Health innovation insider: 12 rapid-fire Qs with UC Irvine vice chancellor of IT and data Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola, vice chancellor of IT and data at UC Irvine (Calif.), says he has been involved with innovative technology initiatives his entire career.

Mr. Andriola began serving in his role at UC Irvine in October 2019. Before that, he served as the University of California system's vice president and chief information officer for about six years. He also worked at Philips Healthcare for over 10 years, holding positions as its vice president and general manager of healthcare IT growth markets and vice president and general manager of imaging informatics.

"I've been involved in technology's impact in medical devices, healthcare IT, health software and health provider organizations," he said. "It's been such a wonderful journey to be a part of how technology has improved the outcomes and experiences for patients over the years, and there's more great breakthroughs on the way."

Outside the office, Mr. Andriola is also chair of the board of directors for CENIC, a nonprofit advancing education and research in California, and he serves as a member of the board of directors for OCHIN, an equity-focused nonprofit healthcare innovation center based in Portland, Ore.

Here, Mr. Andriola shares his rapid-fire thoughts on health IT innovation, from the three apps he finds most essential to the future of artificial intelligence.

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

Question: Mac or PC?  

Tom Andriola: PC.

Q: IPhone or Android? 

TA: IPhone at the moment, but what keeps me there is the investment made into apps and my health information.

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

TA: It's still been my laptop. I've been working from one place much more than I have in the past, so I've been relying on mobile devices less.

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

TA: I would say the biggest difference has not been anything new, but rather more of a tremendous acceleration of certain digital things we were already doing, like video visits.

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

TA: I would still say my laptop — sorry, I know that's uninteresting.

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

TA: I'm comfortable with all three. Not sure I have a go-to in a work capacity at this stage. At home, Alexa seems to rule at the moment.

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

TA: For something that's missing, I'd say a better personal health record because I'm a strong believer in helping patients own their health journey, and they need to have their data with/available to them to be an informed owner. For something we have yet to implement, I'd say clinical trials so it's fully integrated into the clinical enterprise through the EHR.

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

TA: Ha, so many to name. Here's a few: Optum, Walmart, CVS and Amazon.

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

TA: It's tough to get it down to three. Google (also gets me maps), email and Zoom.

Q: What excites you most about the future of AI in healthcare? 

TA: That simple, quick aspects of healthcare will be answered more quickly and consistently and that complex hypotheses can be more broadly generated for truly complex patient conditions.

Q: What's one professional skill you're currently focused on? 

TA: Being a more present and better listener, which is even tougher in this Zoom-dominated world.

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

TA: Look, there's a lot of things that I hope maintain their analog modes, like doctors conversing with their patients to understand history and state of mind. We're a long way off for AI to be able to pick up subtleties of nonverbal cues and exhibit empathy — both mastering the technology and accepting it as an equivalent to the standard interaction. The key for me is in analog being supported by technology, what I refer to as "augmented intelligence" for AI.

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