Cloud-enabled capabilities, improving efficiency across health systems, transforming systems of record into true systems of intelligence, and an open platform that empowers an ecosystem of innovators. How do we get there and what does that mean from a practical standpoint?
Travis Dalton, the recently announced general manager of Oracle Health, has been with Cerner for over two decades, including running its consulting, commercial investor-owned and federal business before leading all client services work. He is now responsible for the Oracle Health Global Industry Unit, which includes Oracle Cerner. As Travis takes the helm, we discussed with him the work to modernize clinical applications, and the greater potential for Oracle to go beyond the electronic health record (EHR) in order to connect financial, operational and clinical systems so that providers can deliver better care at lower cost.
- How does healthcare fit in with Oracle’s vision?
Oracle has been helping solve some of the world’s toughest business challenges for over 40 years now. During the pandemic, for instance, Oracle engaged the U.S. government to help, and activated a group of designers, developers, and healthcare experts to build the V-SafeSM vaccination tracker tool that was used across the country and fed critical data to government epidemiologists.
That sparked something across Oracle—lit a fire, you might say. In talking with Oracle leaders, there’s an overwhelming excitement in playing a big part in the future of healthcare. Many healthcare providers, payers, governments, and pharmaceuticals are already using Oracle tools and infrastructure to underpin both clinical and non-clinical needs. I’m excited that Cerner clients will be joining a thriving community of Oracle customers across the health ecosystem with a shared goal of improving healthcare.
- How has healthcare IT changed in the time you have been at Cerner? Cerner started as a founder-led company, and the entrepreneurial spirit was energizing since there was so much to be done. For a long time, the mission was to remove variance, digitize the record, and improve safety. A lot of progress has been made and digitization has been largely achieved. The real question is: now what?
- What is the biggest opportunity for Cerner clients now that we are part of Oracle Health? Oracle is a leader in delivering infrastructure, cloud software, and modern user experiences, so this means we have world-class technologists helping us bring our applications onto a new infrastructure. Oracle Executive Vice President of Global Business Units Mike Sicilia said it best when he said our clients have gained a vastly more resourced technology partner overnight. Our teams are working through many evaluations and plans; it is complex analysis, but there is an air of reignited excitement. We have already seen how they jumped into some of our toughest situations and helped solve some of our clients’ hosting and database challenges.
- What steps is the team taking to meet clients’ needs? First, we must continue delivering on our roadmap and provide the features and capabilities our clients need to keep delivering high-quality care. This means improving the clinical experience, modernizing operational solutions like revenue cycle, and advancing both interoperability and population health. This also means improving the services and support we provide our clients. We have to keep our promises, and we are adding talent, changing processes, improving supply-demand management, and investing in additional tooling.
- Beyond EHRs, what possibilities most excite you about Oracle Health’s portfolio?
While technology has continued to rapidly advance, healthcare IT has not kept up. Our entire industry has been weighed down by complexity and has not kept pace with innovation. Core applications—including EHR systems of all kinds—are built on older technology, and this has made them difficult to maintain and innovate upon.
I’m still here for the same reason I was on my first day at Cerner over 20 years ago: working with great people to help our clients achieve their objectives with tools that improve health outcomes. Now, with Oracle, we have the opportunity and resources to put ideas into action. But it’s no longer just about what’s inside the walls of a hospital or clinic, but also what is going on outside. So that’s really what has changed. Data is the new tool, and the EHR is simply table stakes, and the real work to do is unleashing the power of that data.
At the same time, we’ll begin to standardize, uplift, and integrate our platforms using Oracle’s infrastructure and expertise. A lot of this will happen in the background, but this point is important because this is one of many examples of where we used to go to an external infrastructure partner to make it happen. It is what all other EHR providers and IT vendors must do if they want to modernize and take advantage of new technologies. By being part of Oracle, this work will happen more quickly and seamlessly.
Delivering healthcare is complex, and providers are juggling multiple enterprise solutions to help run their operations. Clinical workflow solutions like the EHR are critical because they are used at the point of care, but that care needs to be supported by HR applications to manage a workforce; supply chain and enterprise resource applications to make sure supplies are in the operating room; and financial applications to make sure providers can be paid and pay their bills. In the past, these systems have been kept separate, but our clients increasingly want these silos to be broken down to operate more efficiently and improve the quality of care.
No other technology company other than Oracle offers this full suite of business and clinical applications. This will enable us to build deeper connections between those systems, and that will drive innovation across every application and create a system of intelligence across our clients’ business. Once that happens, imagine your EHR informing your operations so you know where to deploy resources, real-time supply management, and automation of tasks that puts providers back at the bedside. I could list a dozen more examples we’re thinking about, but the point is, we have gained more resources, more infrastructure, and more freedom to innovate beyond the EHR with our clients. The future of a healthcare platform and ecosystem are these connections.