CommonSpirit's 'Maslow's hierarchy of healthcare technology'

CommonSpirit Health is a sprawling 140-hospital system with more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states. The technology platform and digital needs for a system so huge are complex, and Daniel Barchi, senior executive vice president and CIO, is focused on the best digital innovation without being distracted by "shiny objects."

"The things that are exciting to read about in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal are not critical to the physician or nurse at 3 am. They're looking for a core system that works well," said Mr. Barchi on a recent episode of the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast." "They're looking at keeping their patients in the ICU in a stable condition."

Mr. Barchi said it's easy to get focused on cutting edge tools with so many new applications and technologies emerging in healthcare. What's difficult is staying disciplined around acing the fundamentals and bundling a strong core infrastructure. That's why his team has created the "Maslow's Hierarchy of Healthcare Technology."

The pyramid's foundation at the bottom is core technology, followed by infrastructure. Above the infrastructure is information security, and then EHRs followed by the enterprise resource planning system. Customer experience is near the top and artificial intelligence is the very tip.

"Unless you get those basic fundamentals done, you can't really do the advanced technology," Mr. Barchi said. "It's our role in the healthcare space to be thinking about all of these at the same time."

For the moment, Mr. Barchi and his team are finding ways to slim down the system's multiple EHR instances and more than 4,300 applications to truly focus on the tools most beneficial for clinicians and the team.

"In many cases, my role as a technology leader is not about searching out new technology; it's optimizing what we have," he said. "I think that's where our teams focus for the next couple of years, especially as resources are constrained and we need to focus our capital on other areas, not just technology."

But that doesn't mean the health system is discounting AI and other new digital technologies. Mr. Barchi mentioned an AI-based tool has boosted imaging for cardiologists to provide better models for procedures they're doing and care delivery. The system embedded the tool within the core infrastructure for the team.

"It was not a unique standalone tool. We are at the point where these kinds of integrated solutions are rolling out and physicians are finding them and fully embracing them. The idea that we are advancing care in that way is exciting," Mr. Barchi said.

CommonSpirit is also using AI-based sepsis prediction tools to look for basic indicators from the patient's point of view. The health system has used the tool since 2017 and the clinical informatics team estimates it has saved more than 2,000 lives.

"That's not something we talk about every day. It's core, it's AI, but it's not that exciting," said Mr. Barchi. "Yet it's the kind of thing that changes lives."

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