Dr. John Halamka Professor at Harvard Medical School Exclusive Interview at Converge2Xcelerate | ESG News – Boston, MA
Dr. John Halamka, International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School at Converge2Xcelerate Conference (Boston, MA)
- John is responsible for all clinical, financial, administrative & academic information technology serving 3,000 doctors, 14,000 employees, and 2 million patients
- John predicts the future of healthcare will be less in person and more virtual
- John is the nation’s expert on poisonous mushrooms and plants and does over 900 teleconsultations a year
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Dr. John Halamka, International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:00
Welcome back. We’re pleased to have with us today, Dr. John Halamka, who is a physician and a professor at Harvard medical school. Dr, welcome. Thank you for your time. Dr Halamka leads innovation for Beth Israel Lahey health. He previously served for over 20 years as the CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess healthcare system. Dr., we were just talking before we got on camera that you’ve been traveling quite a bit and that it’s not unusual for you. Tell us about what you’ve been doing on the road for the last couple of weeks.
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 00:32
Sure. So for the last 30 years I’ve worked at the intersection of technology and medicine. Today the problems throughout the world are actually fairly similar. We have aging societies, low birth rates, not enough doctors to go around and not enough money to fund those who are going to need the care in the future. So what’s the answer? Digital health.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:53
That’s fabulous. Now as you’ve been working on this in your role at Beth Israel you’re responsible for all clinical, financial, administrative all that it. What are you seeing that is working at Beth Israel that you think could be applicable more broadly?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 01:13
So are you looking at broad categories of technology that are changing the way we practice medicine mobile for why patients and providers aren’t sitting at a desk using a desk job. They’re computing wherever their phone is. And so you need to think about a strategy that’s phone first. Cloud. People want data everywhere all the time. It should not have geographical boundaries or restrictions. And increasingly you’re seeing wearables and home-based devices and you need to figure out what to do with that data. No one’s quite mastered where it’s going to get stored and who’s going to look at it. But it’s certainly a trend.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 01:55
In terms of these different silos that you described. How close are we to having these silos actually inter operate and talk to each other?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 02:03
For the last 20 years, I’ve worked well in the Bush administration and the Obama administration as the person leading the federal advisory committees on interoperability on this data exchange challenge. How about this? Our trajectory is good, but our position isn’t quite perfect. That is, we’re sharing more data than ever before and we have a path forward to share more data and it gets better with each passing year.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 02:27
And how much of that do you think is controlled at the state level vs federal level legislation?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 02:35
Well, how about there are three factors. One is technology. Actually our technology is good enough. Second is policy. To your point, there are state barriers often to data exchange, but most importantly is psychiatry. It’s a question of will or reluctance to share the data because it’s my data. It’s valuable. You can’t have it.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:00
That’s interesting. To the extent that there are cultural barriers are there countries that are doing this better than we’re doing it?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 03:07
So if you look around the world, there are exemplars of pieces of interoperability or digital health. Let’s look to Israel. So Israel has for its very nature needed to exchange data as patients who might be in a traumatic event, go to a medical center. It’s pretty straight forward to get the data from other medical centers. It’s a political urgency. So you’ve got a national healthcare identifier you’ve got cooperation and you’ve got the use of standards. So they’ve done it well.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:35
That’s fascinating. In terms of industry participation, we talked about government participation. What are you seeing there in terms of industry? Are you getting the type of buying, the type of enthusiasm that is going to be necessary for this to succeed?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 03:51
You’re seeing explosion of entrepreneurial activity in the digital health space. And so for example, do I believe that the major incumbent, multibillion dollar it companies are going to be the innovators? No, it’s the two 26 year old’s in the garage that are writing an app in a weekend. I’m a mentor at one of the accelerators, mass challenge, our state’s accelerator. We get 500 applications for 60 slots every year. And all of these are credible digital health innovations.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 04:24
That’s fabulous. And then in terms of academia, from as you straddle both worlds, what are you seeing in terms of academic progress?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 04:33
So the academic work is how such things as how do we protect your privacy? And this is hard, so what if you say, I want to share my data, but I don’t want my HIV status or my mental health status or substance abuse shared? Well, that’s kind of hard to figure out how to chop up your medical records so you can share just what you want with whoever you want it. So a new strategy is we’re going to deliver all the data to you. You decide who gets it and for what purpose and a lot of academic projects in that regard.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 05:12
And do I as a new individual consumer know what? How should I parse that data. Who’s going to help me?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 05:17
And again, you raised this amazing question. So if you’re a digital native, if you’re twenty-something, chances are we give you an app, we show you data on the app, you could figure out what to do with it, right? If you’re a CIO or a professional in the tech space, probably that’s easy to, if you’re an 81 year old who doesn’t have what I’ll call digital comfort, you’ll probably want to delegate it. That could be delegated to a service, a third party, we’ll call it a care traffic controller or maybe a relative or a friend. And so as we engineer these solutions, we have to meet the patients at their level of digital comfort.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 05:58
And how is that information getting translated to industry, translated to academia, translated to government? How are the needs of the patient becoming comprehended and digested?
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 06:07
Oh, excellent question. Because there are guiding committees. Today at this conference there is the society for participant Patura medicine, which is a patient driven, what is it we need kind of group. But I have worked in these various federal and state advisory committees that always include patients and families as we guide the strategy for our region and the country.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 06:36
That’s fascinating. So, as you talk about Tele-Health and the adoption of telehealth what’s realistic for people to expect in the next five years? In terms of our ability to conduct legitimate medicine, have legitimate conversations that are helpful conversations with physicians.
Dr. John Halamka – International Healthcare Innovation Professor, Harvard Medical School: 06:53
Well, William Gibson told us the future’s already here. It’s just unevenly distributed. I do 900 teleconsultation a year myself. Why? I am the nation’s expert on poisonous mushrooms and plants, right. Anytime in this country there’s an ingestion. I get a photograph on my phone and do a care plan. So Hey, that already exists. And you’re starting to see major companies like Kaiser or Mayo clinic offered virtual visits and teleconsultation in terms of it becoming mainstream, the reimbursement issues still exist. And so, but within the next five years, absolutely, I expect a lot of our care to become less in person and more in the home.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 07:39
Terrific. Thank you very much. We’ve been speaking with Dr. John Halamka, a physician and professor at Harvard medical school. Doctor, thank you for joining us.