Stay innovative without compromising data privacy: Best ideas for big tech partnerships

Partnerships between big technology companies and health systems are becoming more common, especially as health systems seek to optimize systems integration, data storage and analytical capabilities.

But these partnerships raise concerns about patient data privacy, which is a big consideration for health systems before moving forward with any business agreement.

At the Becker's Healthcare Health IT + Revenue Cycle Management Virtual Event on July 23, SSM Health CIO Sony Jacob and System Vice President, Intellectual Property, Life Sciences & Device, Strategic Innovation at CommonSpirit Health Manoja Lecamwasam, spoke about innovation at their health systems and how the pandemic accelerated efforts. They also spoke about what will be innovative in the coming years, including precision medicine and genomics as well as patient data privacy. Executive Vice President of Editorial at Becker's Healthcare Molly Gamble moderated the discussion.

Here is an excerpt from their conversation.

Editor's note: These responses have been s slightly edited for clarity and length.

Click here to view the full presentation on-demand.

Manoja Lecamwasam: One of the biggest lessons I've learned in these relationships is that if we were looking at an innovative relationship, the first thing is, what is the goal of the relationship? Does it serve the mission of our organization and our patients in a positive way? Does this meeting serve the goals that we have for ourselves and our patients? I think that's the most important thing. If that is the case, and there is opportunity, you need to bring all of your colleagues who are involved in privacy and compliance and legal and security and get them introduced to this project from the beginning. If you, as an innovation person, do the project and are trying to negotiate business terms by ourselves without involving all of these people, who are the ones who have to say how our data is used and transferred, if you delay that process and there are any issues you don't see, you could miss out on it. You might go through the tunnel of negotiations and have some issues at the end.

One of the biggest lessons is that when you feel that this project is a goal, you need to have that multidisciplinary team engaged from the beginning and really providing the input as to why at each stage we could go forward or not. This is the way to make an informed decision. If there is a way to involve a patient advocacy group or patient, even if it isn't a formal group, but you can get input from patients on the project so that you can look at it not just from a provider perspective by a patient perspective as well. That input would help to make these projects a lot stronger and much better received so that the press releases are about how we are serving the communities and makes an excellent point.

Sony Jacob: I want to build on that. You definitely want to engage all of your resources and years, sometimes decades, of experiences as you go into it looking at these innovative care models. In addition to that, the interesting thing about healthcare is if you've been in healthcare for a little bit of time you realize that everything in healthcare is applicable.

When you see your competition going and trying something super innovative, you have to step back and ask yourself, are we going to use our patients' data appropriately when we do that? Is that really creative for our patients or for our mission by going down that path, if the answer is unclear? What I tend to do is take a step back and say what happens if I'm not the first leader to do this? Nothing. I can jump in and be the third guy in line to learn from the first two guys and still deliver a better product.

My perspective on this is I ask myself how data is going to be used first and whether it is always going to benefit my patients. Then I take a step back and if the answer is yes, then I'm going to ask whether the model is scalable or even a viable business model. If there isn't a viable business model, I'm going to hold back. If there is a viable business model, the next question is whether the model is scalable. If the model is not scalable, or you think you're going to be experimenting with that business model for at least the next two to three years, you can wait to see what mistakes your competition makes.

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