Drew Madden at the Crossroads of Healthcare and IT… How Culture, Personality, Knowledge and Expertise Intersect

“Network, network, network. Never miss the opportunity to meet someone and learn about them.” Those are the words that Drew Madden, a healthcare information technology (IT) entrepreneur would give to his younger self. In an interview for IdeaMensh, among the many valuable points he shares with the readers, he also points out that, contrary to the majority’s point of view on the issue, he does not find that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The entrepreneur and business man often has his first meal at 2-3pm after a couple of cups of coffee.

So Who is Drew Madden?

Madden obtained his BSE in Industrial Engineering in 2002 at the University of Iowa, and his career began at Cerner Corporation where he spent four years implementing inpatient clinical solutions at two major Chicago hospital systems. He then moved on to join Healthia Consulting and spent four years in implementation roles before moving into a Business Development position. He helped implement Epic inpatient applications in several hospital systems across the Midwest. Madden is passionate for building high caliber teams, for curating a unique and appealing company structure as well as forming trusted client partnerships. He has more than a decade of experience implementing, optimizing, managing and advising electronic medical record (EMR) projects. As such, he possesses a unique ability to fuse his technical EMR background with his experience in project management and consulting operations in order to help healthcare IT leaders build effective Epic implementation teams.

Madden’s healthcare technology background revolves around EMR as a way to advance patient care as well as therapy, and he has spent his entire professional career working in the healthcare as well as healthcare IT space during which he specifically focused on EMR as well as helping hospitals digitize and streamline patient information. His focus is both on the technological as well as operational aspects of this field as he believes that both together will greatly enhance patient data processing as well as the patient experience. However, his most discernible entrepreneurial characteristic is the fact that he is passionate about building high quality teams along with a unique and appealing company culture as well as partnerships. Madden is based in Madison, Wisconsin and is currently Managing Partner at Evergreen Healthcare Partners. Madden states that he is “passionate about Electronic Medical Records and has spent over a decade collaborating with the best and brightest in the industry to implement, optimize, troubleshoot, and take on the complex challenges that accompany an EMR project.” Madden’s combination of the technological background and expertise as well as his love for working with people and in teams are what make him a unique businessman and professional in his line of work.

Madden founded Evergreen Healthcare Partners a little over a year ago with three other partners, and the company has been expanding ever since. “All of us showed up in a room on July 10th and pretended we had a company until we really did,” he comments on the beginnings of the firm during a recent podcast on eHealth Radio Network. Evergreen collaborates with several healthcare systems nationwide as it focuses on implementation and advisory services for multiple electronic health records (EHR) platforms as well as specialized healthcare technology. Madden’s focus is for the company to be a healthcare consulting firm, as well. It has a unique approach to providing industry-leading healthcare IT expertise to collaborators across the country, one that takes into consideration the idea that “individuals matter and people make all the difference,” according to their website. Evergreen’s team brings to the firm many years of experience that has taught them that the foundation of lasting partnerships is based on putting time into finding the right opportunity based on preferences, goals and skill sets. The ultimate goal of the firm is to give their employees the power to enhance their careers while partnering with healthcare organizations. This is truly resonant of Madden’s love for teamwork while enhancing client experience and advancing technology.

When asked where his idea for Evergreen Healthcare Partners came from, Drew Madden states that he has always been passionate about advancing operational processes and healthcare workflows by using technology. “While I love technology, I’ve always had a knack and appreciation for the “soft skills” that are so important for successful change management and IT adoption. If you look at the biggest challenges in healthcare I today, very few of them are related to true IT challenges,” Madden states in an Ideamensch Interview. He elaborates that Evergreen Healthcare Partners focuses on the challenge of the untapped potential of healthcare innovation that is centered around operational engagement, change management, and the combination of technical and people skills needed for the transformation of the industry. It addresses that challenge putting together both the best people in the industry as well as experience, which is evident in its leadership team that has gathered experience while having worked for a diverse repertoire of healthcare IT companies as well as consulting firms.

