63 system execs share the most valuable tech investments in the last 2 years

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a need for technology in all areas of life but especially in healthcare. Investors in healthcare technology estimate digital health investments to be as much as $25 billion this year.

These 63 industry leaders explain the most valuable technological investment their systems made in the last two years. The executives featured in this article are all speaking at the Becker's Health IT, Digital Health + RCM Annual Meeting: The Future of Business and Clinical Technologies which will take place Oct. 3-6, 2023, at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

To learn more about this event, click here.

If you would like to join as a speaker, contact Randi Haseman at rhaseman@beckershealthcare.com.

As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who will speak at our conference. The following are answers from our speakers at the event.

Question: What technology investment has provided the most value to your system in the last two years?

 Tony Ambrozie. Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer at Baptist Health South Florida (Coral Gables, Fla.): Focus has been on the weakest part of the healthcare experience with the digital access to care and records. Enabling consumers and patients to self-schedule and self-service is a powerful empowerment tool that they need and ask for. As we have rolled out capabilities, we have seen improvements in consumer satisfaction as well as staff efficiencies that are a big thing given industry recruiting challenges. 

We have continued to invest in the telehealth overall capability, not understood as a binary replacement of in-person visits, but along the care journey, when applicable and feasible. When the pandemic hit, there was an industry shift to virtual visits however the tools and experiences have not always been the best leading to frustrations and inefficiencies. But building all these capabilities cannot happen on less than optimal technology foundations built for another era. As such, we have also focused on rebuilding the technology foundations — cloud, agile development as well process re-engineering and automation, all with the end result of reduced costs and faster time to market. 

Chris Carmody. Chief Technology Officer at UPMC (Pittsburgh): Investments made in our core infrastructure have provided the most value due to our ability to keep pace with the clinical and operational demands and dependencies on information technology. These upgrades have been made to scale and expand our network connectivity, compute and cybersecurity, which provide the foundation for virtual patient care, the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and cloud-based solutions.  

Aaron Miri. Senior Vice President and Chief Digital and Information Officer at Baptist Health (Jacksonville, Fla.): Because of the visionary work from our chief consumer officer, we have extensively leveraged our customer relationship software across the health system to ensure any gaps of care are quickly identified and remediated. This was particularly acute when we were operating with several electronic medical records and the CRM system was able to help fill in those gaps.

Tina Esposito. System Vice President and Chief Health Information Officer at Advocate Aurora Health (Downers Grove, Ill. and Milwaukee): Our move to a single patient record has been by far the most value add investment to ensure a safe and consistent patient, consumer and care team experience. This investment has become foundational in ensuring digital consumer outreach, safety advancements and operationalization of data science efforts. This work can certainly be done without a single common platform, but the implications to budgets and resources would be too costly. This is particularly true in such a financially unstable and resource-elusive time.

Richard Zane, MD. CIO at UCHealth (Aurora, Colo.): It is extremely hard to name a specific or single technology investment because technology, at the end of the day, is a tool, and the delivery of healthcare relies on people, process and tools. No matter how cool, new or sexy a technology is, if it isn’t used and just sits on a shelf, there is nothing special about it. So, in that context, our greatest series of investments started with those which have enabled the ability to use amazing technology to improve outcomes and lower cost starting with an empowered innovation team with the infrastructure, autonomy and authority to move fast and charge to serve our providers and patients and our mission to save lives. 

This starts, first and foremost, by building a culture which embraces change and views technology as a tool to help providers work better, faster, easier while eliminating error and waste and improving provider experience and patient outcomes. Our guiding principles regarding deploying technology are relatively simple: for patients and providers, it must be easier and not harder; be the path of least resistance; fewer clicks, not more; bullet-proof right and never require anyone to leave their workflow. 

This starts with a single, mature, enterprisewide and integrated IT platform specifically deployed to host a robust analytics infrastructure for clinical operations, research, and innovation. This has allowed us to have best-in-class digital front door and Virtual Health Center which is fully integrated into every aspect of care across the continuum from preventing falls in inpatients, responding to inpatient deterioration and sepsis, virtual nursing and caring for diabetes, heart failure, hypertension, dyslipidemia, depression and suicidality as outpatients — just to name a few initiatives. It has allowed us to deploy technology investments like AI, prescriptive and predictive analytics, monitoring devices and digital health tools.

