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Connecting People to a Healthy Future with Kaiser Permanente CIO Philip Fasano

Regular readers of this blog may remember when we covered the NASA mHealth workshop held in June at the Center for Total Health.  One of the many highlights of that day was the opportunity to view a video produced by Kaiser Permanente that envisioned what digital health might look like in the not-so-distant future.  The video captured the attention and imagination of many in attendance, and it piqued our curiosity.  We wanted to know more.

Philip Fasano

We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer for Kaiser Permanente, to talk about that imagination-stirring video, what it represents to Kaiser Permanente, and how advances in digital health are bringing about what Fasano calls “concierge medicine”—getting people the care and information they need when, how, and where they want it.

Check out the video, “Connecting People to a Healthy Future,” and then read our Q&A with Fasano below.

CTH Blog:
Let’s start by talking about the NASA event held at the Center for Total Health during Innovation Week in June, where you were a keynote speaker. What was it like partnering with NASA and knowing the things discussed at the workshop could have such a literally far-reaching impact?

Philip Fasano, Executive Vice President and CIO, Kaiser Permanente:
The workshop with the NASA Human Health & Performance Center was really exciting.  The U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park joined astronauts, aerospace experts, and leaders from NASA, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, the FDA, MIT, the NIH, Kaiser Permanente and other organizations to discuss how mobile and digital health innovations we are pioneering can be used in space.  The event also examined how innovations used by astronauts might also be used on earth in health care. That’s the beauty of the Center for Total Health.  It brings together a wide variety of brilliant, innovative minds from across industries to help solve some of the tough challenges we face in health care.

CTH Blog:
The video you shared at the NASA event (which we will be posting to the blog along with this interview) is exciting.  What was the reason KP put the video together — for what purpose?  How did it come about?

[pullquote]we wanted to develop a guiding vision of the type of future we’re helping to build at Kaiser Permanente. [/pullquote]

We created the video because we wanted to develop a guiding vision of the type of future we’re helping to build at Kaiser Permanente. This video is a look into the future where information technology enables real-time, personalized care resulting in improved wellness and affordability for our members.  Health information technology is changing at a rapid pace.  Technology is already changing the way we deliver care and the way our members interact with their care teams and their own information, through My Health Manager on, through our mobile applications, and through technologies like telemedicine and the integration of clinical technologies with core care systems. Technology has the potential to support the transformation of the health industry. At Kaiser Permanente, we are continually looking for new ways to delight members and enable better health outcomes for individuals and for communities through the use of technology within an integrated health system and across multiple care providers.  Some of the technology concepts you’ll see include the next evolution of electronic medical records, mobile health plan tools and social media convergence with health information technology.    

CTH Blog:
Some pretty amazing things are suggested in that video.  What are a couple of your personal favorite innovations as imagined there?

There are three areas that I am particularly passionate about when it comes to technology that can transform healthcare. The first is mobile technology, and particularly mobile technology that can enable wellness and help people manage their own health in partnership with their care providers. The video highlights devices you can wear, some you can carry and the emphasis is on all of it being fully connected to your doctor, to your health information, and even to environmental information that’s relevant to your health. I am also very excited by health information exchange, such as what we are beginning to do today through the Care Connectivity Consortium.

It will be transformational for the health care industry—and for patients—when all of their health information is immediately available to be securely shared with whatever care provider they happen to see. Having that critical information available to the physician treating you, even if it happens to be out of state while you’re on vacation, should be a right, not a privilege. I’m also excited by the potential of innovation around social media and the convergence of social media with your health care and your all-around health experiences.  There is so much more information and so many supporting relationships that can help drive healthier habits and better health if we integrate those forums and opportunities with explicit patient consent and in the right way. We have a great start on all of these tools today, but the future is even brighter where innovative health information technology is concerned.

CTH Blog:
How close are we to these developments and advancements?  What do we need to see happen first in order to make the ideas illustrated in the video a reality?

All of the technologies that you see in the video are in use in some form today. They are not integrated this nicely and are not all ready for use with patients, but the innovations are being piloted and tested and further developed as we speak. Integration of the technologies is a challenge. Security and privacy technologies and processes are always a challenge. Ensuring robust technology infrastructure to support the huge volumes of data and the computing power needed for these types of tools is a challenge that all of us in health IT will need to continue to solve efficiently. But these are technological challenges that can be overcome, and we are working actively on them with great success. What is more challenging are the industry norms, cultural biases in health care, and misalignment of incentives that serve as obstacles. They are obstacles that can be overcome. Because of the way we are structured at Kaiser Permanente, coupled with our leading-edge technology and history of innovation, our physicians are encouraged to do what’s best for the member. In contrast, in the fee-for-service care environment, physicians are paid by how many visits and procedures they can actually perform.

CTH Blog:
What advances in digital health are you most excited to see, both in the short-term and further into the future?

Mobile health apps, tracking devices, electronic consults with your doctor and care monitoring with a team of nurses – those are the digital tools that excite me because they enable you to stay healthy and connected at all times, and to have all your personalized information available and interactive anytime and anywhere you are. We see this as a form of concierge medicine where we are delivering what members need where, when and how they want it. That’s what the future looks like – and we’re making that a reality.

CTH Blog:
Kaiser Permanente has significant resources dedicated to innovation in health and care delivery.  How will the innovations developed or piloted by KP help advance health across the United States, and not only within the KP system?

This is exactly why we opened the Center for Total Health last year: To create a place to talk about health by showcasing KP’s innovations in health and health care delivery as well as the best practices of other health leaders. No one organization has all the answers to the nation’s health care problems, but together, by showcasing and sharing innovation, by highlighting our care model and our secure information exchange to reduce duplication and errors and spur mobility in modes of care—that is how we will spread innovation to help advance health across the United States beyond Kaiser Permanente.

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