#JoinTheConversation with Experian Health’s Crista Harwood at #HIMSS17
This #JoinTheConversation series is brought to you by our partner Experian Health and the episodes were broadcast live in Experian Health’s booth (#3503) at the The HIMSS17 Annual Conference and Exhibition. The interviews were recorded and published to the media player on this page. Please read more about why more than 60% of U.S. hospitals count on Experian Health.
Crista Harwood, Chief Administrative Officer, Experian Health
Joe Lavelle 00:30 I am Joe Lavelle and I’m excited to be bringing you “Join The Conversation” with my special co-host, not Todd Eury, but Dr. Erin Albert from our remote studio right here and Experian Health Booth at HIMSS17. Erin it’s going to be such a great interview today, thank you for standing in.
Erin Albert 00:47 Sure, my pleasure.
Joe Lavelle 00:48 All right, we’re going to get right to it. I want to introduce our distinguished guest, Crista Harwood, Chief Administrative Officer of Experian Health. Crista, welcome to the show.
Crista Harwood 00:56 Thank you.
Joe Lavelle 00:57 Crista could you start by just giving a brief overview of your background?
Crista Harwood 01:01 Yes. I started my career as an engineer, worked in automotive and at some point decided that it would be a good idea to go to law school. I waited until I had three children though just to make it a little more challenging for myself, but went to Vanderbilt Law School and started on a new career as an attorney in Nashville, working for a health care law firm, and one of my clients was Passport Health, a little Nashville company that grew and was acquired by Experian. And so today I sit in the Experian’s health division as the chief administrative officer and general counsel.
Erin Albert 01:40 Crista, I’m always fascinated, and I actually podcast on the pharmacy podcast about Career Development, and I have love that juxtaposition that you have between engineering and law, so can you share at a health IT conference how that fits together and what you love most about the work that you do now?
Crista Harwood 01:57 Having an engineering background, I love working for a healthcare IT company. I represented other types of clients, but I was always drawn to the health IT business and that background, it makes me a better lawyer for Experian because I have the ability to understand the projects that we’re working on, to understand the importance of the technology, to understand the importance of recruiting people with technical skills. I still love technology; I’m a big nerd that will never change, so my favorite place is with the software developers.
Joe Lavelle 02:32 Well, we are kindred spirits. I am a computer engineer3 that was my degree. And I have lots of slashes in my career as well. I think it’s a lot more fun that way being multi-dimensional is it?
Crista Harwood 02:42 It is.
Joe Lavelle 02:44 All right. Well, let’s get to some of the Experian business here. I understand Experian has a terrific patent program, what can you tell us about the program and why it has been so successful?
Crista Harwood 02:53 The reason it’s most successful is because of our incredible employees. We have very talented and creative and technical folks, and that was one of the things that inspires me is protecting their creativity and the technology they create. That gives us a competitive edge in the industry. So we developed the program, we work actively with the development teams and document the things that they’re creating, and then we work with our patent attorneys to review all of the things that we have in our pipeline, and then we file patent applications when it’s appropriate, when we find an invention that’s patentable.
It’s been very successful we try to give a lot of visibility to the inventor’s. We give monetary awards. We recognize them. We have a technology conference, recognize them at the technology conference as well. So we’ve been pretty successful and built a very sizeable patent portfolio.
Erin Albert 03:55 And it’s my understanding as well, Experian recently launched a Women in Healthcare IT initiative? Can you talk about that?
Crista Harwood 04:03 Yeah. Experian corporate overall started a women’s program and asked me to lead the Women in Health program. It has been fantastic, we’ve had a great response and we’re working to make sure the women in health have the opportunity, help them build a career roadmap, help them make sure they’re at the right milestones in their career, to help them reach their goals, make sure they are given the opportunities, they are given the visibility inside and outside of Experian to grow, so that we have women in all levels of the corporation.
Erin Albert 04:37 How are you going to metric that, because I know we have a lot of conversations in pharmacy as well about women in leadership positions. Are you tying that into performance management or do you have a mentoring program as well or what components do you have?