James Forrester. Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Technology Officer at University of Rochester (New York) Medical Center: The technology investment that has brought the greatest value to University of Rochester Medical Center over the last two years has been our investment in clinical digital transformation. The URMC digital transformation program has empowered our care model with new capabilities such as on demand video visits, e-visits and patient self-scheduling. Following close with regards to value to our organization is the enablement of data and analytics through implementations of an enterprise data integration platform and an enterprise business intelligence platform.

David Reis, PhD. CIO at University of Miami Health: Over the last two years, our investment in PowerBI has by far provided the most value. We have over 8,000 active reports and over 1,000 active dashboards used throughout the health system. These dashboards are real-time focused and provide deep insight into a wide range of metrics. Over the last six months, a joint leadership team chaired by clinical operations has used these PowerBI dashboards to measurably improve patient access. 

Michelle Stansbury. Vice President of Innovation and IT Applications at Houston Methodist: Investing in innovation and technology to create the best possible healthcare experience for our patients is something embedded into our culture at Houston Methodist. Because of this, we were able to accelerate technology like our virtual ICU early during COVID. Like many healthcare organizations, the pandemic has had a lasting impact and many of the challenges like the growing workforce shortage remain. 

A significant investment we've made to not only address staffing challenges but also revamp how clinicians work in the future is through our care redesign technology. This initiative is a combination of technologies – AI powered cameras, biosensors, voice-enabled technology and more – working together to enhance the patient experience as well as dealing with organizational challenges. Innovation isn’t always about adding technology but rather exploring other possibilities with the technology already available.

Gerard Brogan, MD. Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer at Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): It is hard to call out just one, but if I had to call out a category, it would be work drivers. On our patient financial services/call center team, we rolled out an updated work driver tool that also allows for segmentation of patient responsibility accounts. This has enabled a proactive bad debt reduction team to prevent $1.2 million rolling to bad debt across our system. On the back end, a work driver tool has allowed for a significant reduction in write-offs due to untimely status and also provided clarity on low balance accounts that we can push out to a vendor partner for follow-up.

Harshal Shah. Corporate Director of Digital Health at RWJBarnabas Health (West Orange, N.J.): Our EMR. Our health system is in the process of transitioning into a single EMR across all of our facilities. Before this technology investment our health system had multiple different EMRs, patient portals, various processes. The transition into a single EMR provides value to our providers, staff, patients and communities. It brings a care-centered process for our health system while also providing patients with the necessary tools to be an active participant in their health. We are committed to continuously improving access, quality and engagement!

Tom Barnett. Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at Baptist Memorial Health (Memphis, Tenn.): We are actually in a multi-year journey to implement a few large technology strategies for Baptist Memorial Health. Most notable has been our investment in expanding our remote collaboration tools and technologies as well as those who focus on telemedicine. We have also recently undertaken the journey to a cloud enterprise resource planning platform that will transform the way Baptist handles business functions.

Seth Jeremy Katz. Vice President of Revenue Cycle and Health Information Management at the University Health KC (Kansas City, Mo.): By far and away, the technology we’ve rolled out that has had the biggest impact and arguably will continue to for the foreseeable future is robot process automation and AI. We started this journey looking at ways to help offset the dramatic growth in prior authorizations (over a 150 percent increase in the number of PAs needed monthly) given the staffing challenges hospitals are facing. RPA has been a great tool to help in this effort. We are currently looking to expand their uses to claims status checking and inpatient notifications. We've also begun deep dives into AI coding with anticipation we will select and be live with a vendor in this space within the next two years.

Steven Ramirez. Chief Information Security Officer at Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): For my organization, the technology investment that has provided the most value to your system in the last two years would probably be our Managed Detection and Response (MDR) platform with our next generation antivirus (NGAV) SentinelOne. This technology enabled us to cover, strengthen and provide visibility into all our end points at the same time there was a massive uptick in attacks against healthcare organizations.

Zafar Chaudry, MD, MS, MIS, MBA, CITP. Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer at Seattle Children’s: Our investment in data warehousing and analytics (retrospective, predictive and prescriptive) has enabled us to better manage our organization and improve our clinical outcomes. We can see our data in real-time and our data scientists have created algorithms that help us manage capacity, predict surges, deliver opioid free post tonsillectomy pain management and predict strokes post brain surgery in kiddos.

