Keeping Patients Safe with Personalized Treatment

Keeping Patients Safe with Personalized Treatment

Matthew Kull, CIO, Cleveland Clinic

Matthew Kull, CIO, Cleveland Clinic

As a CIO at Cleveland Clinic, Matthew Kull is responsible for the health system's strategic approach to digital transformation in two different disciplines: medicine and patient experience. Before joining Cleveland Clinic, Kull served as CIO at Dallas-based Parkland Hospital. Kull's experience spans over 20 years in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, pharmacies, regional oncology and disease management institutions as well as telecom and energy systems, retail and distribution organizations. He will continue to lead Cleveland Clinic's information technology (IT) strategy, working with clinical partners and caregivers across the health system to enhance patient care through innovative technologies.

What are the major challenges that the healthcare space faced after the pandemic?

The pandemic put tremendous pressure on health care systems worldwide. It was very challenging to make healthcare accessible to everyone as national demand spiked. While other businesses have embraced ubiquitous digital capabilities as the necessity of daily life, the healthcare sector overall has lagged behind in developing the same level of consumer-focused convenience. Booking a flight or getting food delivered to your doorstep can be done quickly, but making a doctor's appointment might be more challenging. I believe that the pandemic represented a kind of Cambrian explosion in how people began to consider utilizing digital technologies across healthcare. We have seen how telemedicine has aided us in delivering the best patient care in a manner which is convenient to our patients. The healthcare sector better understands the need to establish those seamless interactions with our patients. The transition of healthcare toward patient-centered care can now be accelerated.

What are the latest trends that have emerged in the healthcare space to overcome these challenges?

With the rise of the pandemic, telehealth is viewed as table stakes. Virtual care, over the in-person encounters has simplified the interaction between health systems and their patients for many visit types. By unlocking the power of AI and ML, we can easily monitor patients' health from the comfort of their homes and collect data from their common gadgets (smart watches or mobile), using those insights to potentially intervene if there is a detected health risk. It is these very common consumer technologies that have started bringing emerging capabilities like precision medicine to the front stage.

"I believe that the pandemic represented a kind of Cambrian explosion in how people began to consider utilizing digital technologies across healthcare"

Could you tell us about any latest project initiatives based on the trends you mentioned?

At Cleveland Clinic, we established the Global Center for Pathogen Research and Human Health to broaden our understanding of emerging pathogens. We can quickly identify and develop cures for emerging and new pathogens. Historically, it has taken many years to bring a novel new therapy to market from idea to the time it's ready to be released to the public. We are utilizing computational and digital capabilities in research to solve and identify targets for these problems much faster.

How do you envision the future of the healthcare industry for the next 12 to 24 months? 

Over the coming months, I think that the healthcare industry is going to employ more consumer devices and technologies that have never been used universally within healthcare before to solve health problems and manage overall wellness. This will create an enormous opportunity for us to streamline the diagnosis process and take advantage of the best-in-class remote monitoring capabilities. There are companies in the market offering low cost consumer IoT products today which can provide significant data points to promote wellness – scales, step trackers, blood pressure cuffs, etc.. The hardest part is enabling and utilizing the new capabilities that are coming to market in a way that takes advantage of the insights they can generate, but doesn’t burden the clinician with additional keyboard time. These digital companions for wellness can also have a strong focus on mental health – something critically needed as we emerge from the pandemic and face the broader effects of isolation. Today, I think many organizations are finding new ways to address and focus on the dramatically increased need for mental care and behavioral health.

What would be your single piece of advice for the upcoming professionals in this field? 

As technological advancement is accelerating, it's necessary to evaluate the problems that we are trying to solve first, then address which technologies can be enabled in support of solving those challenges. There are many big tech and startups coming to the market offering many healthcare related tools, it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of your organizations objectives. Or worse, become so attached to the tech that the mission becomes finding a problem in which to utilize it. I think that it's imperative to continue to drive high quality and affordable care; insomuch that we remain very diligent in our assessments and evaluations of new technologies and make sure that we're building cohesive value-based solutions.

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