Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has launched a new Health Technology Exploration Center to accelerate research and innovation in the field of healthcare IT.

The HTEC will explore new and emerging technologies, including ambient listening, blockchain, deep learning, the Internet of Things and telemedicine, which will be tested in house at BIDMC leveraging its database of de-identified patient data that is HIPAA-compliant and mitigates compliance issues for rapid testing.

The center, which is the first of its kind at a Harvard teaching hospital, will also tap cloud services to support clinical decision-making and mobile apps that will enable patients to manage their own health, while improving communication between patients and their providers.

“Patients today are accustomed to having a world of information at their fingertips,” said John Halamka, MD, chief information officer at the Beth Israel Deaconess system, who will lead the center. “The work of this new center will help expand our ability to use technology to evaluate and share all types of data with both clinicians and patients to improve the care they receive and the delivery of that care. The center will also create a base of knowledge and focused expertise that connects technology advances with clinical care and research to further accelerate innovation.”

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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BIDMC has long been recognized as a healthcare IT innovator. The provider organization launched the nation’s first online patient portal and was one of the first hospitals to adopt an electronic health record system. In addition, Halamka—who is also International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School—has fostered partnerships with tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

According to BIDMC, the HTEC’s mission is to “cultivate technology-driven partnerships across the globe” and to “rapidly evaluate, develop, and disseminate a series of high-risk, high-reward innovations to solve real-world problems” which will “ultimately be shared with its global partners to enhance healthcare efficiency, quality and safety—to improve lives and cure disease around the world.”

“Now is the time to think more expansively about how diverse technological tools can improve all aspects of healthcare—from clinical advances to communications and medical decision-making,” said Kevin Tabb, MD, chief executive officer of BIDMC and the Beth Israel Deaconess system. “Our goal in creating this new center is to build on Beth Israel Deaconess’ history of innovation to help make patient care more efficient, accessible and integrated.”

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