Matt Patterson, MD, CEO, AirStripDr. Matt Patterson, president of AirStrip, levels with listeners about how to craft effective marketing messages based on what doctors really want. Physicians often just want to be left alone to do their work, and they are tired of being told that something new is coming. Digital health vendors need to do more than just talk about innovation; sometimes they need to show it, like AirStrip’s live demonstration of its Sense4Baby app at the Apple Keynote event in late 2015. Learn how to win over physicians and administrators at the same time by fundamentally changing care pathways, not just adding hype.

Show notes

Air Date: May 18, 2016
Guest: Matt Patterson, MD, president of AirStrip

0:42 Introducing Matt Patterson, MD
2:30 Demonstrating Sense4Baby at the Apple Keynote event
5:27 Providers are taking on more risk
7:45 The keys to driving behavior change among clinicians
8:34 Value props for those who write the checks and those who use the technology are quite different
9:08 Doctors just want to be left alone to take care of people
13:00 How to get the attention of decision makers
16:35 Doctors are tired of being told that something is coming in the future
17:50 How to include the clinician voice
21:02 Bonus question: If you could join a rock band or music artist for a day, who would it be?

About Dr. Matt Patterson

Dr. Matt Patterson has built his career around the goal of delivering better quality healthcare to more people at a lower cost. Responsible for operations, he leads AirStrip’s people, processes, and technology required to deliver the full value of AirStrip mobile solutions to clients. Dr. Patterson joined AirStrip from McKinsey & Company, where he was a core leader in the North American Healthcare practice’s strategy and operations engagements. He focused on clinical and business model transformations of major U.S. health systems transitioning from “pay for volume” to “pay for value” environments.

Dr. Patterson also brings a wealth of clinical and operational leadership from his experience as a former U.S. Navy physician, where he served as the Medical Director of the Naval Special Warfare Center in San Diego, CA—the elite training command of the U.S. Navy SEALs.

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Full transcription

Jared Johnson: Hello my friends, and welcome to the Health IT Marketer podcast, the podcast that tells the story of innovation and health IT. I am your host, Jared Johnson of Ultera Digital, health care influencer and content marketing. This is the first and only podcast dedicated to the health IT marketing community. Welcome aboard.

If you want to keep up with the trends, voices and marketing tools involved in health IT and health care technology, you’re in the right place. This program is on iTunes so you can leave a review there. We are also on Stitcher Radio and on Podbean.

Well all right, I am thrilled to introduce our guest today. This is Matt Patterson. He’s the president of AirStrip and I wanted to welcome him to the program. How are you doing today, Matt?

Dr. Matt Patterson: I’m doing great, Jared. It’s nice to be here with you.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, thanks for being with us because we’re excited to talk connected health and digital health with you and I admit I’ve been a bit star struck as I’ve learned more about AirStrip all along, and I was one of those who saw a demonstration at the Apple keynote event last fall. So we’re going to dive into that and dig into that, but I want to give you a chance to tell a little bit more about your background, and where you are now, and what you’re doing in your current role with AirStrip.

Dr. Matt Patterson: Sure, I’m happy to. So my background is actually clinical, so I’m a physician by training. I have a background in ear, nose, and throat, head and neck surgery. I was a Navy doctor and proudly served with the undersea community in the Navy with the [inaudible 00:01:35] community as well as with the Special Forces as the Medical Director at the Naval Special Warfare Center here in San Diego.

From there I left clinical practice. I moved into the consulting world with McKinsey & Company for about three years where I worked with large health systems across the United States on both strategy operations and impact of health care reform on the provider world. And joined AirStrip four years ago from McKinsey where I headed up our clinical transformation efforts as we migrated from point solutions to abroad mobile interoperability platform that we call AirStrip ONE.

And over the ensuing years, took on more and more operational responsibilities, and I guess I don’t say no enough and I found myself the president of the company two years ago. So I’ve been serving in that capacity now almost exactly two years.

