Health innovation insider: 11 rapid-fire Qs with LifeBridge Health's innovation chief Dr. Daniel Durand

Daniel Durand, MD, chief innovation officer of Baltimore-based LifeBridge Health, traces his passion for health IT to the beginning of his residency training two decades ago as he dealt with frustrations of paper charting and tech inefficiencies.

Dr. Durand, who also serves as vice president of research and chair of radiology at LifeBridge Health, earned his medical degree and completed his residency training at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins. Before arriving at the "mecca of medicine," he told Becker's Hospital Review, he received his undergraduate degree from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest University, where he and his classmates had access to personal computers and messaging, communications and virtual learning platforms.

"Then I came to this kind of mecca of medicine at Hopkins, which is its own great place, but at that point it was emblematic of a lot of places where they hadn't really fully transitioned off the paper records, and their EHR was written in house," Dr. Durand said. "I went from this kind of very highly efficient corporatized model to this renowned institution that was just groping and finding its way kind of clumsily with information systems."

During his residency, Dr. Durand said it was the frustration of early morning shifts walking around, searching for paper charts and copying numbers down that sparked his interest in both radiology and IT. In radiology, he was drawn to the tech and gadgets specialists use to extract information about patients as well as the virtual workflows they have for readings.

"My experiences within radiology being able to practice and do a lot of good and be very efficient because of IT made me want to think about how that applies to the rest of the healthcare system and ultimately to the way that patients experience healthcare."

Here, Dr. Durand shares rapid-fire insights on health IT innovations, from healthcare's biggest disruptors to the future of patient engagement technologies.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: Mac or PC?

Dr. Daniel Durand: I'm actually a PC guy. I've been back and forth, and I've definitely used a fair number of Mac devices, but in the last 10 years or so I've come back to using PCs because it's a bit more ubiquitous and cost effective.

Q: iPhone or Android?

DD: At the moment, I'm an iPhone person. However, I re-evaluate that decision every other year when my contract comes up.

Q: What has been your go-to tech device during the pandemic?

DD: At home, I've gotten into these android tablets to sort of simplify my life and automate things. At the hospital, most of the tech I'm using today we were using before the pandemic, although I think there's been much more use of telehealth by others who weren't using it before.

Q: What innovation or technology has made the biggest difference in your organization's COVID-19 response?

DD: Patient engagement platforms that use the cellphone. For me, that's been the biggest differentiator because we've been able to communicate with patients much more effectively. We also launched a COVID-19 self-management app, which helps the patient manage their care in a way that's consistent with their own best interests and the best interests of society. 

Q: What's the No. 1 tech device you couldn't live without at work?

DD: It's not a super new tech device but automated speech recognition and dictation software. It is very important for my specialty and an increasing number of physicians and keeps getting better every year.

Q: What's your go-to voice assistant: Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple Siri?

DD: Google Home. The other ones are great, and I occasionally use Siri but I don't use Alexa much because I like the idea of separating my voice recognition from my purchase platform because the biggest single place I spend money, like most people pre and post pandemic, is Amazon.

Q: If you could add any tool to your EHR tomorrow, what would it be?

DD: If I could wave a magic wand, it would be deep integration between the structured and unstructured data fields within the EHR in quasi real-time availability with really deep machine learning tools so we could look for actionable trends, whether it's patients that are deteriorating or spending, marketing or diagnostic trends.

Q: Which retail or tech giant will be the biggest disrupter to healthcare?

DD: I think there's a difference between what the intention of the different groups is versus what they seem to be achieving in real time, but I would have to put my money on Amazon. 

Q: What patient engagement tech do you predict will be most used by patients in the next 3-5 years?

DD: I think there will be exponentially more use of the kind of garden variety patient engagement mobile apps that are essentially algorithms and loops of prepaid content, but I think the biggest growth will be with this idea of AI chatbots and AI algorithms.

Q: If you could only have three apps on your phone, which would you choose?

DD: The first one I would choose is Waze because even though I can use the other Maps apps, my wife will like not let me use them, so I have to have Waze just because I want to stay married. The next app would be Amazon and the third would be the Cerner power chart cellphone app.

Q: What is one health tool you think should stay analog?

DD: The physician-patient relationship should stay analog to a certain extent always. In some cases you can establish that relationship and then it leads to a safe virtual relationship but there is a tremendous therapeutic value that goes beyond just the data that someone has given you or what they look like through a video camera.

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