Most promising healthcare tech in 2020: 15 execs from CommonSpirit, Kaiser Permanente, UPMC & more

Technology has been at the forefront as healthcare systems have rapidly expanded telehealth, virtual care, remote work capabilities, data analytics and medical record-sharing capabilities to care for patients with COVID-19.

Now, 15 healthcare executives reveal the most promising technology for this year.

Contact Laura Dyrda to add responses from health system executives at

Suja Chandrasekaran. Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer of CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): The organization that can be obsessed with and unapologetically embrace human- or patient-centric technology will win. Bringing together technologies with multiple abilities into what I like to call the 'digital density' solution is going to make a more significant difference in care delivery than a spike in one point solution would. This kind of disruption will also be enabled by and cause disintermediation. The framework for such a solution would include frictionless human experiences, smart functionality informed by underlying data and AI, and processes that engage patients across multiple channels. This is what we are working toward at CommonSpirit Health.

Tom Jackiewicz. CEO of Keck Medicine of USC (Los Angeles): The most promising technology for the delivery of healthcare remains the leveraging of telemedicine and remote monitoring, though implemented at hyper-speed. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our transition to the direct integration of telehealth into the standard delivery of care. It has become the standard delivery platform for care of chronic illnesses.

Multidisciplinary care will no longer be considered extraordinary as virtual platforms normalize patient visits with multiple specialists simultaneously. Geographic catchment areas will also broaden. My feeling is that investment in brick-and-mortar facilities will surround the telehealth platforms and not the reverse. Operational efficiency and patient experience will be centrally focused on virtual medicine beyond face-to-face visits. Every single payer contract will be revised to incorporate the centrality of telemedicine

Michelle Stansbury. Vice President of Information Technology at Houston Methodist: There are two areas that I believe will be very promising. One is in virtual care. It has exploded since COVID and will be one to watch as we move back to our new normal. Patients and clinicians have now seen the value of this technology, and when used in conjunction with other external monitoring devices to better diagnose and treat, the possibilities are endless. Patients now see the ease of use of being able to see a physician without going to a physical location, and physicians now better understand the technology and how it can now be applied to their practice.

The second is artificial intelligence. This is an area that has been talked about for a few years, but hasn't really materialized yet. Since COVID, the need to better understand our data and utilize it to predict patient surge, deterioration and outcomes as well as supply demand during situations like COVID is now forcing healthcare organizations to create the right environment for our data scientists.

Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD. Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at University Hospitals (Cleveland): The most promising technologies are driven by the new narrative to keep people healthy at home rather than healing in the hospital. These include a variety of disposable devices that monitor pulse ox, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate and send a signal through a patient's cellphone at home to a hospital's command center. An example of this is the SafetyNet monitor from Masimo. While these types of devices are crucial in the care of COVID-19 patients, they're also being used to care for non-COVID patients, combining the monitor with therapies such as home health care to deliver medications and telemedicine appointments with physicians, to create a web of well-being keeping people healthy at home while conserving PPE and limiting exposure to caregivers.

Tom Brazelton, MD. Medical Director of Telehealth at UW Health (Madison, Wis.): In the midst of COVID-19, we know that encrypted, secure video-based communication is here to stay. As telehealth rapidly excels, the most facile, portable, secure system — one that is EHR-integrated from the provider perspective and easy to use from the patient perspective — will win. As we have had clinic-based and hospital-based providers, we will also see the establishment of video-based providers, a melding of physician informaticists and medical specialties coming into their own with certification, credentialing, licensing and operational standards

Eric Yablonka. CIO, Stanford (Calif.) Health Care: Perhaps the most important — versus promising — technology for healthcare delivery will be around virtual tools. One can imagine a digital-first patient journey through the care process to enable the patient and staff to be more safe and confident that they are receiving high quality care and a positive patient experience. These tools will include things like virtual visits, online second opinions and consults, remote monitoring powered by AI and machine-learning tools and real time algorithms, and engagement apps to maintain care plans and activities. We will also need to accommodate patients' needs when they do have to come in to visit the clinic for appointments, and there we will see things like e-arrival and contactless check-in, e- or no-stop checkouts, etc.

Dwight Raum. Vice President and CTO for Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System (Baltimore): The onset of COVID-related lockdowns led to an explosion in telemedicine visits. Appropriately, most of us now equate video visits to telemedicine, but the promise and opportunity are much more potentially transformational. With patients and providers overcoming the psychological and technical barriers to adoption, there is a very real prospect that digital medicine will move permanently beyond novelty to a routine, robust, accessible and secure means of care. Patient access will improve, paving the way for adoption of digital medicine and therapeutics.

