11 things hospital CIOs are most thankful for

Health system CIOs have a lot to be thankful for, from advancements in artificial intelligence to the colleagues who help them put technology into the hands of clinicians.

For this Thanksgiving, Becker's asked several IT leaders what technology they're most thankful for and why. Here are their responses:

Ashis Barad, MD. Chief Digital and Information Officer of Allegheny Health Network (Pittsburgh): It's not a piece of technology I am most thankful for. I am most thankful for our operational leadership and clinicians who come to the table, design the technology solutions with our team, and see the benefits of utilizing it in practice to the best of their abilities. This willingness from our leaders to change, standardize and innovate while putting the people we care for at the center of all solutions is what I am most thankful for.

Hank Capps, MD. Chief Information and Digital Officer of Wellstar Health System (Marietta, Ga.): It's impossible to not pause and reflect on the daily impact our caregivers make plus the relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation that our technology teams strive for daily. I'm thankful for the people. Technology makes a profound impact on how we care for patients, but the impact we make on each other and those we serve is what's most important.

Andy Crowder. Chief Digital Technology Officer of Advocate Health (Charlotte, N.C.): I am the most thankful for the Microsoft and Nuance DAX Copilot generative AI and the platform integration with Epic. Having these leading technology partners integrate their respective technology stacks allows us to deliver more value to our customers, physicians, providers and caregivers at scale.

John Halamka, MD. President of Mayo Clinic Platform (Rochester, Minn.)Back in the '90s, training an AI meant humans laboriously writing rules. Like, "What's a mammal? Does it feed its young? Does it have a live birth?" Today we have tools that are powerful enough so a nontechnical person can take a dataset and turn it into a model and do it in an hour and capture all that knowledge. We've democratized access to the world's knowledge in a way I would have never thought possible 40 years ago. What a unique time we're living in where you've got great tools, almost infinite computing, and the world's data now becoming more accessible than ever. I'm thankful for the fact that my daughter, who's 31 and will be giving birth to our first grandchild in January of 2024, will experience the benefits from all the patients who came before her because models have been created that ensure her care is going to be safe, high quality, and hopefully without error.

Michael Hasselberg, PhD, RN. Chief Digital Health Officer of University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center: As health systems across the country struggle with staff shortages and clinician burnout, I am particularly grateful for the progress we have witnessed this year in a pilot application of generative AI to automate administrative responsibilities within the electronic health record. From triaging patient messages to the ambient documentation of clinical encounters, we are encouraged by the potential of this technology to help care providers increase the quality of their patient interactions and reduce the effort they expend on documentation. The goal is to restore valuable personal time to our clinicians, enabling them to spend it with their own families.

Sophy Lu. CIO of Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y): One advancement I'm thankful for this year revolves around the technology that supports Northwell's ER On Demand, which offers 24/7 virtual care. The application is so convenient for anyone to use at any hour of the day or night, and provides peace of mind by offering middle-of-the-night and rural triage needs right where you are. I'm also grateful for technology that supports wearables for proactive health and wellness monitoring. There has never been an easier way to track lifestyle trends and to stay aware of how your body feels. It's really a great way to raise health for everyone.

Scott MacLean. CIO of MedStar Health (Columbia, Md.): The evolution of technology is remarkable and useful. I'm grateful for John Glaser, who taught me about how to apply technology in healthcare, including process redesign and people change management. Practicing those principles, we can continue to gain value from every viable innovation.

Michael Pfeffer, MD. CIO of Stanford Health Care (Palo Alto, Calif.): In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, AI stands out as a game-changer, revolutionizing how we approach patient care and clinician and administrative workflows. The potential of AI, given significant advances in generative AI and foundation models, will accelerate opportunities to improve many aspects of healthcare. It will be crucial to approach AI in healthcare responsibly, addressing ethical concerns, ensuring data privacy, and mitigating potential biases. Let's continue to embrace and refine these technologies for a healthier and more connected world.

Ellen Pollack, MSN, RN. CIO of UCLA Health (Los Angeles): I am most thankful for our patient portal app, which has enhanced patient and caregiver collaboration to bolster satisfaction and safety. The ease of use allows patients to conveniently gain knowledge about their care and review their health status, prescriptions, lab results, physician notes, next appointments, and lots more.

Nigam Shah, PhD. Chief Data Scientist of Stanford Health Care (Palo Alto, Calif.): I'd be most thankful for technology that truly makes the patient care experience better. I find that our view on technology is too provider-centric. So I'd be thankful for tech that truly focuses on the patient.

Sara Vaezy. Chief Strategy and Digital Officer of Providence (Renton, Wash.): I am thankful for technologies that can drive sustainable growth of our system. Two examples: First, technology that supports us in digital-access optimization for our patients through digital discovery, patient navigation and supply-demand matching. Second, identity-driven engagement that allows us to personalize health experiences for our consumers and patients across our digital channels and deliver simple, frictionless and high-quality services to them.

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