approaching the same project, a lot of confusion and unnecessary backtracking ensued.”

This approach meant goals also differed. For instance, a manager may have certain business requirements but the end users—US MED customer or employees—might have found certain programs complicated or inefficient.

Gonzalez resolved this disconnect with the simple expedient of having everyone—managers and employees in IT, sales and other areas—in the same room in front of a board. He encouraged them to stand up, write things and draw boxes.

This also allowed everyone to poke holes at the first or even second iteration of projects.

“Now, US MED staff, particularly IT, can tackle and resolve issues in the development and process stage instead of after the final product releases,” Gonzalez explains.

A dose of electronic medicine

But work doesn’t end with the digital transformation. Gonzalez says he considers the business side, too—everything from sales to health insurance and customer service. In fact, he partnered with the sales and marketing teams to improve customer service and, thus, revenue.

Using robotic process automation, US MED now automatically sends customers shipping and tracking updates via SMS and e-mail after a purchase. The electronic system also pings customer service representatives, who follow up two days after the product arrives at the purchaser’s doorstep.

“There are a lot of moving parts, which can become overwhelming for patients,” he acknowledges. “We’ve created programs on our website that can save, process, analyze and pre-authorize a patient’s medical insurance coverage for products like CGM.”

Julio Gonzalez | Chief Information Officer | US MED

Revenue and sales are now 90 percent automated, which frees up the sales team to process nearly all 2,000 weekly leads that came from a third party. Prior to the automation, they had only processed half the leads.

“We’re up to four bots now that are handling over 25 workflows from all different departments,” he explains. “The point is not to replace employees with robots but rather to ease their immense workload and help them work more comfortably and efficiently.”

The picture of health

Boosting business this way isn’t a first for Gonzalez. After he received his bachelor’s in computer science from Florida International University, he graduated with a master’s in business administration from University of Phoenix.

Even his volunteer work plays on his interests. He’s a board member for Leadership Academy of South Florida and previously on Switchboard of Miami Inc., as well as an innovation advisory council member for the science and technology focused Vation Ventures.

When Gonzalez isn’t climbing through mountains of electronic data, he’s climbing actual mountains with his partner and children. In fact, being in the healthcare industry, he knows exactly how important it is to step away from the robots and experience nature.

That’s precisely why he never misses his annual family skiing trip to Vail, Colorado.

“There’s always new ground to break in IT development, and that’s how I feel when I go skiing,” Gonzalez says. “Keyboards or skis, I’m always ready for a new adventure.”

View this feature in the Toggle Summer III 2021 Edition here.

Published on: August 17, 2021

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