Health IT is going through a 'renaissance' – 3 questions with U of Alabama at Birmingham department of medicine CIO Nazmul Islam

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Nazmul Islam, CIO of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's department of medicine.

Mr. Islam will speak on a panel during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference titled "What Are the Biggest Threats and Opportunities in Health IT?" at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: What is the most exciting thing happening in health IT right now? And what is the most overrated health IT trend?

Nazmul Islam: In my opinion, the most exciting thing is that the industry is going through a renaissance period where we are witnessing a collective effort on healthcare innovation from both the public and private sectors. Whether it's tailoring medical treatment using precision medicine, employing blockchain for data sharing, harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning for diagnosis or providing remote care through telemedicine, health IT now plays a pivotal role that empowers patients and enhances patient experience. Making healthcare moves by non-traditional but technologically adept companies — like Amazon, Walmart, Uber and Berkshire Hathaway — also promises revolution and disruption. Such unprecedented commitment and partnership will expedite the reversal of technological inertia.

As far as the most overhyped health IT trend, [I would say] blockchain, which is also one of the most misunderstood. While blockchain certainly offers improved data integrity and enhanced data security, its true potential and use cases have yet to be realized.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about Health IT?

NI: The biggest misconception [in healthcare] is the assumption that health IT will radically change the healthcare landscape and replace the human workforce. Healthcare is a highly complex maze that consists of providers, administrators, manufacturers and payers. Disrupting this industry would not be an easy feat. Technology has the power to assist clinicians, but there will always be a need for human — [or rather,] caregiver — oversight and intervention. While existing technologies assist, [and] emerging technologies seem promising [with] some efforts are commendable, their true potential and realistic implementation will need to be well tested out to achieve economies of scale and broader acceptance.

Q: What is the best thing you've read lately?

NI: "Disrupt or Die: What the World Needs to Learn from Silicon Valley to Survive the Digital Era" by Jedidiah Yueh. Jed offers an entertaining, conversational-style narrative and presents actionable nuggets on how to build extraordinary companies in the digital age and contrasts that with legacy businesses. Jed recounts his interactions with other executives, provides excerpts from others, and then shares his leadership insights.

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