AI and Health Equity
Nuvance Health Chief Medical Information Officer Albert Villarin, MD, joins Leader to Leader this week to discuss the role of the modern CMIO, the promise of Artificial Intelligence, and the importance of health 'techquity," achieving equitable outcomes and access through technology.
Follow and subscribe on
Listen to the Podcast
Dr. Albert Villarin, the chief medical information officer at Nuvance Health, draws on his training in emergency medicine and his passion for technology in his role as a CMIO. In this episode of “Leader to Leader,” Dr. Villarin, stresses the pivotal importance that patient safety and protection of health information play in today’s digital healthcare landscape. We discuss the promise of AI to improve outcomes and patient experience, and Dr. Villarin gives his take on the evolving role of a CMIO.
- AI is a transformative innovation. Hospitals should prioritize ethics and patient trust in their AI programs.
- “Techquity” is the use of technology to advance health equity. It requires leaders to acknowledge and root out biases in current systems that make healthcare less equitable.
- The best CMIOs are a triple threat, combining clinical and IT knowledge, with a true understanding of business and the economics of running a health system.
Albert Villarin, MD
As Chief Medical Information Officer at Nuvance Health, Dr. Albert Villarin leads efforts to enhance how care is accessed and delivered across the health system through innovations in technology. Previously, Dr. Villarin was CMIO at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health. A Major in the United States Military Reserve, Dr. Villarin completed an emergency medicine residency program at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where he led new technology implementation. Dr. Villarin is completing a thesis and Master’s in Health Informatics from Northwestern University. He received a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:00:00]:
We realized about three and a half years ago that healthcare really didn’t present a support experience that the patients deserve. They see that experience in airline industry, banking industry, car industry, everywhere else. Amazon, Google. If you go shopping, the experience is personal. The experience is thoughtful and automated and it’s also regenerative. It’s giving you information that you may not know. Oh, here’s another thing that you’d like to purchase from us because we know you purchased these other things in the past. That is AI, that’s experience that we would like to garner into our environment around Nuvance health, around healthcare overall.
From Healthcare It leaders. You’re listening to Leader to leader with Ben. Hilmes. On today’s episode. Our guest is Dr. Albert Villarin, the chief medical information officer at Nuvance Health, an integrated health delivery network serving New York and Connecticut. Dr. Villarin trained in emergency medicine and turned his passion for technology into a career as a CMIO.
Ben Hilmes [00:01:02]:
Dr. Villarin. How are you?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:01:04]:
Good, thank you.
Ben Hilmes [00:01:05]:
Good. Welcome to the show. It’s going to be an action packed. We’re going to talk big topics like AI. We’re going to drill into the role of CMIO. A lot has happened in that role over the last couple of decades. Anxious to get your perspective. And then lastly, we’ll land on just your overall leadership journey.
Ben Hilmes [00:01:21]:
It’s very interesting in your interaction as being in the military and through the army and how that’s impacted and established your overall journey. So excited to chat with you today. So let’s start with a big, big topic. AI, everybody we talk to has a bold statement that it’s going to absolutely transform care delivery. I would love to hear kind of your perspective on that broader statement, but then maybe drill down it a little bit more around. How do you think it’s going to impact care delivery over the next 12, 24, 36 months?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:01:59]:
Thank you, Ben. I appreciate that. I think from an AI perspective, those who are in the informatics world have been dealing with automation, robotic process automation for 20 years. We’ve had it around clinical decision support. We have it around rules written in our EMR. So we understand the facilitation and the advantage of having that within your environment to bring better care, easier patient, better patient outcomes, safer processes, and really start building the evidence based medicine practice that we can deliver through these guidelines within our EMR. So when they first started EMRs migration around 2010 2015, we started implementing all these processes and workflow changes to really help garner a better outcomes both from a clinical perspective for the patient, but also from an ordering perspective around clinical care that needs to be learned and taught at the bedside. So an attending who’s been practicing for 20 years knows the guidelines.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:03:05]:
