Top of Mind Online: ‘Health Care Infrastructure: Fixing the Foundation’


Expert panel discussion explores evolving role of health IT for improving patient access to medical services


Health care leaders from Indiana University Health, Baylor Scott & White Health, UPMC, and AT&T convened for a panel discussion on the growing importance of health IT for enabling patient access and how the definition of infrastructure is changing.

“We’re thinking of infrastructure as not just what’s in my building — it’s everywhere. It is networks we don’t manage. It is devices we don’t manage,” said Dr. Emily Webber, Chief Medical Information Officer at Indiana University Health.

Previous approaches that focused only on hospital IT infrastructure and didn’t address the many ways patients want to connect with their providers outside the hospital or clinic is too restrictive.

“We as the [health care] providers can’t work with old models anymore,” Dr. Webber continued. “We need to support all the things that have boomed in the last two years — virtual care, hospital care, remote patient monitoring. It’s all integral to what we do.”

Dr. Webber’s perspective was part of the panel discussion, “Health Care Infrastructure: Fixing the Foundation.” It was the second of three sessions in the Top of Mind Online virtual learning series presented by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM).

View an on-demand replay of the “Health Care Infrastructure” session. This single registration also provides access to replays of the keynote session and the third session of Top of Mind Online.

Solving for the consumer

In addition to Dr. Webber, the panel included insights from:

  • Chris Carmody, Chief Technology Officer, UPMC
  • Ashis Barad, System Medical Director of Virtual Specialty Care Services, Baylor Scott & White Health
  • Keith Foust, Director of Innovation & Strategy for Healthcare, AT&T

Dr. Barad built on Dr. Webber’s answer by pointing out that the evolution of infrastructure has meant moving to the cloud. “A lot of us are evolving our infrastructure to be more cloud-based and accessible. I think a large part of that evolution is how aggressive we are in moving to a cloud strategy,” he said.

While the move to the cloud is important, health systems must also “solve for the consumer” and make sure that cloud-based applications are consumer-friendly and work on mobile devices.

“We’re also defining health IT infrastructure through the lens on consumerism. We’ve historically not done that. And we all know that’s what patients expect — the retail simplification of health care. And so how do we support the consumer with our IT infrastructure?” he said.

But the challenge for health systems is that they’re often “fixing the engine while the car is still running,” Dr. Barad said.


Upgrading to the cloud

Health systems have been cautious about upgrading to cloud infrastructure — which is prudent, given the data security requirements in health care, according to Mr. Foust. But the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation at many health systems, which has led to providers moving more quickly to adopt cloud technologies.

“What we’re seeing right now is a large move toward updating infrastructure,” Mr. Foust said, adding that legacy infrastructure can be upgraded more cost effectively now than in the past. “It’s an ideal time for hospitals right now from an infrastructure perspective.”

Mr. Carmody added that UPMC has been focused on two pathways when it comes to infrastructure: technology that serves patient access, such as telehealth and other patient-facing technologies, and internal systems that allow data and insights to be served up to providers at the point of care.

“We’re connecting all those legacy applications and systems that we have and that are still effective and part of the fabric of how we deliver care. And then leverage technology to do that and make it all work seamlessly to bring all that data together and deliver it at the point of care,” Mr. Carmody said.


Get access to all Top of Mind Online sessions

Watch the full “Health Care Infrastructure” panel discussion on demand.

With this single registration you also will be able to access Session 1, a keynote fireside chat featuring Dr. Micky Tripathi, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, and Dr. Rob Bart, Chief Medical Information Officer at UPMC.

And you’ll be able to watch Session 3, “Access Innovation: Meeting Patients Where They Are,” featuring speakers from UPMC, One Medical, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.


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