The healthcare professional is both passionate but also very excited about his line of work. As he believes that the EHR adoption has become more mainstream, he is curious to see how healthcare will progress and continue to evolve over the next decade or so. He particularly mentions that when he graduated in 2002, not too many people had cells phones despite the fact that the internet as well as laptops had been around for a while at the time. He adds that smartphones did not exist yet and that websites such as Facebook, PayPal, eBay and Google we far from mainstream. Directions, back then, were still printed from MapQuest on paper. “If you extend those trends into healthcare IT, I think we’re in the very early stages of innovation and change in our industry. Lots of data is being collected, but harnessing that data to leverage positive change will be a common theme in the future,” he elaborates. He also believes that Evergreen and similar other companies will remain in the forefront as they understand the inner workings of healthcare processes through the implementation of EHRs. He highlights that, “the one thing that is widely publicized is the amount of money we spend in the country on healthcare. We spend more than any other country, and we don’t necessarily get results in this country that merit the expense.” Madden also points out that this will help focus the financial flow in the field of healthcare in the US as it will enable better patient outcomes.

But what exactly are EMR or EHR and how are they advancing the healthcare IT industry?

The vast technological takeover in all areas of life is evident. Several industries have greatly benefited from the ease and convenience of technology, and healthcare is no exception. The latest trends in this regard have been combining disciplines. An example of this are two areas that traditionally have not been associated with one another, namely healthcare and IT, and yet the evolution of the healthcare industry has led to the synthesis of the two and given rise to something called healthcare technology. This intersection of healthcare and IT has not only streamlined processes, but it has transformed the quality of both care as well as patient experience overall. In particular, healthcare technology has given rise to digitized or electronic patient record keeping. An example of this is the EMR or EHR.

Electronic medical records are essentially electronic versions of patients’ records or charts at the physician’s office. These electronic data have been designed to enable health care organizations to provide efficient, precise and timely care. By virtue of being electronic, they are more widely as well as easier accessible by physicians and healthcare staff. This has greatly helped speed up patient care. They typically contain information such as a patient’s treatment and medical history as it is gathered by any individual medical practice visited by a patient. In other words, EMRs are a way to centralize patient information in one location that is accessible by all health care staff seeing that patient. Furthermore, in addition to enabling easier and wider access to patient data the implementation of EMR/EHR has allowed physicians to track patient data over an extended period of time. This is particularly useful for identifying patients that are due for preventive checkups and screenings as well as for monitoring patient progress in terms of vaccinations and/or blood pressure readings.

This is also particularly useful for research purposes as it can help physicians customize treatment paradigms for diseases that have been otherwise difficult and/or unpredictable to cure. Also, electronic versions of patient data have helped usher more as well as larger clinical trials, which in turn has also positively affected more patients who would otherwise not have access to potentially life-changing therapy. EMRs also help improve patient experience as they enable access to relevant information from the patient side as well as offer educational means by which patients can remain informed about their conditions. By ushering transparency, patients are informed and therefore at more ease about their care.

According to Madden, two things are rapidly evolving in healthcare IT are interoperability and patient experience within healthcare. The former being the ability to have access to a patient record that has traditionally been siloed across systems. This, according to Madden takes a lot of work, and Evergreen focuses on ameliorating that. The latter, namely the consumer facing experience, an example of which being the increase of applications on phones that has had an impact on how information is obtained. Along those lines, interaction in healthcare and access to relevant information, such as finding a physicians or healthcare organizations, is not easy. Also, not many people are aware of what they could be getting for what they pay in terms of health insurance. In other words, they could benefit from something that could make that information more readily available. As an example of this are the several different organizations offering similar services at different prices, while patients do not always know that. However, this information should be available to patients, or consumers, so that they can make more informed decisions. Madden refers to it as “The Amazon-like experience of being able to get something from your phone with a few clicks or a few swipes to be able to read about it, understand it and get it accessible and delivered to you is a trend that a lot of experts see moving into the healthcare space.”

