Healthcare execs need to 'iterate faster' for success, says CIO

Baton Rouge, La.-based Franciscan Ministries of Our Lady Health System embarked on a journey last year to incorporate more artificial intelligence into its operational and clinical systems.

Will Landry, senior vice president and CIO of the system, said while the organization doesn't want AI making decisions, there is a lot of value in supporting caregivers and team mates. He joined the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast" to share the health system's strategy for governance and his push for more innovative thinking around AI applications.

Note: the conversation below has been slightly edited for clarity.

Question: What are the biggest issues you're following in healthcare right now?

Will Landry: The first issue that we're really focused on is revenue cycle optimization, and not just on the operation side, but within the IT side and the technology side of assisting and improving our support for revenue cycle optimization. There's a lot of opportunity for us to be better at that. The other biggest issue is the usage of artificial and augmented intelligence. I add 'augmented' simply because we want the human involved.

We don't want the technology making decisions. We're definitely fine with the technology creating content, but we want the humans, our care workers, to be making the final decisions. We've seen this huge explosion and possibilities with AI within healthcare, and it's going to be really interesting to see this year how we're going to implement those going forward.

Q: How did you decide to focus on the 'augmented intelligence' and then communicate that out to the team to make sure everyone is on board with areas where AI can support the system's goals without going overboard?

WL: Last year, we created an AI committee / focus group, and the principles that we set were: one, we need to educate our team members and we've been working on that. Two, we needed to decide, do our current policies account for AI? We found out that they did. All of our current policies were pretty open and weren't so narrow that everything we were doing or potentially going to do with these AI tools was already accounted for in most of our existing policies.

The other piece was we made the decision that when it comes to clinical, we don't want these technologies making decisions. We want the providers, the clinicians, to be making decisions. We were okay with AI creating summaries and drafts, and using tools to make our providers and clinicians more efficient.

On the back office side, we've been a little bit more aggressive in really trying to see what's out there and what type of improvements or inefficiencies we can get [with AI]. That's been our primary strategy as of right now.

Q: What are you most excited about for the future, and what makes you nervous?

WL: What makes me most excited about is the AI pieces, and where we can see our ability to improve and expand patient care with these tools. What makes me most nervous is, I'm also responsible for cybersecurity for our organization. The usage of AI by cyberattackers makes me [nervous] and thinking about how that's going to continue to improve definitely makes me nervous.

Q: How much are you able to prepare for the unknown as cyberattacks become more sophisticated? How do you make sure you're controlling as much as you can?

WL: Our strategy there is constant education and from our own security teams, from our technology teams, to stay up to date on what is out there, what are the current types of account tax. Our big focus going forward and where we've made investments this year is putting new tools and technology in place. We need to keep educating our users and our team members to do the right things or to not get phished.

Q: We've talked a lot about how some different changes are happening in healthcare and AI. What do you feel is really essential for healthcare leaders to be successful over the next year or two?

WL: For healthcare leaders to be successful going forward, they need to have more agility and the ability to iterate faster and faster. I've talked to my team and some others about how failure is okay. When you try something and you fail, you learn from it, and there can be success in failure. But we have to be able to keep moving and trying things faster to improve care for our patients in our communities. That's what's going to help the healthcare leaders be more successful: iterate faster than they've done in the past.

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