Continuing our series featuring the leaders from our 20-member health systems, this month we sat down with Marcus Shipley, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation and Information Officer at Trinity Health. In this role, Marcus leads Trinity Health’s innovation program and is responsible for finding and implementing new ideas within the Trinity system, as well as directing the information technology that supports Trinity Health’s strategic imperatives for improving quality of care and patient safety.
With over 30 years of experience in information technology across multiple industries, we asked Marcus about where he expects to see technology investments across healthcare, why data quality is so important, and how the power of data can transform patient care.
As we work to turn the page on the pandemic, what do you see as the most important areas of technology investment for healthcare in the next 2-5 years?
The entire continuum of care is seeing a massive infusion of technology improving everything from diagnosis and treatment to imaging to operations to research. Artificial Intelligence (AI), more specifically, is going to impact the entire industry. Last year the World Health Organization recognized the promise for AI to improve the delivery of healthcare and medicine worldwide. The WHO emphasized the essentiality of ethics and human rights in the design, deployment, and use of AI. The ethical use of patient data – which is at the heart of Truveta’s founding principles – is an absolute imperative.
The pandemic has made everyone in the healthcare industry acutely aware that the world needs to innovate faster. Communities need insights in real time, especially as we think of our most vulnerable populations.
The pandemic has made everyone in the healthcare industry acutely aware that the world needs to innovate faster. Communities need insights in real time, especially as we think of our most vulnerable populations. Investments in precision medicine and personalized care are going to help us use the Truveta dataset to identify not just therapeutics, but ways to better care for patients. This could be pharmaceutical companies developing much more personal therapeutics because of the data they will be able to access. I also expect we are going to be unifying predictive technology with the opportunity to engage the patient and coordinate care in more personalized, predictive, and preventative way so the patient is truly a partner in the delivery of their care.
Data has the power to revolutionize entire industries. Look what Amazon did to retail, and Netflix to entertainment. They had data to understand patterns and personalize experiences. How do you think data could transform the healthcare industry?
It’s absolutely right that data has revolutionized other industries, and we have the opportunity to do the same in healthcare. When we look at the variation that is occurring in care today, the large Truveta dataset will provide the ability to get insights across conditions, treatments, and outcomes so that physicians can learn from one another. This data platform is enabling a learning community of clinicians and creating partnerships across life science companies as well as other health systems. When you look at healthcare data in the context of a learning platform and the lives that will be saved as a result of this holistic view, that’s much more important than selling books or videos.
There has been an incredible amount of innovation driven by necessity due to the pandemic. What are the examples you have seen where healthcare has adapted more quickly that other industries could learn from?
We must give kudos to all the researchers and scientists who worked together to bring the vaccine to the market as quickly as they did. I firmly believe that with the Truveta platform, it can happen even faster in the future. The application of data science to the clinical researcher’s repertoire of tools demonstrates the progress we’ve made over the last few decades.
The pandemic has also shown an incredible will to collaborate, which is how the idea for Truveta was born.
The pandemic has also shown an incredible will to collaborate, which is how the idea for Truveta was born. Some of the largest health systems have come together, seeing the possibility and a real need, and contributing their resources and data to support the creation of a unified data platform. There is real energy and commitment to using this data ethically to solve these problems, and I think that demonstration over the past two years has been palpable.
Why do you think it has been so challenging to gain valuable insights from clinical data to date?
As big as any one of our systems are, none of us have the scale of data to train the models to get the insights that Truveta will help us find. More importantly, none of us have the diversity of data to help us truly get into the health equity issues that have been there forever, but the pandemic helped expose.
How does the current state of data quality and availability impact the ability for researchers and clinicians to help patients and find cures?
When you think of a couple dozen health systems that have similar but different workflows, different data standards and methods of collection – some of it is regulated, but much of it is not. So much of the data shows up in unstructured notes. Different electronic health records have different file formats. When you set out to pull together all these health systems and normalize that data so it can be used in bulk by a researcher, the innovation that had to occur around normalization at scale is already an incredible feat. When these same tools are then used to ingest new datasets such as SDOH (Social Determinants of Health), and demographic information into the same platform, we are looking at a future full of possibilities.
It is impossible not to be inspired by the vision of saving lives with data, and these days we could all use a little inspiration.
You serve on Truveta’s Board of Directors. What do you think is unique about Truveta’s approach?
I cannot think of many other examples where this many large health systems have come together, shared information and insights, and shared their challenges in the formation of something that can be as important as Truveta. When we were launching, there were some who doubted we could collaborate as well as we have. It is more than personalities — it is alignment of cultures and missions, and it is wanting to take care of the communities we serve. In the pursuit of improving care in our communities, we are building relationships with other parts of the healthcare ecosystem. If we can help pharmaceutical companies find cures for diseases by bringing together our datasets, we will be serving the communities that we are committed to supporting. It is impossible not to be inspired by the vision of saving lives with data, and these days we could all use a little inspiration.