Ten Key Digital Health Learning’s from Baylor Scott & White Health Summit

The two most disruptive and important industries that shape our society are healthcare and technology.  They are drivers of the world’s economy and how we live our lives.

Today, at the Baylor Scott & White Digital Health Summit we heard from Dr. Nick Van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer of Dell; Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer of Imprivata; Fred Trotter, Founder of Careset and Alan Minney, North America Mobile Practice leader for IBM talk about what is changing the face of healthcare. Here are the highlights:

#1 – We have a long way to go – medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S., we have 387 million people who have diabetes worldwide and 44 million people with some form of cancer.  We have a tremendous opportunity for technology and health experts to make a difference.

#2 – Our healthcare information needs to be available when we want it – as Sean Kelly said, we don’t talk about tele-banking, we just go online to get our banking information.  But in health, we talk about tele-medicine and make it sound mysterious.  As Nick added, “we don’t online, we live online”.  It is time for our health information to be available to us 365.

#3 – We need to build smart filters, not worry about big data – Nick pointed out that we can harness data of virtually any type today. That’s not the issue. Rather, we need to be focused on building the right filtering mechanisms so we get the information we need when we need it…..without any noise.

#4 – What is AI and how is it meaningful? – Alan described the importance of AI, Watson and IBM’s commitment to health right up through their CEO, Ginni Rometty.  Powerful.  Nick pointed out and the panel agreed that artificial intelligence (AI) won’t replace medical providers or what humans do today.  Instead, it will provide “augmented intelligence” and help us serve patients more effectively.

#5 – Failure is at the heart of innovation – lest we forget, Sean reminded us that “failure is the heart of innovation”.  Alan said it another way when he was discussing mobile technology and encouraged the audience to simply try….try pilots, dive in the river.  We have to try, fail, repeat and then succeed.  Technology and medicine are similar in this regard, as is science overall. It’s iterative innovation that really leads to breakthroughs.

#6 – Experience matters…alot – a great lesson for the technology industry was emphasized by the panel.  You have to work on the front lines with providers if you want to create innovation that matters.  Great ideas won’t get formed in conference rooms. The real insights will occur in medical clinics and labs.  Important reminder for all innovators.

And on this topic, I spoke with Dr. Peter Dysert, who is Chief of Pathology at Baylor Scott & White Health.  He makes a great point that there are really three fundamental ways to improve healthcare and the world of medical providers.  They are:

Communications – improve and facilitate our ability to communicate.

Habits – make the right thing to do the easiest thing to do.

Informed Decision Making – just show me what I need to see.

If every company and entrepreneur worked against Dr. Dysert’s filter, we would accelerate innovation far faster.

#7 – CMS and HHS are changing the rules – Fred illustrated for us how rules are changing in a mature industry in many ways, but one example was very impactful.  CMS and HHS are changing the rules of healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act in an unprecedented and untrackable manner.  And what this means is that we have to be on our toes to understand the changes, adapt to new rules and still provide the best care possible.  We’ve never had a more important time to being pay full attention to how government is evolving our world of care.

#8 — Apple & IBM have partnered for 100+ healthcare apps – two of the world’s leading companies are investing the time to partner and build apps for 14 industries, including healthcare.  We need this type of applied knowledge from world leaders, but don’t forget point #6, IBM and Apple.

#9 — Improving the knowledge of all doctors can improve outcomes – Fred said it well when he said “what are the problems that the lowest ranked doctor in your healthcare system today and can AI help this doctor”?  In other words, we really can improve care via augmented intelligence.  We just need to ensure that habits change to accept it.

#10 – Simulations matter – Sean said that we should not be reaching for sexy technology.  We should, however, be running simulations to understand how to use technology more effectively.  Dr. Dysert made an analogy to airline pilots. They do technology simulations constantly, so they know what to do on the spot. It’s becoming time for medical providers to do simulations with this level of intensity.

Overall, this panel is a great example of how healthcare and technology are learning together in a manner that, quite frankly, didn’t happen years ago.  It’s time for us all to keep intensifying our knowledge sharing, since patients are waiting……and always will be….for us to collectively transform healthcare.


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Bob Pearson
Bob Pearson
Vice Chairman & Chief Innovation Officer

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