Healthy Change in Higher Education Care Strategies: A Conversation with Chris Hester

Civitas Learning Blog Catalytic Conversations

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Sitting down with Chris Hester, Civitas Learning’s new CEO, means you’ll soon be sharing the passions of a tech leader with a penchant for social-purpose companies. You can read much more about Chris’s impressive background in the announcement release around his hire. Long story short: he’s a seasoned software CEO that cares deeply about helping people who provide care—as well as significantly improving outcomes for the folks they serve. Most recently, he led Kinnser Software, a post-acute software and analytics company, which radically reduced rehospitalizations and improved patient outcomes for their provider customers.. In this conversation, Chris and I explore the parallels of his past work in healthcare with his current focus at Civitas Learning and Higher Education. For example, at Kinnser he had a dual passion for (1) carving out the inefficiencies and busy work that were wearing out care givers and (2) bringing world-class artificial intelligence (AI)/analytics to the front lines. In this podcast, he talks about trying to develop software that would help professionals that are working hard to serve clients—often on deeply complicated cases—but all-too-often “running in the red,” overworked, and not having the ability to focus on those that needed them most. This means designing world-class workflow to help them make their magic, and to help those they serve help themselves as well. In addition, he feels that offering state-of-the-art data science isn’t enough. You must bring data to the care givers and the patients in careful and useful ways, in essence, democratizing the data. As the conversation unfolds, the direct connection is clear to the work of advisors, faculty advisors, student success leaders, and students in higher education. Indeed, “running in the red” might be the defining characteristic of too many educators’ daily work lives and too many students’ academic worlds. It’s why we’re particularly excited about Chris joining the fold. He cares deeply about this challenge and has solid experience in doing this kind of work at scale in high-stakes environments. Finally, in talking with Chris, I was struck by the similarities of this conversation with the arguments laid out by David Epstein in the compelling new read, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. In particular, Epstein explores why AI is often misapplied in contexts like healthcare—and education! The challenge is that these domains are defined by more complicated human patterns. In these contexts, you are better served bringing the best of AI and highly adaptive HI (Human Intelligence) together to the challenge. That’s exactly the perspective Chris and we at Civitas Learning have been championing from the beginning. Indeed, we are a “civitas” learning together about the many paths to student success! Take a beat and take a listen here on iTunes/Apple Podcasts. If you want to access the podcast on SoundCloud, just click below. Enjoy!

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