Mount Sinai's first chief data officer on leveraging data, enhancing strategy & more

New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System selected Andrew Kasarskis, PhD, to serve as its first chief data officer, overseeing data accessibility and sharing, open application development and digital asset transparency and use.

Here, Dr. Kasarskis discusses his new role, the opportunities he is most excited about and advice for organizations looking to improve their data strategy.

Question: What are your key responsibilities as chief data officer?

Dr. Andrew Kasarskis: It's really quite simple — to make sure that we get the best value from the data we can access. Most data in many organizations sit in repositories after they are generated and are poorly leveraged for future business planning, operations, quality improvement and research. Given our size and scale as the Mount Sinai Health System, we are reasonably well-powered to learn from the data available to us and are therefore focusing on that going forward.

Q: What excites you most about your new role?

AK: Mount Sinai is rather unique in that it is a large health system that is also a vibrant medical school with innovative and substantial research and teaching. The road from an innovative academic concept to application at scale in a health system is long, whether the innovation is a change in practice patterns, a new biomarker, a new device or a new therapeutic. The close integration between the Icahn School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Health System can shorten that road and make it easier to travel.

Similarly, there are academic research questions in medicine and basic biology that are informed by the diversity of clinical knowledge that comes from our health system in one of the world's most diverse cities. Synergy in both directions — clinic to research, and research to clinic — relies on rigorous analysis of similar data, so further strengthening our culture of data science across the Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine is truly a unique and exciting opportunity.

Q: What are some key threats to healthcare data security today?

AK: I don't see healthcare data security as very different from any other data security. As a result, I think that the challenges we face in data security are very similar to those in other industries, and that we should continue to evolve best practices across our ecosystem just like everyone else.

Q: What is your advice for healthcare organizations looking to enhance their data strategy?

AK: As always, we can't do everything. This means that focusing on ensembles of actionable, value-generating use cases is important. Answering the question of how best to deliver a concise, unambiguous set of facts to whoever needs those facts to make a decision in a timely fashion is really at the core of any data strategy, so prioritizing which facts [go] to who seems like an important part of adding value.

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