Stanford's CIO: Start with small data

Healthcare delivery is at a crossroads.

Hospitals across the U.S. are experiencing physician, nurse and labor shortages. Patients are also fed up with the traditional healthcare delivery model and looking for more convenient, personalized and streamlined ways to engage with their clinicians. Virtual care and remote patient monitoring are a good first step to meet the goals of patients and providers, but much more is possible.

Technology-enabled healthcare will grow over the next five years, said Michael Pfeffer, MD, CIO of Stanford (Calif.) Health Care, and he is measuring its success by the value it will bring to patients and providers.

"There are a lot of buzzwords — AI, precision health, wearables, all of these things — but being more customized to the patient's needs and easier to use and integrated for our clinicians is essential," he said. "It's really about focusing on those who receive care and those providing care."

The first step to making this transition is focusing on data analytics. Some health systems have sophisticated data platforms while others are just beginning the journey to integrate clinical and business analytics for a better patient and clinician experience.

"We're getting better with big data and analytics, and this is going to become more and more useful for both providers and patients," Dr. Pfeffer said. "That's going to happen by a little bit more focus on what I'll call small data, which is the kind of individualized data that's collected and aggregated into big data. As the smaller data gets more accurate and easier to collect, we're going to get better insights as we bring all that data together."

Dr. Pfeffer's team of technologists and data scientists is taking the lead on the technology-enabled healthcare delivery transformation. As the team moves forward, it is also keeping health equity in mind.

"We need to weave equity into the fabric of all our technologies that we use in healthcare," he said. "We're also putting clinician well-being front and center. It's absolutely critical to how we think about the user experience, how we design and implement technologies and how we look to improve upon automation opportunities to help reduce some of the burden around technology and administrative tasks.

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