How Tech Is Building Health Care of the Future

The newly formed organization, Jefferson, encompasses Jefferson Health and Thomas Jefferson University, representing both clinical and academic entities. Under the leadership of president and CEO Dr. Stephen K. Klasko and his four-pillar model of Clinical, Innovation, Academic and Philanthropy focus areas, the people of Jefferson (19,000 strong), provide quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educate the health professionals of tomorrow and discover new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

Praveen Chopra joined the company as executive vice president and CIO in March of 2014. In May of this year, his responsibilities aggrandized, and his new title is EVP and chief Information and Transformative Innovative Environment Officer. As Chopra explains to CIO Insight contributor, Peter High, he has overarching executive responsibilities for creating innovation-driven ecosystem towards the organization’s “health is all we do.”


CIO Insight: Your title is Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Transformative Innovative Environment Officer. I am quite confident you are the only one in the world with that exact title. What does it mean, and what is within your purview?

Praveen Chopra: You are right, I may be the only one. Frankly, this is a new role, which certainly highlights the boldness in our vision of reimaging and creating unparalleled value in “health is all we do”—and is a direct reflection of the way Jefferson values technology and innovation in health care. I oversee areas such as technology innovation and consumer experience, data sciences, business partnering and portfolio management in addition to traditional information technology functions. In this role, I see us building a health care organization of the future. This forward-thinking organization leverages the power of the digital enterprise in a fundamentally different way and creates an innovation driven ecosystem. For example, instead of a siloed, facility-centric functionality, we are focusing now on a creating consumer centric model through creative use of technology. How about starting the care and learning experience with patients and students in their pajamas at their homes holding a mobile device!

Overall, this role is about reinvention—how do we constantly look beyond traditional IT capabilities and services for our clients and focus on the creation and use of technologies that will help our patients, students, community and other various affiliates.

CIO Insight: What are some examples of innovations that your team has developed or are working on?

Chopra: Our Telehealth program, known as JeffConnect, is accomplishing those things I just talked about. Today, a patient has ongoing health-care needs but they can’t always physically get to us—so we have created an on-demand platform and app, now available in the Apple and Google Play stores, whereby any patient can go and request a physician appointment. That physician will be quickly available through video conferencing capability. We’ve rolled this out to our employees and have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response. We have also created a program for family members of our patients who are not able to be at the hospital to participate in physician rounds. The program, known as Virtual Rounds, allows a patient’s loved ones to join a video conference and listen to the care team so the experience is personal and convenient.

Another example of innovative technology is our use of actionable visual analytics to improve clinical processes and efficiencies. For instance, through the use of this approach, we were able to significantly reduce patient wait times and improve their overall experience by seeing them quickly in our Emergency Department.

A final example includes an innovative collaboration between Jefferson and a start-up analytics company where we developed a predictive model for congestive heart failure readmissions. The objective of the project was to define a model for re-admissions risk as a function of patient demographic and clinical data to help improve patient care and improve reimbursement. Early results are quite promising and we continue to refine the model for operational fit.

CIO Insight: How do you define transformation and how do you define innovation? What are the metrics that let you know when either or both are being achieved?

Chopra: Transformation begins through the reframing of one’s thinking because technology itself is only a means to an end. We must think about transformation as more about how to fundamentally change our business model and processes. Also, how to address an unmet need? To do this, we must first understand who our customers are and second get more involved with the ins and outs of the business. IT departments should go one step further to get engaged in a problem, truly understand the issue and become an inspiration and a catalyst for overarching solutions. The more we understand as technologists and business users, the better we can solve problems through technology.

Innovation is about doing things differently and solving problems in new, advanced or for that matter in incremental ways. It can also be as simple as continuous process improvement. Again, I see the way to be creative and innovative less about the tool we are using and more about creating an improved environment for Jefferson’s patients, students and community. We should be continuously stretching ourselves to create solutions for problems we know about now, but more importantly, for those that we can predict in the future.

Our measurements are still a work in progress, but we are looking at the number of new offerings introduced and associated revenue generated over the last 3-5 years.

CIO Insight: You are leading an effort within your enterprise to create a Center for Health Insights Management. Please describe what this is.

Chopra: It is about making the business of health smarter and creating a data-centric ecosystem. It is also about creating a data trust that can be an asset not only for Jefferson, but also for our community and partners. I see this center as a hub for creative collaboration to turn massive amounts of health data into meaningful and actionable insights. Think about data platform for clinical trials, population health, cyber-security, genomics research, computational medicine, comparative effective studies, etc.

CIO Insight: You have now held multiple “plus” roles in your career, having also been CIO and Chief Supply Chain Officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. What does it say about the CIO role that it can be effectively combined with multiple other sets of responsibilities?

I love what I do. It is more like I’m an advocate for the consumers we serve, so when you combine that with my love of information and technology, and solving real business problems, I end up being in this CIO-plus role. That is fun for me.

I see the CIO-plus role as an evolution of the way IT has changed from survival and the provider of traditional services to a catalyst for innovative and revolutionary thinking. CIOs should be empowered to use technology not only to keep the lights on, but to change the world and inspire things that have not been done before.

CIO Insight: What advice would you offer other CIOs who might wish to take on broader responsibilities?

Chopra: For others in this position, I’d say there are three things to keep in mind:

*Information: Know the strengths and weaknesses of your business and what gaps IT can help address not only today but five years from now.

*Integration: Become deeply engaged with your consumers and spend time perfecting and evolving services to meet emerging needs.

*Innovation: Leverage new technologies and be open to innovation—not only in platforms, solutions and tools but innovation in thinking and communicating.

CIO Insight: What other technology trends particularly excite you as you look to the future?

Chopra: In my opinion, there is not one particular trend that is predominant. I foresee in this changing world of health and health care, a mashup of big data, mobile first, wearables and social media. Internet of things, though in infancy, is also something to watch. The combination of these trends will help us reimagine health, health education and discovery to create unparalleled value for our students, patients and community. Is there an app for that?

Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. His latest book, Implementing World Class IT Strategy, has just been released by Wiley Press/Jossey-Bass. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs. Peter moderates the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. Follow him on Twitter @WorldClassIT.

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