Saturday, January 23, 2021
Home CIO Spotlight CIO Spotlight: John Fantry, Chief Information Officer of Physicians Ancillary Systems, LLC

CIO Spotlight: John Fantry, Chief Information Officer of Physicians Ancillary Systems, LLC

John Fantry
Physicians Ancillary Systems, LLC

Walk us through your CIO path. How did you decide to pursue a career in technology, and how did you progress to your current organization?

My path to CIO has not been direct or deliberate –  I actually evolved into the role out of necessity, first as the co-founder of nzymSys, Inc. After learning the chemistry behind the products, my job was to: (1) prepare various written materials and visuals required to effectively explain our chemical formulations, (2) serve as spokesperson,  (3) draft and file the patent applications,  (4)  obtain research grants through a collaboration with the University of Connecticut Dept of Engineering ($250K+), and  (5) make presentations at the Nerac tech incubator (not for capital, but for guidance on the market introduction process).  Along the way, I had to assimilate diverse and detailed technical knowledge I did not previously possess, eventually becoming the chief spokesperson for the technical aspects of the enterprise. 

At Physicians Ancillary Systems (PAS), my title from the outset has been CIO/Marketing Director.  I have had to assimilate a body of technical knowledge regarding the specific medical services offered (EEG, Holter, spirometry, and allergy – including remote patient data acquisition and report preparation) in order to become the company’s spokesperson. Acquiring the technical knowledge required to perform the tasks associated with this role became critical to performance – at the end of the process, I found that I had become a CIO at nzymSys by default, and a CIO at PAS by design.

As for how I progressed to my current position at PAS, I must tip my hat to good fortune.  I reconnected with an old friend; after a discussion about what we were doing individually, we realized there might be synergy between our two efforts – which led to me to transition from nzymSys to PAS.

Tell us about your company.  Speak to the industry, size of the company, and the services provided to your customers.

Physicians Ancillary SYSTEMS is a clone of Physicians Ancillary SERVICES. PA SERVICES was founded in 2008 to provide outsourced remote patient data collection and report prep for neurologists. SERVICES has been very successful – after growing into a national footprint, it was sold in Q3 2019 to a larger provider.  Immediately thereafter, SYSTEMS was formed, mimicking the successful SERVICES business model but with a focus on a vastly larger playing field than just neurology – providing services to practitioners with patients presenting various cardiac symptoms. Presently, PAS is in the process of market introduction, which is one of my tasks.  According to MGMA, 47% of all patients are justifiable candidates for enhanced Holter monitoring.  Respiratory services cover patients with asthma, COPD, and a host of other dysfunctions. PAS has been focused initially on bringing cardiac services up to speed.  

Then came COVID-19, which is ravaging medical practices with revenue disruption, thus forcing bankruptcies and defensive mergers left and right.  The industry is undergoing a sea change transformation as a result.  Telemedicine has emerged as a viable substitute for many office visits, which is resulting in the disappearance of independent practices.

Telemedicine has emerged as a viable substitute for many office visits, which is resulting in the disappearance of independent practices.  

PAS offers a strong cardiac service value proposition for end users, easily comparable to the benefits delivered to neurologists since 2008: Less Work Locally,  Enhanced Clinical Value,  and Substantially More Revenue. The revenue factor could be the difference between survival and failure and as such, is our lead at this critical time.  

The revenue factor could be the difference between survival and failure and as such, is our lead at this critical time.

PAS utilizes proprietary equipment manufactured in the US, and our technical staff is located in Texas; nothing is off-shored.  Client retention in EEG is absolute and we anticipate the same in cardiac; we do good work and are justifiably proud of our capabilities! 

What are your top 3 – 5 (ongoing) main priorities as a CIO in your organization?

