NewYork-Presbyterian CIO: Health IT is 80% people, 15% process and 5% tech

Daniel Barchi serves as senior vice president and CIO of the $10 billion system of NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City. With 45,000 employees and 2 million annual visits, heading up innovation and technology at the system is no easy role, but Mr. Barchi takes it in stride by focusing on the people, not the technology. 

He spoke to Becker's about technology at the system, the value of its partnerships with academic institutions, and how people are at the heart of all its technology decisions. 

"We began using machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate a lot of our back-end workflows. So it's payroll, it's timekeeping, employees clocking in and clocking out," Dr. Barchi said. "Then we started applying more machine learning into the clinical space, not directly on patients themselves, but automating a lot of what happens." 

The system has implemented a range of artificial intelligence technologies to ease workflow, reduce the time patients are in the hospital and catch other health conditions while specialists are focused on one area.

"We applied machine learning to all of our patients and started creating estimated dates of discharge. We've been able to reduce our length of stay by about half a day based on using these metrics," he told Becker's.

The system is also taking advantage of its prestigious teaching schools of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical School by collaborating with academics and researchers. 

"How do we get on beyond simply the medical school and the hospital creating that academic medical center? And how do we draw in university computer science departments and university business offices and university AI and ML and data scientists to focus on providing the next level of care. So we think that the matching of data science, AI and ML with data and clinical insight is really the future, and that's what we're really embarking on now," he said.

People, whether that be patients, healthcare workers or other staff at the hospital, are at the heart of all technology implementation. 

"We think technology can't replace medical professionals; what it can do is take away time for value or things that don't add value, or provide them information to allow them to make better decisions," he said.

In this vein, NewYork-Presbyterian has issued 31,000 iPhones to residents, fellows, nurses, and transporters and environmental service workers in an effort to bring the technology to them. When a patient is discharged or ready to be moved, the relevant staff will be notified via the iPhones and can more efficiently keep the ball rolling. Altogether, over 200,000 secure messages are sent every day within the system.  

"I'd like to say that healthcare IT is 80 percent people, it's 15 percent process and it's only 5 percent technology. We're servants of the clinicians who actually lay their hands on people and so we never do technology for technology's sake; we want technology to make the care outstanding."

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