“I’m a technocrat, but in healthcare that’s not enough. We have to change the way we think about the system,” says William Tatham, CEO of NexJ Systems Inc, a provider of enterprise private cloud software, delivering customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, primarily to the financial services, insurance and healthcare industries. NexJ is also a critical partner in the Connected Health and Wellness Project (CHWP), a new people-centred, technology-enabled health and wellness system that incorporates technology and health coaching to promote healthy living. The Project’s other major partners include York University (health coach training and professional standards) and McMaster University (OSCAR and MyOSCAR electronic health records and personal health records).
Harvey Skinner, Dean of Faculty of Health, and William Tatham, CEO of NexJ
A new adjunct professor at the Faculty of Health at York, and co-founder and chairman of the board of the Canadian Association for People-Centred Health, Tatham spoke to graduate students, staff, and faculty on December 4th about “Driving Software Innovation in Healthcare” for the Advanced eHealth Research Seminar series.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo in 1983 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering and options in Socio-economic Systems and Management Science, Tatham established the successful Janna Systems, a relationship management solutions company focusing on asset management, investment banking and insurance, in his basement. He was bought out in 2000 by Siebel Systems, his largest competitor and signed a non-compete clause for 3 years. “I retired and bought a Ferrari. Then, my wife, after whom my first company was named, got breast cancer,” says Tatham.
The ordeal of navigating the healthcare system caused Tatham to investigate the possibility of applying his systems and management science background to healthcare. But healthcare officials were hesitant about innovation from a healthcare outsider.
Tatham knew that the healthcare system in its current form is not sustainable. Doctors did not have a comprehensive understanding of patient medical history and information was slow to be shared. In addition to long wait times, other problems include the difficulty of scheduling appointments with different medical centres or specialists; the need to continuously complete a surgical form despite previous surgery—it seems past history is never recorded; and scheduling and tracking patient information using 1.0 computer products that typically “suck” says Tatham. All of these problems could consume a patient’s lifetime in addition to driving up unnecessary costs for the system. Healthcare spending for chronic diseases such as diabetes are rising so quickly that the system will implode within the next 10 years if nothing is done to fundamentally change it. “If air traffic control was that way, we’d shut it down. In health care, we soldier on.”
“We need disruptive innovation,” says Tatham. If the current healthcare information systems aren’t updated, not only will the government pay more, but patients and citizens will pay more, unnecessarily, for a lacklustre level of care that could be easily improved.
To address this challenge, NexJ’s Connected Wellness Platform, a cloud-based solution that enables the delivery of health and wellness Apps, and a crucial component of the Connected Health and Wellness Project, will help patients keep track of their medical records electronically, as well as monitor their wellness through health coaching and allow easy accessibility to healthcare providers. The technology is currently being tested at the Black Creek Community Health Centre in the Jane and Finch community in northwest Toronto with diabetic patients.
During the discussion following Tatham’s presentation, Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner noted that only 20 per cent of health care happens in hospitals versus 80 per cent at home or privately, hence the timeliness of Tatham’s call for a people-centred approach to health care reform driven by software innovation.