Dr. John Halamka: Test IT in places 'tolerant of risk and ambiguity,' then bring them to the US

John D. Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and dean of technology for Harvard Medical School, both based in Boston, discussed innovative IT solutions he's worked on abroad during a recent interview with athenaInsight.

As an example, Dr. Halamka shared how he worked with a team of researchers in South Africa to use iris scans as a biometric tool to verify patients' identities. He said the tool helped match patients with the correct medical records across the country and highlighted how it didn't "require a huge IT lift or new infrastructure."

In China, he worked with a team that piloted identity cards with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, for an estimated 8 million people living in the city of Hangzhou — a project that "worked fabulously," according to Dr. Halamka.

"The U.S. is lovely for so many reasons, but it's hard to take risks," he said. "There have been so many fines and loss of reputation if you accidentally lose data, people are afraid to try something new … So we can take these ideas in areas that are maybe a little more tolerant of risk and ambiguity, and once we've proven they work and they're low-risk, we can bring them to the United States."

To read Dr. Halamka's interview with athenaInsightclick here.

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