Health innovation insider: 7 rapid-fire Qs with Henry Ford Health System innovation chief Lisa Prasad

One of the reasons Lisa Prasad, vice president and chief innovation officer at Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, enjoys her job is that it presents "limitless" opportunities, with new challenges constantly emerging.

When the healthcare industry faced the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Prasad was an integral part of Henry Ford's response efforts. She became the health system's vice president and chief innovation officer in April, a role that requires her to lead technology development as well as guide corporate business, product and commercialization ventures.

"It is an amazing privilege to be at the center of both harnessing the data we have inside the institutions that create these tools and to be the receptor for the new technologies that are being created," she told Becker's Hospital Review in August.

Below, Ms. Prasad shares her rapid-fire thoughts on healthcare innovation amid the pandemic, from insight about Henry Ford's innovation efforts to what she thinks is the biggest obstacle impeding further improvements in the field.

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

Question: What COVID-19 data dashboard do you find yourself checking the most? 

Lisa Prasad: For public dashboards, it's split between John Hopkins and The New York Times. For internal dashboards, it's been inpatient census ventilator utilization and supply chain.

Q: If you had to choose just one, which one of your organization's IT achievements has made you the most proud during the pandemic?

LP: Telemedicine success rolling out video visits for ambulatory care as well as communications solutions for inpatients who were unable to have visitors.

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

LP: Incredible new solutions have been introduced, and we have rapidly overcome adoption hurdles. At the fundamental level however, the pandemic has gotten us back to our values and priorities as they should be. We did projects with a different view of the return on investment. We collaborated better, solved problems together, struggled together and survived together.

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

LP: Predictive analytics is now an expected part of nearly every digital innovation and is being applied across the board. One example that stands out has been our ability to leverage Henry Ford's incredible public health sciences team as they utilized predictive analytics to help us track Covid and plan for the upcoming weeks as we navigated the worst of our first surge.

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

LP: I would like to see increased leveraging of technology and analytics to enhance remote care and education, and to promote healthcare equity across our community. This requires us to think critically not only about creating new products, services and payment models, but also about implementing them in a way that promotes inclusion and access.

Q: What's been the biggest roadblock to COVID-19 innovation? 

LP: Our clinicians and staff throughout the system are tired. It's hard to find the institutional energy to pursue new innovations while still in battle mode with Covid. At the same time, our patients' lives are getting worse through continued joblessness, food insecurity and other societal barriers exacerbated by Covid. The need for innovative solutions has never been greater.

Q: What are the first words that come to mind when you think about your innovation team's response to COVID-19? 

LP: Nimble, responsive, persistent.


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