A medical student, a first year resident needs to learn those guidelines and then when they get the alerts and pops up, it helps them guide the outcomes for a better care of the patient. Artificial intelligence, or I call it augmented intelligence, as we know, grew up nine months ago, ten months ago, it became part of everyday conversation. Those conversations are had at every level, from our president down to the bedside, across domains, fellow CMIOs. And we all looking at it in a little bit different depending on where our experience has been and where our experience wants to be. From our perspective, we’re looking at it as enhancing two factors. One, patient outcomes, of course. So patient safety, patient quality is premier for any clinical care provider anywhere in the network, ours and others, but also reducing the burden of healthcare. We want to bring the Joy back to healthcare.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:04:01]:
We want to bring the experience a positive engagement, not just for the patient who needs to have the clinician speaking to them and not typing on a computer, but also for the clinicians to reduce the work automate the everyday, mundane, repetitive tasks that we now can do with augmented or artificial intelligence. For example, it can listen to an interaction with a patient, create a dictation model, apply that right into the EMR so we have that information collected automatically. Rather than me having to stop the interaction with a patient, turn around and type what I need, or worse is try to remember it after the patient leaves because I don’t have time to do all that work when the patient’s there. I have to go back and do it again later on. So that adds the quote, pajama time or after hours time. That stresses the clinicians out, it stresses the family members out because now that clinician is at home doing the work and also adds another burden that is really unnecessary at this time. So AI where it stands today can help patient outcomes and support and provide the 80% of the knowledge that we don’t have readily in our minds for rare issues at the bedside, but also help us augment the 20% we do know at the bedside and enhance the care of those patients by giving us information that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Ben Hilmes [00:05:24]:
That’s excellent. So, I mean, you’re really taking it from a focus of how do I leverage AI to improve experience both at the patient level, relative outcomes, and then at the same time, a big topic that we’ve been talking about for years, which is the burden that’s placed on the provider burnout, et cetera. So improving their overall efficiency. And I loved the comment about bringing the Joy back to medicine. It’s something I think a lot of people have been striving for. And I’m hopeful that some of the things you just talked about do come about. As we introduce some of these new capabilities, it’s always interesting to see how other organizations are thinking about new technologies, et cetera. Take us inside of Nuvance and who’s in the meeting, who’s driving the strategy, take us through that dialogue around investment, et cetera, as it relates to AI, certainly in particular at Nuvance, we have.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:06:25]:
A tremendous leader who’s the Chief Quality Officer, who’s looking at AI as a cross domain interaction. That happens not just at the bedside, but at the larger aspects. So Diane Canteros in our network has really become the voice of the need to have AI augmented robotic process automation around that as well as It. We’re part and parcel of that. So we created a very high level committee to oversee the guardrails, the policy, the protocols, the implementation, the outcomes, expectations, the KPIs around what AI can produce for us and then look at where we can have quick wins. Whether it be at the burden from the EMR perspective or throughput workflows having automated tasks being created, sending a text message to the patient that we delay because there’s a trauma there. Those kind of things that people do today that are unnecessarily burdening anyone clinical and nonclinical driving that to the betterment of the experience. That experience falls under it falls under quality.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:07:41]:
It also falls under our experience leadership. So it really does cross domain. Dr. Conterras is looking at it from a workflow perspective, enhancing patient outcomes and enhancing the quality of care that we give. That’s a great way to start from any perspective. From an It perspective for us is looking at the EMR, looking at where we can better generate automation around that and looking at it from a collaboration with a vendor. Our EMR vendor is working on those aspects of workflows today so we can deliver that listening documentation, focusing on the patient, being able to talk to It as a person. Pull up the patient’s last A one C.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:08:25]:
Please go ahead and schedule an appointment for six months on a Wednesday at 02:00. Those kind of interactions that we have asked people to do today can now be facilitated by the AI augmentation within our network.