Lora Niazov, MBA, PMP. Director of Enterprise Program Management Office at University Hospitals (Cleveland): University Hospitals has invested a significant amount of time and resources into our Hospital At Home model, an investment in the Massimo Home monitoring system that Dr. Peter Pronovost, our chief transformation officer, developed in partnership with Massimo. UH is able to discharge patients to be monitored at home and to provide wrap-around patient care services to monitor their conditions without having that same patient take up beds that could be used for other more critically ill patients. This transformational technology has already started to show the potential of what hospitals can become in the future.

Jim Whitfill, MD. Senior Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer at HonorHealth (Scottsdale, Ariz.): We invested in outside help to revamp our technology governance to make it led by our clinical and operational leaders. This has allowed our front-line areas to prioritize the technology efforts most important to them while giving us a much more granular view of how healthy our technology allocation process is working in a complex integrated delivery system.

Isaiah Nathaniel. Vice President and CIO at Delaware Valley Community Health (Philadelphia): The single most important investment I have made for Delaware Valley Health, Inc., in the last two years is in our virtualized backend hardware infrastructure. This investment alone allowed us to scale our clinical and operational efficiency by being relevant for our staff and patients to be both in and out of the physical office (telehealth and telework) simultaneously without a degradation of services, which before did not exist. Modernizing this alone proved to be a wise choice and a business-saving expense that has already provided a strong return on the investment. 

Jim Zuran. Regional Vice President of Revenue Excellence at Loyola University Health System (Chicago): Our recent Epic upgrades have allowed us to streamline our operations to ensure we have quality claims out-the-door. Through edits and WQs, we are able to fix errors pre-bill to prevent denials and improve revenue capture.

Ralph J. Riello III, PharmD, BCPS. Clinical Pharmacy Specialist of Cardiorenal and Metabolism at Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn): Over the past two years, the investment our clinical and translational research team has made to support rigorous evaluation of clinical decision support technology has returned perhaps the most value to our health system as any initiative I can recall. With a fairly light lift from an IT perspective and soliciting early input from frontline clinicians, this technology can be tailored to trigger automated best practice alerts paired with dynamic smart sets right at the point of care at every eligible encounter or care setting. 

Now after several successful pragmatic randomized controlled trials across our health system, these alerts have proven to increase adherence to evidence-based treatment guidelines for patients with heart failure or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by at least 40 percent compared with usual care. As these innovations are entirely embedded within the EHR system, they are easily scalable across an integrated delivery network or learning healthcare system committed to improving population health. 

Additionally, as this technology improved prescribing habits for several key high morbidity, mortality and expenditure disease states, it’s our hope that benefit will extend to better clinical outcomes for other chronic diseases with gaps in care as well.

Stacey Johnston, MD, MHA. Vice President and Chief Application Officer at Baptist Health (Jacksonville, Fla.): For Baptist Health, choosing a platform that would elevate our clinical care and integrate the system was an essential part of our strategic plan. We recently completed a two year long Epic Big band implementation across six hospitals and nearly 200 ambulatory care locations. We achieved the Epic Good Install award and have currently been ranked at Epic Gold Stars 9. This required a significant amount of collaboration between the clinical caregivers, the operational leaders, revenue cycle and the implementation team. It has been a true privilege to lead the team through this endeavor as each team member grew and excelled in the new environment.

Josh Cutler, MSW, LICSW. Director of Behavioral Health and Well Being at Kinwell Medical Group (Seattle): Integrating zoom with Epic and deploying it across the enterprise has been the best investment we made prior to COVID. It allowed the system to quickly pivot to remote care during the pandemic.

Russell Horton, MD. Medical Director of Clinical Innovation for Banner Innovation Group at Banner Health (Phoenix): In the last two years, as it was for all of healthcare, investment in technology had to come fast and be flexible. Our investments in telehealth solutions for both inpatient and outpatient providers brought us great value. This probably isn’t a revolutionary answer; however, it was revolutionary for our healthcare teams and allowed their work to be expanded in ways that were previously untapped. Most importantly our patients were given the most personalized and accessible care we could provide as situations evolved. Ultimately, through innovation and investment, we brought financial, emotional and medical value to the system.

