Q&A: Kaiser Permanente's CIO on Technology's Role in Redefining Healthcare

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , April 23, 2013

HealthLeaders: So you made the rounds.

Fasano: I did, and at pretty senior levels. So I had the ability to both participate in the change that the financial industry went through, and also lead some of it. That was fun to do, but we're going through a lot of similar changes in healthcare at this point. But I will also say that they're fundamentally, foundationally more important, because they're really about our health. But consumerism is going to change the way healthcare has to really deliver its capabilities.

HealthLeaders: Does [consumerism] redefine what a healthcare system is, or should be?

See Also: Q&A: Kaiser Permanente's CIO on Predictive Analytics and Other Challenges

Fasano: I think it redefines what healthcare could be and can be in this country. Clinical devices are getting so inexpensive, and they're so connectable now, that you can just see how that all converges, where the consumer really can take control in ways they just couldn't before.

From the standpoint of really having high-quality healthcare, and being the best in the world, something we should certainly aspire to, given how much we spend on healthcare in the United States, I think the tools are now present to enable that. It's really up to the industry, and the technology providers themselves, to really help us engage in that next wave of work that's really in front of us.

I would assert that the tools, done right, will enable the industry to take cost out of our cost structures. Even the simplistic issue of connecting medical record systems, so we don't have to take duplicate lab tests as we go from doctor to doctor, will make a material and meaningful difference in the cost structure. That can be redeployed in a lot of ways across the health system to really allow us to go through this transformation.

HealthLeaders: Where do you stand on the whole PHR issue? This is the idea that we have all this heavy lifting going on about health information exchanges, but maybe the better thing to do is to do what Google tried to do and failed, which was give everyone a personal health record and have that travel with the patient. Do you see that playing a big role still, or did that all peter out when the Google thing failed?

Fasano: I'll give you two points of view. One is, I think the Google thing failed for a reason. I don't think the technology industry or the healthcare industry was ready to really support that in the way that it needed to be supported.

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