11 leading innovators in Healthcare IT

Visionaries apply emerging technologies in new ways to improve care delivery for patients.

11 leading innovators in Healthcare IT

A number of HIT executives, policy makers and industry innovators are leading the digital disruption of healthcare. In the following list, Health Data Management editors profile some of these visionaries who are seeking new and better ways to use cutting-edge technology to improve patient care.

Michael Blum

Title: Director

Organization: Center for Digital Health Innovation, University of California, San Francisco

Blum became director of UCSF’s Center for Digital Health Innovation four years ago, after having served as chief medical information officer for the facility. He manages the initiative, which aims to lead the transformation of healthcare delivery from empiric, generalized disease-based diagnostic and treatment approaches to individualized precision medicine. In his role as director, Blum, a cardiologist and clinical professor of medicine, coordinates and leverages UCSF’s information technology as sets. CDHI is working to develop new technologies, apps and systems that will create large new datasets to enable improvements in patient care. Currently, UCSF and GE Healthcare are teaming up to develop advanced analytics to support the next generation of clinical decision support systems hosted on a cloud platform. The project includes the development of a library of “deep learning algorithms” that can be embedded in decision support and aid in quicker diagnoses in acute situations such as trauma.

John Brownstein

Title: Chief Innovation Officer

Organization: Boston Children’s Hospital

Brownstein comes from a career as a successful entrepreneur, and now is applying those gifts at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he focuses on employing informatics and big data analytics. At Boston Children’s, he leads a 50-person multidisciplinary team focused on digital innovations that affect both clinicians and consumers. He has pioneered HOW digital epidemiology, which uses diverse digital data sources to understand population health. Brownstein has led the development of patient-facing public health systems, including HealthMap, Vaccine Finder and MedWatch, which support patient interactions with the healthcare system. In general, he describes his job as helping to shepherd promising technologies through the commercialization process and to promote a culture of innovation within the organization.

Eric Dishman

Title: Director, Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program

Organization: National Institutes of Health

Last year, Dishman was named director of the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. In that role, he leads NIH’s effort to build the PMI landmark longitudinal research study of 1 million or more U.S. volunteers to expand the country’s ability to improve health and treat disease through precision medicine. He comes to NIH with a deep understanding of the initiative, having played a critical role as a member of the PMI Working Group that deliberated intensively for several months last year to develop the design for the study. Before coming to NIH, Dishman was general manager of the health and life sciences group for Intel; during his time at Intel, he launched the analytics-driven Collaborative Cancer Cloud to share genomic imaging and clinical data among providers with a goal of generating a diagnosis and treatment plan for use by clinicians within 24 hours.

Rebecca Kaul

Title: Chief Innovation Officer

Organization: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

MD Anderson hired Kaul to develop the institution’s new Innovation Center. She is responsible for leading organizational strategy to accelerate research, improve patient care and find new revenue streams by harnessing institutional data and expertise. Kaul also collaborates with innovators within MD Anderson to develop strategies for commercializing new ideas and is working to establish relationships with startup companies and other industry partners. Previously, she was at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she was chief innovation officer and president of UPMC’s Technology Development Center, now known as UPMC Enterprises. She created several joint ventures and spinoffs for UPMC.

Omkar Kulkarni

Title: Director, Healthcare Innovation Accelerator

Organization: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

Kulkarni leads a partnership with Techstars, a health accelerator that seeks to support companies developing emerging uses for technology. Techstars has partnered with Cedars-Sinai with the intent of helping healthcare startups get to market more quickly. Kulkarni leads the effort, which is a three-month residential program in Los Angeles, physically located at Cedars-Sinai. In the partnership, 10 healthcare startups are selected to participate, focused on innovative technology and care delivery in healthcare. Kulkarni focuses on ways to support and accelerate the pace of innovation at those companies, through robust mentorship from both the Techstars and Cedars-Sinai communities.

Santosh Mohan

Title: Head, More Disruption Please Labs

Organization: athenahealth

Mohan currently serves as the Head of the More Disruption Please (MDP) Labs at athenahealth, fostering the next generation of healthcare innovators. Prior to joining athenahealth, Mohan served as a Digital Solutions Management Fellow at Stanford Health Care and helped the organization achieve EMRAM Stage 7 inpatient and outpatient validations. He previously worked on technology-enabled innovation at Cerner Corporation, Duke Health, and The Advisory Board Company. Mohan also chairs the Innovation Committee of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which identifies emerging technologies and processes that positively impact healthcare by improving the care experience; individual and population health; and reduce costs, and disseminating what members find throughout the HIT community.

Joe Randolph

Title: President and CEO

Organization: The Innovation Institute

Randolph leads The Innovation Institute, a healthcare incubator and provider of medical device and healthcare innovation solutions. The institute has experience in funding and supporting healthcare innovation worldwide. Founded in 2013, the institute has three distinct elements: an innovation lab, an investment fund and an enterprise development group. Randolph previously was executive vice president and chief operating officer of St. Joseph Health, one of the largest multistate Catholic healthcare systems in the nation. Before beginning his career at SJH, Randolph worked for three other healthcare systems, both for-profit and nonprofit, in Southern California.

Christopher Ross

Title: Chief Information Officer

Organization: Mayo Clinic

Ross is driving a number of cutting-edge initiatives at Mayo Clinic, one of the most respected provider networks in the country. Under Ross’ leadership, Mayo Clinic is engaged in advanced use of big data, analytics and machine learning to drive clinical discoveries that are being translated into improved patient care. Ross has broad experience in many facets of healthcare, including serving as the executive vice president and general manager of the clinical interoperability business for Surescripts. He has 30 years of diverse experience in healthcare, information technology and government.

Rasu Shrestha, MD

Title: Chief Innovation Officer

Organization: UPMC

Shrestha, trained as a radiologist, has been a key architect of an innovative unified approach to image viewing across 20 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals and 30 imaging centers. He also serves as the executive vice president of UPMC Enterprises, the innovation and commercialization arm of UPMC, and leads a team of more than 200 technology professionals. UPMC Enterprises funds incubators and leads efforts to commercialize technology products and services developed at UPMC. Shrestha says UPMC is looking for ways to commercialize its data governance best practices and information management models.

Eric Topol, MD

Title: Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Chief Academic Officer

Organization: Scripps Health

Topol fills a variety of roles, including that of professor of genomics and Gary and Mary West Endowed Chair of Innovative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute. But through all of them, he prods the healthcare industry to look at innovative ways to use technology to provide better, less expensive and more widely accessible care to patients. Under his guidance, the Scripps Research Institute is playing a pivotal role in enrolling participants in the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative.

Debi Willis

Title: Founder

Organization: PatientLink Enterprises

Willis has been working to develop software for PatientLink, a company that offers applications that integrate patient data with electronic health records. The company’s solutions use FHIR and Direct secure messaging to authenticate and transmit encrypted data to trusted recipients. The nearly 20-year effort to develop the application seeks to enable a fast and cost-effective way to enter discrete data into electronic medical records. In addition to her development work, Willis has been able to steer PatientLink into a number of vendor research partnerships.

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