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Kaiser CIO shares IT lessons for the future of healthcare

David Needle | May 11, 2017
Kaiser Permanente's Dick Daniels urges fellow CIOs to look at how consumers use a variety of services to improve their own products and services.

“Remember when big companies owned all the assets? That’s flipped,” said Daniels. “It’s sometimes hard to get management to understand the implications of this, but the implications are huge.”

That said, Kaiser is hardly a virtual operation with 38 hospitals and 700 clinics. “But we have to watch we are not disintermediated. I push for us to do more things digitally,” said Daniels. “As enterprises, it’s our responsibility to keep up with all this.”


Recruiting millennials, building for the future

While Kaiser is cutting edge in its use of technology, Daniels admits it can be difficult hiring talented millennials, especially in Silicon Valley. “They want to be at Facebook, Google or Oculus, somewhere they think they can have an entrepreneurial impact,” he said. That can be a tough sell when they see all the people at Kaiser who have been there 20-to-30 years.

Daniels answer was to gut a room at one of Kaiser’s facilities in Pleasanton, Calif., and set it up as place for developers to practice agile development. As part of the commitment to agile, developers communicate regularly with the staff that will be using and managing the services they develop, the kind of fast-paced iterative process Silicon Valley is famous for. “We are going to create spaces, that might be in niche areas, where people can come in and feel productive.”

Daniels said another recruitment challenge is finding qualified applicants because “the shelf life of skills and the new skills required is changing all the time.

“All of us are going to have to look at what we build and how long it’s going to be around,” he added. “It’s not going to be around for 20 years. There’s a new API economy and I think we need to be more modular in our architecture and how we design things.”

Asked what technology he thinks could have a big impact on healthcare Daniels named one.

“The one technology I think could make a huge and dramatic change is artificial intelligence. The volume of medical information available today is too much for any one individual to consume. Machine learning engines can go through a lot of data really fast and if AI can come back and provide information for making a decision, that could have a profound impact on providing better care.”


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