Wednesday, November 23, 2016

HealthNet connect Grows Up

It’s hard to believe that just four years ago HealthNet connect (HNc) was a UnityPoint Health grant project under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (RHCPP). There were literally dozens of Rural Health Care Consortiums similar to HNc created across the nation under the same grant. During that time HealthNet connect was not even the largest Consortium in Iowa. HNc had roughly 80 participant hospitals and clinics (most of which were UnityPoint Health affiliated), in two states (Iowa and Illinois) and only provided a connection to the HNc private fiber optic network.

Fast forward four years and today HealthNet connect has close to 300 participants (the majority are not affiliated with UnityPoint Health), in six states (Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota). This makes HNc the 3rd largest and most expansive of the originally created Rural Health Care Consortiums in the nation. Additionally, through HNc Services, HealthNet connect now provides a range of eHealth, broadband and technology services to its participants.

So, what does being the 3rd largest Rural Health Care Consortium mean to our participants? With the growth of the consortium came the growth of the HNc team. The HNc team has the skill and experience to deliver and support some of the most complicated technical services using our privately owned technology infrastructure. Since we provide technology services to many of our participants we can better scale best practices across the consortium, which keeps costs manageable. More importantly, our participant hospitals and clinics provide exceptional care to literally millions of patients across our consortium and many of these patients see providers in various locations within the consortium. HNc is developing tools to allow for robust, secure communication and exchange of patient information for our clinical providers within the consortium. Tools such as Telehealth and Health Information Exchange (HIE) capabilities allows for better care coordination and more efficient population health management.

The HealthNet connect team are excited about our growth, however the focus remains the same, to provide technology-enabled healthcare that allows consortium participants to make a difference in the lives of the communities they serve.

Rodney Brown

Black and White Wage Gap is Largest in 40 Years

Black-white wage gaps expand with rising wage inequality

Report • By Valerie Wilson and William M. Rodgers III
Economic Policy Institute

September 20, 2016

What this report finds: Black-white wage gaps are larger today than they were in 1979, but the increase has not occurred along a straight line. During the early 1980s, rising unemployment, declining unionization, and policies such as the failure to raise the minimum wage and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws contributed to the growing black-white wage gap. During the late 1990s, the gap shrank due in part to tighter labor markets, which made discrimination more costly, and increases in the minimum wage. Since 2000 the gap has grown again. As of 2015, relative to the average hourly wages of white men with the same education, experience, metro status, and region of residence, black men make 22.0 percent less, and black women make 34.2 percent less. Black women earn 11.7 percent less than their white female counterparts. The widening gap has not affected everyone equally. Young black women (those with 0 to 10 years of experience) have been hardest hit since 2000.

Why it matters: Though the African American experience is not monolithic, our research reveals that changes in black education levels or other observable factors are not the primary reason the gaps are growing. For example, just completing a bachelor’s degree or more will not reduce the black-white wage gap. Indeed the gaps have expanded most for college graduates. Black male college graduates (both those with just a college degree and those who have gone beyond college) newly entering the workforce started the 1980s with less than a 10 percent disadvantage relative to white college graduates but by 2014 similarly educated new entrants were at a roughly 18 percent deficit.

Here is the link to the entire report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI):

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sodexo Welcomes New Regional Vice President Rodney Brown

Rodney joins Sodexo as Regional Vice President - Universities West. He will be leading our continued transformation in the Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas markets. Specifically, Rodney will be focusing on talent management, developing strategic client relationships, accelerating business growth and improving our overall financial performance.

Rodney has over 20 years of experience successfully guiding organizations through start-up, revitalization, and turnaround and accelerating growth. His most recent experience was at UnityPoint Health, where he was Executive Director and CEO responsible for developing, communicating, and executing the vision, values, and direction of their broadband and  technology subsidiary HealthNet connect & BHC, LC. Prior to UnityPoint, Rodney was VP of Sales & Marketing and COO at VersaSuite Healthcare.

Rodney has also held leadership positions in sales, support, and operations at AT&T, Apple and Dell.

