Health innovation insider: 7 rapid-fire Qs with UCHealth Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Richard Zane

Richard Zane, MD, the chief innovation officer at Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth, knows a strong IT infrastructure is integral to the operations of an entire health system.

Before becoming UCHealth's chief innovation officer in 2016, Dr. Zane served as the executive director of the health system's emergency services unit. Amid the pandemic, he has used both his clinical experience and IT expertise to help the health system rapidly shift care offerings to virtual settings.

Below, Dr. Zane shares his rapid-fire insights about healthcare innovation amid the pandemic.

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? 

Dr. Richard Zane: Our Microsoft Power BI dashboard.

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?

RZ: Our ability to scale virtual health across the spectrum and include deterioration. 

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

RZ: It has allowed us to not have to put an asterisk or caveat before the term "telehealth" or "virtual health." It's simply technology-enabled actual care, instead of "virtual care" or "virtual health" or "virtual telehealth."

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

RZ: I think it has reaffirmed how important predictive and prescriptive analytics are to executing a strategy, especially in a rapidly evolving environment.

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

RZ: I think the most important thing when we talk about health IT and the concept of delivering healthcare is that we need to stop separating the two and putting them in silos. It is simply part and parcel of the way we deliver care. Just like banking, just like investment management, just like the airlines, just like anything else — we could not see ourselves as separating out IT from our core businesses. The way in which we deliver care is organized around an IT platform, and that's how we deliver care.

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

RZ: Regulation.

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

RZ: Heroic.


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