The difference between technology and innovation: 7 questions with Andy Bartley from Intel Corp.

Technology has played a crucial role in healthcare innovation in the last two decades. Going forward, technology and innovation will continue to affect important areas in care delivery, including prevention, precision medicine and creative, technology-enabled health encounters. For executive teams leading hospitals, it comes down to making the best decisions to invest in technologies that support innovation initiatives.

To learn more about the relationship between technology and innovation in healthcare, Becker's caught up with Andy Bartley, senior solutions architect of the Health & Life Sciences Group at Intel Corporation. Intel Corporation and Lenovo Health are supporting a three-day innovation summit in partnership with Becker's Healthcare, from June 6-8. To learn more about this virtual opportunity, click here.

We asked Mr. Bartley to weigh in on the most significant trends he sees in healthcare's technology space, including common cultural problems around innovation, EHR redesign for physician satisfaction and emerging technology generating the greatest excitement among IT leaders.

1. We live in interesting times. Drones are making deliveries in the U.S. and driverless cars are a reality, yet at the same time it isn't unusual to use a scanner or fax machine. How should executives think about emerging technology vs. old technology? How can they find an adoption rate of new technology that is right for their organization?

Andy Bartley: In my experience, the most successful adoption of new technology comes as a result of solving a problem that is of clear and measurable impact to the business. There is an endless stream of cool new technology coming onto the market, like new sensors or drones, but a clear business case is what turns these technologies into powerful engines for growth.

Let's take drones and sensors as an example. Say a segment of my patient population is located in rural settings that are difficult to access with conventional transportation. Designing a cost effective and innovative solution for delivery of therapies to patients with chronic conditions might leverage sensors to indicate when the patient is running low on their medication, and a drone to do the remote delivery. Start with the problem first, and the right technologies will fall into place.

From an executive's perspective, have a defined channel for getting relevant technology briefings. This might be from your team or from partners that can speak to technology innovation not only in healthcare but other industries that may have implemented a particular best practice that could be of value. Setting a clear business and strategic vision can help channel the enthusiasm for technology in the right direction. To the earlier point on starting with business problems, make sure that the strategic goals of the organization are clear to all employees, and drive a process for evaluating new technology that requires a mapping to those goals.

Where executives can have the biggest impact with regards to technology adoption is championing the right causes to drive organizational change. Adopting new technology can be difficult. Oftentimes you have to change workflows, update trainings and ask people to work differently. Promising technology implementations fail all the time because the organization doesn't fully embrace the change. Driving change management discipline and capabilities across your teams can reduce the adoption curve and shorten the time to ROI.

2. Can you talk about the technological trends and developments that are piercing the healthcare bubble and affecting clinicians, patients and hospitals the most?

AB: From a global perspective, you see healthcare delivery systems generally addressing similar challenges: how to increase access and improve quality of care while controlling costs. The priority of these themes can vary widely by geography, but many of the new technology trends we see gaining traction address these in some fashion.

Technology to enable virtual care delivery is becoming fairly pervasive worldwide. Virtual care is one way of addressing cost and access challenges. This is really still an emerging technology in terms of adoption both by providers and patients. Traditionally we've thought of virtual care as video visits, but with the rise of increasingly sophisticated sensors, applications and computing platforms we see virtual care moving more into a model of continuous care that is seamlessly integrated into the patient's life.

Patient engagement and experience is a critical trend right now that is driving adoption of new technologies. I think this is a really interesting place for augmented and virtual reality. Undergoing a surgical procedure can be a scary thing, and for many of us it can be difficult to understand exactly what the procedure and rehabilitation might entail. I've seen some interesting solutions on the market that are using virtual reality to take patients through the surgical experience. Once they go home, they can use augmented reality to make sure that their rehabilitation is tracking to plan, thereby preventing unnecessary readmissions.

Finally, as healthcare organizations increasingly digitize workflows, they are generating large amounts of data. I see a lot of adoption around tools, technologies and platforms to help organizations extract actionable insights from that data. We've really just started scratching the surface of the potential for the value that data can bring to healthcare. Right now I'm seeing a lot of interest in predictive analytics using machine learning techniques. Technology and solutions for data analytics will be one of the most exciting and quickly evolving trends in healthcare in the years to come.

3. Few of us can imagine life without our smartphones. In healthcare, what are some forms of technology or innovation that physicians cannot imagine life without?

AB: From my perspective at Intel, I spend a lot of time looking at how computers are used throughout healthcare. With the move to digital health records, the personal computer has become an essential part of a physician's workday. Computers have replaced the old paper charts as the primary means for accessing patient data. As organizations mature in their adoption of EMRs, we see them driving mobility initiatives focused on increasing the use of computers like laptops and 2in1's that can give providers access to patient data anytime, anywhere.

Tools and technology that enable collaboration are also gaining in popularity. More and more, the care team is expanding to include primary care physicians, hospital staff, long-term care providers, family members and other caregivers all working together. Collaborative tools are an important part of supporting this type of team-based approach.