Drew Madden’s passion and insight about his field of expertise is particularly evident in a recent statement in which he highlights the impact of technological conveniences on healthcare. He states that, “We take it for granted outside of the health care environment that we can cut and paste things from one application to another. But best-of-breed applications have ruled hospitals and it was tough to get them to talk to each other.”

When asked about his typical day and how he makes it productive, Drew Madden’s answer highlights his flexibility as well as adaptability but also his passion for working in teams, working with people and creating quality as well as long-lasting relationships. He elaborates that whether he is spending the days taking on internal projects or traveling to meet with clients or meeting with and recruiting industry talent, the one constant he mentions is that it is meeting with people. In fact, Madden’s one strategy that has helped him grow his business is along those very lines of enjoying his work with people. He believes in spending additional time in order to get to know potential new candidates he is looking to add to his firm. In addition to the formal interview questions that he believes do help with getting to know someone, the more important part, he finds, is the informal time during the interview that allows him to really get to know the candidate in a different way. It also fosters creation of strong connections that are important in keeping employees both satisfied as well as on board.

Madden is very modest when he discusses how he brings ideas to life. He states that “I pride myself on being the dumbest person at our company. I’ve always believed that if I can consistently make that claim, then I’m doing my job as a ‘company leader.’” He follows up with stating that his best ideas are born out of collaborations with team or client partners. He is excited to be part of a group that continuously strives to be creative and solve problems together.

While someone like Drew Madden surely has several commendable habits, the one entrepreneurial habit that he believes makes him more productive is to listen well, which he implements in his role at Evergreen. He believes that Evergreen is a company that focuses on offering services rather than inventing new technology, and as such they have to be cognizant of their clients’ needs so that they are best equipped at meeting them as well as helping them succeed. Again, this is along the lines of him enjoying to work with people, and Evergreen is truly a combination of interacting with others, listening, creating bonds and thereby meeting his clients’ needs. He adds that, “I’ve found that if you listen well to your client partners, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to help them. And if you listen well to your current and prospective employees, you’ll be in a great position to empower them to perform at their best and enjoy what they’re doing.”

As an entrepreneur, he strongly advocates for the importance of refining the value proposition of one’s business and being able to clearly communicate it to others in the field. Along those lines, he encourages everyone to refine that value proposition or sales pitch so that they are able to clearly state in a short amount of time ranging from 10-second, 30-second, 1-minute, 2-minute to 10-minute versions. “That might sound crazy but there have been plenty of times in my career when I’ve had a set amount of time and not a second more to present my company’s value prop,” according to Madden. He stresses the vital importance of one’s ability to both read the audience and based on that deliver the message in a timely manner.

The one advice Madden has for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to make money is to “create an app or technology that allows people to get a new cell phone number and effortlessly notify their contacts and allow their contacts to update the information.” He also adds, “If you want to make another billion dollars, create a 21st-century replacement for swapping paper business cards.”

Madden and his wife have been married for fifteen years and have two children. They are both scuba certified, and Madden states that the fee for the scuba course was “the best $100 he has ever spent.” He and his wife enjoy the activity, and he adds that “Experiencing the underwater world is something you have to see to believe, and adding a day of diving to your vacation is a really fun way to experience a new place.” Madden is also an avid reader. He states Strengthsfinder 2.0 is one of his favorite books, and he recommends that everyone reads it. Madden finds it powerful as it reminds readers not to be hung on weaknesses but rather focus on their strengths. Another powerful message he finds revolves around people and how everyone should seek to surround themselves with others who have similar strengths.

For more information on Drew Madden, please visit Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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About the Author: BJ Hetherington

BJ is the lead editor of Meical Daily Times. Fluent in French and proficient in Spanish and Arabic, he focuses on diseases and conditions. BJ is a graduate of York University In Toronto. When BJ isn't busy writing his next piece, he can often be found running the streets of the GTA.

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