Telehealth strategy for the next 5 years: 2 IT execs discuss

The pandemic accelerated telehealth adoption across care settings. Clinicians are now more comfortable with technology and telehealth workflows, and patients are demanding the convenience and ease of virtual visits, which means this is a trend that will likely continue.

At the Becker's Healthcare Telehealth Virtual Forum on Nov. 2, IT leaders from University of California Systems gathered to discuss hospital strategy for telehealth and remote patient monitoring over the next five years. The panel included:

· Tom Andriola, vice chancellor for IT and data at UC Irvine and chief data officer at UCI Health
· Jeff Wajda, MD, chief medical information officer at UC Davis Health

Click here to view the session on demand.

Note: These responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How do you evaluate new technology devoted to patient care and decide whether it's worth taking a second look?

Dr. Wajda: The validation points out the need. Some people would say a dramatic need for really good governance with operational people involved so that technology can get the direction from the operational people and then prioritize resources to address the most strategic. It used to be, when Tom and I were younger, that governance was fairly easy, but now with the secondary use of data and the importance of groupers and sorters and definitions and databases, and the sharing of data, not only among the University of California campuses, but with our partners and payers, there are separate governance structures now in our campuses. We have governance rubric scoring systems, which everybody hates equally. But what I mean is, they're fair and they give us a point of discussion.

In other words, the governance in the scoring is never the end. It's a way for smart people to get together and make sure that everybody is equally served in the community. We don't have a large queue. That's a constant daily walk of our jobs regarding the valuation of new technology. At our campus, we partner closely with Berkeley SkyDeck, which is an academic accelerator out of UC Berkeley. Partnerships are really, really important to understand what's actually new, and have my dogma questioned on a regular basis and the executive team's dogma questioned on a regular basis as to what's really current. Learning from people that are on the front end at the tip of the spear is really important.

Q: What will healthcare delivery look like five years from today?

Tom Andriola: Hopefully not the way it looks today, right? If it looks the same, that would mean Dr. Wajda and I have not done our jobs well enough. I expect a lot more flexibility for the patient. I do believe in the concept that the health consumer will demand more choice, especially now that the pandemic has given them visibility into different way of interacting and consuming services. I think we'll see that the patients will be a little bit more educated around saying, "Well, I don't want to come in for a visit. I'm OK. Can we set this up as a virtual model because I don't want to have to take a day off from work and take my mother into the clinic. Can't we just do this as a three-way call?"

I think we're going to see patients that demand us to be more flexible as healthcare systems. I see more things happening outside the hospital. Matching up the patient need with the right care setting and the right care interaction and things that we could never in the past possibly have seen as being remote, will be done in some type of kind of remote capacity. Think oncology, cancer care. I think artificial intelligence is going to play a role, but I don't call it AI. I don't call it artificial intelligence. I call it augmented intelligence.

There are certain things that clinicians and patients should always do together in an analog model, but I think that AI will be an augmentation to the clinician's ability and their time to be able to consume all the data that's available to them and all the case history that's available to them. I really think it's bringing clinicians into the patient's interactions in a way that they are the most informed and have access to the best information about that particular disease category, that patient's history, so the interaction with the patient is the most effective that it can be, and the patient gets the care they're looking for.


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