Darrell Bodnar. CIO at North Country HealthCare (Whitefield, N.H.): I would have to say it was the consolidated implementation and standardization of our EMR across all affiliate hospitals in our system. This lays the foundation for everything we have today and what we are building for the future. Of course, when you standardize on such a large platform, you end up standardizing for obvious reasons, ancillary and integrated third party systems. This number now exceeds 50 applications and systems. The standardization of processes and workflows is driven by this, not to mention the economies of scale you get from consolidation.

Jeffrey Hoffman, MD, FAAP, FAMIA. Chief Medical Information Officer at Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus, Ohio): The obvious answer would be videoconferencing technology to facilitate both telemedicine and virtual meetings at the start of the pandemic. Beyond that, I would say the most important technology investment we have made over the last few years in terms of clinical impact and patient outcomes is in the area of predictive analytics. While there are technologies that facilitate that work (clinical database tools, statistical modeling software, EHR-based clinical decision support systems and the like), our investment was in the human capital and expertise necessary to conceptualize, develop and deploy predictive models effectively within clinical workflows. 

Over the past several years, we have expanded our team of data scientists, physician informaticists and clinical analysts with the goal of tackling some of the most pressing issues in pediatric healthcare. This investment has paid off in so many different ways, from more quickly identifying patients with early sepsis (reducing our overall sepsis-related mortality rate) to detecting when admitted patients are likely to deteriorate (reducing our rates of emergent ICU transfers and out-of-ICU code blue events), to predicting which asthma patients would best benefit from an intensive home and/or school-based management program (reducing their ED utilization), to determining which of our ACO patients are most likely to engage in care coordination services (reducing their ED visits, hospital admissions and program costs).

Scott Soefje, PharmD. Director of Pharmacy Cancer Care at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.): I would say Epic EHR. We are now five years into the system, and the last two years have seen some significant improvements and enhancements.

Neal Patel, MD. CIO at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.): We have made a significant investment in making our ambulatory clinics paperless. We have leveraged Microsoft surface go tablets and the Epic welcome platform to allow patients, who may have not used our patient portal, to complete the necessary documentation without being handed a clipboard with various paper forms.

Dan Henke. Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Mercy (Chesterfield, Mo.): The technology investment that has provided the most value to our system in the last two years from an information security perspective was entering into a third-party contract to manage the security posture of our medical devices. As we are all aware, these devices provide a huge cybersecurity risk for all healthcare organizations. They are often on unsupported operating systems and not frequently patched. The third party has done a great job in insuring patching and monitoring the security health of the devices.

Sandra Powell-Elliott. Vice President and Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer at Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison, N.J.): Our greatest investment has been less about the nuts and bolts technology, but more importantly people based investments. Hackensack's investment in data scientists is paying dividends in improving outcomes through better insights and interventions with existing technology.

John Finkbeiner. Senior Clinical Informaticist at South Shore Hospital (South Weymouth, Mass.): We updated our telemetry system for more capability, allowing us to import numeric data directly into the EMR, plus working towards importing telemetry strips into the EMR. We updated our PACS system for better user experience as well as better data; we are also incorporating Echo and EKG into that system. We also significantly improved our network/individual PC security.

Raymond Lowe. Senior Vice President and CIO at AltaMed (Commerce, Calif.): Turning back the clock two years during the pandemic, the continued investment in our EMR (Epic system) has been and continues to be our most significant investment. AltaMed enabled telehealth, patient engagement and remote health which are anchored within our EMR or related products. We measure our outcomes and have made significant improvements in these areas: improving quality outcomes leveraging population health, HIE and ensuring that culturally competent care is provided to our patient populations further closing health equity gaps.

Cheng-Kai Kao. Chief Clinical Informatics Innovation Officer at UChicago Medicine: I would say it is the remote patient monitoring tools, which opens the door to several virtual care models, including acute hospital care at home among others.

Latricia Bass. CPC, CPC-I. CEO and Practice Administrator at ATL Orthopedics (Atlanta): In the healthcare industry, technology plays a major role with automations and strategies for companies. The investment has saved millions of dollars for providers and facilities, creating an environment of efficiency in the workplace whether in a building or remotely.  