Ben Hilmes [00:08:39]:
That’s excellent. So a lot of commentary, publications around big concerns with AI relative to risk, ethical concerns. Elon Musk has even come out on the record saying it poses a greater risk than nuclear, et cetera. How are you guys thinking about that inside your organization? And then specifically as the CMIO, what role do you play in those dialogues?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:09:07]:
The ultimate outcome is patient safety. So we want nothing that can open up risk to our environment from a patient safety perspective as priority one, patient outcomes, as well as opening up the Phi patient health information to risk from the outside. Because, you know, Chat 3.5 or Chat Four, you’re in the open world, right? You’re putting something in a computer that is out there in the world that can be taken and used and garnered by another entity. You hope they are white hats and not black hats, but they’re out there listening and waiting for those opportunities to hit. As you can see right now, in the last six months. There have been hundreds of hits around healthcare to garner financial, patient information, et cetera, to a point that has shut down some healthcare facilitators for months to time. So we’re very careful about what we open up to the outside world. We do separate that.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:10:05]:
We have people looking at the ability to use AI and chat around specific workflows like create a GME protocol for bedside use for a one C for medical students to learn from, and create this curriculum around that. We’re not using Phi, but we’re utilizing AI to enhance the experience of education. The other aspect is trust. What we don’t want to do is turn something on that creates a distrust for the patient. I think from a clinical perspective, we are ready for something like this to happen. From a patient perspective, there’s two sides. People don’t want to give their information to facilitate health information exchanges. Now, we have a whole AI protocol here that we have to explain to the patient why we have it and what we’re doing with it in order to enhance their care.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:11:00]:
And just it will take time. Healthcare is in need of it, the clinicians want it, operations requires it, but patients are still a little bit lagging. Some are very proactive, but others lag. We hear that from the patients and want to make sure that everyone’s ready to go when we turn this on in a secured environment within our firewall. And any third parties that we do use that are using this are again evaluated and secured, of course, through the appropriate protocols, et cetera.
Ben Hilmes [00:11:32]:
Yeah, it’s a tough environment because consumers experience different experiences based on what type of organization they’re interacting with. And healthcare, we’ve always just been a little bit laggard. Not a little bit, quite a bit laggard on adoption of advanced technologies, in particular as it relates to consumers. So I know that’s a challenge and something you’re spending some of your time on, but to that point, help me understand CMIO roles vary greatly at organizations, and so help us understand how Nuvance thinks about the role of the Cimio, and secondly, how are you allocating your time in that role?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:12:16]:
I think the best is talking about what happened the last four years. I joined Newvance Health at the middle of the Pandemic, April 2020, when there were fires everywhere, and welcome aboard. Here you go. But you learn. You become agile as retired army major, you become very facile and acute in your environment to understand what’s going on, what’s needed to be solved immediately, and how you plan out the next issue that may come across. The understanding of a CMIO has evolved. It’s been evolving since we first started CMIO 1.02.03, and now we’re on 3.2 or 3.5. With the AI integration, it’s all evolving, but I think it’s evolving in a better way.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:13:01]:
It allows more interaction. Now to listen to the clinician’s needs to understand the data and to use evidence based practice back into the workflow. So then when we create new processes and policies and interaction with the clinicians, when I say clinician, it’s nurse, app, physician, all as one. We work together as one. And we have nursing fanaticists and we have physician fanaticists as a team working together to improve the overall environment and care delivery at New Vance Health, the CMIO is an evolving role, not just for the needs of the network, but also the needs for the person in that position. I have to be up to date, I have to be more educated, advancing care, advancing new knowledge becomes part of my responsibility. So I can take the knowledge that’s out there, distill it down to the basic understanding and deploy it to our network. So learning, interacting with the leadership at every level, from the president, CEO all the way to the frontline staff, and being friends and understanding their needs and be respectful from the military.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:14:15]:
My saying was service above self giving back and understanding their needs. To be a servant leader was probably one of the best understanding of how to be a leader that I’ve come across and adopted from all my practice. Returning emails, calling people back, saying we’ll take care of the problem, really reduces the burden on their needs. And really, from my perspective, it isn’t a burden at all because we have the answers we can give back to those folks. Building that trust, building that time. To go on site, to be a collaborator, a colleague and an innovator all at once is still an evolving process. But again, as new technology comes in, as new workflows are and new people come in, you continue to improve yourself as a CMIO and leadership across the network.