Jared Johnson: Now, like I mentioned, last fall AirStrip had an opportunity to demonstrate one of your apps, one of the solutions that you guys have there and maybe we could get right into this. If I remember correctly, that was the Sense4Baby system. You want to kind of recap kind of what Sense4Baby is and then kind of what the reaction was to that event?

Dr. Matt Patterson: Sure, I’d be happy to. So we started in obstetrics a little over 10 yeas ago. We were the first FDA-cleared mobile software on a smart device for mobilizing monitoring data from obstetric systems, and later branched out into cardiovascular and ICU. And now we do broad mobile interoperability across essentially any clinical data source, bringing it into a single workflow for clinicians.

And where we saw the market going on the monitoring side was not only for in-hospital opportunities, but also to include post-acute and out-of-hospital settings as well. And we see a pretty vibrant sensor community and groups of companies coming out. So it was natural for us to take a more formal and vertical position in obstetrics just because it was so close to what we do well.

And so we acquired assets to a small firm, Sense4Baby, which is the only FDA-cleared remote monitoring sensor for high-risk pregnancy that can be used self-administration in out-of-hospital settings and we integrate that into our software platform. And so, what we were able to demonstrate on the Apple stage was the real-time connection between an expectant mother out-of-hospital who is monitoring fetal heart rates and contraction patterns and a decision-making doctor, and we use the Apple Watch as part of that demonstration as well.

I think what really resonated most in the market, we saw tremendous response to that first of all. But I think what resonated most in the market from that demonstration was I honestly think it was one of the few times and one of the earliest times that somebody credibly demonstrated the real-time connectivity between a consumer and a decision-making clinician in the setting of what I call “grown-up medical data,” as opposed to kind of recreational data like steps and calories.

So this was an example of real bona fide medical data moving in near real-time where a consumer and physician were connecting across space and time to collaborate and make decisions. I think that was a very, very powerful signal for the market and a demonstration of how we can do that not only in obstetrics, but potentially multiple different chronic disease and acute disease areas. So that’s something that we’re very excited to be a part of.

Jared Johnson: I’m curious how that connection speaks to AirStrip’s vision for the future of digital health. You want to speak to that a little bit?

Dr. Matt Patterson: Yeah, I think ultimately there’s so many different ways I could describe what we do and our value proposition, but really I think when you distill it to its truest form, what AirStrip represents is a powerful enabler of behavior change. I think that, my background as a physician and also in consulting, I can tell you in a value-based reimbursement world and in a world where providers are taking on more risk and even consumers are taking on more risk, at the end of the day, the only way that you’re going to be able to survive and thrive in that kind of environment is if you are creating behavior change and redesigning care pathways fundamentally from what they are today. So a doctor, a nurse, a patient, a family member, someone’s behavior is going to have to improve in some meaningful way for you to drive the right outcomes.

You can do all kinds of retrospective analyses on big data and come up with the greatest conclusions ever and present a beautiful PowerPoint deck to hospital executives and say, “This is what your doctors, nurses and patients ought to be doing,” but good luck going out there and actually driving their behavior change and getting them to perform in a different way than they haven’t before.

So I think what AirStrip represents is we are in near real-time bringing in multiple disparate data sources across all vendors and landscape inside and outside the hospital into a simple, elegant workflow that allows clinicians, and patients, consumers, others, to just have the perfect amount of situational awareness for their workflow to make the right next choice. What needs to happen next? And I think that that last mile at solving is really what’s missing in the marketplace and is a place where we can really excel.

So our vision around connected health is around enabling workflows and enabling decision-making independent of where a clinician or consumer is across space and time. I think that that’s really what it’s all about and I think that that’s where you’re going to see the bulk of attention over the next few years.

Jared Johnson: What are the keys to actually driving behavior change? I mean, I’ll just throw this out there, is one of the keys for clinicians to see their peers, being able to see other clinicians have a tool demonstrated in real-time like we saw at the Apple event where they can say, “Okay, somebody is using this. One of my peers is using this. This isn’t an outside voice telling me what I need to do”?

