Businesses ‘reprioritized’ health care during pandemic, Salesforce CMO says
Salesforce Chief Medical Officer Geeta Nayyar joins Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco to discuss the benefits of healthcare for businesses and how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the outlook for the... healthcare has changed.
AKIKO FUJITA: Well, managing life and work during a pandemic has been a difficult task for even the most efficient organizations. But when you're in charge of healthcare for a 70,000-strong tech company, that's a much bigger undertaking.
Brian Sozzi was at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. He spoke to the group's chief medical officer, Geeta Nayyar. She stepped into the role in September 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. Brian asked them about that experience and what the company has learned and what is moving - what they are likely to see in the future.
GEETA NAYYAR: Look, the bottom line is that we've been through a lot during COVID. And the first thing you need to do is have a chief medical officer who works with your leadership team to ensure healthcare is sitting at the C-suite table and on-sight.
A big part of the pandemic has been staying up to date with the latest public health information, the latest pulse of what your employees were feeling, what your customers were feeling, what was happening in that moment because as you know it was changing about every five minutes. If I remember.
So if we had a plan, we had to save it or change it. We had to be agile with the moment. And we've deployed our technology to ensure we can run a safe event. Safety Cloud, Health Cloud, we used them, every technology we had. But we started and ended first with health and safety.
BRIAN SOZZI: When you talk to employees, do they feel like the pandemic is over?
GEETA NAYYAR: It really depends on where in the world you are. It also depends on where you are with your personal health and the health of your family, to be perfectly honest. And I think that's the case whether we're in a pandemic or not. If you have anyone in your household who is immunocompromised, I'll hear from these employees. The pandemic is over and the same fear remains.
But most of the time you can see all the people walking around here. We are exiting the pandemic. People are really happy to be together. And they know we have their backs, right? We believe in health and safety. You heard it from Marc and Bret. We have expanded our services. We're talking about mental health, telemedicine, not just ping-pong tables. We're in to win it. And we believe that health is good.
BRIAN SOZZI: Don't take away [INAUDIBLE] ping pong tables.
GEETA NAYYAR: Listen, I'm pretty good.
BRIAN SOZZI: Oh, okay.
GEETA NAYYAR: We can play.
BRIAN SOZZI: Alright, alright.
GEETA NAYYAR: We can play and see where it goes.
BRIAN SOZZI: I agree with you, Dr. G. So how do you feel about the long-term impact of the pandemic? What do you hear about employees' top concerns?
GEETA NAYYAR: Well, you see, health care has been reprioritized. So number one, we see customers saying how we, front and center, are protecting employee health? We are in an economic downturn. health is expensive. So how do you ensure your employees are healthy, happy and productive? How do you scale your benefits to meet the moment, whether in mental health or virtual care?
And you see, if you want to grow and innovate during the pandemic - we're sure - we want to disrupt the healthcare business. We want to scale the doctor-patient relationship. We believe CRM is the way to go. So it's important to meet consumers where they are, but also to meet your employees where they are.
BRIAN SOZZI: Do you get a lot of reports of employee burnout?
GEETA NAYYAR: So we hear a lot about this quiet cessation. So I don't know how you view that. But what I would say is that we continue to invest in our people. We jumped on board and actually grew through the pandemic. I was taken on board virtually, so I'm also meeting some people for the first time.
We see growth and meet our employees where they are. And we give them tools like Slack and other benefits and programs to help them really check on their health, check on each other and take the time when they need it, and really make sure they're happy at work are. not only present at work.
BRIAN SOZZI: From a healthcare perspective, what kind of perks or sweeteners do you use to keep people happy?
GEETA NAYYAR: Well, see, first I have to tell you that I was hired during the pandemic. So, having a chief medical officer will go a long way toward building trust. We started a program called "Be Well Together" during the pandemic. We invite luminaries to speak about health and wellness. We have Megan Ranney, Dr. Brought Ashish Jha.
We truly brought in the best experts in the country and world to speak directly to our staff and made myself personally available on our What's Up, Doc series where we would simply have those types of conversations. And people would say, well, that's my situation at home. Or I don't have a doctor. What should I do? how to get one Should I go to the emergency room? Should I go to the emergency room?
So just real talk, real healthcare talk, Doc Talk as we call it, and really let our staff know that we've been very serious and transparent from the top to the bottom. We've all phoned hands every week of the pandemic. And we shared some of our own stories from a leadership perspective, some of our own challenges and just made it a part of our culture to be at work and be healthy and present.
BRIAN SOZZI: What is your biggest challenge as you look forward to 2023?
GEETA NAYYAR: Well, look, first of all, it hit the spot. This is my first pandemic. I don't know how you are
BRIAN SOZZI: Definitely my first.
GEETA NAYYAR: I hope it's the last.
BRIAN SOZZI: I didn't live back when those horses and carriages were in 1885 or whatever, whenever that was.
GEETA NAYYAR: So it was all about hitting the moment. And it's been such a privilege to be with a company like Salesforce, which I think really got to where it was needed and led through it, whether that's in innovating on products like Health Cloud, Safety Cloud , Vaccine Cloud.
We've seen every innovation that's happened in science, whether it was a vaccine or a test. We scaled it with our technology. We drank our own Kool-Aid. We used it ourselves as a company. And so it's been amazing and great to meet those demands at the moment but also very dynamic and certainly kept me on my toes.
BRIAN SOZZI: Two questions in one - first, how did you get this job? What was your professional path? And then how is it for you dealing with the pandemic – so you have a family, but you also have to deal with the pandemic and all the concerns of these thousands of workers around the world. How was that for you?
GEETA NAYYAR: Well, it was a challenge. First of all, it all comes down to trust. I've known Salesforce for a long time. I was a Salesforce customer, so I was recruited through this network as a pioneer. And again, stay privileged...
BRIAN SOZZI: They dumped you with a job offer, right?
GEETA NAYYAR: Something like that. I think I got a hoodie somewhere along the journey. And look, I'm a mother. There was a moment when my 10 year old was not eligible for vaccination. And the pandemic, in answer to your question earlier, didn't end for us until our whole family was vaccinated, until we were sure it was safe to be out and about. I have a mother who is immunocompromised.
So there are many challenges that we have faced as a family. And we've just done our best to stay smart and take measured risks. And we are still doing it now and will continue to do so in the new year.
BRIAN SOZZI: And how did you get this job? Just was it an offer? You've always wanted to do this, haven't you?
GEETA NAYYAR: Look, Salesforce is the company everyone wants to work at. And that's how I felt as a customer. I saw what they did for us as a vendor. And I said I want to be a part of it. And because of the pandemic, I saw Salesforce's relevance in healthcare as a growing CRM. I mean, here we are after the pandemic. We are exiting the pandemic.
Virtual grooming is now a tool, just like your stethoscope, just like your prescription pad. So to be able to meet our clients and advise them and really facilitate that doctor-patient relationship on a large scale, at the client's request, look, you could walk your dog and call me and say , I want to check it on my blood pressure. Salesforce made this possible.
BRIAN SOZZI: Don't check my blood pressure.
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