Rodney holds a BA in Business Management and an MBA from Saint Leo University. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and the American College of Healthcare Executives. Rodney is also very committed to his community having served with the US Army Finance Corp, a member of the Board for the Technology Association of Iowa and an Advisor for the City of Dubuque Sustainable Innovations Council.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

School Telehealth

As the current school year is ending many school districts, particularly in rural areas will be struggling with budget constraints for the new school year. School nursing programs, already strapped are continuously under the microscope when schools are looking to make cuts. Although these nursing programs are experiencing significant cutbacks the volume of students needing medical attention during the day are increasing. This puts obvious pressure on the limited nurse resources within the schools, as some schools even have other personnel (assistant principles, teachers) providing some of the basic care. This also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on parents having to leave work to pick up kids for illnesses that, if diagnosed properly, the kid(s) probably could have stayed in school.

This is not a knock on the school nurses, they do an incredible job under difficult circumstances. They just need better resources to help them be more effective. School-based Telehealth could play a critical role in relieving some of the pressures both school nurses are under and parents. The school nurse serves a pivotal role to provide expertise and oversight of school health services, promotion of health education, and connection between the academic setting and healthcare settings. 


Telehealth is a form of technology-enabled healthcare that allows patients to be seen by clinical providers at a distance through some type of video application. School-based telehealth Is an area that has the potential to virtualize office visits, while providing an important service to students with the greatest needs.

The cost of establishing a school-based program may be the largest factor in determining whether a district is wiling to engage in this endeavor. However, when taking into consideration the widening access for students, school nurses and other specialists, the return on investment for a district can be significant. Also, the potential cost savings associated with teachers using Telehealth consults in lieu of taking sick days and alleviating the cost of substitute teachers, could be very attractive for the school district.

School-based Telehealth programs are successful when they are community based. Parents, students, teachers, administrators, nurses and local providers are all keys to success. The objective is to provide cost-effective access to all students with the goal of improving academics and health. School-based Telehealth programs can have a positive impact on the students and the communities they live in.

Rodney Brown
Chief Executive Officer
HealthNet connect & BroadNet connect

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Managed Hosting Can Help Your Business

Originally Written by:
Gadi Hus
April 22, 2016

Managed hosting refers to the IT provisional mode in which a provider company leases servers and associated applications and hardware to a client. The providing company houses and manages all equipment. The client may or may not have administrative access to these servers and applications but rarely utilizes this access. In most cases, a web-based interface is used by the client to interact with the hosting provider.
Standard Services Offered Through Managed Hosting:
  • Set up and configuration of hardware
  • Set up and configuration of software
  • Technical Support
  • Patch Management
  • System maintenance
  • Monitoring All Hardware, Software and System Functioning
  • Updating Client

Additional (or Optional Services):
  • Backups of Systems, Hardware and Software
  • Load balancing
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • ID – Intrusion Detection
  • Preventing and Mitigating DDoS: Distributed Denial of Service
The services a company is offered by their cloud provider depends entirely on the level of management they opt for. Managed hosting has two options: fully managed hosting and partial managed hosting.” In a fully managed hosting package, the goal is to allow the client to sit back and enjoy their server without any involvement beyond receiving regular updates. A dedicated webmaster works around the clock to monitor and manage your server systems and hardware. Partial managed web hosting is less expensive but requires more hands on involvement from the client. Your systems will still be managed by a dedicated webmaster but you will be responsible for some administrative tasks. The upside of this choice is that you, as a user, have a higher degree in control over your systems.
The Benefits - Managed Hosting and Your Company
The benefits of managed hosting are most acutely experienced by small to mid sized companies. For these companies, the cost of signing up with a managed hosting provider is significantly less than that of hiring, training and monitoring an in-house webmaster. Additionally, companies save significant amounts of resources and time on the maintenance of these server systems. Managed hosting providers give companies the ability to focus on their business without wasting time and energy on IT management. Here is a brief look at additional benefits of managed hosting.
Security and Experience: With managed hosting services, you are paying for expertise and experience – and the peace of mind that accompanies this. Highly skilled technical specialists are proactively managing and updating your IT infrastructure while you focus on growing your business. Furthermore, managed hosting providers utilize multiple layers of redundancy to ensure that no single point of failure is present in your infrastructure – thereby creating a higher level of security than businesses could create on their own.
Decreased Staffing Needs: Outsourcing your IT infrastructure needs to a managed hosting provider means significantly reduced staffing needs and expenses. For one fee, a managed hosting provider will replace an entire department of in house IT tech support while offering the 24 hour coverage and management that would be impossible to provide with an in house staff. This 24 hour care is often provided at no additional cost and can mean the difference between 12 hours of interrupted service and a secure business continuity plan.
Accelerated Global Expansion: Companies with managed hosting providers are shown to be more prepared for rapid international growth. Managed hosting providers with international operations have the ability to deploy international infrastructure quickly and replicate domestic solutions abroad. This allows for rapid expansion across international borders. Hiring the tech support needed to accomplish this with an in house team would be costly, ineffective and inefficient.
For small to mid-sized companies, managed hosting providers offer the flexibility and expertise required for business expansion.

