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Today on Insights. We go back to a conversation Host Bill Russell had with Darren Dworkin The topic of discussion was The Impact of COVID on Academic Medical Centers. And Bill asks Darren, how do academic medical centers collaborate and accelerate during a pandemic.


Hello and welcome to another episode of Insights. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system ???? and creator of This Weekin Health IT. A channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. Our hope is that these episodes serve as a resource for the advancement of your career and the continued success of your team. Now onto the ???? show.

Today on insights. We go back to a conversation host Bill Russell had with Darren Dworkin. The topic of discussion was the impact of COVID on academic medical centers. And Bill ask sDarren, how do academic medical centers collaborate and accelerate during a pandemic?

Academic medical centers, you guys compete fiercely, but collaborate liberally essentially. I want to talk about this with you. What did collaboration look like during COVID for the academic medical centers and maybe more specifically, maybe not on the medical side, because let's focus in on the health IT side. What did it look like for you to collaborate with your peers around the country?

Well, first, just in the framing of that question, I would say that, I think there's some markets where there is fierce competition. I will say that we're fortunate in the LA market that is very much characterized by collaboration. I think that there are at any given time faculty, that are working together between different academic medical centers on countless, countless projects and initiatives. We're constantly doing joint funded NIH research with not just our colleagues, in and around town here in LA but really across the country and frankly, across the world.

And I think that maybe a different topic for a different day. It's the awkwardness of cybersecurity, when you have academic medical centers that their DNA is around, how do I open up and share everything? And so I think that that's the base that you're working on. Within IT, I will say that, I consider myself super, super fortunate to just pre-COVID, long before I've established, some great relationships with colleagues across the country, that I think people often say, Hey, if you ever get stuck, give me a call, drop me a note. But I think that there was just this wonderful ability to collaborate with colleagues around the country. Especially as COVID was popping up in different hotspots. I remember being on some email streams and being on some calls with some colleagues in New York, so useful to hear what they were thinking about, the, the steps they went through.

Hey, we forgot about this technology. Forgot about extra licenses for that. We forgot about shoring up this infrastructure. It was really invaluable. And I think the nature of medicine generally, is to always understand, Hey, let's do a root cause analysis and figure out what we could have done even better next time. And I think that culture is pervasive through AMCs and the willingness of people to share, not just what went great, but what went wrong, really has been super helpful.

Yeah, no, that's fantastic. How's the pandemic impact of the accelerator. So you guys obviously have the accelerator at Cedars around innovation. Did you have a class this year or did you postpone the class?

So with some irony, just as COVID hit we were wrapping up our first ever international week. We had started off a very specialized class to bring in companies from all over the world and obviously as COVID was beginning to rage we quickly wanted to get everybody home safely. And so that got wrapped up. It finished, but a little bit of an abrupt end. From there, the accelerator, took a really interesting pivot. And I would say that, if you think of our Cedars-Sinai accelerator as the front door of the center of sort of innovation at Cedars Sinai, we certainly can put a big old tick mark into the accelerator pivoting to jump into the DIY business.

Aagain, I alluded to it before of, we all got a really big scare around our supply chains or in particular around PPE. And the accelerator quickly stood up and mobilized itself as being the engine or a center place by which we were making gallons of Purell-like substances and masks and shields and other difficult to acquire pieces of equipment.

And so the accelerator and its team were really focused around that. As our supply chains started to catch up a little bit, we've pivoted to having the accelerator now work in a remote and more sort of virtual model. And we're still trying to figure out exactly what that will be. We're actually getting ready to launch a fully fledged virtual class.

And so we figured no better way to try it than to jump in with both feet. And it will be interesting because I think that the most positive feedback we get from companies who came through the accelerator was their chance to, have boots on the ground inside our hospital. And so it's going to be a challenge for us to figure out how we create that virtually.

But we're hoping that we think since the magic is all around the people anyway, if we can connect the teams and the people we might be able to recreate that sort of core piece.

That's going to be interesting to watch. As you say, I mean, the magic is in the collaboration between the clinicians, between the people in the hospital and the really smart startups and the innovators that you bring in. That'll be a conversation for later but I'm sure it'll be an interesting class. Just like everything else in COVID we're learning as we go.

Wow, thanks for tuning in another great episode. If you have feedback for us regarding this content and materials, or if you would like to help us to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward, which is our ???? mission, please send us a note at Thanks for listening. That's all for now. ????

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