It could be said that health care is a family affair for the Blacks. When Paul Black was five, he accidentally ingested weed poison from an unlabeled bottle. Luckily, his father was Director of the Pharmacy Department at the local hospital and was aware that they had just purchased an artificial kidney machine – the only machine that could save his life. And it did.
Things turned out for Black and the incident led his father to establish the first-ever Iowa poisoning hotline so residents of his home state could seek information on incidents of poisoning. Eventually, the phone service evolved into what is now Iowa Poison Information Control Center – an organization that is still working to save lives today. “My father was always working on ways to improve health care,” said Black in an interview.
His father’s passion for health care left an impression on Black. After receiving his MBA from the University of Iowa, he started with the IBM Corporation and worked in various executive roles. It was there he realized that health care was where he belonged: “I just felt good whenever I worked with hospitals and healthcare clients. It was clear that working with them had a direct impact on care and on individuals in their care.”
When asked about his hopes for healthcare, Black said: “My perfect healthcare future is one where everyone has access to healthcare, not just people of means. It’s one where a payment mechanism has been figured out whereby a certain level of access is guaranteed as is a certain level of prevention.”
While accessible health care is still a work in progress, Black believes that certain trends will have a significant impact on the future. He points to the transition from ‘patient’ to ‘consumer’ in healthcare. “People are taking more ownership of their healthcare, and they expect user-friendly technologies to help them do so,” he said. “The solutions that deliver what consumers want are the ones that will be successful.”
Advances in artificial intelligence are also providing important opportunities in the health industry, Black says. “As we shift to value-based care, the industry must be able to draw insights from every-increasing amounts of information. Machine learning helps deliver real-time insights to the clinician at the point of care, which improves both the clinician and patient experience.”
Paul Black is currently CEO of Allscripts, a company that offers an electronic health record platform and practice management software. The Chicago-based company serves over 333,000 physicians, 2,300 hospitals and 16 million patients worldwide. Prior to joining the company in 2012, he worked with health-tech corporation Cerner before retiring as their Chief Operating Officer in the early 2000s.
Black serves as an Adjunct Professor of Business at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and holds positions on several boards of directors including Inmar Holdings Inc, Saepio Technologies and Connextions. He also spent 16 years as Chairman and as an Executive Officer of Truman Medical Centers and still remains involved as a Member of their Board of Directors.