Another area we expect to become integral to healthcare is analytics. The field of predictive analytics is just emerging today, but we expect it to become a common part of the routine workday, from precision medicine to population health. We expect to have intelligence systems that can analyze massive amounts of data across multiple organizations and generate intelligent responses that can be delivered in real-time to augment care delivery.

4. Consumerism is one driving force behind a lot of change you see in healthcare today. Do you think technology is creating, keeping pace or following the enhanced role of informed and empowered consumers? How so?

AB: Consumer technology is driving new patient expectations when they walk into the hospital. Consider your favorite consumer applications — Amazon, Netflix, email. These applications deliver personalized and engaging experiences that are really designed to work for the consumer. This ability to personalize a product or service is table-stakes in many digital industries. As consumers spend more time online, we become accustomed to having experiences tailored to us. So when we walk into a healthcare facility, have to fill out paperwork, wait for an appointment that starts late and don't have an easy way to access our medical record afterwards, patients can get frustrated.

Healthcare organizations are realizing this, and I am seeing a big shift in focusing on the patient experience as a core component of corporate strategy. This is increasingly important as we see increased M&A among healthcare providers, which increases the level of competition to attract and retain patients.

A great example of how organizations are aligning resources to activate patient experiences strategies is the emergence of the chief experience officer role or experience task forces. These functions within the organization will evaluate the patient experience and champion the development of new solutions like wayfinding, patient portals, online form completion and mobile applications that make the patient experience more streamlined and personalized.

5. Caregiver wellbeing is of national concern today. It seems more attention is now paid to how technology affects the clinician. Please share your thoughts on what we need for a world in which technology and clinicians are both thriving.

AB: It's an important topic, and one that many technology companies are actively working to address. The move from paper to digital resulted in a variety of inefficiencies in healthcare. Many providers felt that technology was being thrust upon them against their will. The massive effort of standing up new technology like an EMR didn't leave many resources to focus on how all of the new technology introduced would impact clinicians. This was also such a dramatic shift in business process that some of the downstream impacts were very difficult, if not downright impossible, to forecast in advance.

Going forward, it's incumbent on technology providers to comprehend the unique needs of their users, and how technology will be used in the business process. This is a known need, and many technology companies have created industry specific teams to better understand user requirements and align product development accordingly. The more you can entrench yourself in the nuances of your customers workflow, the better you can develop solutions that improve those workflows. Going forward, we'll see more seamless integration of compute and intelligence into the surrounding environment, and solutions that are adaptive based on context like location.

Healthcare organizations and technology providers can work collaboratively to evolve the process for new technology adoption. New success criteria might be considered that take into account new measures that reflect caregiver wellbeing. Systemically engaging the caregiver teams into technology decisions is a key component here. More and more organizations are involving business leaders and team members to improve the process by which they evaluate and adopt new technology.

6. Can you tell me one or two specific examples of emerging technology that have roused the greatest excitement and interest from your colleagues or healthcare organizations? Amid a stream of new products, gadgets, applications and more, what have you seen hold people's attention?

AB: There is a lot of excitement and interest right now around artificial intelligence and precision medicine.

Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic lately. AI represents an opportunity to take the rich structured and unstructured data available in today's healthcare environment and turn it into products that allow our clinicians to work better, smarter, faster and more collaboratively. At end of day, it's about enabling higher quality care and producing better outcomes at a lower cost. You have computing power available to run sophisticated AI applications, such as machine learning, deep learning and cognitive computing, on large data sets in a reasonable amount of time and get responses that are actionable. I can't say I've spoken to a single health system executive who doesn't want to talk about how AI can be applied to their institution.

The other area of intense interest and investment is precision medicine. How do we enable a healthcare delivery system that is able to personalize care to the individual based on their unique genetic makeup. Realizing this opportunity requires many different technologies, from gene sequencing to ultra-high bandwidth networks to high-performance computing and storage and many more. Today we're seeing amazing innovations around precision medicine in specific populations like those with cancer.

However, you can envision a day when your genome becomes a standard part of routine care delivery. The question becomes, what does that do to healthcare? What needs to happen to enable that vision? We see precision medicine driving a lot investment and collaboration throughout the health and life sciences industry happening to make this vision a reality.

7. It's important to step back and take in the stunning progress of technology. Some people can say they watched live as the first man walked on the moon. Perhaps others remember the first time they connected to the World Wide Web. Looking at the big picture, what are some of the most remarkable technological developments we will be able to say we observed and witnessed in healthcare?

AB: I think when we look back, developments like AI are going to shine light on how significant the move to EHRs and the transition from paper to digital workflows really was. It was a very difficult transition that required a substantial amount of IT and clinical resources from healthcare organizations. But we're already starting to see really interesting use cases as a result of now having more data available. Retrospectively, I think people will look back at the digitalization of healthcare and be amazed at how fast it happened.

In the future, precision medicine will lead healthcare through another transformation, but instead of digitalization, it will be personalization. One day we could all go to clinics to get our genomes sequenced, and then an Amazon drone could drop off the treatment. The whole flow could be different. The move to precision medicine has the opportunity to disrupt traditional healthcare delivery models and be one of the biggest changes to healthcare in next few decades.

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