Johns Hopkins CTO Dwight Raum: Why patient data privacy should drive vendor, hospital relationships

Dwight Raum brings expertise in information technology infrastructures management, cybersecurity and user support to his role as IT vice president and chief technology officer of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Raum has served as Johns Hopkins' CTO since 2001 and oversees IT functions including data centers, telecommunications and networking. In 2014, Mr. Raum co-founded the Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center, which functions as a meeting place where Johns Hopkins faculty can connect with technical experts develop and apply technological solutions toward the health system's infrastructure platform.

He earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Here, Mr. Raum discusses how his role as CTO has evolved over nearly two decades as well as the health system's approach toward faculty technology adoption.

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How has your role as CTO evolved since you joined Johns Hopkins? How have your responsibilities changed since you took on the role?

Dwight Raum: When I started in this role, the focus was heavily on operational efficiency, execution and cybersecurity. And while all of those continue to be a high priority, it was clear we also needed to focus on value, transparency, innovation and mission alignment. As our IT organization matured, the role of CTO has grown to also encompass the intersection of research, clinical care and technology. We're in the very early days of healthcare revolution, where researchers can exploit technology and data to make new discoveries, and can again leverage technology to deliver discoveries to impact at scale. It's a humbling, exciting and inspiring privilege to be part of an industry and an organization embracing transformation that will positively impact healthcare.

Q: What is your No. 1 deal breaker when it comes to evaluating vendor partnerships?

DR: Without a doubt, patient data privacy. Johns Hopkins has a high bar for what it considers appropriate and acceptable. Terms that may work at other institutions often won't pass the rigors of our data governance. Increasingly, vendor partners are applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to make predictions. These algorithms have voracious appetites for data, and vendors want broader access than we deem necessary. In light of what appears to be a privacy backlash in this country, our caution has been warranted. Patient care is fundamentally based on trust, and we can ill afford to undermine that trust; for this reason, we must always keep patient data privacy and security front and center.

Q: How does Johns Hopkins Health System gain physician buy-in when implementing new technology?

DR: We tackle change management with two different approaches. First, we partner closely with our chief medical information officer and chief nursing information officer through a standing monthly council where technology leaders present and demonstrate forthcoming changes, timelines and motivations. Participation in the council is diverse, and ensuing discussions often uncover potential pitfalls, ways to streamline and communication guidance. Participants frequently become advocates for change, leading and assisting in communications. Our goal is to stress test changes, seek feedback, adapt, communicate and deploy.

Our second approach is to support entrepreneurial-minded faculty through the Johns Hopkins Medicine [Technology Innovation Center]. Frequently, faculty are inspired to improve care by improving workflow or by translating research into practice, but are challenged by what it actually takes to drive change. The TIC partners with faculty to apply user-centered design and agile development techniques; this structured approach ultimately lowers barriers to adoption. For innovations that appear more generalizable, faculty are encouraged to apply to our annual Health Experiential Clinical IT Entrepreneurial incubator program. HEXCITE is a 16-week cohort where teams are created and led through a lean-startup program, with every step intended to rigorously validate assumptions about value, technical feasibility, market scope and barriers. By partnering with the TIC, physician leaders are enabled with the tools, team and processes to successfully pioneer change.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at

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