State of Healthcare Today: IT Leaders Speak Out

The following is a guest article by Dr. Bob Monteverdi – Global Healthcare Solutions Leader, Lenovo.

Want to know what’s top of mind for Healthcare IT leaders today? Of course, the global pandemic, but even in the midst of COVID-19, IT leaders are evaluating the impacts of new virtual technology on day-to-day operations, evaluating the latest security threats, and managing a workforce that could be onsite or remote.

To explore these issues, Lenovo Health and Microsoft sponsored a unique one-day event featuring healthcare technology innovators from a range of companies. In live panel discussions, these thought leaders exchanged ideas on urgent healthcare topics. They discussed challenges, how technology is helping, what’s emerging, and what’s working.

Here’s a summary of 5 key sessions. If a discussion intrigues you and you want to hear the whole conversation, replays of all sessions are available.

We kicked off the day and I helped set the stage with the realities of today’s healthcare landscape – the familiar challenges of costs, security, safety, and patient outcomes – all more pressing now that hospital systems are coping with COVID-19. I introduced promising technologies being used to meet today’s challenges.

Here’s a recap of the live panel discussions. A full list of panelists, live session videos, and on-demand audio recordings are available on the Lenovo website.

Track 1: Patients and providers: Enhancing safety, experience, and outcomes

Panelists discussed whole-patient care from admission to discharge and beyond – particularly the effect of social determinants of health (SODH) like housing, education, and transportation, on illness and sustainability of treatment. A growing area of interest is augmenting medical treatment with education and referrals to community organizations. To do this, clinicians must have access to data that paints a more complete picture of patients and their needs. Otherwise, treatment is limited to a patient’s medical conditions. A significant barrier to getting more complete patient data is disparate orientations and data systems among health organizations and community social services.

Solutions are emerging for data standardization, interoperability, and integration – allowing a seamless exchange of patient information, including resource referrals documented in the EHR. New device platforms are also needed to help close the loop after patients have accessed services. With smartphone ubiquity, this kind of follow-up is more possible than ever, by patients, social workers, and community organizations. Integrating this more holistic information into care plans makes post-discharge virtual care all the more effective.

The panelists also discussed ways to reduce patient and provider infection exposure, including device disinfection and supplementing bedside visits with virtual rounding.

Possible Solutions:

  • EMI Advisors: Consulting for federal and state health plans on data interoperability and exchange across the continuum of care
  • Gravity Project: National collaborative to advance interoperable SODHs
  • Lenovo Health: Virtual Care, Virtual Rounding, and devices optimized for clinical settings

Track 2: Cyberattacks, vulnerabilities, and security: Building digital resiliency

Panelists discussed the continuing proliferation of devices on- and off-network, especially with increased remote work; the vulnerability of protected health information (PHI); and how organizations can mitigate risk, given prevention can never be 100%.

The challenges of remote device monitoring and control are made worse by continuing spikes in data-targeting ransomware attacks. Organizations must take strong, proactive steps to reduce their attack surface or open themselves to devastating privacy breaches and heavy financial consequences that can extend to compromised mergers and acquisitions.

Anti-virus applications are simply no longer effective. Clinical environments demand transparent security that doesn’t interrupt or slow down workflow. Technology is improving in the areas of always-on VPN, automated endpoint monitoring and control through AI, and remote monitoring and maintenance.

Panelists also stressed the importance of elevating security to an interdisciplinary C-level conversation and treating security as a business strategy.

Possible Solutions:

  • SentinelOne®: Cloud-based autonomous endpoint protection that uses AI and ActiveEDR to predict, prevent, and stop even zero-day attacks
  • Absolute Persistence®: Network visibility, firmware-embedded resilience, and self-healing BIOS
  • Lenovo ThinkShield Threat and Data Protection: Delivers next-generation solutions to safeguard critical data

Track 3: Artificial intelligence: Moving medicine forward

Panelists discussed the value and promise of AI within and beyond radiology. From annotated data to the benefits of federated learning, the session provided a deep dive and also shared recommendations for getting started with AI.

AI is already proving its value in healthcare – notably in radiology, for pre-screening and prioritizing imaging scans, diagnostic decision support, and more. As initial resistance to AI technologies fades, researchers, clinicians, and IT work to overcome adoption barriers. Gaining access to annotated data —vital to training accurate AI models — is a challenge. Federated learning, open source models, and public institution resources are valuable here, giving data scientists the benefit of worldwide data from diverse populations without compromising individual privacy.

Hospital systems need infrastructure to cost-effectively move huge datasets across networks, and process that data, all using hardware suitable for clinical environments. And as healthcare mobility and use of IoT increase, so do devices both in and out of the hospital, all of which need to be secured and managed. Technology is emerging to address these issues and more, both overall and use-case specific. And hospitals are increasingly hiring CTOs to lead these efforts. This leadership should focus initiatives and resources where AI can deliver the most benefit and avoid AI for AI’s sake, which the panelists agree is a common pitfall in getting started with AI.

Possible Solutions:

  • Techsomed: Ablation procedure using AI for real-time monitoring
  • Apollo Health: Using AI to provide more personalized health care to patients while increasing the efficiency of doctors
  • Intel: Processing power for data-intensive analytics and AI and Intel-optimized AI software
  • Lenovo: Workstations designed for data scientists

Tracks 4 and 5: Healthcare goes virtual: Two game-changing use cases

Two summit panel discussions put a spotlight on the application of virtual technology in healthcare, which is already established but has been made more urgent by COVID-19. Virtual is a trend across industries and is here to stay.

Virtual care: Healthy habits for home-based chronic disease management

Evolving for some time, remote patient monitoring gained steam with increased reimbursements and the move to value-based models. Virtual care is emerging as a transformative solution for chronic care management. Diseases like diabetes, COPD, congestive heart failure, and hypertension are not only being treated, but a focus on healthy habit formation is improving conditions and decreasing hospital readmissions.

Successful virtual care solutions use a range of devices and communication channels to engage patients, inform providers, and keep the two connected. These solutions must be easy to use and fit into the patient’s lifestyle. Key components are motivation and education. Effective virtual care gives patients control and confidence, feedback, and reminders – all fostering adherence to care plans. Frequent virtual check-ins are also essential to optimize patient experience and alert the care team to any issues.

Virtual care solutions use technologies including biometric devices, interactive device platforms, data analytics, AI-powered personal assistants and chatbots, and videoconferencing.

Virtual rounding: Keeping patients and providers connected safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively

Virtual rounding was recently pushed to the forefront in response to some of COVID-19’s massive challenges for those hospitalized, their families, and their care teams. From heartbreaking patient quarantine to virulent infection exposure to critical PPE shortages, hospitals are in dire need of fast, effective action. Virtual rounding meets pressing challenges today and is a new model with enduring advantages.

Virtual visits by videoconference allow continuation of vital daily check-ins – keeping patients, families and providers engaged and informed, while avoiding the need for PPE and reducing infection and HAIs. Clinicians connect wherever it’s convenient, so there’s no travel between facilities or patient rooms. Providers can see more patients in less time. This is a critical consideration during the current crisis and this level of efficiency will benefit organizations into the future.

Possible Solutions:

These virtual summit conversations are a fascinating cross-section of thinking from a diversity of expertise, organizations, and technologies. The on-demand sessions offer a deeper dive on context and details. Access the recordings by visiting And keep up with new solutions in healthcare IT here