'IoT are solutions looking for problems,' says Saint Louis University Prof. Mark Gaynor

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Mark Gaynor, PhD, professor in the college for public health and social justice, department of health policy and management at Saint Louis University.

Prof. Gaynor will speak during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference on "How Will Software Engineering Impact the Future of Health IT?," at 9:05 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. 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?

Prof. Mark Gaynor: I think the most exciting thing happening in healthcare now is the Internet of Medical Things, and the data these devices are creating. There are many applications of IoMT, and they can be loosely classified into 3 specific areas: the hospital setting, the physician to patient setting and the consumer market.

The Internet of Things was first coined by Kevin Ashton, where he defined it as a network connecting objects in the physical world to the internet. A good working definition of IoT is: "a network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors." The IoMT collects information that tracks a person’s health and/or vital signs. The Apple Watch or Fitbit activity tracker are good examples. IoT are solutions looking for problems.

I think the most overrated technology in healthcare IT is blockchain. Blockchain is a cryptographic secure distributed database well suited for identity management, transaction processing and record management that is currently revolutionizing industries globally. The technology has a high Byzantine fault tolerance, which makes it hard for any single or small group of participants in the blockchain to change any element in the chain. This disruptive technology is creating innovative solutions for complex issues in a variety of industries, including fishing, diamond, fashion, shipping, banking and the medical industry.

Blockchain is currently overhyped, and it is being suggested for medical applications that make good business sense, and ones that do not. Tracking valuable or perishable items across a complex supply chain, such as transporting organs or tracking access to a patient’s EHR data make good use of this new database technology.  However, other applications such as storing a patient’s entire EHR or personal health record in a distributed database is not salable, and it will never be administratively allowed.

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

MG: The summer reading for our MHA students is It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. This is a great book about general management with cutting-edge technology.

Q: How do you promote Innovation within your organization?

MG: Being at a university, I will discuss how we teach innovation. We are involved with the Global Educator Network for Health Innovation Education and attend their conferences.  We teach innovation models including the Technology Adoption Model, traditional liner innovation, open innovation models, the Gardner Hype Cycle, and Dr. Herzlinger's 6-factors of innovation.  We discuss these models in the context of healthcare technology and innovation management and discuss several cases where innovative solutions are used in the medical area.

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