Chris Bergman. Vice President and CFO at Dayton (Ohio) Children's Hospital: We have spent the last couple years trying to enhance and optimize our technology solutions, specifically focused on our consumer experience. We have made investments in people, processes and technology in many different areas including open scheduling on our website and direct scheduling / Fastpass in MyChart; analytics around patient experience where we marry survey data with EMR data to address specific patient experience problem areas, growing use of Artera (formerly Well Health) to enable two-way texting with patients, real-time surveying, NRC transparency to help us manage star ratings/reviews/patient comments directly to our website and the use of Power BI to be able to share and drill around on data. These and many other consumer focused tools have enabled us to achieve an NPS score with our consumers in the 80s.

Sunil Dadlani. CIO at Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.): We have invested in imaging AI to detect, prioritize, escalate and automate follow up of findings to increase the efficiency, efficacy and timeliness of our radiologists. RPA for automation of business processes such as obtaining a prior authorization for procedures that can otherwise be time consuming — resulting in better  utilization of staff and faster turn around times for patients. 

We also invested in cognitive computing models that leverage predictive analytics for early detection of sepsis, measuring a patient's rate of deterioration and predict the likelihood of a patient being readmitted to redirect care to the patients who need it the most. We have also invested in cloud data warehouse and business intelligence — value. A cloud data warehouse is a centralized repository for storing, processing and analyzing large volumes of data in the cloud. This type of solution offers organizations the scalability and flexibility to store, manage and analyze big data without the need for expensive on-premise infrastructure. 

By leveraging the power of the cloud, a cloud data warehouse can enable organizations to process data in real-time, gain new insights and support advanced analytics and business intelligence use cases. This results in faster decision making, improved operational efficiency and reduced costs compared to traditional data warehousing solutions.

Rolando Cabral Jr., BSN, RN, MSHI, CPHIMS. Vice President and Chief Information and Transformation Officer at Springfield (Ill.) Clinic:  Microsoft Teams, the Power Platform and Low Code/No Code tools have driven organizational success in the past two years. Teams have acted as a hub for collaboration, enabling seamless communication and efficient organization of resources and individuals. The Low Code/No Code tools have empowered us to quickly and cost-effectively develop mission-critical applications, reducing development time and freeing up valuable resources. Integrating these technologies has improved productivity and created a more streamlined work environment for our team.

Lisa Grisim, RN, MSN, CHCIO. Vice President and Associate CIO at Stanford Children's Health (Palo Alto, Calif.): I think the technology investment that has provided the most value over the past two years is telehealth. After the pandemic subsided, we once again went back to the majority of our outpatient visits being conducted via telehealth. The biggest value has been when there are unusual circumstances, such as the surges in child respiratory infections or the storms/flooding in California that we experienced this winter, we were able to quickly pivot back to doing more visits via telehealth. Having this technology accessible and having providers/staff trained on it has allowed us to be much more nimble with being able to provide care in a manner that best serves the patient/family needs at any given time. 

Michael Hasselberg, PhD. Chief Digital Health Officer at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center: There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic ignited the expansion of telemedicine across the country. Over the last two years, UR Medicine has doubled down on telemedicine by investing heavily in an on-demand video visit platform. This investment has allowed our health system to keep up with the new market entrants into healthcare (i.e. Amazon, CVS, Walmart, etc.) by offering our patients seamless access to the care they need 'on-demand' within minutes from the comfort of their own home. 

We have found that our on-demand video visit program has had some of the biggest clinical impacts on our most underserved patient populations living in our rural communities and inner city by increasing these populations' engagement in care. Overall, our patients love it with an average 9.7 out of 10 satisfaction rating while our clinical providers rave about the work-life flexibility this service offers them at a time when clinician burnout is high across all health systems. 

Brian Shea. CIO at MedOne Healthcare Partners (Columbus, Ohio): Investing in Microsoft Azure and Cloud/SaaS technologies has allowed our organization to move 100 percent to the cloud allowing for overall better scalability, flexibility and opportunities to develop solutions that provide operating efficiencies allowing our providers to focus on providing quality patient care experiences.

Sheldon Pink. Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Luminis Health (Annapolis, Md.): The past two years have been an exciting period for revenue cycle IT. Many solutions targeted at robotic process automation and AI have dominated our market. At Luminis Health, we have invested in several technologies focused on digital engagement, eligibility, analytics and machine learning. Identifying which technology has provided the most value is challenging as they are all part of the patient's financial experience. The goal of utilizing the different automated solutions is to ensure an integrated process that leverages the strengths of each tool without duplication. We are comfortable with the strategy we have developed to ensure total integration and operational process efficiency to strive toward our ambitions.

