Cleveland Clinic CIO Edward Marx: Healthcare organizations have a 'moral responsibility' to go all-in on digital technology

If the healthcare industry hopes to engage in transformational, rather than incremental, change, organizations will need to make implementing digital technologies their mission, according to Edward Marx, CIO of Cleveland Clinic.

During a keynote address Oct. 10 at the Becker's Hospital Review Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, Mr. Marx explained how digital health saved his life not once but twice, prompting him to make evangelizing for the implementation of digital technology in healthcare his life's mission — and the "moral responsibility" of all healthcare organizations.

Mr. Marx, a member of the national duathlon team, shared how, mere months after experiencing a "widowmaker" heart attack during the national duathlon championships in 2018, he was diagnosed with severe prostate cancer. He credits digital technology with saving his life in both instances.

Following the heart attack, Mr. Marx convinced his cardiologist — who was "a little bit old-school, not so hip on the technology" — to take a digital-first approach to his treatment. Using daily data reports from a smartwatch, Bluetooth blood pressure monitor and heart patch, the cardiologist adjusted Mr. Marx's medication regimen on a near-daily basis. Within six weeks, Mr. Marx was running again.

Months later, faced with indecisive blood tests, he found a new test developed by a team of researchers that used artificial intelligence to detect prostate cancer with 85 percent accuracy. After undergoing a radical prostatectomy, he volunteered for a clinical trial that treated post-prostatectomy side effects with digital technology.

"I believe my life was saved because they were able to diagnose me immediately and I believe the quality of my life was enhanced because of these digital tools," Mr. Marx said. "I was already an evangelist for digital tools and digital transformation, but now it's my mission."

He continued, "We need to be the evangelists in our organizations to get out these digital tools and lead the way. … Be that person who takes a bold stance and leads, volunteers, takes chances and takes risks to bring these things to bear in our medical practice, because otherwise we're only going to get incremental change."

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