4 questions with NewYork-Presbyterian CIO Daniel J. Barchi

Daniel J. Barchi, CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City, has had an expansive technology career, from telecommunications to health IT.

After serving as a naval officer for 6 years in the 1990s, Mr. Barchi chose to find a new job on land, to take care of his growing family. "When my wife and I had a baby daughter, I wasn't going to sea anymore," he says. "I took a job in the telecommunications industry, where I managed a number of small companies."

A few years into his telecommunications career, Carilion Clinic — formerly Carilion Health System — in Roanoke, Va., offered Mr. Barchi a job running its biomedical institute, given his background in turnarounds. Three years later he was promoted to the health system's CIO.

"So, without any background in medicine, I went from running a biomedical institute to becoming a healthcare IT CIO," he explains.

Since December 2015, Mr. Barchi has served as CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian, leading the health system in its rollout of a new telehealth program. In the coming year, he's planning to grow NewYork-Presbyterian's focus on digital medicine and remote care.

Mr. Barchi recently spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about the changing health IT landscape and the growing importance of digital medicine.

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

Question: Given your expansive background, what most surprised you about the healthcare CIO role?

Daniel J. Barchi: I've always been surprised by how little healthcare IT has to do with technology. It really is the people and the processes used to care for patients that are most important. The technology is a small enabler, but the people on our IT team and I spend more of our time on people and processes, rather than on the technology itself.

Q: In the years since you've worked as a CIO, how has the health IT landscape changed for hospitals?

DB: It's gone from being focused on transactional systems to making data and analytics work well for physicians. Instead of merely focusing on implementing new software or electronic medical records, we're deeply focused on how the tools we deploy and how the data we provide improve outcomes for patients.

I'd say that the most interesting thing is the leaders I see in healthcare IT are going from people focused on technology itself to visionaries for how healthcare can improve patient outcomes. That's the enjoyable part of what we do, and I'm really impressed by the dedication I see by people in the healthcare industry toward every patient's best opportunities for outcomes.

Q: You oversaw the launch of NewYork-Presbyterian's telehealth program. What are some of the challenges you faced when rolling out these services?

DB: The interesting thing is that the technology is really the most straightforward part of it. Overcoming our perceptions about how medicine is delivered is more challenging. Whether it's regulatory or engaging patients in a new way, it's everything associated with the program that is challenging.

We've certainly found that the legal and regulatory environment is not as well developed as the technology itself, so a lot of our focus has been on creating the best cutting-edge tools we can, in an environment that is still getting used to delivering medicine remotely.

Q: What are some new health information technologies or trends you're excited about?

DB: I think telehealth and digital medicine is important. We've been a leader in telehealth and we are reaching out to patients across our area and nationally for second opinions, urgent care and follow-up visits that allow our physicians to be more efficient and for patients to access doctors easily. We are accelerating our focus on digital medicine, so we can reach a broader number of patients.

We're also beginning to focus on how we can use artificial intelligence and machine learning, both in clinical applications and in streamlining the logistics of the health system. We're deeply focused on machine learning and the ways that we can leverage technology to help our physicians with better decision making.

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