‘Digital Health’ is Technology in Action

Edmondo Robinson, M.D., MBA, FACP
Chief Transformation Officer
Christiana Care

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By Edmondo J. Robinson, M.D., MBA, FACP, Chief Transformation Officer; Senior Vice President, Consumerism; Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Christiana Care Wilmington; at Christiana Care Health System

Recently, I traveled to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to explore the burgeoning use of digital health tools to improve health care delivery and consumer experience.

“Digital health” can generally be described as the convergence of digital technologies, including genomics, with health and health care. While the potential of the digital “revolution” in health care is quite promising, the practical applications have not always focused on the consumer.

It is important to understand that the goal of technology in health care is to help our consumer. Technology is not the end-state. Tech is merely the enabler. 

In London, Paul Drayson, chairman and CEO of Drayson Technologies, discussed how, too often, tools are developed that require education and training to use. That approach is backwards: If the tech is to serve us, why must we change our behavior to serve the tech? If the focus is truly on the user’s needs then the tool should be so easy and intuitive that it doesn’t require training.

Today, Big Data can provide us with enormous amounts of information to learn what people really want and need. To design tools that genuinely meet the needs of their users, it’s important to think in terms of data in action—combining streams of data to facilitate behavior. For example, an activity tracker can count your steps, and that’s helpful data. But data-in-action is getting an alert that you’re low on activity–at a moment when you have time for a quick workout  and the local gym is open.

If you worked at The Edge, the Dutch headquarters of Deloitte, you would receive this kind of information every day. During my visit to The Edge, I saw firsthand how data-driven technology serves Deloitte staff. With 28,000 sensors throughout the building, the entire facility tracks employees’ movement, then automatically adjusts lighting, heating and cooling to meet staff needs. It even notifies someone if a coffee machine runs low or the bathrooms need cleaning. In real time, data is collected and used to help optimize everyone’s ability to live, work and play. 

I am fortunate to work for Christiana Care Health System, where leveraging advanced technology to improve patient care is a key part of our strategy. But the lessons we learn from technology and putting data into action are applicable to every business. Develop a big picture strategy for leveraging digital technology, but allow room for innovation to bubble up from the front lines. Then, when implementing technology, focus on the people and the processes first (including culture) so that the technology can be planted in fertile soil. The tools—and the tech—are not the end goal. But if you design or choose them wisely, they help you get there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edmondo J. Robinson, M.D., MBA, FACP, serves as the Chief Transformation Officer and Senior Vice President, Consumerism for Christiana Care Health System.

In this role, Dr. Robinson has responsibility for transformation of health care delivery to advance population health initiatives and move from volume-based to value-based care with a special focus on developing and managing Christiana Care’s consumerism strategy. Using an entrepreneurial spirit he works closely with Service Line and Essential Services leadership as well as other internal and external partners to meet strategic goals of optimal health, exceptional experience and organizational vitality with an emphasis on using innovative tools.

As a Christiana Care Value Institute Scholar, he conducts research on analytic methodology to inform management decisions, with particular interest in transitions of care, interdisciplinary collaboration and the intersection of technology and health care.

Dr. Robinson joined Christiana Care in 2008 as the founding medical director of Christiana Care Hospitalist Partners. In that position he recruited, mentored and managed numerous hospital medicine faculty physicians. In 2011 he transitioned to Physician-in-Chief of Wilmington Hospital, a role that developed into Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Christiana Care-Wilmington. He continues to serve in that capacity.

Dr. Robinson is an associate professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College and an adjunct senior fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a senior fellow of the Society of Hospital Medicine. He holds a medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles; an MBA with an emphasis in health care management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; and a master’s degree in health policy research also from the University of Pennsylvania.

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