Health information technology and applications are being developed very quickly these days. Large academic hospitals in Boston have taken notice, and are developing their own systems to promote innovation in medicine and healthcare today. Most recently, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has launched its very own Innovation Hub (iHub). As a launch of the BWH iHub, BWH in conjunction with MIT H@cking Medicine hosted their first hackathon the weekend of September 20-22, 2013.
MedTech Boston sat down with Adam Landman, MD, a BWH emergency physician and Chief Medical Information Officer for Health Information Innovation and Integration. He is also a key member of the Core Committee for the BWH iHub.
How did you become interested in technology and innovation?
AL: After finishing college at Cornell University, I went into technology consulting. It was a wonderful first job. I got to travel and meet a lot of interesting people. At the same time that I was working in consulting, I was also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT), and I had been doing this since I had started college. As a kid, I played with fire trucks, and thus I grew up wanting to be a fireman. I found the firefighting and EMT experiences rewarding, and realized I wanted to apply my technical and consulting skills to healthcare. So I went back and got my medical degree and went into emergency medicine.
I always just wanted to use whatever knowledge and skills that I had to try and make an impact. At the patient level, I always strive to take excellent care of patients. At the hospital level, I enjoy creating new systems to make things more efficient and to make things easier and safer to care for patients. At the national level, I hope to influence policy to improve health care delivery.
Can you tell us more about how you became the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BHW) CMIO for Health Information Innovation and Integration?
AL: I have been at BWH for about three years. I started as the Director of Clinical Informatics in the Emergency Department. We had a wonderful opportunity to work on designing an electronic documentation system for the Emergency Department. We recently finished that project, including electronic discharge instructions for patients and most recently provider electronic documentation.
After that project, I was looking for next steps. There is really a big need for additional clinical leadership at the hospital level for information technology. We are currently working on two very large information systems projects. First, we are moving to an enterprise electronic health record system, Epic, which is called the Partners eCare project. And we’re also implementing the Sunquest laboratory information system. These are two huge projects.
As part of reorganizing the leadership to implement these projects, the hospital appointed three Chief Medical Information Officers. I have two counterparts. Dr. Amy Miller, MD, PhD is a cardiologist, and she is the CMIO for inpatient clinical services. Dr. Michael Healey, MD is a primary care physician and the CMIO for outpatient primary care services. My role is in between, helping with the eCare project as well as the Sunquest project.
The hospital recognizes that we have been a leader in discovery and innovation, and there is a commitment to continuing to be a leader in health IT innovation. For example, the BWH was a leader in computerized provider order entry, decision support systems, and electronic medication administration and reconciliation systems. We are looking forward to continuing to be a leader in healthcare IT moving forward.
How did you come up with the idea for a hackathon?
AL: A whole bunch of us independently realized that changes are happening very quickly these days, particular in the space of health IT and apps. We thought there might be a way for Brigham to become even more engaged in this space. Dr. Julien Pham and Dr. Nima Behkami and I had the idea of hackathons and started talking to each other about it. The glue that brought this all together was Lesley Solomon, Director of Strategy and Innovation for the BWH Biomedical Research Institute. She is spearheading an innovation center for the Brigham. This ultimately turned into the BWH Innovation Hub, or iHub. Additionally, we had executive sponsors, Barbara Bierer, Senior Vice President of Research, and Dr. David Bates, MD, Chief Quality Officer, who have provided a lot of leadership. The overall goal is to foster a culture of innovation and to support our staff to bring ideas from inception to commercialization and to offer them the support and resources to do that.
After going to a few hackathons around Boston, we thought it would be really neat to hold a hackathon at a hospital, where participants could really get a sense of how a hospital operated and have a greater chance of attracting physicians to the hackathon. We felt that this clinician involvement was somewhat missing previously. We wanted the physicians to really bring what they felt were their pain points. And then engineers, researchers, scientists, and designers could work on these projects.
After talking to Lesley Solomon about the iHub, we thought that a hackathon would be an ideal way to launch the iHub. What is important is that this has really been an interdisciplinary team that brought this all together. We feel this is very important for all innovation. We partnered with MIT H@cking medicine forming a team of clinicians, researchers and administrators to plan the hackathon.
How did the hackathon go?
AL: The BWH iHub and MIT Hacking Medicine held a combined hackathon at BWH on the weekend of September 20 that was 48 hours long. It attracted over 140 participants from the greater Boston area.
The hackathon was a huge success on many fronts. This was an event that had a small expense but a very large impact. We had over 200 applications from participants interested in attending the event. It was really difficult but we had to turn folks down due to space limitations.
At the end of the 48 hours, some staying up all night, we had 17 teams that presented to a panel of judges, with all very different and amazing contributions.
One team, Prioritas, who actually won two awards–MIT H@cking Medicine Award and Crowd Favorite, created software that intelligently filters and sorts through laboratory, procedure, radiology, and test results that are electronically delivered or faxed to a patient’s clinic. The team created a working prototype. The team was actually testing the newly developed software with real de-identified patient information. An abnormal radiological result (which was important to know about and discuss with the patient, but not life-threatening) was picked up and more quickly handled than with the current system used.
What are the next steps in promoting innovation at BWH?
AL: We want to create resources to support these teams after the hackathon. We truly want to drive innovation and collaboration. As next steps to do this, we are continuing to talk to those teams and have the teams network with clinicians and researchers. The teams that actually won will also present at our upcoming Research Day on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Financially, Partners Healthcare Research Ventures and Licensing recently announced 20-30 Innovation Awards worth about $50,000 each available to any teams with a Partner’s member on the team. We are hoping that the hackathon teams will put in applications for these Innovation Awards.
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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