Applying Casino Loyalty Technology To Solve The Problems Of Healthcare Technology

The Healthcare IT Expo conference in New Orleans had a theme of how to solve healthcare technology’s biggest challenges. The question? What is NOT working? What are the problems that need solving and how is technology going to solve those problems? Sunny Tara, CEO of CareCognitics, took part in a Think Tank at the event where he discussed what IS NOT working in healthcare technology. His background in building innovative technology and loyalty for casinos allows him to create a upatient-centeredntered approach to care management.

One thing that isn’t working is treating patients with a one size fits all approach.  To provide what a patient requires we must make improvements at the line level. This is where healthcare can learn from other industries. I come from the casino industry and we wouldn’t treat every customer the same so why is healthcare doing that?

We are doing the same thing with healthcare technology. We want to use the same tool for every job, even if they don’t match. For example, physicians report burnout and dissatisfaction with electronic health records (EHR). Are we trying to make the health record do something it wasn’t designed for? We want to get the maximum value out of the EHR so we try to have it measure patient satisfaction and provide information back and forth and schedule appointments and create loyalty. It is not well suited to many of the tasks we assign it.

A great EHR is critical and important when it comes to clinical care and a system of record. However, from a technology perspective, the EHR doesn’t make sense for a lot of patient focused tasks. Would I want my EHR system to be my ecommerce system? No. I would get an ecommerce system for that. We are trying to put too much on the back of the EHR when that’s not what it was designed to do. Instead we need a separate patient focused system that will build patient loyalty. Technology to improve patient care should be technology designed with patients in mind, not stretching existing technology to make it fit in every situation.

One of the key ways to find out if a technology is well suited to the job to be done is adoption. The key to adoption is one thing- providing value to the person using it. For example, in the casino industry in the early 2000’s we implemented a pretty large IT investment. We spent over 100 million dollars on the ability to order drinks from a slot machine. This is a simple technology, but when we rolled it out there was such pushback from the cocktail waitresses because they felt that this was going to take their jobs.

As soon as we implemented some pilots they changed their minds. They realized that this technology was going to help them. Rather than circling and taking orders they just were just delivering drinks and providing great service. They were able to make more tips every hour and customers were happy. The technology provided them value and that changed the dynamics. We used technology to provide a better experience to customers because their drinks were coming sooner and at the same time the cocktail waitresses were happy because they were making more money.  This is the virtuous use of technology we need to apply to healthcare where both providers and patients benefit.

When technology provides value to patients, it will have high adoption. We have been pleased to see that even among a Medicaid population, we have high adoption. If we judge the effectiveness of technology based on adoption rather than cramming patients into an assembly line of ineffective care, we can easily sort which technologies are effective and which aren’t. The purpose of our technology is to enable better patient loyalty. I cannot change your odds- but I can provide a great patient experience.

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HIMSS Highlights With Sunny Tara, CEO Of CareCognitics

Our founder, Sunny Tara, and some of the CareCognitics team attended HIMSS2019 from February 11-15 in Orlando, FL. It was our mission to speak to physicians about transforming patient experience and loyalty and learn more about what pain points physician practices care about. Sunny went with the mission of learning and connecting. Here are some of the presentations he thought were exemplary for being on the vanguard of Health IT, and espousing optimism and creativity for the future of the industry:

1)   Dr. Richard Milani, from Ochsner, did a session on Monday, February 11, at the HiMSS physicians executive symposium, which was excellent. The session was about the epidemic of chronic disease; it presented simple, practical ways to engage patients, and shared outcomes that were remarkable. I applaud the work Dr. Milani is doing and hope he becomes an inspiration to his fellow physicians.

2)   The opening keynote on Tuesday, February 12, was a breath of fresh air: it allowed attendees to witness two democratic and two republican healthcare bureaucrats jointly complement the work done by the previous administration and talk about how it can be used as a stepping stone to build upon to make healthcare better. They discussed some of the positive new regulations passed by the Center for Medicaid Services to advance interoperability and give patients access to health data via my health data initiative.

3)  The SOMOS presentation on February 12, by Dr. Ramon Tallaj and Tongue Yaman, MPH. It was very impressive to see how they integrated 300+ practices on different electronic health records within their first year of operation. In doing so, they were able to reduce avoidable hospital admissions by 25%, which resulted in a $33 million distribution to the physician network after the first DSRIP incentive payment. Financial rewards and better records working are great to see in action.

