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Building Better Medication Management Products: Q&A With Kim Buckner

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headshot_kim bucknerKim Barron Buckner is an experienced product manager who was recently named a Product Manager at Cureatr. In this position, she partners with Cureatr’s commercial team to increase the value of Cureatr’s existing products and services as well as building new revenue streams. Buckner brings more than a decade of product and sales experience to Cureatr, including several years focused on patient safety and risk management solutions.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your background?

Kim Buckner: I'm originally from Sumter, S.C., and now live in upstate Greenville, S.C. I went to Erskine College and received my degree in business management with a minor in information technology.

Coming out of school, I began my career in sales and finance, where I worked on projects largely focused on trying to solve problems, improve workflow, and simply make people's lives easier (customers and employees). Through that experience, it was obvious that so much of what we do is powered by software so I pivoted to software development.

I started out in software focusing on construction cost estimation software. This experience taught me how to leverage and present powerful data in a way that provides insights to the right people at the right time to help make more informed decisions. I learned to ask questions around which investments are worth pursing based on outcomes, mitigating known risks and finding acceptable risk. This thought process proves to be relevant to so many industries today, especially healthcare.

For the last six years, I've specialized in building enterprise software as a service (SAAS) focused on patient safety and risk management. My work has included working with providers, nurses, pharmacists, and clinicians to identify and analyze patient safety risks and adverse events that occur in hospital settings; ultimately finding ways to assess impact and prevent these events from happing again. Keeping patients safe, also requires empowering healthcare teams with the information they need, when they need it, in order to provide the highest quality of care.

Q: Why did you choose to go into product management?

KB: The questions that product managers ask every day are questions I ask in my every-day life. What if we try this? What if we do this? Why do we do things a certain way? I have an analytical brain, which I think is important for someone in a product management role.

I also thrive in an environment where there is team synergy, lots of brainstorming, and a team first approach to solving problems. I love being able to get creative, intellectual people together that have various experiences and backgrounds to figure out why we have a problem and what we can do about it. Those are the days I wake up and get excited about going to work.

At the end of the day, every product manager thrives off the sense of accomplishment you get when you show a user something you helped build that solves an important problem. Being a Product Manager, focused on improving patient lives adds another level of purpose to what I do everyday.

Q: What's your experience with building patient safety tools for hospitals and healthcare systems?

KM: I've primarily focused on building software that is used in hospital settings to identify and address adverse events that impact patient safety and risk management. I have touched on so many different types of patient safety events in my career — everything from a patient falling on a wet floor to critical adverse drug reactions — you run the gamut in patient safety in healthcare.

I have spent a lot of time learning from nurses, pharmacists, risk managers, and other key players about the broad and challenging patient safety problems they are trying to solve. I’ve seen the power of aggregate insights that management teams need to make decisions about where to invest improvement initiatives as well as the need for better information at the point of care.

Q: In your experience working on solutions to help hospitals and health systems manage and prevent patient safety incidents, what did you learn about how medication management plays a role?

KB: Medication management plays a massive role in patient safety. In the United States, we are faced with a $528 billion suboptimal medication management problem. As more medications and clinical therapeutics are made available, there are great opportunities for improving patient health. However, on the other side of the same coin, if not managed correctly, creates an even more tangle web for patients to navigate. In my experience working on solutions to help prevent patient safety incidents, I’ve learned how far the downstream impacts of poor medication management can go. It doesn’t simply stop at the immediate harm to the patient. It can lead to longterm side-effects to the patient, psychologically impact the patient and even the provider, lead to expensive litigation, and essentially minimize trust in healthcare.

Up to this point in my career, I have been focused on data collection and analysis around risk mitigation and adverse events occurring while a patient is at a healthcare facility. Now that I'm at Cureatr, I have an opportunity to essentially follow these patients after they have left the hospital and create new and innovative ways to prevent harm once these patients are at home.

Through my experience speaking with pharmacists in the healthcare setting, medication management can be complex even with extensive medication management training. Now consider the intimidating and overwhelming job of a patient or their family managing their medications once they're at home. At Cureatr, I get to help build a best in class tech-enabled tele-pharmacy organization where pharmacists can stay involved and improve patient lives.

Q: What did you find the most surprising in your work improving patient safety?

KB: It’s surprising that medication errors remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States after so many years and despite so much focus on it. Patient safety has been a big conversation for a long time. There is so much more data, new tools, and committees and organizations focusing on it and yet I'm surprised at how little the needle has moved.

Q: What was the single most impactful thing you saw that helped reduce patient safety event incidents in hospitals and health systems?

KB: Culture. I've worked with hospitals across the globe and in various care settings.

Regardless of the demographic they serve, size, resources, tooling, access to data, organizations I worked with that had an organization-wide approach to creating an environment of continuous improvement and transparency are those that achieved progress and saw a real impact on their patient safety statistics. These are organizations that show they prioritize listening, improving, and communicating with patients, their families, and caregivers.

Q: What is your role as a product manager at Cureatr?

KB: First and foremost, I'm concentrating on creating and delivering an outcomes-focused roadmap. So, what are the things we need to do from a technology perspective to help our patients live healthier lives? Using actionable data and relevant insights, we can provide our clinicians with tools to help improve patient medication adherence and identify and resolve medication issues that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. In doing this, we can reduce pharmacy costs, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, and ultimately improve clinical outcomes. I'm working with everyone from our clinicians to our engineers to figure out how can achieve these goals. I want us to continue creating accessible, highly effective and transformational medical management products and services.

Q: How does your experience with safety risk management software shape your perspective about working in the medication management space here at Cureatr?

KB: During my time managing safety & risk products, I’ve learned a few key things that I will take with me throughout my career; the biggest takeaway being the importance of making time to learn from your users. I am excited to help build a culture of continuous user feedback here at Cureatr with pharmacists and patients to inspire the design of future solutions.

I will also advocate for the importance of intuitive, actionable tools. It is incredibly important to remember that the people who are interacting with patients have a heavy cognitive load. They usually have a long list of unique patients to see, must get accustomed to moving between various systems, and have potentially life changing decisions to make. I plan to help build tools that make their jobs easier and empower them to make the best clinical decisions while not overcomplicating things.

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