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HIStalk Practice Interviews Prakash Khot, CTO, Athenahealth
Prakash Khot is CTO of Athenahealth in Watertown, MA.
Tell me about yourself and the company.
I have about 24 years in the industry. I’m pretty much a self-made entrepreneur. I have founded three companies and I’ve successfully exited two. I’ve worked on aspects of technology up and down the stack. At this point in my career, I’m really interested in working at a company that actually means something to society – on something that can provide a unique value to where we live. That’s why I was attracted to Athenahealth, where I could apply a deep knowledge of technology and push the technology envelope as deep and as hard as possible. I’m hoping to provide some good solutions for healthcare, and hopefully help somebody get better sooner, help a doctor cure a patient sooner.
What are you hoping to bring to the table, given your previous experience at Kaseya and Salesforce, among other companies?
Broadly speaking, I have spent the last 10-plus years in building cloud-scalable systems – across the board, whether it’s the UI aspect of it, the middle tier, or even the infrastructure. I’m hoping to bring a lot of cumulative knowledge and experience to this company. I’ve largely been working at enterprise software companies; some very familiar with the rigors and the demands of client needs. I’ll also bring what I’ve learned exploring what social computing has done to user interfaces and user expectations. I’m also very familiar with the vast advances that we have made in pure-play technology, especially with respect to open source and what is there and what you can do with it.
That is my expertise, and if you really ask me what is the one area of focus that I want to bring to Athena, it’s to really advance the capabilities of our platform. I’m talking not just the surface area part of it, but the kind of user interfaces we can build, and the in-depth programming capabilities we can provide to our developers in-house and through our More Disruption Please program to the outside world. I’m really looking to help create that backbone. That is what I’m planning to do at the 100,000-feet level.
Given your time at Salesforce, how are you seeing the world of CRM and healthcare converge?
That’s a great question. Take a look at Salesforce and how it has evolved. It has evolved into a customer service company. They really want to make sure that their customers, and in turn the customers of their customers, are really successful. I think that sums it all up. In a way, we are here to make sure that healthcare actually works better. We want to help the provider, we want to help patients, we want to help everyone in between, so that patients get the care they need, the doctor gets paid on time, and we can let doctors be doctors. All of those ideas … they’re very similar to making customers successful. That’s one broad aspect.
I think getting our products to work really well together would be another Salesforce angle that I could tackle. You know, we are actually built on the same platform. We build the most tightly integrated part that you can see so that you can have an organic flow from one aspect of the work to another. I think I will continue to build on what we have already done in terms of our great platform, high integration, and a lot of expositive data. That’s what’s easy about analytics. I feel that I spent a lot of good, quality time defining what analytics means to that world.
Fortunately, we already use a lot of analytics at Athenahealth, so I’m hoping to build a great analytical studio over here as well. Those are some of the elements. Obviously, platform continues to be the common theme. We already have a great one. We’ll continue to enhance it and make it better every day. Those are the things I can see that is a clear overlap between that my Salesforce experience and experience thus far over here.
What specific projects will you be focused on in the coming months?
I think our platform services is going to be a great way to express and continue to build our platform. We are looking at a single-source of truth from a provider directory perspective. I’ll be doing some work in making sure that we provide that exposure to our internal teams as well to our MDP teams. I will take a look at all of our internal processes to see what we can do better. We are looking at a great new vision for our infrastructure as a service, so we can actually provide more computing and a safe computing environment for our partners, our customers, and ourselves. I’ll also be looking at how we can support the streamlining of clinical campaigns so that they are available to all of our existing and future customers. Those are some of the things that I’m going to focus on. I’m pretty certain the list will get longer.
Given that you’re coming to Athenahealth from outside of healthcare, I’d like to get your perspective on the company’s plans to move further into the inpatient market in 2016.
We are really focused on it and would love to provide those capabilities in as extensive a manner as possible. Since I am so new to this space, I’ll be focusing on looking at platform capabilities that exist today and how I can help the inpatient initiative move along faster so that we can have a comprehensive solution.
Are you making an effort to meet end users?
Meeting with enterprise clients is something I’m really, really familiar with and very comfortable with. I’ll start from there. I will actually talk to all of our stakeholders and customers. I think I will begin meeting with them on a quarterly basis to find out how they use the product, what do they actually see, what are their ideas, etc. I guess I’ll be travelling a lot.
How will the enhancements you’ll be working on specifically help physician practices?
We have some core principles over here that we to use in all of our decision-making. They’re related to scalability, stability, security, speed, and the speed of innovation. We will be doing things across our products that encompass these four things, and all of them will help our users. For example, if we really look at computing in the last 10, 15 years, we have gotten so much better at computing power, at storage architectures, networking paradigms, mobility, and end-user paradigms. We have made spectacular advances, and all of them really should be applied to healthcare so that the life of a doctor, of a patient, would be much simpler, much better. We would be the catalyst, making things much better very, very quickly. Mobility, for example, is of huge interest to me. Can I put a relevant set of information into the pockets of doctors so they can actually look things up? So that they can push orders from that particular device or app? We’ll look at several new cases across all of these five areas to see how we can continue to better serve providers.
Again, as someone who’s coming from outside of healthcare, what’s your take on interoperability? What’s it going to take to get EHR vendors in on sharing data with competitors?
We are in a very unique position because we are a true EHR-in-the-cloud company. We have capabilities to surface the right set of interfaces to the outside world in a manner that is safe and secure, so that users can actually achieve interoperability. I think one thing we will do very well is to lead by example. Since we are in this unique position, we will do it the right way. We will actually help the standards move forward, and we’ll show everybody how it can be done and how it should be done. That way, we can provide leadership within our industry so that we can all effectively help patients and doctors. I think that it is definitely something I’m hoping that I can contribute to in a very meaningful way.
Do you have any final thoughts?
I think the world of social computing and enterprise computing or business computing in general has really started picking up speed in terms of being so close to the customer. They’ve become so relevant to the customer. They’re so easy to use. We could apply a whole lot from that world and actually make healthcare better. That is another area that I’m really excited about. We are this healthcare backbone network. What happens when all of this data gets together is that you can start mining that data, analyzing that data, to find out some interesting factors, interesting knowledge nuggets. Then, you can take those nuggets and start thinking about actions that can be associated with those to make that knowledge more actionable, and then we can provide all of the automation required for those actions. Because the one thing you need to analyze is a lot of data, and we have a lot of data. I am very excited about that part as well. Our goal is to make healthcare IT better. We let doctors be doctors. We will do everything in our capacity to make sure that there is that open platform and ability to exchange the data with everybody else. Those are the things that comes to mind in terms of parting thoughts.
Jennifer, Mr. H, Lorre, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan
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