Keck Medicine of USC's IT investment strategy: Key thoughts on taking risks and big opportunities in 2020

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Health systems across the country are carefully evaluating potential technology partnerships to meet the needs of physicians and patients.

T.J. Malseed, chief health information officer at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, has more than 20 years of experience overseeing IT operations in healthcare. He currently manages technology support across Keck Medicine of USC's hospitals and ambulatory sites, as well as its partnership with Apple, which allows patients to track their daily health information. On Dec. 19, the health system announced patients could download their data by directly connecting to Keck Medicine's record system and sync their user accounts so they will receive updates, such as new lab results or prescriptions.

Here, Mr. Malseed discusses the big trends affecting health IT today and where he sees the most beneficial partnerships headed.

Question: As healthcare moves more toward value-based care, health systems across the country put an emphasis on spending wisely. What is your strategy for selecting the best technology to invest in?

T.J. Malseed: As healthcare moves towards further transparency on pricing and quality, we continue to focus on the customer. The technology that keeps us relentlessly committed to improving our quality of care is what creates the best customer experience we can deliver. We are continuing to broaden the suite of products that empower our customer and care providers through the five rights of CDS. We also strive for advancements in provider productivity and in establishing our place as a data-driven organization through machine learning and AI.

Q: What risks do you encounter when considering new technology? What risks are worth taking?

TM: The vast majority of healthcare innovation occurs in small to midsize businesses. When considering the risks of adopting new technology we have to assess the stability of the vendor as a means of protecting our investment. When the solution requires significant disruption of workflows or there are multiple constituencies involved, our enterprise is less inclined to embrace unproven technologies. If we can easily pilot something in a small facet of the organization, there is less change management, which in turn reduces risk and fosters early adoption.

Q: How do you approach IT partnerships? Are there any big opportunities for you in 2020?

TM: Currently through partnerships with both small and large vendors we are looking to impact change in areas from patient engagement to cyber security. Startup companies often require more support from us because their processes are not as mature, and we need to evaluate their financial solvency as well as security posture more thoroughly. If the software is in its Alpha stages, it needs a significant differentiator for us to engage. The level of investment we are being asked to make drives what we are looking for on our end to spin up the partnership.

Q: As more health data becomes available, how do you ensure your patients' data is secure and used appropriately?

TM: This is always a balancing act. While research supports that the patient experience is improved with more robust access to their data, helping them keep that data secure is a complex undertaking. We exclusively partner with companies with renowned cyber security reputations, like Apple, utilizing the most current standards for data exchange and integration. We are in the early stages of implementing patient education around cyber hygiene, which would include showing patients how they can protect themselves after downloading their health records.

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