Dr. Matt Patterson: Yeah, I think there are various pushes and pulls. And I think that what you’re getting at is an incredibly important concept for anybody who wants to innovate in this space and that’s that when you’re dealing with health systems on the provider side in technology, there are two constituents that you need to be able to have a compelling value proposition for. One, are the folks who are writing your checks and the second, are the folks who you hope to be using your software or hardware. And often times the value props for those two constituents are very, very different.

Listen, I’m a doctor so I can say this. I’ll tell you that doctors, by and large, they really don’t care about the metrics for bundled payment initiative, or cost of care savings, or this quality metric or that quality metric, or shared savings and things like that. They honestly don’t. What most doctors really want today is just to be left alone. They want to be able to do good work, to be creative and thoughtful and to take care of people, that’s what they want. They want that to be as easy as possible.

But health systems are recognizing that to thrive in a value-based world and to take on risk, you need to fundamentally change the way care has been delivered, and that is a huge ask for doctors and nurses, and even patients. And so what I would say is, you’ve got to provide the tools that will allow clinicians and consumers to do what is necessary in a more sustainable model of health care, and that’s a very, very big ask.

So as you’re thinking of innovating in a space in a hardware or software side, it’s not enough to solve an economic problem or a quality problem in health care because if you don’t have end users who are just violently happy about what you’ve created and want to use it all day every day, you’re going to fail. And likewise, if you create a wonderful viral application that every doctor loves and can’t live without, but yet it really doesn’t solve for any important economic or quality problem in health care, it will not get adopted by health systems. You will get marginalized and commoditized.

So you have to solve both of those things simultaneously and recognize that what’s important for a doctor isn’t necessarily what’s important for the health system. So as a very concrete example of that, just consider a bundle payment initiative, something so simple as a surgical bundled payment where one of the quality metrics is a patient experience where a surgeon needs to talk to a patient before they get wheeled back from anesthesia into the OR. You would expect that’s a very simple thing, everybody should get that, right? But you’d be surprised, that doesn’t always happen, amazingly.

Now imagine that you’re the surgeon and you have this great little technology tool that says “Oh, patient has arrived in anesthesia. Go see them,” and you show up but the patient’s not there. They’re off getting a lab drawn or the patient got a lab drawn on their coagulation panel which will determine whether or not you can operate on them today. And you’re going to walk up to that patient and either they’re not going to be there or you’re not even going to know whether or not you’re operating on them and you’re fumbling over what you’re supposed to say. I mean, this is a disaster of a situation.

Something so simple as trying to create a tool to enable doctors and patients to just connect at the right space in the right time can be exceedingly complex when you have to take into account scheduling systems, lab systems, EMR systems, messaging systems, etc.

So the best solution in that case would be one in which the doctor gets a perfect message that says, “Patient’s ready. Coags are done. Came back at this value. Ready to go. All you need to do is drop by now and say hi to them.” So that is a workflow enabler where the doctor will be violently happy that that exists because now I’m not wasting my time and I’m not fumbling over something that doesn’t work right. And the patients will be satisfied because it feels like everything is working seamlessly, everybody’s coordinated, everybody’s on the same page.

And so the doctor and the patient, they don’t really care that the hospital is participating in a bundled payment program and it’s going to make more money and it’s going to drive higher quality. They just want the seamless nature of the encounter to not be disturbed by technology. It’s to be enabled by the technology. It’s to be a silent partner to that. So those are the types of things and the challenges that you need to address. It seems very, very mundane when you’re talking about high-tech stuff, but it’s far more complicated at the operational level than most people realize.

Jared Johnson: What I’m hearing is, I mean it absolutely rings true what you’re saying of doctors really do want to be left alone at the end of the day. There are completely different value propositions here going on between those who actually are purchasing a solution that’s going to be adopted one way or the other. So how do you market your service to clinicians and to other decision makers? I mean, how do you even get their attention first?