Donna Roach. CIO at University of Utah Health (Salt Lake City): Our enterprise data warehouse has transformed how we deliver healthcare information to our executives, clinicians and researchers in the last two years. For over 28 years, we have been populating the EDW, at the University of Utah Health. This has created a wealth of data, and the ability to quickly pivot, allowing us to make data actionable. In turn, we have been able to respond to the pandemic and business opportunities, positioning the organization for success. Our staff, data mining tools and governance to manage the EDW has also been a contributing success factor.

Penni Kyte. Digital Care Strategy Officer at Ballad Health (Johnson City, Tenn.): The one technology that we’ve implemented that has made a positive impact in the clinical environment is our tele-sitter program that watches high fall risk patients across our 20 hospital systems.  Each tele-sitter can watch up to 10 patients, and it has been a huge resource to our frontline.   We use a third party platform right now called Medsitter but plan to implement Epic monitoring in the next two years. This initiative saves about 5,000 potential falls a month across the system.

Daniel J. Durand, MD. Chief Clinical Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): Over the past two years, we have made a concerted effort to advance our 'digital front door' strategy. This does not entail investing in a single IT product or capability but rather focusing on the most salient digital consumer journeys and learning how to execute on our vision for an ideal digital experience across the care continuum. For example, “internet search to schedule” was agreed upon as the most important first step in the patient journey for the majority of new patients for the foreseeable future. 

Getting this right involved significant investments in our Google ads strategy, online provider directory, online symptom checker, online self-booking platform, EHR and patient portal, as well as significant IT integration work and supportive analytics to coordinate all of the above. More importantly, the effort required novel forms of collaboration amongst the executive leadership of a large number of working areas and deepened our collective understanding of the patient and consumer experience within our health system. 

In many ways, this is more of an investment into learning how to define a consumer-facing 'digital healthcare product' and then execute on it as a team throughout the health system to deliver something 'seamless' that can compete with the offerings of smaller and potentially more nimble competitors (e.g. telehealth companies and potentially big tech). The effort has been very successful, and we are now generating thousands of online appointments each month, with more than 50 percent coming from new patients.   

Kash Patel. Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer at Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison, N.J.): Over the last several years, Hackensack Meridian Health has continued to invest and grow its partnership with Google, specifically Google Cloud, to accelerate its digital transformation initiatives. We were able to build five years of traditional data and analytics capabilities in less than a year by leveraging native cloud capabilities, spurring innovation and critical care improvements throughout the network. We also continue to evaluate our broader cloud strategy, seeking to push more workloads and applications into the Cloud to build efficiencies, reduce costs and improve our overall security posture.

Mario Cruz, MD. Associate Chief Medical Information Officer and Ambulatory and Medical Director of Health Information Management at The University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, N.M.): The technology investment that has had the most value is Zoom. Though many IT investments have proven ROI to UNM Health, Zoom's impact has been unique in its broad impact across all administrative, operational, clinical and research domains. In addition, unlike many IT investments that have an indirect financial ROI, Zoom has had a direct ROI for our clinical providers who can bill for their patient care services.

Joe Cuozzo. Vice President of IT at Richmond University Medical Center (Staten Island, N.Y.): The technology investment that has provided the most value to Richmond University Medical Center is the purchase and implementation of our hybrid environment. This hybrid environment includes a rack of monitored and managed supported servers with cloud DR and backup solutions. Additionally, RUMC has minimized physical space by consolidating physical servers into a virtual, hybrid environment. This helps free up FTEs and reduces the costs of hosting an onsite backup and monitoring program.

Keith Perry. Senior Vice President and CIO at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, Tenn.): While it would be easy to just state our transition to Epic as providing the most value, since this change was felt by our entire clinical, financial and technical teams. However, there have been significant investments that have not been seen, including advancing information security and transitioning to cloud computing but have reduced risks and contributed to our mission.

Katie Barr, RN, MSN. System Vice President and Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Advocate Health (Downers Grove, Ill., and Milwaukee): Over the last two years, given that a majority of those two years was focused around COVID vaccinations, I think that our EMR has provided the most value. We were able to quickly make changes to scheduling, vaccination sites, vaccine administration, vaccine guidelines, etc., as the CDC updated the recommendations. We were also able to leverage the interoperability functionality to assure that our patients had the most up to date vaccination information in their chart. While that work has slowed considerably, we still rely on our vendor to guide us with best practice and they have stepped up to the challenge. 

