Boston-based Partners HealthCare has announced plans to implement a new system-wide digital health initiative over the next five years. The organization is budgeting $100 million for the first 18 months of the project, with additional funding being requested as needed. This initiative supports the health systems recently announced five-year strategic plan, which serves more than 1.5 million patients and receives approximately $2 billion in research funding annually. By leveraging data and healthcare IT, the organization expects to enhance the digital patient experience and engagement.
Our patients are at the center of all we do. The overall aim of our strategy…is to create the premier integrated health care system of the future, built on the strong reputations of our academic medical centers. – Anne Klibanski, MD, President, and CEO of Partners HealthCare
The incorporation of novel digital technologies as well as new algorithmic technologies is enabling healthcare organizations to rethink the care delivery process. One objective of the digital health initiative is to build upon the Partners Patient Gateway digital tool already offered to patients, which is used as a medical resource for lab results, immunizations, allergies, medications, and as an easy way to ask non-urgent questions to the care team. This initiative will work to improve the patient experience, improve interoperability, and transform clinical care across the system.
Another focal point for Partners is on artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, including new data tools to help manage patient flow, active asset management, track revenue, supply chain, and more. Dr. Alistair Erskine, who is the Chief Digital Health Officer for Partners HealthCare, believes “this initiative will fuel early-stage projects, provide the resources to test those projects and then, more importantly, provide a structure to scale projects that allow us to expand access for patients across our health care system and beyond.” Erskine envisions the effort will result in “dramatic growth in virtual care,” including virtual appointments, as well as remote monitoring for patients with chronic diseases — such as using WiFi-enabled scales to track the weight of patients with heart failure.
Our patients want health care to operate like every other sector of our economy, and this initiative will help us to engage patients and ensure that they are getting the attention they need when they need it. – Dr. Gregg Meyer, Chief Clinical Officer at Partners HealthCare
Overall, the American healthcare system has been slow to adopt digital technologies. One exceptional thing about emerging human-centered technologies is that they allow a level of continuous, personalized care that promotes health in small, everyday moments — digitally. Partners expects its digital health program will connect data and analytics professionals from across Partners hospitals and implement an enterprise data ecosystem, creating a unified approach to data management and use. A principal component of the strategy is to build on the organization’s well-established track record for innovations in data analytics, devices, diagnostics, and therapeutics for leading patient care, as well as the influence on the health of the communities served. Ultimately we should aim for technology that makes the healthcare experience feel more human, not less.
Additional Note: In November 2019, Partners HealthCare announced the conception of an Artificial Intelligence and Digital Translation Fund with an initial endowment of $30 million over the next five years.
About Partners HealthCare
Partners HealthCare is an integrated health care system, founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, that offers patients a continuum of coordinated and high-quality care. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the system includes community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, a physician network, community health centers, home health, and long-term care services, and other health care entities. Partners is a non-profit organization that is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. Also, Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and is a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information, please visit the Partners HealthCare website.