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david levin cleveland clinicSAN FRANCISCO– We are at the beginning of the beginning of a new age for health care.

Digital technology is fundamentally transforming the practice of medicine, but Dr. David Levin, the Chief Medical Information Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said this is still uncharted territory.

“We are all immigrants entering a new country and a new age,” he said at HealthBeat. “Change is coming as we transition from a volume-based system to a value-based system, where people get paid based on the results, quality of care, efficiency, and how satisfied our patients are.”

The health care industry traditionally operates on outdated IT systems and is slow to adopt new forms of technology that could streamline operations, make workflow more efficient, and centralize data in one organized and accessible place. Levin joked on stage that everyday he goes to work in health care and then returns home to live in the 21st century.


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The Cleveland Clinic is a progressive health care organization that provides primary care services, conducts research and education, and develops new technology to modernize health care. It is dedicated to “pushing the limits of excellence in patient experience” and applying trends in data analytics, cloud computing, mobile technology, and the ‘Internet of Things’ to bear in the practice of medicine.

Levin identified the “three P’s” for the future of health care. The first is personalization.

“We are going to see medical practice highly customized for each individual, using real time information and considering individual preferences and tastes,” he said. “The full flower of personalized health will extend beyond the molecular level and be about what who each patient is a person and what they need. In medicine problem of having too much information long ago surpassed that of having too little. We can make use of that knowledge.”

The second “P” is “population-based,” or the “zooming out” to systems designed for large groups of similar patients. By gathering and analyzing health data, clinicians and researchers can gain greater insight into health patterns. The third trend is “pervasive.” Levin said that health care will become ubiquitous as the world becomes more connected and virtualized.

“Rather than you going to health care, health care will come to you,” Levin said. “Can you imagine banking if you had to get permission to see your balance or make a visit to a branch to answer a question? This is the current state of most health care, but looking at trends in other industries we can see what is ahead.”

Regulation is one of the major obstacles for innovation in this field, but Levin said another problem is that many health applications don’t integrate data, whether it is structured, semi-structured, or unstructured, as effectively as they could.

“Cr’apps’ far outweigh the apps,” he said. “The two main reasons for failure are either something technical — the app simply doesn’t work, or that it does not fit into the workflow and actually impedes job performance.”

Cleveland Clinic has a number of projects and initiatives to improve patient experience and make health care and health IT more efficient. Levin said the organization has created a new clinical systems office that moves from Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to EMR “as a portal” that lays the foundation for a “knowledge management ecosystem,” complete with decision engines and a collaboration platform.

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