Researchers, policymakers and healthcare professionals will converge at the Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA) this week in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Center for Health Information & Decision Systems at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The Smith School’s Ritu Agarwal, founder and director of CHIDS, answers questions about what to expect at the Nov. 3-4, 2018 conference.
Q: Why does a business school host this conference?
A: The healthcare conversation is often fragmented among multiple disciplinary silos: the clinical experts, public health scholars, economists, and the technology and computer science community. And then of course there are the practice and policy communities who are responsible for crafting regulation and implementing solutions. Fundamentally, bringing about change in healthcare processes and practices is all about integrating these conversations to provide a holistic perspective. Business schools are uniquely positioned to do so, as we have expertise in studying phenomena using trans-disciplinary approaches. And you cannot propose solutions without considering their economic, organizational, and behavioral implications. This is where business schools play a crucial, value-creating role.
Q: What will be the highlights or big themes of CHITA?
A: There are many important themes – patient and provider decision making, quality transparency, mhealth, etc. But if I had to pick one I would say it relates to the immense power and opportunity afforded by this extraordinary convergence we are witnessing between digital technologies and computing power, data, and advances in analytical techniques. This is the perfect storm of transformation. We are at a tipping point where we may be able to answer questions in healthcare that we had not even imagined in the past. The conference will shed light on these prospects and promises of knowledge discovery through machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence.
Q: Who should attend CHITA?
A: Scholars from all disciplines who are interested in driving quality, safety and efficiency in healthcare. The conference can provide immense value to executives and scientists in healthcare and technology organizations who are seeking to develop and apply state-of-the art techniques to healthcare processes. And certainly policy makers should attend – they are critical to inform the discussions and pursuits of scholars and executives, but equally they can learn about new developments that can be leveraged to shape future policy.
Q: What do you hope participants take away from the conference?
A: I hope participants leave with renewed intellectual vigor and commitment to do groundbreaking healthcare research that can create social welfare! This is a sector that is of immense significance, both economically and from a societal perspective. I would want conference attendees to construct a broad mental model of the multitude of questions that need to be answered to bring about healthcare transformation.
Q: What is the big healthcare IT question that you hope to discuss at CHITA this year?
A: How can we best utilize digital innovations in information and analytical technologies to fundamentally alter the way in which we approach challenges in healthcare? How can we think broadly and out-of-the box to envision a new healthcare ecosystem?
Q: This is the 8th year for this conference (previously called the Workshop on Health IT & Economics). How has the conversation evolved over the years?
A: Every year we are confronted with a tsunami of technological progress and a turbulent policy environment. The conference helps sift through all of this and offer some insights and evidence into the way forward. The persistent questions of adoption, diffusion, implementation and value creation in the context of these healthcare innovations remain a central part of the discourse.