Ben Hilmes [00:15:05]:
I love that. I am a big, big fan of responsiveness seduce ratios. All of those things are incredibly important as you try to serve others and advance others and help people drive change. So, really great answer. Old topic, but EMR adoption, so it’s something, I mean, I’ve spent 25 years in this space and not one year has gone by that this isn’t a topic. But where do you think we are? I mean, are we there or have we just gotten to acceptance and would love to hear your perspective, how you think about it relative to advancing provider capabilities. You spoke earlier about overall burnout, those kinds of things, but where do you think we are on that whole topic? And can we finally put that to rest?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:15:58]:
It depends on who you ask, right? From my perspective, I see all three sides, right? I see the clinicians, the grass is always greener. We have something, but we don’t have that. We need that to come. Here another vendor. And you ask the CMIOs of that vendor, they want what you have because there’s different workflows that could be addressed and created within those environments. So it really is an understanding of what the clinical needs are by what you’re trying to give. I don’t think you can put it to bed, but I think you can embrace it and use it as a motivator. What changes do you need me to make us, to make the vendor, to make healthcare, to make I’m going to create the rings because those rings matter.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:16:45]:
What does a legislative government have to play in this? How do you improve payer mix? How do you improve the responsibilities of a health information exchange? All of those play in to the success of the experience at the bedside. That graphic user interface, what I see is what is real, that they don’t care about anything else behind that. So if I cannot deliver it in a fast manner, in a quick load, in a complete and in a universal manner, then there’s something missing and I have to listen to the clinicians to say what’s missing and go back to the vendor. Our infrastructure team, our It leadership, our network, our legislator bodies in Connecticut and New York to address those needs to bring better care. We have different legislative bodies east and west in our network, connecticut and New York. They have different ways of looking at issues. Some of the advancements we made in one side are not able to be made on the other side until later on this year or next year. And the clinicians talk, why can’t we do this? Because we’re restricted.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:17:50]:
And that understanding of why goes very far in helping the clinicians understand that this is improvements are coming. We have to take time to get there. Going out and finding new innovations, hearing what the vendors have to say is an exciting part of the job. But translating that and telling them, we know the vendors are looking at this, we know it’s going to be better, but when is it going to come to us? What’s the time frame? What’s the cost? All those other factors that are involved in bringing that experience to the bedside is something that the CMIOs nationally are undergoing today. I take every challenge as an opportunity to change, make it better. I’ll get text messages, I’ll get phone calls, I get upset, and I get happy people too. Thanks for the great job. That worked out really well.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:18:40]:
Creating new ideas and garnering is an important part of the job. So communications, showing growth, easy, quick fixes, and helping the network understand from a communication perspective is an important part of reducing the negativism that goes on around experience and make it a positive board clinicians to help direct that. Reaching out and inviting clinicians nursing apps, physicians into the discussion was great because once you bring them in, you meet with them and say, okay, show me the issues you’re having. Oh, we see that and we’re going to take that to the vendor. Utilizing direct experience, both communicating to the clinician and communicating to the resource to solve that problem is a win for everyone, because the clinicians know you’re actually making a difference to improve what they’re experiencing. That builds trust and that builds operational understanding of where we’re headed together as a team.
Ben Hilmes [00:19:37]:
I love it. I think it’s an ongoing journey, one that continues to advance as we digitize more in the space. And I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to put the stake in the ground and say we’re done, but maybe that’s part of the beauty of it too. But one thing that evolves people beyond just focused on the EMR is a massive movement into the digitization around the EMR, in particular around the consumer. And so terms like digital front door have become really popular inside health systems in the industry. I know you have a lot going on in that space. Do you want to share with the audience a little bit about what you’re doing there and just your perspectives on that topic in general?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:20:25]:
Right. We realized about three and a half years ago that healthcare really didn’t present or support experience that the patients deserve. They see that experience in airline industry, banking industry, car industry, everywhere else. Every amazon google. If you go shopping, the experience is personal. The experience is thoughtful and automated, and it’s also regenerative. It giving you information that you may not know. Oh, here’s another thing that you’d like to purchase from us, because we know you purchased these other things in the past.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:20:58]:
That is AI. That’s the experience that we would like to garner into our environment around new vans, health, around healthcare overall. So the CIO Jeff Hook stood up a team around this called digital patient experience. DPX team led by an AVP her only focus was a limit on her focus was to support the understanding of where the patient experience lives and how to move it into a better place. Because with the emails that go out, with the paper, that goes out with the communications that went out five years ago, that doesn’t happen on Amazon, Google, purchasing online. We have to move the environment together. So using technology and utilizing patient experience, we’ve moved that needle way over to automate the process for patients, allowing access to patient portals for the clinical information, automating the response to writing a prescription. Right now we have an automated prescription text message that goes out to all our patients anywhere in the network that you write a prescription, it sends that a text message with the prescription information, where to pick it up all around the patient experience.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:22:13]:
So now they just click the text, put in their name or birth date as understanding the authentication, and their information is right there available to them. So we’ve had a major migration in improving the patient experience around technologies, automating the process around the cloud, but also reducing the work and the burden that we have had placed on our staff to physicians clinicians, whoever the right prescription on paper, fax it or whatever want to reduce the faxing. We have antifax initiative going on to reduce the paper waste and automate the workflows from a patient experience model. So we’ve come a long way. We’re still garnering that aspect. We’ve put in automated scheduling online. We put in automated intake, registration for pre visit information coming in. So we’ve really facilitated the experience of the clinician, as well as improving and reducing the burden to take care of those patients from our staff.