Mr. Brown brings extensive experience building companies and leading sales, operations and service organizations in technology and healthcare. He is the Executive Director of HealthNet connect and CEO of HNcBNc.

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Telehealth Extends Beyond Hospitals and Clinics

Historically when telehealth is discussed it's usually related to some type of specialty care in hospitals/clinics or consumer based virtual care. However some of the best use cases in telehealth are performed outside of the hospital/clinic environment.

Schools are one example of this concept. With funding tight and a continued focused on reducing operational expenses, the school nursing programs are stretched. Telehealth can and in some cases already play a major role in connecting schools to specialists like behavioral health. As telehealth technology continues to evolve schools can do much more relative to virtual office visits and diagnosis via telehealth. Imagine physicals being performed on kids via a telehealth room at the school. Where the school and kids can have access to a network of Family Physicians in their community to perform basic physical examinations remotely. There are also cases around specialty consultation referrals (i.e, pharyngitis, dermatitis or upper respiratory infections) that are performed at the school through telehealth with a high rate of satisfaction from parents, specialists and school administration.

The primary health related benefits of effective telehealth programs in schools are higher quality of care, increased mental health and decrease use of emergency and urgent care. However there are very important academic benefits that should not be ignored such as; decreased absenteeism, higher grades and increased focus and participation in school activities. All of which makes for a more rounded student and can even increase funding for the school since funding is based on student's attendance and academic performance.

School telehealth programs can be a win-win for the entire community by being able to efficiently target health issues, focus on preventive care and access and employ the resources of community health care providers. As we discuss the benefits of telehealth the discussion can not be limited to hospitals or clinics but expand to places more convenient for the patient. Isn't that what patient-centered care is all about?

Rodney Brown 

Mr. Brown brings extensive experience building companies and leading sales, operations and service organizations in technology and healthcare. He is the Executive Director of HealthNet connect and CEO of HNcBNc.

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.


Delivering Value Equals Business Success

A widely quoted statistic gets to the heart of the value proposition behind customer service: “The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of retaining an existing one.” For businesses that succeed through developing a relationship of trust by delivering value to the customer, the disparity can be considerably reduced.

It's surprising that in today's business environment with all the hype around the benefits of delivering great value, I still hear an overwhelmingly amount of complaints around clients' dissatisfaction with the value they receive from the various vendors with whom they conduct business. One would think that providing exceptional value is common business sense, but for whatever reason, investing in and developing a culture around providing value appears to be low on the priority list.

I believe that businesses, especially those in the small and medium space, will enjoy incredible success if they build a culture of value by becoming advisors and partners built upon relationships and trust and are able to consistently tell their value story. Delivering value should start from the very top of the company. As a business leader I enthusiastically promote our values and value statement by telling our story to employees, clients, partners and competitors. The best business leaders and the most successful companies spend a great deal of time listening to customers to understand not only what services the customer may need but what type of organization they have, things they are doing well and what challenges they face.

A key component of delivering great value is the ability to solve complex problems. Most business leaders understand that they cannot solve all customers’ issues through their particular set of products or services, however to truly deliver value smart business leaders will develop key partnerships to strengthen their offers. A satisfied customer may tell one or two friends about a company, however a customer who doesn’t believe they are receiving good value from a company might tell ten times that amount.

Building good customer relationships is great, but in todays business climate you cannot build and sustain good customer relationships without simultaneously delivering great value.

Rodney Brown

Mr. Brown brings extensive experience building companies and leading sales, operations and service organizations. He is the Executive Director of HealthNet connect and CEO of HNcBNc.

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.