On the 2nd Day of #HITMCChristmas we’re excited to feature, Pamela Landis, Vice President of Digital Engagement at Hackensack Meridian Health.
Tell us a little about yourself and Hackensack Meridian Health.
I’ve been working in digital engagement since the Stone Age, which for this industry is the mid- 1990s, although we called it the World Wide Web then. I was working in clinical PR and my boss said, “We need to figure out this world wide web.” I volunteered since the server for the department was in my cube. and I knew how to reboot it. From there, I taught myself how to code. With my communication and IT background, I am constantly working to use those disciplines to make healthcare easier to access and manage for our patients, clinicians and communities. Healthcare is complex. It’s hard to understand. It’s hard to maneuver through and we have an opportunity, an obligation, really, to make it better. I’ve had the privilege to work at some great institutions, including Johns Hopkins, Henry Ford Health System and Atrium Health, building and leading what we now call digital engagement.
Hackensack Meridian Health is New Jersey’s largest health system with 17 hospitals and more than 500 care locations from the northern border all the way to the beautiful beach towns of New Jersey in the south. It’s a vibrant, competitive system with a desire to transform how we best deliver care to our patients and communities and to keep getting better.
At HMH, I am responsible for developing and implementing the Digital Engagement strategy, which includes not only our web and mobile activities, but also our new contact management work, patient engagement platforms (portal, texting, social, reputation management), all of which is underpinned by research and consumer analytics. We are building a digital platform that matches the patient needs and expectations. I work to make the linkages between clinicians, operations and IT useful for our patients.
What’s been your experience during COVID-19? What have been your triumphs? What have been your big challenges?
Three words: humbled, inspired and hopeful. Being in the epicenter in the first wave, humbled all of us. The virus was fast, furious and relentless on our patients and our caregivers. And I’ve never been more inspired and in awe of the men and women who cared for our patients. Our greatest triumph was that despite daunting and overwhelming obstacles, the teams supporting our caregivers went into overdrive. For instance, within days of the state shutdown of elective medical care, HMH had a virtual visit solution in place for our providers. The urgency of the pandemic propelled us to go fast and be laser-focused on our care delivery. HMH also focused its external web, mobile and social platforms to be exclusively about educating the public about the virus, how to care for themselves and how to access our services safely. We never wavered on our message strategy. The outcome was we learned that the message and product discipline did resonate well with our consumers. And during the summer months, when the spread was lessening, we used that time to not only get people back to care, but also review, retool and refine our systems in a Covid 2.0 playbook. That work is serving us well now. It’s what gives me hope today.
The biggest challenge is how to maintain this level of work and pace but still ensure the staff doesn’t burn out. I worry about that daily.
Which digital tools have proved essential to manage your response to the pandemic?
Our customer relationship management systems are vital along with our research and analytics tools. We start there. Everything starts with the research. For instance, we launched custom polling in late April to understand where our consumers in New Jersey were with regards to returning to care, what their fears were. That research and the analytics in our own data warehouse and CRM solution provided a roadmap on not only messaging for returning to care, but also informed the strategy on web, social, contact management and application development.
What tools do you wish you had? And what creative solutions are you still working on?
It’s not the digital engagement tools I wish I had. I believe we have in place the right toolset that we continue to optimize and leverage, coupled with a roadmap on what we’ll need next. I wish I had technology to recreate the hallway conversations that are now missed, the elevator rides where crucial information is shared and the brainstorming lunches. How do we ensure we all work effectively not only within our domains but also with others?
How are you preparing for the coming vaccines?
We are building online scheduling systems for our team members and the community. There’s not a secret sauce to this, but healthcare generally has the tools in place to make that happen. It just requires the coming together of the IT, operations and clinical teams. In addition, we’ll be leveraging our CRM and digital outreach tools like texting, automated call dialing, social media, etc. to keep people informed and aware.
What can the HITMC community do to help you and Hackensack Meridian Health?
Continue to push us to keep getting better. I learn a lot from the community and the conversations here have sparked ideas here that turn into projects that turn into wins.
Be sure to follow all of the 12 Days of #HITMCChristmas.