Becker's Speaker Series: 3 questions with Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Director of Innovation Dr. Lyle Berkowitz

Lyle Berkowitz, MD, isn't just a primary care physician. He's also a health IT innovator, professor, author and startup founder.

Since 2012, Dr. Berkowitz has served as the director of innovation at Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. He also serves as an associate professor of clinical medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. He coauthored Innovation With Information Technologies in Healthcare, the first book exploring the intersection between health IT and innovation. In addition, Dr. Berkowitz is the founder and chairman of healthfinch.com, a software company focused on clinical workflow.Berkowitz Lyle headshot

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Dr. Berkowitz will speak at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place from April 17 through April 20 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Berkowitz's session, click here.

Question: What are you seeing as some of the top trends in innovative technologies and processes?

Lyle Berkowitz: I'd suggest we look at the trends from both why we are doing something (the "value proposition") as well as how we are doing it (the technologies). Some of the key value proposition trends I am seeing are cost reduction, patient satisfaction and provider efficiency. Meanwhile, I'd say the key technology trends involve analytics, automation and telemedicine.

The intersections of these trends are where things get interesting! Some of the top areas I am seeing are predictive analytics to identify the highest risk population before they get costly, workflow automation tools for routine care (e.g. refills and pre-visit planning), virtual visits for minor issues (e.g. televisits for URIs and diabetic eye screens), virtual consults for complex issues (e.g. tele-ICU and tele-stroke), tracking/communication tools focused on procedures (e.g. joint replacements) and mobile technologies to help patients manage their care in the hospital and outside of it.

Q: What do you consider your greatest talent or skill outside of work?

LB: Planning trips. I love taking my children to different parts of the world and trying new adventures — sometimes historical places, sometimes artsy and sometimes just plain adrenaline-inducing. I even love going to theme parks and planning out a strategy to hit all the rides with minimal wait times!

Q: The panel you're speaking on at the April conference is called "Innovation and Information Technology." Why is innovation such a key part of IT, especially in healthcare?

LB: Our healthcare system is not sustainable, so we absolutely have to become more innovative. IT is certainly one of the most important and powerful tools at our disposal, both to create innovative products and services as well as to spread them quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately, our traditional approach to healthcare IT was based on trying to mimic paper. But it turns out computers are just horrible at being paper — something every other industry figured out long ago!

Fortunately, we can do better. Some of the ways we can use IT more innovatively in healthcare include:

  • Using human-centered design thinking to better understand our end users
  • Understanding and truly utilizing the newest technologies and strategies available, from mobile to blockchain
  • Exploring what other industries are doing and determining out how to apply those strategies to healthcare
  • Looking at our EMRs as platforms and start creating apps that truly make healthcare better, faster and cheaper in a scalable fashion

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