Podcast: Cris Sierra, VP of Transportation Operations for ComfortCare Transportation
Cris Sierra serves as the Vice President of Transportation Operations for ComfortCare Transportation, an NEMT company, focused on eliminating barriers of transportation for seniors. He has over 20 years of leadership and NEMT experience, and serves on the Certification Advisory Board for the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Accreditation Commission (NEMTAC).
“I want to leave my mark in this world and ensure that we strive to knock down barriers that impede the success of NEMT companies.”
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.
I often talk with our guests about how far behind technology can be in the healthcare space: after all, you’d never use a fax machine to order an Uber in your everyday life. What are your thoughts around emerging healthcare technology and how can we advance healthcare beyond the fax machine?
That’s a great question. One of the main areas that executives really care about and one of the common problems we see around technology is security. There’s a lot of trepidation and fear of the unknown when it comes to progressing with novel tech in the healthcare space. As an industry, we have to do a good job of staying informed and progressing past those fears. Leveraging technology should not be a fear-based decision, but should be rooted in efficiency, scalability, and improving patient care. Technology can do anything from increase our utilization records, improve our patient care, or simply streamline the processing of information in between callers. In order for healthcare businesses to stay relevant, they need to adopt emerging technologies. We all need to conform with the times: technology is not our enemy.
You’re part of an organization with a lot of moving parts, employees, contractors, and more. How do you ensure that everyone delivers the correct standard of care and is properly credentialed?
That’s always a challenge in working with contractors. One of the biggest hurdles we face is the quality of care and the services that contractors provide: we want to make sure that the work they do is an extension of our business and in line with the quality of care that our customers have come to expect. That’s a number one driving factor for us. We do put incentives in place for our contractors in order to ensure quality, as well as constantly checking in with them.
You also have to learn how to rectify the situation when the quality of care isn’t being met. If you aren’t able to rectify the situation, you may have to cut contractor ties and move on. This is why it’s so important to do your due diligence before working with third-party contractors: service agreements, quality inspections, safety, compliance, and more. It’s always far easier to address any potential issues with contractors from the outset.
What do you think bars the healthcare industry from more readily adopting new technologies?
I think a lot of times we get stuck on the cost and the tangible items associated with new technology. from a leadership perspective, we we caught up on the “bottom line”, business impacts, and operational details. However, from a healthcare perspective there are a lot of intangible items that technology does for us and the patient. Cost and operations are important, but it can’t be the sole deciding factor in new technology.
Any books that you’d recommend to colleagues?
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I’ve read a couple of books of hers; she’s just really great. The book is from a leadership perspective, and it’s about understanding and having the courage to really have tough conversations. In healthcare, it’s vital from the patient and employee standpoint. We have to have whole-hearted conversations and understand that being vulnerable is not a lack of courage, it’s showing courage. It’s a great read and I’d highly recommend it.
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Want to read more from the Patient Care Logistics Journal? Read our guide on how payers can leverage remote patient monitoring to improve patient outcomes.