  1. Technical comprehension within the industry: Our industry is under relentless assault by the pandemic.   Practices are withering under the pressure as waiting rooms are empty and associated revenues collapse, leaving many unable to make their payments on leased equipment, rent, etc.  However, our technical capability in utilizing our own proprietary, state-of-the-art equipment to remotely gather more information and generate more comprehensive reports faster and at a lower expense. This comprises our very meaningful technical value. PAS – besides the enhanced clinical value we deliver – can also infuse substantial revenue for data services/report prep outsourced to us. This revenue component just supersedes every other industry consideration presently.  So the question is, “How do I convey this capability to effectively address the industry’s #1 problem without offending sensibilities?” I need to figure out the most effective paths to the achievement of this fundamental objective – which tools I should utilize, how much I should expect to rely upon IT solutions, and how do I apply them. With help from a professional service, I have already helped design and publish our new website, and I’ve set up the SEO campaign that is now maintained by someone else. I’ve brought the UCONN business and engineering schools to the table, secured market and technology assessments, and presented to university-affiliated shark tanks to gain additional insight on technical and business expertise. I wear a lot of hats here and most of them are connected to IT, either to my own skills and abilities, or to the skills and abilities of people and organizations I’ve brought in to assist.  My expertise is merging all the components, including the apparatus and the human resources, into an effective mechanism able to accomplish the objective.
  2. Public awareness: People are more sophisticated these days; the general public can handle and process more details than ever before – so how much detail should we really supply?  The general public doesn’t read medical journals and general publications don’t feature detailed medical information.  Where does that leave us? I’m not sure.
  3. Telemedicine affiliation:  The transformation altering the course from fixed-site administration to electronic communication is well underway and this transformation is unlikely to revert to the traditional model even after the pandemic has been brought under control.  As suppliers of remote services that data acquisition and report preparation, my company already operates in the telemedicine universe and we have done so since before there was even a telemedicine industry.  What remains for us now is to merge our service platform into existing and emerging telemedicine platforms, so that we become an indispensable component.  In order to do that, it is incumbent upon us to convey our capabilities to the industry. 

How do you decompress from your role as a technology executive?  What do you do for fun?

Well, we have 4 teenage grandsons living with us and each is a gifted hockey player playing on elite travel teams.  Unfortunately for us, they are separated by age – so instead of navigating a single 60-game season schedule, there are 240. One weekend we are in Pennsylvania, and the next we are in Maine. This is about as much fun as humanly possible and certainly all the wear and tear my poor care can stand.  I’m now “too old” to ski anymore. In May 2019, I said goodbye to the town’s Over-30 basketball league as the oldest player by decades (I coached some of the players on my team, now in their 40’s, when they were 10 – a special treat). 

Can you list your top 1 – 3 books that you would recommend for a technology leader to have on their bookshelf/Kindle?

I tend to enjoy more overall business management topics than that of specific technologies – specifically periodicals because they have fresh topics and the current content.  I find these more valuable than textbooks or semi-popular publications. I therefore recommend: The Wall Street Journal,  Forbes,  Bloomberg Business,  The Economist – and especially important to me given the nature of our business at PAS, Modern Healthcare.  There are others too, but these are the sources I turn to most frequently.    

Can you share a specific quote that is a source of inspiration for you as a leader?

I have 2 and I see them as related:  the first is by Colin R. Davis,  “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.”  The second is by basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died fighting inoperable cancer but always said, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!”  How are these two quotes related?  Have you ever heard the story of R. U. Darby, an adventurer from Williamsburg, MD, who got caught up in the 19th century gold rush? It’s a story of how two men had gone down the same road, one failed and the other succeeded; one gave up and the other didn’t.  I love stories like this, and these two quotes resemble the meaning of this story.

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” 

Colin R. Davis

Please share a recommendation or testimonial on the benefit that you see as a member of this CIO Professional Network.

The CIO Professional Network is populated by high-achievers – people who welcome responsibility and who embrace the obligations of leadership. This is a community I feel privileged to join and with which I stand ready to share my own relevant experiences and achievements.  I hope to continue to contribute meaningful information to the growing body of knowledge that guides this network, all while enhancing my own skills and abilities through information gathered here and the relationships built over time with people who undoubtedly know more about the role than I do presently.  I expect that this network continues to operate as envisioned – in which case, value is imparted and value is received and at the end of the day, we’re all better off for the experience.

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