December 20: Today on the Community channel, it’s an Interview in Action live from CHIME’s Fall Forum with Audrius Polikaitis, CIO & AVP of Health Information Technology at UI Health (University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System). What is top of mind for Audrius’s academic medical center? How did the pandemic change their approach to access to care? How has UI health organized their data infrastructure?
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interview in action from the:
Right here we are at the Chime Fall Forum, and we are doing another interview in action Today I am joined by Andreas Pitis. That was, that was, I got that, didn't I? You did Nailed it. Wow. Nailed it. Cio, university of Illinois Hospital and health Science System. That's a mouthful.
It is. So we go with an abbreviated name that we go to market with as UI Health.
Yeah. Yeah. Well that, that does make it a lot easier. Tell us a little about UI Health.
So we are a, a classic university academic health system, a patient care delivery organization surrounded with southern health science colleges, so medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry public health, social work, applied health sciences.
So it's a very dynamic academic. Talking about three missions, research, teaching, and patient care. As much as you like to keep those guys separate, inevitably they all get intertwined at some point.
Is this Illinois out of Urbana?
It is the same University of Illinois system. We are outta Chicago, out of Chicago.
Most of the health sciences within the University of Illinois system are based out of Chicago. There is. College of Medicine in Urbana maybe the one you're referencing. We also have health sciences presences and two other small, , smaller towns, midsize towns in Illinois.
So Academic medical center, cio.
What's top of mind? What are you focusing on right now?
Oh, so, you know, I'll start with what is the organization focusing on? So access, and I think what you'll find is it's the list of things that many are focused on access, right? We are 98, 90 9% capacity looking for solutions on that building new ambulatory facilities.
We just opened one up four weeks ago with a outpatient surgery center. Sort of expanding our ability to serve, the patients. Access also implies doing something about getting some of the patients out of, the hospital. So hospital home becomes very relevant. We're developing that program in the early stages of development, running the, into some interesting challenges as we, work through that.
The other thing the organization's focusing on is really trying to do a dramatic transformation as far as how we approach quality. And that patient satisfaction part of it, again, this is bread and butter stuff, but it's something we are focusing on now that we've settled and modernized large parts of our infrastructure, including a new ehr deployment enables us to sort of focus on other things, not, on these infrastructure challenges that we're always struggling with.
The access access is pretty broad and access is interesting cuz it, it was impacted by the pandemic pretty. How did the pandemic change your approach to access or change the technologies and methods?
Yeah, so, probably like everybody, right? It was a dramatic change to, virtual care.
Have you been able to hold onto that though?
Some percentage of it, yeah. 10 to 15% I'd say varies by specialty. Behavioral health seems to be very, very sticky. Others not so, as you would expected, some of the clinical disciplines require more hands on physical examinations. Those things, they've dramatically fallen off, but it's still, it still is a strong presence.
We see a strong presence within our family medicine program, and frankly, I'm not sure, I'm sure the patients enjoy it. I think the physicians also very much enjoy it, that they sit in the comfort of their own home and, you know, seeing patients that way, instead of having to go into the clinic for an. And you know, in academic medicine, our physicians, we have few physicians that are exclusively focused on clinical care.
Usually the model you see is, on Monday they're doing research on Tuesday, they're teaching on Wednesday, they're in clinic on Thursday they're doing research, so on. Right? So for them, anything that they could do to make their life more efficient and delivering care from home when possible is one of those methods that makes life efficient for them.
Let's talk about from the patient perspective. So from an access stand. They prefer telemedicine and in a lot of cases they, prefer, especially for specialty care for follow up visits and that, and I assume traffic around your location is not easy to navigate either. It's Chicago. Yeah. In the middle of the city.
Yeah. So you look at telehealth I assume you have a digital front door of some kind. Yeah. And you're also looking at standing up additional centers around. How are you knitting all that stuff together? From a technology perspective and digital,
We approach it as a single infrastructure that's deployed everywhere, right?
So we, standardize these things. They come out of the enterprise, any facility that opens up with the, name on it. and, And we get a lot of these cuz our college of medicine is very entrepreneurial. Likes opening up their own clinics. But we try to envelop that all to make sure we are.
On the same infrastructure, the same platforms. Information is ubiquitously shared regardless of where the patient is seen. And we provide the same tools to the patient. So if you are a patient of UI Health, you have an expectation of what you're gonna see and how that'll look for you.