Crista Harwood 04:50 We do, we just launched our mentoring program as well. So we have paired up mentors all across the company to give everyone the opportunity to talk to a senior leader. We are pretty fortunate at Experian Health. We have the best percentage of women in senior leadership across Experian. So we are good. Our gap is bringing women who come in at the entry level and bringing them up to Senior Management. So that’s our challenge and we’ll measure that by looking at, we have programs to recruit women to try to put women in more of those roles, which is challenging for a technology company because there aren’t as many women who pursue careers in Technology and Engineering, even today as we sit here at 2017, it’s difficult.
But that is our goal to have as many women come in at the entry level and our technical roles and come up through the ranks.
Joe Lavelle 05:46 We talked about your patent program and that is certainly probably a large part of innovation program, but why is your legal department organization so important to your approach to innovation?
Crista Harwood 05:57 I have one attorney who is dedicated to patents and IP overall and so having that dedication and having her work so closely with the development teams to record and track all of the things that they’re working on. We try to be really flexible and help support them, we try to find a way to say yes. It’s always feels like it’s the job of the legal department to say no, but that’s sort of our motto is “find a way to yes” and it may be no we can’t build this product exactly the way that you’ve white-boarded it, but if you could change this and change this then yes we could do it this way.
So we try to work really closely and empower them and find a way to always comply with law, but allow them to achieve their vision.
Erin Albert 06:46 So we’re about mid-way in the conference. What’s been the most eye opening or interesting topic that you have seen thus far as of the conference?
Crista Harwood 06:56 A couple of things for me. I’m really interested in all of the mobile apps I see and that’s something we’re pursuing at Experian is finding ways to engage patients to take the data that we have and make it visible to patients to make the process easier for them to register. To have the app where patient can register and not have to wait in line, to have an app to pay your bills, to have an app to better understand your procedures, your medical history all in one place. So I seem to see that’s the trend, I notice that as I walk the floor. I also see a lot of IT security that seems to be a common theme to and something at Experian that we take very seriously and are very proud of our IT security program.
Joe Lavelle 07:44 I know that you’ve been pretty busy for the last few years with some major acquisitions what are some characteristic of a good acquisition in today’s environment?
Crista Harwood 07:53 One thing that’s really important for us is culture. Even if the company is performing well financially, if the culture isn’t a good fit with our culture, we would pass on that company. We have a very entrepreneurial culture, we are very collegiate, we have a great team, so we look for companies that will integrate nicely with our culture. You can change a lot of things but culture is one thing that is very difficult to change.
Erin Albert 08:21 Crista, I think our time is about up, before we let you go where can people contact you and learn more about your team’s accomplishments and Experian Health?
Crista Harwood 08:29 They can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Lavelle 08:35 Awesome. Crista, it was such a great pleasure. Thanks for making the time today.
Crista Harwood 08:38 Absolutely. Thank you.
Erin Albert 08:39.Thank you.
Joe Lavelle 08:40 All right. That wraps this live broadcast from HIMSS17, we want to quickly shout out a thanks to our sponsor Experian Health, also on behalf of our guest Crista Harwood and my co-host Dr. Erin Albert, this time, I’m Joe Lavelle, we hope you stay tuned for more of our Join The Conversation coverage from Orlando.
About Experian Health
More than 60% of U.S. hospitals count on Experian Health. These providers—along with thousands of medical practices, labs, pharmacies and other risk-bearing entities—are making smarter business decisions, boosting their bottom lines and strengthening patient relationships. Our clients have discovered the value of our revenue cycle management, identity management, patient engagement and care management solutions to power opportunities in the new era of value-based reimbursement.
Experian Health is powered by the strong healthcare heritage of our legacy companies, plus the deep data and analytics capabilities of Experian. This unique combination positions us well to help you succeed.
Revenue cycle management solutions automate orders, patient access, contract management, claims management and collections to improve efficiency and increase reimbursement.
Identity management solutions match, manage, and protect patient identities to enable accurate patient information and to safeguard medical information.
Patient engagement solutions connect patients with personalized portals to create price estimates, apply for charity care, set-up payment plans, combine payments to hospitals and physicians and schedule appointments.
Care management solutions organize and enable sharing of post-acute patient care information to help providers succeed in the new era of value-based reimbursement.
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