4)   Exhibition booths. Some of the best presentations are found on the exhibition floor. As always, there were very impressive vendor booths–but two that stood out for me were:

  • A) The Israel booth at the HiMSS exhibition–I was very impressed with the innovative digital solutions coming out of Israel, which are very promising; I look forward to working with a few of the companies in the near future.
  • B) The Intermountain booth– It stood out by being very different from the rest, which forced you to have the conversation, which I thought was very innovative. It had an open floor design with projections reminiscent of Utah Nature. While the bear was slightly distracting, he was also a sort of proud mascot of HIMSS.

5)   The HiMSS keynote address, in which Cris Ross, CIO of Mayo Clinic, shared his touching and very inspiring personal story.  It put all of the work we do as members of the healthcare IT industry in perspective, and at the same time made us all reflect on the work we have ahead to improve the patient care & experience. “Are we seeking to transform or are we merely coping?” This is a question we ask ourselves at Carecognitics. Learning at a conference like HIMSS is part of this learning process.

Industry events can inspire learning and highlight success. It was an honor to learn from physician leaders and drive our mission of better patient loyalty through personalized technology. We can do so much more and look forward to continuing our mission of learning and growing.

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Equality And Loyalty

How Loyalty is Impacted in the Workplace

Janae Sharp

In order to improve productivity, employers should ask themselves what a diverse workforce is looking for. Diversity is a strategic imperative with a strong business case. Diverse perspectives make companies stronger and more profitable. So what are women loyal to?

I am loyal to people who allow for freedom and demand hard work.

I am loyal to a boss that acknowledges my work and trusts my input. I want all of my employers to succeed. When I say I will do something, I do it. I expect an employer to have that same drive. Part of that is understanding what is expected of me. One of my best workplace experiences was with a boss that shared what they thought my strengths were and what problems they needed help within the company. Then they listened and let us come up with ideas. This wasn’t revolutionary, but listening to us was. They tried the ideas that employees came up with.

Respecting diverse input and being willing to try is something I am loyal to. That employer was willing to trust their employees.

I spoke with a few Women in Health IT about what impacted their workforce loyalty.

Kirti Sharma

Loyalty is impacted not only for women but any person at the workplace due to the value he or she gets at his or her workplace

When it comes to giving value to someone we are talking about giving value to one’s opinion, perspectives, work, and personality. Every person is unique and we must value the uniqueness in others. When people get value at the workplace they tend to be more motivated and loyal to their work.

Loyalty is also impacted by how balance is maintained at workplace

A woman will be more inspired and motivated at work if she feels that she is treated equally when it comes to gender. Her opinions and ideas are considered and appreciated irrespective of gender and other factors.

Elena Ivanova

What builds Loyalty?

Two words that come to mind are recognition and flexibility. This isn’t necessarily gender-specific. People don’t (always) leave companies, they leave their bosses. I think recognition is one of the most important parts of management that’s often overlooked. People want to feel appreciated, heard, and empowered to do their jobs. They want to know that their efforts matter. Let’s face it – men or women – we’re all human. We want our work to be recognized by our bosses and colleagues. I think women can empower each other, rather than be threatened by one another, especially at the top.

Since the workweek has historically been designed for men, women, especially working mothers, need flexibility beyond the traditional nine-to-five, especially while raising small children. That means being able to work remotely part-time or when needed, along with flex hours. When I leave work during the days I’m in the office, I sometimes joke around with colleagues “Have a good night, everyone. I’m off to my other full-time job.” I try to leave a few minutes early to pick up kids from daycare on time before getting the penalty fine for being late. From that point on until bedtime, there’s no break – unpacking school bags and repacking them with snacks for the next day, dinner, dishes, bath time, and storytime. All parents know the drill. It’s exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. After the kids’ bedtime, I often catch up on work I didn’t get a chance to get done during the day.

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Sunny Tara, CEO of CareCognitics was interviewed on the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs podcast to share his journey from Casino and Gaming industry executive to healthcare IT.  Here’s a short preview of the podcast:

“Can we take a loyalty-based approach or relationship-based approach that allows physicians to extend the care outside their four walls and connect with patients while they are in the comforts of their own homes?” This is the question that Sunny Tara asked himself in the process of creating CareCognitics, the innovative digital platform that drives improved health outcomes for patients using the same techniques and technology used in the casino, retail, and hospitality industries.

In this episode of HAE Invites, Denise Silber speaks with fellow Harvard alumnus Sunny Tara about how he came up with the idea of applying the things he learned from working in the casino industry to the healthcare industry. They discuss why he sought to improve the healthcare industry, the challenges he faced in the process of establishing CareCognitics, and the program structure and revenue model he imposed that makes healthcare a lot more beneficial for both the physician and the patient.

Listen to the full podcast embedded below or on the Harvard podcast page:



Learn more about CareCognitics use of casino loyalty and data science principles applied to healthcare at:

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