Dr. Matt Patterson: Yeah, so I think where we were fortunate is that we started with a simple problem. So I’ll use obstetrics just as a simple example and then I’ll expand it to what we’re doing today. So when we were focused on obstetrics, it’s a very simple problem. So for the doctor, what we represented was the difference between going into the hospital unnecessarily in the middle of the night or not getting called into the hospital when you should have been in the middle of the night and missing out. So that was incredibly easy to understand for a clinician.

Whereas before, I had to get on the phone and have somebody describe something to me complicated that I couldn’t really understand what they were saying and I couldn’t see what was going on, to now, in the push of a button in two seconds I can see exactly what’s going on, so either I have to go in or I don’t have to go in. So it’s a huge lifestyle victory for them. For the hospital system, this was a tremendous risk mitigator, physician satisfier, patient satisfier, etc. So check writers were happy, users were happy, everybody wins.

Going forward, what we have now is a far more comprehensive offering in that AirStrip ONE allows a clinician to have near real-time comprehensive access to essentially any clinical data source on the fly. So in one application, one workflow, I can review a patient’s in-patient and out-patient medical record data even if they’re on disparate vendors.

I can look at diagnostic quality imaging, CT scans, MRI. I can look at live monitoring in and out of the hospital, including waveforms, secure message about that video conference, you name it. So the applications for workflows are essentially endless, telehealth, consult, direct to consumer interactions, etc.

And so from a marketing standpoint, we are now positioned, to the check writers, we can market ourselves as a very, very comprehensive interoperability mobility platform that is plug and play with any vendor systems which are currently installed. And can not only connect to those data sources for the purpose of visualization, it can stream normalized, structured data in near real-time into data warehouses, analytic stacks, real-time analytics to develop decision support rules that can be applied on the fly and drive insights that are going to inspire behavior changes among doctors, nurses and patients that are important for the strategic and operational initiatives of that health system.

So we’re not coming in with off-the-shelf, “Hey, this module is the perfect bundled payment module for hips,” or “This is the perfect population module for diabetes.” But we can participate more credibly in all of what I just mentioned than anybody else because we’re connecting all the disparate pieces together, serving up data in real-time to analytics and then providing for comprehensive visualization and mobile workflows.

So when a health system has an idea of what they need to go after operationally or strategically and they need the software tools to be able to get at the data they need, analyze that data using their own resources and then serve the insights up in a workflow that’s mobile, we can solve a great deal of problems in almost any service line.

And then for the end user, the marketing and the value proposition is more really, honestly it really amounts to a “Look what I can do,” and I know that sounds so simple, but it really is true. Clinicians, doctors in particular, are tired of being told by their health systems or their IT departments that, “Oh, that’s coming,” or “We’ll be able to do that eventually,” or “You’ll be able to see that eventually.” There’s been too long of big vendors promising things on the workflow side that have just never been realized.

So doctors, they want to do what they want to do now and I think that we are just more credible in that area of just saying, “Listen, how hard should it be to simply pull up a clinic note from your EMR vendor in the ambulatory space, look at that side-by-side with in-patient data, and also view the relevant monitoring data or imaging data and communicate with other colleagues and patients in real-time?” It should not be a complicated thing.

We can do that today and solving for what normally takes 20 minutes, and 10 different applications, and 10 different logins and now it can be done in 10, 20 seconds on a single application is very, very compelling value proposition for the end user.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, it’s a very compelling vision just for connected health moving forward, especially when you say it centers on that clinical workflow. So we’re not even just talking about clinical input on a product once it’s done, but involving that workflow from the very beginning. So I wonder as we wrap up here if you have any other advice just for health IT marketers, for their teams as they consider that piece in particular, about how to include a clinician voice and how to do so?

Dr. Matt Patterson: You know, I think it’s a great question. That’s so funny that you’re asking that question because it really has been something that we have been revisiting recently at AirStrip. I think when we started I think we were very careful to address both constituents in parallel, the end users and what was important for them versus the health systems and what was important for them. I honestly think that there’s a few firms out there that I really admire who are I think doing it the right way in terms of speaking to the end user, Athenahealth is a great example.

