The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Richard Kaufmann, vice president and chief information security officer at Amedisys (Nasdaq: AMED), has been named a 2022 Future Leader by Home Health Care News.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40 years old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Kaufmann sat down with HHCN to talk about the gratifying nature of working in home health care, staying curious in an evolving industry and security threats that he is focusing on at Amedisys.
HHCN: What drew you to this industry?
Kaufmann: Like many people in the hospice and home health industry, the desire to serve others and a personal experience with hospice drove me into the industry. Experiencing health care being provided in the home was one of those moments for me where you think to yourself, “Wow, why isn’t everyone doing this?”
I’ve worked for payers in the past and that always made me feel disconnected from the patients that insurance companies serve. Getting into home health — especially for an organization like Amedisys who drives the culture of, “Everyone is a caregiver,” — was transformational.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
The biggest lesson learned since starting in the home health and hospice space for me was the amount of positive feedback that we get from our patients. When was the last time you heard a story about a great hospital experience? For me, there are always those caregivers that go above and beyond. That is fairly common – there are some amazing clinicians out in the field.
But for me, hearing stories from our patients about how much their mental health was impacted by receiving care at home is something special. There is an intimacy there that shouldn’t be discounted.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of home-based care, what would it be?
As a technologist, the thing that has me the most excited about home-based care is the introduction of more advanced machine learning and AI platforms to help drive clinical decisions. I think the technology behind providing home-based care needs some disruption and innovation first.
There is not a clear front runner in that space to me and I’m excited about the possibility of new technologies entering into this space to help with patient outcomes. All health care organizations can be data aggregators of health and wellness information, we just need to see some continued investment in this space to realize the full potential of digital transformation.
What do you foresee as being different about the home-based care industry looking ahead to 2023?
I think everyone in the industry right now is taking a hard look at the reimbursement models for home care. As a chief information security officer, it is my job to ensure that the trust our patients put in us to protect their most sensitive health information is honored.
We have seen more and more threat actors and hackers targeting our vertical. I think the impression is that because we deal with a more vulnerable population of patients that our security practices will be easier to thwart.
Dealing with a more aggressive group of criminals that target us, while at the same time balancing a potential headwind from the reimbursement side, is a challenge.
As we head into 2023, those are the kinds of problems that we are working on from a security perspective: How can we ensure the highest level of protection for our patients? While at the same time, working with fewer resources than a year ago.
In a word, how would you describe the future of home-based care?
Home-based care is becoming a larger part of care plans and Amedisys’ investment in Contessa is helping us stay ahead of that curve. Being able to identify patients that are better suited for home care and getting them out of a hospital bed is one of the ways Amedisys is setting itself apart from our peers.
If you could give advice to yourself looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
The best advice I could have given myself on my first day would have been to stay curious. So much of my early time in the industry was figuring out which fire was the next one to put out. I wish I would have done more to challenge my perceptions of how care is provided.
I don’t know if that reflection would have changed our direction in any way, but it certainly would have made me more knowledgeable quicker.
COVID-19 has completely changed the world, from the way that we work to the way we think about disease. The health care industry overall is still catching up to that paradigm shift and I think that all of the leaders in this space are going to have to stay curious and challenge some of our legacy beliefs.