Right? Right. So it's common branding, common infrastructure, common systems, common platforms,
How many applications do you have oh man. Remember that I g commercial with the numbers over your head, every CIO should walk around with like the number of applications they have over the head.tions you have? I don't know.:
We're, not there. But I did have a 1 on 1 with my, boss, a ceo last week. And what he said to me is he has one favorite slide that he thinks about his career, and it was a slide that we had put.
together When we were trying to convince the organization to invest many hundreds of millions of dollars in conversion of our electronic health record system, and the slide was very simple. It was simply the logos of all these software applications that we use and this one that went to the board. The board of the University of Illinois.
Right. Yeah. This was the fundamental argument of we are so fragmented in our approaches, and this is what led us to this idea of let's move to more integrated platform. A lot of that. collapsed To your point, there's still a lot that's outside of that. I think what's gonna happen naturally as sort of the scope of the EHR platform vendors will continue to grow and we'll always be faced with this interesting challenge of, once somebody has something new, do you take, what they have is they're a good reason for you to abandon what now you've grown accustomed to.
So these are the types of things I think we'll be, navigating. So I, in some respects, I think it's gonna. The portfolio will be shrinking as you make decisions to absorb into your enterprise platform. But there's always gonna be something new, especially in academic medicine driven by.
Physicians and colleagues that go to conferences, come back with a neat
we've got some funding and we're gonna go off and do this thing. Do you have governance to keep that from happening?
We do. We have a very, a very formal governance around that. The CEO leads that governance and it's not just the governance appli to it, the ceo, the CEO leads us and , we call this the project approval and prioritization process or Pap P essentially there's two levels of, analysis.
One is a lower level group where directors, senior directors, multi-disciplinary group, the proposal. And this could be a facilities project. It could be an IT project. And most of the times what we see is it's combinations of, these things, right? They sort of beat on the proposal make sure all aspects of it are complete.
Once they have a recommendation, they think it's final. We also have a five year perform that comes with that, that gets presented to a more senior group, which are basically C level. Key physician leaders that makes the final decision. So we, we don't differentiate substantial IT investments from other types of investments.
We view them as all having to be considered under the same prioritization process. For me, it's awesome since we implemented this because oftentimes it used to be this question of what the heck are you guys working on? And now there's no question because everything we're working on came through that process.
So, if you're not aware of it, it's probably you weren't paying attention at the time, rather than it alliance with the systems strategy and Alliance. So, you know, bill, I often people say do you have an IT strategy? And my answer often is, we have IT tactics. Maybe we call 'em sub strategies, but I don't have a separate IT strategy.
I have an organizational strategy that we also are a part of. 📍th, priorities for:
So when you talk about access, when you talk about all those things, that's part of your health system. And then you support that strategy
with whatever, whatever. Our role is , often bringing technology, but oftentimes we're also helping them with process improvement things cuz that is something we are also pretty good at as it professionals thinking about processes and, you know,
The old adage people, process and technology.
Right? You're bringing all three of those together. So we are, yeah, usually very critical parts of, those types of initiatives. But the one thing you re. It trying to do something alone without the operational stakeholders, it's a kid to try to push a string, right. It, it doesn't happen.
Yeah. Analytics always fascinates me in the academic space because you have so many data sets you need to deal with and there's an insatiable appetite for external data sets as well. Bringing more and more of that data in Tell us a little bit about the, data infrastructure that you put in place
Yeah, so we actually took the data infrastructure and split it out. Part of it supports the research environment. The other part supports the operational needs of the organization. So, we found that to be more effective because then we have a group that's very much focused on how research is thinking about it, what research needs.
Yeah. So we have a research data warehouse essentially. Right. And that's run by a. On the operational side, whether this is now revenue cycle or clinical, so on, right? Daily type of stuff, actually trends as well. Obviously AI fits into this. We right now have fundamentally committed to the Epic analytics platform and having , great success with it.
Prior to that, we had a lot of this in the spirit of disparate things, we had a lot of disparate tools , and architectures and infrastructures that we've now tried to collapse them all within that Epic Cojito Ka. Sort of, sort
Yep, absolutely. We could probably talk for another 20 minutes, but it's uh, but the interview's in action, we try to keep to about 10 minutes.
I get it. And this has been fantastic. I appreciate it.
Okay. Thank you.
Thank you. On to the next one
, . Another great interview. I wanna thank everybody who spent time with us at the conferences. I love hearing from people on the front lines and it is Phenomen. That they have taken the time to share their wisdom and experience with the community, which is greatly appreciated. We also want to thank our channel sponsors one more time, who invest in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. They are Olive, Rubrik, trx, Mitigate, and F5. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.