4 questions with Lahey Health CIO David Reis

David Reis, CIO of Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Health, has seen digital tools transform three separate industries — including healthcare.

He started his career in IT in the 1990s and spent about 10 years working in retail banking. Mr. Reis noticed how the internet revamped retail banking into a more consumer-driven industry, where clients came to expect on-demand service.

"It was really neat, because that was the beginning of the 'dot com' era," Mr. Reis says. "When I started in retail banking, we didn't have internet banking. When I left, over 99 percent of all transactions done at our institution were done through it."

In the late 2000s, he transitioned into higher education — around the same time online education entered mainstream conversation. "I saw the same thing play out in higher ed that had played out in retail banking," he explains.

For the last decade, Mr. Reis has worked in healthcare, where he has seen a similar trend.

"I'm seeing the exact same thing play out, now for a third time, in a third different industry," he says. "We're moving from the traditional delivery of healthcare on paper records in the four walls of the doctor's office, to an environment where care is requested and delivered in more digital ways."

Mr. Reis recently spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about how data analytics and platform technology will continue to transform patient care.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: In the 10 years you've worked as a healthcare CIO, how has the IT landscape changed?

David Reis: At the macro level, we now capture a lot of electronic data about patients, and we use a lot of electronic data about patients to make care decisions. I think that is something that's very, very different today than it was 10 years ago. Now, when we think about a traditional encounter, there's likely some kind of electronic device with the provider, and with the patient. As a provider talks about the concerns of the patient, they can pull up test results and images, electronically, in real-time.

We're also seeing the ability to deliver care outside the four walls of the hospital, moving to when it's convenient for the patient or when the patient needs it. As an example, within the last year, we've seen that Lahey Health has exchanged patient information in 49 of the 50 states. That means our patient population has gotten care in 49 of the 50 states, and that's all enabled by technology and connected platforms. We're now starting to see the value of these platforms that integrate data, so we can use our data to make real-time decisions.

Q: In the past, you've written about how platform technologies can help healthcare organizations integrate data from disparate data sources. Can you speak to that?

DR: That's become a key focus for us at Lahey Health — making sure we don't just have silos of data spread across various systems. We want to make patient data as widely available as possible, to the right care teams and treatment teams. Platform technologies help us make that patient data easier to access, and, at the same time, increase security of access. The more we digitize patient information, the more we have to be concerned about securing it.

Q: Looking into the rest of 2017, what are some of your main goals for Lahey Health?

DR: Our big goal for 2017 is to drive the adoption of our secure text messaging product throughout the inpatient environment, because we think it makes it easier to deliver more efficient care. It reduces the time it takes for two members of a care team to talk about a patient.

There's also a lot of talk in the industry about secure text messaging between members of a treatment team on the inpatient side, and members of the care team on the outpatient side.

Within our large healthcare organization, we see how it can be difficult to know who to text about what. We have been able to integrate our patient census with AirStrip's secure text messaging platform, in a way that allows any member of a patient's treatment team to use the AirStrip app to go into their patient list, see other members of their care team and then send a text message, in context, about that patient. That's very different than the traditional forms of text messaging.

Lahey Health, across its ambulatory and inpatient environments, also just reached the HIMSS 6 EHR adoption level. We're very proud of that, because it means we've really digitized the entire patient record. We want to go ahead and achieve the HIMSS 7 designation.

Q: What are some of your other interests or hobbies, outside of IT?

DR: I am a rabid college football fan, so I love Penn State football. I'm also a lifelong fan of Formula 1 auto racing, and Ferrari tends to be my favorite Formula 1 team.

I've increasingly gotten very interested in digital photography with mirrorless cameras, too. I tend to gravitate toward landscape photography, and more specifically around vegetation — flowers, trees, broader landscapes.

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