Building Healthy Communities - The Smart Utilization of Technology

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Dec 10, 2017
by Tomás De La Rosa
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Building Healthy Communities - The Smart Utilization of Technology

Participants review ways in which technology can support better health From left to right - Graham Adams, Lynna Chandra, Selina Brudnicki, and Toyin Ajayi

Participants started the third day of Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals by discussing how new technologies, or novel applications of older ones, can assist in transforming health services, as well as how these technologies can create a more open, connected and collaborative institutional culture of hospitals.

The session was led by Graham Adams, Toyin Ajayi, Selina Brudnicki, and Lynna Chandra. Each discussed ways in which technology can transform health.

Brudnicki said involving patients was key to developing effective tools to help patients manage their own health. She explained how University Health Network, in Toronto, addressed gaps in the sharing of data between hospitals, primary and community care by having patients access their own medical information and make corrections to their record.

Gauging on technology’s role, Ajayi, chief health officer of Cityblock Health, said when considering what she is trying to build, she asks herself whether technology can help at all. And although she does believe it can, now is not the time. “We have tools that are in place to record data and produce bills, but we need to produce full information of patients as people,” she said.

To produce said information, she said building care teams that are in place to create relationships with patients is necessary, saying, “We cannot think of technology as a replacement of humans in care, it should be an augmentation for people.”

“Why don’t we look at technologies that will bring down the hospital walls, rather than creating more barriers in the system?” said Chandra, co-founder of Absolute Impact Partners, highlighting how the system has lost people’s trust and technology should be used to rebuild it.

Adams, CEO of the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, told participants that when people talk about population health and the life of a community, we need to ask how to make sure we have a vehicle that allows everyone at a local level to have access to their information.

Participants heard and discussed the lack of linguistic fluency between clinicians, health systems, and technology developers. Ajayi argued that a solution would be common competency between clinicians and technologists.

Participants continued to discuss the relationship between health and technology among themselves. One participant said that A.I. and visual algorithms can help identify visible threats, but ultimately decisions should be made by someone who understands the patient and their context.


The session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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