Podcast: Chris Cebollero, President/CEO of Cebollero & Assoc.
Chris is the CEO of Cebollero & Associates, a consulting firm which specializes in all facets of healthcare management. Cebollero is a Bestselling Author, member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and can be seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, and more. He has spent over 30 years in the EMS field and chats with us today about proper network credentialing and delivering care through third parties, healthcare trends he’s observed over the years, and lessons learned from COVID-19.
Below are a few highlights from our interview, but be sure to listen and subscribe to The Patient's Journey podcast, linked at the bottom of the page.
What types of observations have you made around trends that are changing in health care?
There’s certainly a lot of things changing this year, with the biggest trend being telemedicine. Telemedicine has actually been around for a long time, around 14 or 15 years ago we saw it emerge. But people didn’t want to move in that direction: they were still going to the doctor’s office or the emergency room. If there’s one good thing that has come from the pandemic, it’s the fact that we’re using telehealth more. There’s no reason that anyone needs to leave the office for certain doctors appointments anymore, and they can receive healthcare in their office or at home in their pajamas.
There has also been more of a transition into electronic medical records webbed across other providers, to provide more consistency and transparency. As EMS providers, we constantly see patients who are getting the same medications from multiple different doctors because there’s not any shared EMR system, so I’m excited to see what’s going to happen there in the future of electronic records. 2020 has truly been an interesting year for growth in healthcare.
What risks come to mind when you think about patient care and the delivery of care services through a third party? Our healthcare system relies on huge networks of individual contracted and non-contracted providers to work together to provide care.
You know, I think that’s a very interesting question, because we do have risk in healthcare. Unlike socialized medicine in European countries, we do have third parties to deliver various healthcare services. I think that the risk component is not “is this third party going to be able to deliver the service” but rather we miss the quality assurance measurements. How do we ensure that the patient is actually getting better? In the US, we often think of healthcare in terms of “getting you to the next appointment” rather than fixing the problem– we’re not thinking about fixing the system as a whole. And I think that is a huge risk. In socialized medicine, they want you to be healthy so that you don’t come back. In the US, they want to get you to the next appointment so that they can bill you again. Are we really helping people stay healthy or are we simply trying to get them to their next visit?
And when you start thinking about navigating the healthcare system, it’s complex. It’s complex even for people who know and understand the system. There are so many funded programs out there to help people get healthier nutrition, meal delivery, and other things to help their overall health, but we do a poor job of connecting patients with those resources. Rather than simply handing a patient a slip of paper with a phone number on it to call, we should call the organization and facilitate the connection with a patient ourselves. When we help walk people through the navigation of the healthcare system, they become healthier and their quality of life starts to improve.
When we help walk people through the navigation of the healthcare system, they become healthier and their quality of life starts to improve.
So we’ve talked about some of the risks when delivering care through third parties. How do you manage this credentialing on a large scale?
I think there are some great tools out there that can help keep you in compliance. Healthcare professionals and clinicians are out there thinking about how to deliver the highest quality of patient care and how to be compassionate toward their patients, not thinking about when all their licenses expire. But from an organizational standpoint, we of course need to ensure that we track all licenses, CPR cards, access cards, and more.
There is some great software out there that helps organizations manage these items and alerts you before a license or certification lapses. So, in some respect you can trust some of these tools to keep you on track. But at the bottom line, it’s the clinician’s responsibility to ensure everything is up to date and it’s a big concern in the industry. I’ve got to tell you, in my career I’ve known paramedics that have been working 3-4 months with an expired notification, who weren’t aware until it was brought to the attention of the EMS agency.
Let’s switch gears to talk about COVID-19. What do you think is a lesson we’ve learned about delivering patient care through the pandemic?
I think that one of the things we’ve realized as healthcare providers is that we sometimes have to be the ones physically holding the hands of dying patients when their families can’t see them. We have to be compassionate and empathetic. This year has caused us to be grounded back into why we’re in the industry in the first place– it takes a very special person to be in healthcare or to be an EMS provider.
This year was a lesson for us in compassion. We’ve seen all the horrors. Beforehand, when a loved one was going to die we could go into the waiting room and alert the family to say their goodbyes and spend time with their loved one. This year, we didn’t have that opportunity. This year, we were the people holding their hands and holding up Facetime so that patients could say goodbye to their families. In the past, we could have thought of patients as numbers rather than people. But now we’ve truly gotten back to empathy toward patients and putting them in the center of care.