Health innovation insider: 13 rapid-fire Qs with Boston Children's chief innovation officer Dr. John Brownstein

As chief innovation officer of Boston Children's Hospital, John Brownstein, PhD, became involved in health IT after following his interests in big data and its crossover with population health.

Dr. Brownstein completed his doctoral degree at Yale University; a trained epidemiologist, he specializes in developing methods and data sources in public health informatics for surveillance systems and statistical modeling to improve disease control and prevention.

"The opportunities around healthcare IT for population health research were incredible," Dr. Brownstein told Becker's Hospital Review of his inspiration behind working in health IT. "Then I just got deeper and deeper into the sort of technology implementation and development, but it started from an interest in the application of the data it generated."

Dr. Brownstein has served as an advisor to the World Health Organization, HHS and the White House on real-time public health surveillance data. In addition to his role as CIO of Boston Children's, he is also a pediatric medicine professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Boston Children's Hospital's computational epidemiology group.

Here, Dr. Brownstein shares rapid-fire insights on health IT innovations, from healthcare's biggest disruptor to the future of artificial intelligence.

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

Question: Mac or PC? 

Dr. John Brownstein: Mac

Q: iPhone or Android? 

JB: iPhone

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

JB: My selfie light for Zoom calls and backgrounds.

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

JB: The availability of Zoom and virtual communication technologies because they've allowed us to meet patients where they are and still impart care that we couldn't otherwise.

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

JB: Zoom.

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

JB: Amazon Alexa.

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

JB: Improved patient remote monitoring.

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

JB: Google.

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

JB: TikTok.

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

JB: Other than the basic, built-in apps like email and iMessage, I would say Spotify, Twitter and Signal.

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

JB: The opportunities to reduce physician burnout by capturing conversations between providers and patients.

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

JB: I became a correspondent for ABC News about six months ago because of my background in infectious disease. So, one professional skill I'm currently focused on is communication as a medical contributor.  

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

JB: The care team's relationship with the patient.  

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