Kirk Hale – Borland Groover
Kirk Hale likens his job in health care leadership to driving in a NASCAR race. Moving as fast as we have to in this industry, you have to be looking way ahead to anticipate the curves and avoid hitting the walls along the way.
As demand for health care services increases in the Sunshine State, Borland Groover brought Hale into the organization as its CIO in 2018 to implement technologies and business processes throughout its 17 northeast Florida digestive health care facilities. Not only does Borland see more than 100,000 patients annually, but it faces the threat of cybercrime along the way.
Whether a patient is booking a colon cancer screening or receiving advanced gastrointestinal and liver care procedures, Hale says his aim is for patients to easily obtain services. This while handling internal scheduling for approximately 500 employees and 65 doctors in the network.
“We are tapping into the newest technologies,” Hale says. “We are gaining ground.”
Focus on scheduling
Fielding up to 1,200 patient calls per day, Hale says the first order of business when he joined Borland Groover was the scheduling process, the first point of contact people have with the health care system.
To that end, he led the implementation of Radix Health’s DASH software to not only improve scheduling technologies for staff, but also to facilitate automated online scheduling for patients; it handles physician schedules and preferences.
DASH allows patients to select their physician and time slot online to provide additional information, bypassing the need to call Central Scheduling. It expedites the scheduling process for the call center team as it contains preprogrammed preferences and scheduling nuances. Workflows and resources can be adjusted accordingly. Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms further monitor recorded dialogue and provide additional analytics.
“This has greatly improved the time it takes to schedule a patient, reducing errors and providing a new level of convenience,” Hale says.
The tablet you like to take
Another technology to improve the patient experience was implementing customized patient intake software from Phreesia to enable pre-registration online or via tablets. Phreesia handles both the intake process and handling of charges, allowing patients, post scheduling, to experience a more efficient intake process.
In terms of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Borland is using NextGen and is in the process of rolling out its mobile application which will give nurses and aides access to medical records, physician schedules, sign orders and the ability to prescribe medications from anywhere.
“It’s a balancing act to accommodate regulatory and compliance demands as well as making sure the EMR is efficient and accommodates our staff and our provider’s workflow,” Hale says.
Safe and secure trends
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of every health care organization list, Hale says, for good reason. Phishing attacks and breaches are at an all-time high, according to Hale, with one in four health care providers experiencing a breach.
Hale points to a recent security breach hitting the Oregon Department of Human Services in January, when 1.9 million patient records were compromised after nine employees opened a phishing email.
“It is important to develop strong partnerships with organizations and software providers. Ultimately, we are responsible for records that can go back seven years or more,” Hale says.
On other fronts, cloud technologies and outsourcing alternatives continue to be under consideration for Hale. Most recently Borland moved HR and payroll systems to the cloud, though Hale says there is still a need for onsite data, server and storage resources that’s provided by a Nutanix virtual server solution.
“We don’t need to overcomplicate our core infrastructure,” Hale says. “We need a reliable, fast, easy-to-maintain solution so we can focus on what our infrastructure does and not on how to implement it. Hyperconverged for us was the right solution.” As was health care for Hale.
A seat at the table
With more than 30 years in technology, he’s spent the last nine years in health care leadership as a CIO, CTO and CISO, watching the role evolve.
“It has become more critical than ever that this role be an active member of the executive leadership team. The holder of this role must be knowledgeable of the business, financially and operationally,” he says.
CTOs and CISOs are still responsible for monitoring and protecting against things like cyberattacks and providing disaster recovery capabilities. But the role is expanding.
“We are getting to have more input into business decisions, not just technical decisions. You lead with a business need first and the technical part of ongoing decisions will follow,” Hale explains.
As a member of Borland’s senior executive team, he’s involved with corporate strategy development, aligning the organization’s technology investments with corporate goals and managing risk.
Bolstered by a solid educational foundation and work experience, Hale came to Borland Groover prepared for the task.
He built a comprehensive technical and business career, earning his associate degree in electronics 1983 from DeVry University before earning his bachelor’s in information technology from the University of Phoenix in 2002. In 2007, he earned an MBA from Jacksonville University.
Along his path, he gathered experience from jobs at IBM Corp., beginning as an electronics engineering technician in 1983, before moving up to a senior technology specialist in 1988. He became the director of information technologies at Life of the South in 1997; vice president and CIO at Fortegra in 2007; and director of IT and information security officer at Brooks Rehabilitation in 2011 prior to joining Borland Groover last year.
Hale says his greatest reward is creating efficiencies to reduce costs for his employer while improving service to patients.
“I love working in health care. The end result is creating overall better experiences and improving the life of an individual,” he says. “Looking at the numbers of people we help, the more patients we can see means the greater the impact we are making to reduce colon cancer and other diseases. That’s ultimately what we are trying to do, and it feels good to be able to have a direct impact on that.”
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