Dr. John Halamka is the renowned CIO of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School. He recently spoke at Orion Health’s Toronto offices to an audience of C level executives.
The theme of his discussion was using Information Technology (IT) to provide innovations in healthcare. Throughout his wide-ranging conversation with the group, he sprinkled personal stories to annotate his real real-world examples of high-level technological innovations entering the field. A core theme running through his remarks was the need for better interpretation of the mass quantities of data that can be collected as a positive consequence of ever-advancing technologies. The capturing of data, though, cannot be the end goal. As he sees it, using this data to make smarter, more effective, more responsive inferences on patient health must be the ultimate aim. Technology is of limited use in a hospital or medical setting if it does not help to improve the quality of patient care.
Yet, for as much as we can benefit from machine learning and the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our health systems, there must still be a human component. Doctors and insurance providers must be empowered to make smart, personalized decisions based on a patient profile. Technology, in these instances, can assist, but should not replace the necessary personal element embedded in our health systems. Electronic Health Records (EHR) and open-sourced apps can assist in building these profiles and making them accessible at every level from patient input to physician interpretation.
While there are hundreds of governing bodies across the world, and while countries, themselves, have multiple jurisdictions across which the rules, regulations, norms and standards could differ, the problems that healthcare IT professionals face are global. We all want to provide the right care, at the right time, at the right cost that is evidence-based and personalized. Tailoring these goals may differ from country to country and province to province, but the goals and the methods are universal. Increased information sharing will lead to better learnings, which will help us achieve better outcomes.
We’ll continue to follow his work and look to incorporate progressive thinking from him and many other sources. It is critical to listen to what experts have to say. While the path may not be straight, we are moving forward.