David Feinberg has worn multiple hats in his three decades in healthcare, including chief executive of major health systems UCLA and Geisinger and leader of Google Health. Most recently, Feinberg stepped up as CEO of EHR company Cerner in 2021, as the vendor looked to reorient from a focus on legacy EHR systems to becoming a software-as-a-service business.
A few months after Feinberg started, Cerner announced it was being acquired by software giant Oracle, for $28.3 billion, as Oracle looked to expand its cloud business in the hospital market.
Healthcare Dive chatted with Feinberg — now chairman of Oracle Health — at the HIMSS conference in Chicago about the company’s integration, Oracle’s progress in creating a national health records database and Cerner’s plan to help auto-adjudicate payment disputes between payers and providers.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
HEALTHCARE DIVE: Oracle closed its buy of Cerner in June, calling it an anchor asset as Oracle elbows further into the healthcare space. How has the integration gone?
DAVID FEINBERG: It’s gone way better than I thought. My bias is oftentimes technology companies think those of us in healthcare are not really sophisticated, and if we did things their way things would get better. Oracle has been the exact opposite. So the integration has been pretty smooth. I think part of the reason is that two-thirds of the people at Oracle are there via acquisition, so Oracle knows how to do this.
I think there’s great excitement for what Oracle can bring from a technology standpoint, coupled with Cerner’s long-standing history of partnering with health systems around the world. The timing just feels right.
When the deal closed, Oracle said it planned to focus the unit on medical software usability and voice-enabled user interfaces, and would expand Cerner’s business to more countries. Can you give me an update on these priorities?
FEINBERG: I remember those three things being listed. It’s more now. Our vision is to create a cloud-enabled health platform that brings all kinds of information together to make individuals and communities healthier around the world. That includes the electronic health record, and Oracle’s human capital management, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, claims processing, clinical trials — so we have a platform that normalizes data and then tees it up for whoever needs it, a mom taking care of kids at home, or a government looking at public health issues.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison announced Oracle plans to build a health records database to link the thousands of separate hospital databases. How is this going?
FEINBERG: It’s going great. We have a new product we just launched called Seamless Exchange. A clinician gets a new patient, and this patient has records from multiple places. With one click, we take all of that information and we make a longitudinal story of that patient. In all that, there’s a lot of duplicate information — it may say 40 times that you had a knee surgery. So we de-duplicate it. And if that information’s from a trusted source, like another health system I trust, it automatically writes it into the record for me.
To Larry’s vision of everybody having their records available in a secure way, no one wants all their medical records, because I don’t want to see 900 times the same cholesterol level that I had drawn. So the first step in getting to that vision is organizing disparate data sets and making them accessible and useful, and it’s EHR agnostic through an API.
What are the next steps?
FEINBERG: I don’t ever want to be more visionary than Larry Ellison. But I think it’s even broader than what he’s saying. Because not only do I want my whole electronic health data, I want all information that’s applicable to my health. That includes social determinants, that includes claims processing, so many other pieces of information — like, if there’s a claim on me, but not a documented note, that shows I had a cardiac ablation. So it’s more than just your EHR information from multiple sources, it’s multiple sources of information that pertain to your health.
How will Oracle pull that additional data?
FEINBERG: Oracle Financial Services processes 80% or 90% of the world’s credit card transactions. All that is is an agreement between the merchants and the banks to let Oracle be in the middle and make that transaction happen. In healthcare, there’s so much friction between the payer and the provider. So they agree on a contract, and a patient comes in and gets care. The coding takes place on the provider side, it goes over to the payer side, and they deny. Why did that happen? They each interpreted the contract a little differently. That never happens with a credit card.
So we have the clinical data. Oracle Financial Services also does claims data. We think we can be the trusted intermediary between clinical care and the payment of clinical care in a way that dramatically decreases the cost, where both parties have the ability to see and agree on what’s happening.
That also gives us access to that very important at-scale claims data. That claims data now adds back into my vision on top of Larry’s of we need those data sources. So we think there’s a business in decreasing the friction in paying for care.