Pandemic sped up Mayo's digital transformation by 10 years, Dr. John Halamka says

John Halamka, MD, joined Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic in January to lead the health system's digital transformation as president of Mayo Clinic Platform.

The health system had outlined a 10-year plan to harness patient data to provide better patient care. Its initiatives aim to use technology and artificial intelligence to inform the patient experience and develop an integrated medical platform. The health system has 30 petabytes of patient data, 25 million tissue samples and 30 million pathology slides, which it aims to combine with deidentified patient records and medical literature allowing physicians and clinicians to provide personalized medicine.

The health system had planned to realize its full vision over the next 10 years, but the COVID-19 pandemic sped up its timeline.

"We were talking about healthcare in 2030," Dr. Halamka said in a Mayo report. "But what we are seeing now is that 2030 is going to arrive in 2021 because COVID-19 has reshaped the culture and the policy around the use of technology, and anything we thought would take a decade to do is going to be an expectation for next year.

"We're going to have more demand for telemedicine, telehealth, hospital-level care in the home, wearables and the ability to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to new data sources for cure plans. That's going to be here very soon because we have changed so much, so fast with COVID-19," he said.

The health system is focusing initially on its virtual care clinical data analytics and remote diagnostics and management platforms as well as ways to develop actionable insights from wearables data. It is building policies, technology and infrastructure to support these initiatives while also protecting patient privacy. Mayo is using its cloud partnership with Google for the platform activities and investing in data organization and computing capabilities.

Mayo Clinic Platform has 11 layers of protection and ensures all data used in its initiatives is deidentified. Dr. Halamka also mentioned precision medicine as an important goal.

"We're going to figure out what works and make those technologies available to the world," he said.

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