Dick Daniels. Executive Vice President and CIO, Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Calif.): I believe telehealth will be the most promising and valuable technology for healthcare delivery in 2020. We have seen a rapid increase in telehealth visits within Kaiser Permanente during the COVID-19 pandemic, up from 18 percent of our visits to 80 percent at the end of April. Kaiser Permanente's focus for the future of telehealth is to create and embed solutions that are high-tech and high-touch. In 2020, we are using technology to augment and support — not replace — human interaction and intelligence while keeping our members safe.

Chris Carmody. Senior Vice President of Enterprise IT infrastructure at UPMC: Driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, we see 'touchless' technology, including facial recognition, as a key healthcare application for 2020 and beyond. We are currently testing facial recognition in several of our 40 hospitals, building on the biometric fingerprint technology that we implemented in recent years to speed up patient check-ins while decreasing identify theft. COVID-19 has accelerated the need to advance touchless and virtual technologies to safely enhance the patient/consumer experience.

Bruce Darrow. Senior Vice President of IT, Deputy CIO and CMIO of Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): While it's not a new technology, the time has never been more appropriate than today for organizations to flex up on their use of virtual care, whether it's video visits, bot-assisted electronic communications or remote monitoring of biometrics and patient wellness. Technology has never been the primary barrier; with changes in demand and reimbursement, Mount Sinai Health System rapidly scaled up our virtual operations more than 200-fold within weeks.

Nader Mherabi. Executive Vice President, Vice Dean and CIO of NYU Langone Health: We imagine a constellation of technologies, including telehealth, remote monitoring at home or in the hospital, and technologies to support frictionless digital access to ambulatory care, such as mobile apps, kiosks and sensors, will improve healthcare delivery in 2020. We also see unified communication technologies and staff productivity tools to help better manage staff working remotely as promising technologies.

Mitch Parker. Executive Director of Information Security & Compliance at IU Health (Indianapolis): I believe the most promising technology for healthcare in 2020 is federated learning. This technology approach has the ability to promote privacy-preserving data analytics. It allows organizations to run intelligent systems analysis on their datasets, and improve their algorithmic accuracy, while not exposing or transferring the data. It also reduces risk by allowing these analytics to take place within trusted environments if implemented correctly. This also builds upon the output of years of standardization efforts with EHR, clinical ancillary systems, population health and smart devices, and has significant potential to be used for dealing with the current pandemic situation.

With the renewed focus on privacy, security and actionable analytics, we need a method by which we can have all three interoperate to help address pandemic-related issues, while continuing to build the foundation for future technologies.

Lisa S. Stump. Senior Vice President and CIO, Yale New Haven Health System and Yale School of Medicine: Audio and video technology are transforming care delivery by connecting and protecting patients, care teams, and co-workers. Whether in the hospital, doctor's office or home, we are connecting patients to their medical team, front-line caregivers to each other, isolated patients to their family and friends, and healthcare workers in all aspects of the business to each other and their work. This is protecting the patients, our front-line care providers, staff and the communities we live in and serve.

Emerging strongly in all of this is voice-enabled communication and command solutions, such as Amazon Alexa, that give patients more control in an environment where so much is out of their control, to helpful information and reminders when they are at home, and connecting to devices that enable early detection and intervention. And for nurses, physicians and the care team, who themselves are exhausted and working under challenging conditions, the ability to simply speak to get input or call a colleague to the room, or to initiate a clinical response has been life-changing, and we are just scratching the surface of these opportunities.

B.J. Moore. Executive Vice President and CIO of Providence (Renton, Wash.): Telehealth. [During the pandemic, we were most in need of] reliable network infrastructure, collaboration tools that enable remote work, clinical application environments that allow us to support rapidly changing needs and new scenarios. As an example, we have been using iPads to allow isolated patients to maintain communication with their friends and families. This is a relatively simple solution with very significant impact in patient experience.

Peter Kung. Chief Innovation Officer of SCL Health (Broomfield, Colo.): I think the two biggest opportunities are creating a new digital front door for consumers and a health system command center to efficiently and effectively deliver care. What you will need behind these two efforts is a multitude of technologies, and that is the beautiful part of it. You are truly transforming the clinical and operational aspects of healthcare in those two modalities with the support of digital tools.

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