Briana Rygg. Assistant Vice President of Information Solutions and Services at RUSH University Medical Center (Chicago): RUSH, a pioneer in healthcare, is investing and innovating infrastructure and technology to meet organizational growth. ​Over the past 18 months, RUSH created the foundations program which prioritized significant focus, talent and resources toward modernizing our infrastructure, cybersecurity and IT processes to develop a solid foundation for future innovation. 

The program's second iteration, Foundations2, focuses on employee experience. Every person associated with RUSH has or will be supported by these efforts, from students, faculty, researchers, nurses, doctors, technologists, volunteers and employees, and our patients and their families. Both modernization programs are critical for implementing many planned strategic initiatives, including a new ERP system, CRM, access center innovation, lab transformation, digital consumer strategy, our new outpatient cancer and neurology center, and overall system growth. 

Michael Saad, CHCIO. Senior Vice President and CIO at University of Tennessee Medical Center (Knoxville): We have made significant investments in the area of digital health and patient engagement. The foundation of our digital health platform is our mobile device app. This app enables our patients to interact with our health system for a variety of services, including step-by-step wayfinding, location-based urgent care recommendations, real-time telehealth appointment scheduling, patient portal access and much more. This platform serves as a powerful tool that our patients can use to improve access to our services and better manage their care.

Rhiannon Harms. Executive Director of Analytics at UnityPoint Health (West Des Moines, Iowa): UnityPoint Health has made considerable investments in our data and analytics infrastructure over the last two years to support our population health strategies. Through the integration of disparate, high-value datasets as well as the development of curated analytics solutions and predictive models, our care teams have been able to improve the clinical outcomes of the patients and communities we serve while decreasing costs. Over the last two years we’ve seen a 40 percent reduction in emergency department visits through effective ambulatory care and a 25 percent reduction in our average skilled nursing facility length of stay.

Garland Goins Jr. Senior Director Revenue Cycle Management at Avance Care (Raliegh, N.C.): Our investment in our clearinghouse's, Waystar, analytics package has made considerably favorable differences in our revenue cycle management operations and timely provider reimbursement. The coupling of the claims monitoring, denials and appeals management applications have allowed for a more structured work group approach in routing claims and denials to subject matter experts for timely resolution. The patient estimation tool easily allows patient access associates to proactively, and on-demand, inform patients of their financial obligation, collect payments and remain compliant with recent regulations.

Ven Mothkur. Director of Clinical Revenue Cycle Management at Franciscan Health (Mishawaka, Ind.): I think the technology investment that has helped us the most is population health analytics which has allowed us to drill down to the provider level to do root cause analysis to understand where we are encountering gaps in care and quality, insufficient provider documentation/education and billing opportunities to then use that information to create performance improvement programs.

Laura Marquez, MHA, CHCIO, CDH-E. Senior Director of Digital Transformation at University of Utah Health (Salt Lake City): The investment that I see most valuable is in the EHR and finding ways to maximize the product. If the EHR can do it, or is developing / R&D in space, oftentimes it’s better to wait. This 'EHR-first mentality' will save us years of integration, maintenance or patching efforts in the long run, not to mention cost. However, we are also very cognizant that sometimes we can’t wait and need to explore different third party solutions to ensure we're creating the best total patient and caregiver experience.

Sandra Bossi. Senior Director of Care Delivery Innovation at Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City): At the Hospital for Special Surgery Innovation Institute, we see value in deploying smart, connected, transformative technologies in the clinical workflow to generate novel data-powered clinical insights that can improve patient outcomes. As the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health, we're particularly interested in developing innovative pre-surgical and intraoperative decision support tools powered by our clinical expertise and AI-driven data analytics to provide impactful, evidence-based recommendations to surgeons for orthopedic procedures and advance care delivery.

Tesha Montgomery. Senior Vice President of System Patient Access at Houston Methodist: Houston Methodist was able to take lessons learned from the pandemic to accelerate technology to give greater convenience and access for our patients. Expanding texting capabilities to allow for orders-driven, text-based self-scheduling across multiple locations has proved incredibly beneficial for our patients and our staff. Phone automation, another area quickly implemented during our COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, has also proved valuable, and so has the expansion of virtual care beyond traditional telehealth options. These technology investments over the last two years continue to evolve, but one thing remains constant – the patient is at the center of everything we do – and we’ll always maintain that focus as we grow in these efforts.

