Three questions with Michael Ristau: We’re just around the corner, but we’re all over the world

Oct. 5, 2023 / By Michael Ristau, MBA, Courtney Howell-McAnelly

I sat down with Michael Ristau, 3M Health Information Systems (HIS) vice president of global marketing and international growth officer, where he shared more about the division’s global background, approach and what health care organizations across the world can do to help drive success wherever they are.

Give us a quick glimpse into 3M Health Information Systems’ global approach.

3M HIS is present in 32 countries – we’ve been doing business outside the United States for more than 35 years. Interestingly, there is this dichotomy of doing business in health care across the globe. On one hand, the topics that we try to address in how to create time to care for physicians, eliminate waste and in revenue cycle and billing, and manage performance and drive value-based care are universal all over the world. However, the regulatory environment and the priorities in different countries are unique.

Our products are not cookie cutter solutions that are meant to be used as a single option for all. There has been and continues to be a lot of care and time spent to localize our technology to ensure it is effective and can help clients everywhere achieve their individual objectives. However, this is also a challenge. Algorithms and software technology can be applied anywhere, but the content underneath it is what drives the value. So, we spend a lot of time tailoring our products for those unique needs.

Another factor to consider is that each country is in a different place in their health care IT journey. It may be their technological adoption of the latest and greatest electronic health record (EHR); it might be their disposition towards cloud environments; it might be how they handle reimbursement and quality with the data that they have available. We like to meet clients where they are and then help them achieve their long-term goals. That kind of partner relationship is what we strive to achieve.

The world is big, but as you mentioned, countries still have shared goals for delivering health care. What does it take for success?

The Middle East is one region with well-published and well-organized strategic plans regarding health care, providing a roadmap of a true north regarding where they’re going. It helps to organize activities. It also creates an environment where organizations are eager to be the first to adopt the latest and greatest technology.

It’s both interesting and challenging because sometimes there’s not a foundation or readiness to adopt certain things. Sometimes data access, privacy, security, etc., cut across digitization goals. As a technology partner, we must be prepared to build the technology environment and release products that support objectives while also meeting or maintaining the regulatory environment. It keeps us busy, that’s for sure. We occasionally find ourselves building the airplane as we’re trying to fly it, which isn’t uncommon in advancing technology, but it must be done responsibly and thoughtfully.

One thing that we look for is the opportunity to partner with health care organizations that are genuinely innovative – those that want to explore new technology and understand that perhaps things may not be perfect from day one, but they’re invested in the vision and what it could be beyond achieving short term deliverables. We seek those lead users in every market that we serve, whether it be the U.K., Germany, the Middle East or Australia, for example. Those unique partners give us a starting point and confidence to launch something new and different. We want to learn with our clients, make changes and then go forward. This approach is not only an incredibly important dynamic for us, but also for our clients’ success.

What about those regions where resources, regulations, finances or other factors may make it more difficult to drive innovation?

There’s always change that requires everyone to up their game and level the playing field a little bit – like regulatory updates like ICD-11, for example. There very well may be organizations that will adopt ICD-11 sooner than more established markets. That dynamic allows different organizations, or different countries for that matter, to establish their own path in modernizing how health care technology is delivered.

Again, we strive to meet each market where they are, working hard to deliver localized content instead of generic technology. We take that very seriously. And it’s not just the technology or functionality, but also with our teams supporting our clients. Local groups of dedicated people who live and work in those markets, not centralized teams that commute from one place to another.

I like the phrase, “We’re just around the corner, but we’re all over the world.” Bringing localized solutions to solve organization’s needs with a personal touch from a dedicated local team is vital to success, and I know our teams around the world are excited about the opportunities and ready to meet the challenges that our customers have.

Michael Ristau is the vice president of global marketing and international growth officer at 3M Health Information Systems.

Courtney Howell-McAnelly is a marketing communications specialist at 3M Health Information Systems.