Ben Hilmes [00:23:16]:
That’s awesome. I know it’s a journey, takes time, takes money, takes energy, but it sounds like you’re well on the way, and I’d love to focus on creating a better experience. Let’s talk health equity for a minute. You are uniquely using technology to drive equity initiatives, and I just learned a new term a little bit earlier called techity. So I’d love for you to share with the audience how you’re really taking technology, combining that with equity efforts, hedi efforts, and thinking about how that helps drive.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:23:53]:
Know this. This came out two years ago around improving the patient experience. We haven’t hit all the patients. There was a desire to improve health equity. So I’m working with the medical director of health Equity for our network, dr. Brenda Ayers and myself. We got together and said, look, where does clinical workflow enhance the experience of the patients, moving us to equality of patient care for all, and where does technology fit into that and bringing that together? So work with her. But also the third part of the stool is the vendor.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:24:25]:
We worked with our vendor, Oracle Health, to facilitate an understanding of why we want to bring technology into new Vance, et cetera. They embraced it, they supported, and we’ve been able to present with them as a collaborative trifecta vendor clinical. And it in garnering support for the term techity. Others have used it, but we love that because it makes a lot of sense how we facilitate the better outcomes and better intake of those patients around the equality of care. Dr. Ayers has also worked with us to look at ways we can facilitate better EMR findings, meaning, when rules were placed or created years ago that were given to the EMR vendors that were based on rules that were biased. So an African American male had a different score in kidney function than a white male of the same size and same age. Now, that is a bias, implicit bias, but it’s a bias nonetheless that we’ve worked with the vendors to remove.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:25:37]:
We looked at from a nephrology perspective, a VBAC OB perspective, so that women can have vaginal births after C section. We looked at a pulmonary perspective so pulmonary function studies are equal and gone around and worked with eight service lines to remove the antiquated bias rules in our EMR to deliver more equitable care. Again, that was a big resonating factor, not just for Nuvance Health to push this initiative forward. But a resonating piece that the vendors embraced and said, yes, we agree with you. We want to go back and look at our EMRs and remove those across our clients. Giving our presentations around techity brought a shining light into those people in the audience that said, wow, we want to go back and do the same thing in our place. So hopefully a collaborative understanding of where technology and equity live, both from a patient experience perspective, but also from an EMR perspective, improves care for all. And that’s the goal here around our Health equity initiative.
Ben Hilmes [00:26:43]:
I love it. I’m very hopeful. It removes blind spots. We all have them. And if we can leverage technology to help bring awareness around some of those and drive formidable change in that space, I love it. So we’re going to pivot now to your leadership journey. So you trained as an emergency physician. You have a passion for informatics.
