Northwell CIO seeks to 'take friction out of seeking, receiving and paying for care,' with Google deal

New York's largest health system recently selected Google Cloud to help it innovate in such areas as predictive clinical insights, digital scheduling, automated payer interactions and intelligent visit summaries.

Becker's talked to Sophy Lu, senior vice president and CIO of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health, about what the relationship with the tech giant will mean for the health system and its patients, clinicians and team members.

How did the deal with Google Cloud come together?

Northwell is doubling down on digital transformation to differentiate us from the competition and support our mission.

Looking at our digital objectives, we aim to take the friction out of seeking, receiving and paying for care and become the most trusted brand in healthcare.

Obviously, our core product is to make sure we're delivering quality care. We want to give the clinician the ability to practice medicine using digital tools to optimize care delivery and engage with patients in a way that improves quality and health equity.

To do that, we knew we needed to look at different alliances in Big Tech and little tech and double down on ourselves to accelerate that journey.

How did Northwell decide on Google?

We knew that foundationally we needed to look at ways to modernize our technology platform securely and enable speed to market. Also because we are a very fast-growing, multidiscipline, multifaceted organization, we must harness the power of data to enable innovation and transformation.

Google Cloud brings that to the table and has a culture that complements the technology, and together with our clinical acumen, will help us leap into our innovation agenda together.

What will be the benefits to Northwell Health and, ultimately, providers and patients?

The benefits will be to enhance Northwell’s digital technology and services to have more speed to market, the ability to easily access data, and lead on innovation and interoperability to ultimately transform traditional healthcare delivery and promote wellness for the communities we serve and beyond.

What innovations do you expect to come from working with Google Cloud?

We identified areas of enhanced experiences to start with, including optimizing the scheduling of clinicians' time; giving providers and team members access to the right information at the right time as they care for patients; conversational AI for automated routing of certain calls into our call center; and automating payer interactions.

What goes into the transition to Google Cloud and how long do you expect it to take?

We will be kicking this off as soon as September, and we're in the phase of forming the teams and initiating that process. It’s a journey and not a destination, right? We hope to recognize a lot of the initial migrations within the next couple of years.

But we hope this relationship continues beyond the initial cloud migration, which modernizes our foundation. For the innovation aspect of this, we hope this alliance will continue to iterate along that journey with new products and development opportunities to raise health.

What excites you most about the deal with Google Cloud?

What excites me the most is the culture that we have aligned and the energy and the vibe that we have as an organization to start this journey. We have the right people at the table (and growing beyond Google Cloud), with a laser focus on mission and vision, using the ever-evolving technology and service capabilities at our fingertips — to now leap and continuously be curious to reimagine the possibilities for healthcare.

Remember that digital transformation is not technology alone. It takes people, processes and technology together to aspire change. We see this strategic relationship as part of that cultural shift to accelerate that practice together.

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