Health innovation insider: 3 Qs with UC Irvine Vice Chancellor of IT and Data Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola, vice chancellor of IT and data at UC Irvine, has been involved with innovative technology initiatives his entire career, experience that served him well as he architected the IT improvements UC Irvine needed to respond to the pandemic.

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 and worked at Philips Healthcare for over 10 years.

"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," he told Becker's in September.

Below, Mr. Andriola shares his insight about digital transformations brought about by the pandemic and further opportunities for innovation in healthcare.

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

Question: In which ways do you think the pandemic has catalyzed innovation in health IT?

Tom Andriola: Innovation has always been there. What the pandemic did is accelerate progress.  Throughout, our entire organization has demonstrated a different set of urgency, open-mindedness and risk tolerance. All that has led to, in the words of Vladimir Lenin, "There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen."

Q: How do you think the pandemic has shined a greater light on predictive analytics?

TA: I believe organizations that were in a more mature place had a better chance to adapt because they could more easily generate new insights and do scenario planning. Overall, I think there is now a better understanding of what we mean when we say "predictive analytics" and we know that it's not something we want to do without going forward.

Q: How would you most like to see health IT further adapt to the pandemic?

TA: We're certainly not through this, but there is a glimmer of light on the horizon in what we could call "a post-pandemic world." I think now we need to return to bimodal thinking and realize in the near term we still need to adapt to what COVID-19 throws at us. At the same time, we cannot shy away from the conversation we need to be having at the leadership level about the "new normal," what we've tried and learned during this horrible period and which aspects do we want to keep in place in the new normal.

It's been a unique situation in that we've stepped into our future to deal with these unique set of circumstances, and now we have this opportunity to step back from our future, discuss what we've been through, what in it has been better (and what has not), and then strategically decide what stays in place in the post-pandemic world. It just doesn't normally play out this way, so we'd better take advantage of it.


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