8 quotes from Cleveland Clinic leaders on innovation, digital health and advice for IT leaders

At Cleveland Clinic, William Morris, MD, and Susan Bernat have been part of the team leading the development and commercialization arm of the academic medical center.

Dr. Morris is executive medical director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, which is dedicated to turning medical inventions of employees into industry-advancing medical products and companies. Ms. Bernat serves as the general manager of strategic marketing.

In light of the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovation Summit Oct. 6, Becker's Hospital Review interviewed Dr. Morris and Ms. Bernat about the one-day virtual event, Cleveland Clinic's innovation initiatives and the future of digital transformation in healthcare. 

Here are eight quotes from the interview:

1. Ms. Bernat on the summit: "The theme is 'The Future of Healthcare: Digital Transformation.' We will have topics focused around [provider] collaboration and partnership to move healthcare forward. The summit emphasizes that we're not going to revolutionize the industry alone. We have to do it as a true ecosystem." 

2. Ms. Bernat on summit panelists: "In putting together our topics and panels, we really thought it was important to bring together CEOs [from multiple health systems] and talk about what COVID-19 has meant to them. [A panel of venture capitalists] will also focus on investment, how we are making sure young companies are successful and keep the funding they need to be innovative. [Additionally,] from a COVID-19 perspective, we will have great dialogue from leaders at Cleveland Clinic, [and attendees] will hear from [the pharmaceutical industry] on what they are doing from a vaccine perspective."

3. Dr. Morris on COVID-19 and digital transformation: "What COVID-19 clearly did is accelerated digital health as a means to access, consume and drive affordable healthcare delivery. COVID-19 required us as providers, but also as patients, to think about how we consume healthcare and interact, not just urgently, but for routine follow-up."

4. Dr. Morris on the digital experience during the pandemic: "Our associate chief of staff and institute chair of obstetrics and gynecology and women's health is driving digital health because it meets patients where they are. We are seeing positive unintended benefits of digital health. We're seeing a patient where they are in their environment at home, [and] understanding their living dynamics gives you a true view of that patient's ecosystem that you normally wouldn't be afforded in an office. I think, while distance and remote monitoring have changed the way we drive the human touch and the interaction, digital health has given us new lenses and new tools."

5. Dr. Morris on the future of digital health: "I think it's important to frame that digital health wasn't a stopgap fix for COVID-19, where once the vaccine and return to normal is established, we'll go back. I actually think it's past that. I think we've established providers are able to provide world-class care through these new means. I think patients and loved ones demand it. They want it, it's convenient, it's affordable and it's accessible. COVID-19 has hoisted into the public light, health disparities and necessary efforts to ensure all patients — regardless of their socioeconomic status and where they live — have access to the best care for their well-being."

6. Dr. Morris on Cleveland Clinic Innovations and Cleveland Clinic Ventures forming 92 spinoffs: "To us, the win is that these companies reach the patient and benefit the patient. That is our North Star. Also, that they are economically successful, that they are businesses in their own right and that they do well. And then the third win is we are in northeast Ohio. We think we have a tremendous community of bright folks well outside of healthcare, and we want to drive jobs and jobs creation and tremendous collaboration with both our city officials and the state of Ohio. These are big bets in which Cleveland Clinic invests in innovations to create new research, new discoveries and new jobs for the benefit of patients and the [residents] of this state."

7. Dr. Morris on Cleveland Clinic's risk calculator to predict the likelihood of patients testing positive for COVID-19: "Through the explosion of data science, through the explosion and positive benefits of data sharing, I think what you're going to see is a somatic conversion of real-time, point-of-care insights being applied. Rather than these retrospective models, these are prospective calculators that can drive risk, but more importantly, do something about it with the information provided. Before, as clinicians, we had retrospective data that would tell us a theoretical risk if we were doing informed consent, or perhaps a lagging indicator of where we were in terms of managing patients. But now we can use prospective data to plan staffing, plan resources, start planning supply chain around PPE. Elative to COVID-19, this sets the foundational work for future pandemic awareness or any other type of healthcare crisis."

8. Dr. Morris's advice for IT leaders: "While everyone envisions innovation as the eureka moment, it is seldom a single person's enterprise. It really is a team approach and one of collaboration. Healthcare is something we all need and consume, so it's highly relevant. It's not just going to be solved and innovated by those who deliver healthcare, but it really is the ecosystem. It starts with our education system. It starts with our community. It's pharma, it's public and private [sectors] coming together at the end of the day to drive affordability and value for patient care."

Read more about Cleveland Clinic Innovations and the Medical Innovation Summit here


More articles on IT: 
Sentara launches predictive tool to identify patients most at risk for sepsis
AI can identify COVID-19 in lungs like physicians can, study shows
CMIO Corner: Did WWII lead to AI?

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