Penn Medicine's IT road map

In 2024, Penn Medicine is focusing on prioritizing data security, EHR optimization and strategic partnerships. 

Becker's spoke to Paul Williams, associate vice president of infrastructure technology at the Philadelphia-based health system, to discuss the institution's IT priorities for 2024 and its strategic vision for the development of core infrastructure technologies.

Question: What are Penn Medicine's top IT priorities for 2024?

Paul Williams: First and foremost, data security, cyber resiliency, business continuity and disaster recovery are top interconnected priorities in today's healthcare setting.

The second is focusing on EHR optimization to reduce clinician burnout. Right now, we're in the midst of upgrading to Epic Hyperdrive. This move is going to make providers' jobs easier and more efficient so they can see more patients more effectively. Additional focus areas include further adoption of our EHR platform components that drive value in both clinical quality and workflow. 

Third is focusing on prioritization of projects. There are a lot of great projects being brought forward with varying degrees of benefit including an ROI, quality improvement and AI advancements. We must focus on a strong governance and prioritization process to most effectively identify the ones that are going to benefit the overall organization and drive value. The new shiny object isn't always the right investment of time and money to strategically move us forward in aligning with our organization's objectives.

Q: In your role, can you describe your overall vision for the strategic development of core infrastructure technologies at Penn Medicine?

PW: The overall vision is to continue to leverage the breadth and depth of our skilled technology teams, enhancing knowledge in areas such as cloud, air-gap and AI as well as maintaining strong partnerships with our technology vendors. 

It's important to develop strong working relationships with vendors as "strategic partners" so that we can bring them in, share our vision and solution for not only now, but the future. Executing the strategy is equally as important as defining it. Having engaged and skilled teams partnered with expertise and services is crucial to success. 

Q: What are some guiding principles or strategies you prioritize in your leadership role to ensure that the success of these initiatives brings back value to the organization?

PW: It starts with people. You need to have a clear and defined vision for your initiatives, share those with your teams and ensure our people understand the strategy and the outcomes we're expecting. Always leverage the talent that surrounds you, challenge the status quo and seek to have a highly engaged IS organization. 

Additionally, if you're working with a partner or vendor, you also want to ensure that they understand your objectives and goals so that you can have key, measurable milestones.

Q: A lot of organizations are looking at optimizing their EHR. What is Penn Medicine doing in this realm?

PW: Like many healthcare providers, we have been on the EHR for quite a while now and have made rewarding enhancements along the way. Today we are laser focused on the areas of caregiver well-being. We are focused on improving the patient experience through access to healthcare and health equity.

Additionally, we are leveraging big data and data visualization to use data to improve efficiencies and quality of care.

Q: What's next for Penn Medicine? What is something you're looking forward to?

PW: We're excited about what role we're going to play when it comes to generative AI, ChatGPT and other healthcare automation. Safely implementing technologies that have measurable enhancements in healthcare delivery, improved patient care and positive impacts to operational and financial performance. 

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