I honestly think from a marketing standpoint, what clinicians want to see less of or they’re kind of less responsive to are these really glitzy professional voiceover, “With the XYZ solution, you can embrace the power of connected health and harnessing the real-time . . .” blah, blah, blah, you know, just a bunch of jargon that really just doesn’t resonate.

I honestly think that physicians in particular are now facing a world where they’re feeling somewhat like they’re just a cog in a big machine and they went into this profession for very, very noble reasons and wanting to help people and just looking for some semblance of respect and recognition for the sacrifices that they made from an education standpoint and time standpoint to train to do what they want to do. And now they’re just being asked to do a lot more for a lot less with less resources.

I think what really speaks to them is not technology for technology’s sake, but something that just hits home to, “This is what your day now looks like, we get it.” This is why we’re creating what we’re creating, to help you get through your day and to help you do what you came into this business for, which was to connect and care for people. So I think the more that marketing can address that and speak to that, and quite frankly, marketing’s only so good as the product. The more products are really directed towards addressing what I just described. I think that will be more successful for everybody.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, maybe that’s why, like you said, maybe why Athena is a good example. Maybe that’s why their video spots really hit home. Their whole “let doctors be doctors” and my favorite is the, “Shouldn’t doctors talk to each other?” that whole campaign I mean, it’s fabulous. I mean, it speaks to everyone. We all get it. Being able to speak to the end user and the clinician in parallel, it really comes through there. Perfect.

Well, we do have time here for our bonus question which we’ll take a little detour from this amazing discussion and ask you this real important question of, if you could join any rock band or music artist for a day, who would that be?

Dr. Matt Patterson: So can I go back in time or does it have to be today?

Jared Johnson: No, you can totally go back in time.

Dr. Matt Patterson: Gosh, if there was one band that I could have been a part of and performed for one day I’d have to say Jane’s Addiction in their prime. That would be my band.

Jared Johnson: Oh, nice. Like, on the first couple of albums? So you had Dave Navarro there, you had Perry you had . . .

Dr. Matt Patterson: Yeah, early Jane’s Addiction, I’d say circa, let’s say ’95, so right around there. Them or Smashing Pumpkins around the same timeframe I think between ’93 and ’95, those would be two bands I would have loved to have been a part of.

Jared Johnson: Hey, that’s right there in my prime, both of those groups. So a lot of fun there. Awesome. We haven’t had very many ’90s alternative bands as answers to that program.

Dr. Matt Patterson: Well it’s funny. I did premed in college, but my primary goal in life in college was to play guitar and be a rock musician. So I can proudly say that I was paid money to perform live playing rock music in college and so that was my whole goal. So the doctor thing, that was my safety belt.

Jared Johnson: Well, I think I can say for many people I’m glad this route worked out and the number of lives at the end of the day you really are affecting by what you’re doing here with AirStrip is something to note there when you look back at your life. Thanks for your time today, Matt, and if anyone has any questions for you, they want to reach you, are you on Twitter? Is there a way for them to reach you?

Dr. Matt Patterson: The best way would be you can follow us @AirStrip on Twitter, or on our blog, Mobile Health Matters, or on LinkedIn, those are all ways you can get in touch with me personally. Always happy to connect with others.

Jared Johnson: Wonderful. Hey, well thanks again, Matt. We really enjoyed your time today.

Dr. Matt Patterson: Jared, it was a pleasure. Anytime.

Jared Johnson: Well, that wraps up the program this week. Let me know what you thought by reaching out on Twitter @jaredpiano. Again, that’s J-A-R-E-D P-I-A-N-O. Also if you enjoyed this episode or even if you didn’t, especially if you didn’t actually, if you have some feedback on how I can improve please consider leaving a review and subscribing on iTunes, on Stitcher Radio, or on Podbean.

Ladies and gentlemen, remember it is up to us to tell the story of innovation and health IT and remember to build your audience one gig at a time. Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson and you’ve been listening to the Health IT Marketer Podcast. This program is sponsored by Ultera Digital, health care influencer and content marketing. For a full archive you can go to That’s Thanks again for tuning in as always and I’ll talk to you again next time.