Juliet Santos, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC. Director or Population Health and Care Navigation – Mid America at AdventHealth Medical Group (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): AdventHealth is in Wave 4 of our systemwide EMR transition. We believe that we have selected an EMR that fits our robust need for interoperability, functionality, more reliable telehealth services as well as provider friendly care gap closures. Our focus is to continue delivering high value quality care but aligning our inpatient and outpatient services is top priority. 

Now instead of using one EMR for outpatient and urgent care and a different one for inpatient, we will have one high performing EMR for our health system for a more seamless workflow. Population Health will be optimized and manual workflows will be eradicated along with more automated reporting capabilities. Our transition care management will be more seamless and our staff will easily see patient records discharged from other institutions. Our commitment to technology is solid, and we are excited to finally eliminate unnecessary workflows to focus on quality patient care and optimal patient experience.

Michelle Charles, MSN, RN-BC. Vice President and Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Parkview Health (Fort Wayne, Ind.): As the chief nurse informatics officer and over the virtual care department at Parkview Health, the installation of cameras and implementing Epic monitoring has been very beneficial in providing 24/7, remote clinical support for our hospitals. At Parkview, we have a digital care center which enables us to enhance healthcare throughout our region. The digital care center can be thought of as a virtual hospital. 

We have implemented a virtual sitter program in which we use virtual care technicians to watch patients who are at high risk of falls. This has been a great program to decrease the number of one-to-one sitters at the bedside. Our virtual care technicians can watch 10 patients as compared to the bedside sitter who can only watch one patient. Also, with the implementation of Epic monitoring and the sepsis and deterioration index, we have implemented our virtual nurse sepsis surveillance program. These experienced critical care nurses perform system-wide surveillance of patients to detect early sepsis development. 

The virtual nurses notify bedside nurses and providers to initiate sepsis intervention care which is shown to prevent serious illness or death. In December 2022, we implemented a pilot of our virtual nurse inpatient collaboration program. This program enables the virtual nurse with the use of my chart beside video capabilities to complete admissions and discharges with inpatients. The purpose of this program is to decrease the documentation burden by the inpatient nurse and increase the time the inpatient nurse can spend with their patients.

Joseph Zehler. Director of Specialty Physician Revenue Cycle at St. Joseph's Candler Health System (Savannah, Ga.): I believe investing in a financial assistance platform generated the most value for our healthcare system. Software, in conjunction with better processes and the right people, has helped our healthcare system find coverage for our uninsured patients. It allows us to be faster, which is pivotal when programs are opening and closing within hours. The software allows us to communicate with fellow staff and patients better. But most importantly, it gives us necessary reporting on productivity, found coverage and potential opportunities. All of the opportunities found not only drive revenue back to the bottom line for the health system, but also provide more patients access to care without daunting financial toxicity.

Desmond D'Souza, MD. Associate Professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (Columbus, Ohio): As a surgeon I think my answer may be biased, but I firmly believe that embracing innovation in robotic surgery has allowed us to intervene and treat patients much earlier. New advances in single port systems and robotic navigation are rapidly changing the landscape for diagnosis and treatment particularly in cancer patients. New competitors in the robotic surgery market space will only encourage wider adoption of robotic surgery and expand on our surgical portfolio.

Tyler Sanders. Director of Patient Financial Services at St. Joseph/Candler Health System (Savannah, Ga.): Within our revenue cycle, I believe our data analytics platform (VisiQuate) has enhanced the way we view denials, variances and trends. We are capable of tracking success and issues in real time which allows us to address them immediately. This feature also lets us partner with service lines to develop high level dashboards and insights to help foster clinical enhancements that have a direct impact on our health systems financial performance.

Julie L. Wei, MD. Professor of Otolaryngology-Head Neck Surgery and Chair of Otolaryngology Education at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine (Orlando, Fla.): This may sound too simple, but the past two years what has changed me as a physician/surgeon leader is personally using the Apple Watch, a gift from my husband in 2022.   I recently wrote an article about wearable technology, and impact to clinicians and patients, as my national visibility in otolaryngology and across various professional societies has been on physician burnout, wellbeing and work-life integration.

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