Ben Hilmes [00:27:06]:
Can I make the assumption at some point those things came together and drove the desire to be a CMIO? Would love to hear most CMIOs. I know they raised their hand in the wrong meeting and they got tagged with something to drive some technology efforts. But I’d love to hear your journey to CMIO and how that came to be. Thanks.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:27:29]:
So I received an army healthcare scholarship for medical school, took care of medical school, and then I served in the army, fort Hood, Texas. I’m a resident there in emergency medicine. So once you become an officer, so you’re an officer as part of your medical student medical school years. But once you become assigned to a unit after residency, you also assigned a job within that unit. I was assigned to the Fourth Infantry Division, I believe Bravo Company, which allowed me to facilitate research around utilization of new technology. So we had smart cards back then we could able to ping a satellite. So that got me interested in utilizing technology in my healthcare practice. So that’s where it all started.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:28:18]:
I would say 1996 through 2000. And when I ETS left the military, it stayed with me into my position as a civilian, an Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia. That interest raised my hand, said, Look, I want to use this part of it. Cmils weren’t invented. They weren’t quote discovered or invented, I guess until maybe 2005, 2006. By that time established a credibility around technology utilizing of the bedside. Took the 15 books that were on our side there in the emergency department and moved them all to a computer based I created what’s called Edwin Emergency Department web Based Interface Network. Just a local server in our emergency department that was shared within our Ed so that people can garner information right there in the computer in front of them by a link on their dashboard rather than going to the books because we know we want to get the link, get the answer and get back to the bedside as soon as possible.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:29:20]:
So again, it all started there, all facilitating, improving the environment and thinking outside the box, breaking the rules. We can do this. We have to utilize innovation and ask why are we doing it the old way? Let’s try to find a new way of doing it. The other aspect from the army, of course, is service. It’s supporting a collaborative team. It’s leadership in emergency medicine and in the military. It for me, was the exact same environment. When you’re out in training, when you’re in the Ed, working on a very busy night, you have to rely on your colleagues.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:29:54]:
You’re all equal there at the bedside. If a nurse, medical student, another attending say, hey, this is different, let’s look at this. You listen and you work together on a solution. That’s the collaboration that has nurtured my interest in leadership. And that’s what I have taken from those years from the military and from maritime medicine and brought them to my service years at the CMIO at New Vance.
Ben Hilmes [00:30:18]:
That is awesome. First and foremost, thanks for your service, really appreciate that. I come from a long lineage of actually army veterans and so appreciate your service and a lot of respect for that. You mentioned some things you took away from that experience. It inevitably has a foundational impact on anybody that ever spends time in the military. But how have you taken some of those lessons learned and incorporate those into your style today?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:30:50]:
It has to do with understanding all of those involved in your decision making process. You can’t decide inside a silo. You need to understand the needs of everyone and then take those responses and understand the impact that you’re doing for them and how that impact affects other people. Understanding what we’ve done at Newvance Health is actually taken two healthcare networks five years ago and merged them on paper to one with HealthQuest and Western Connecticut Health Network merged together as New Vance Health. We’re still bringing together those pieces, and from the beginning I felt that it was the zipper to connect those two sides of the house, to unify the workflows, to create a guiding principle around which we still work today. Understanding that one change someplace will impact all an Ed change someplace will impact all the Ed workflows across our network. So that drives the understanding that communication to those Ed directors, for example, understand the patient outcomes is unified, bringing together that collaborative voice and really facilitating communication. As a leader, you want to facilitate change, but we create the committee, invite the leadership of those areas involved, and we support it.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:32:16]:
Let them lead for the best of their clinical outcomes. We help to facilitate with our tools, our knowledge and our informatics abilities to best facilitate those success stories.
Ben Hilmes [00:32:27]:
That’s great. So clarity, alignment, focus, end to end thinking, collaboration, communication, all really important tools. As a leader to. Leverage as you lead, drive, change, and help improve things around you. So you’re a pretty busy guy, you got a big job, you got a lot of initiatives going on inside your organization. Then you decide, hey, I need to go back to school. So you’re currently pursuing an MBA on top of everything else you’re doing.
Ben Hilmes [00:33:01]:
Not afraid of hard work, but the question would be, what compelled you to say, I’ve got to go expand my knowledge base, my educational background, et cetera at this point in your career? Because I think that’s a really important point. Help us see through your lens, that decision.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:33:23]:
I think I see it from a perspective, from retroactive perspective. Looking back, if I had done the business understanding of healthcare 15 years ago, I wouldn’t know what is the healthcare business today. So having that ability to do it today really gives me a reflection on what we’re doing today and how to drive the future from today’s benchmark. What we’re doing today medicare, Medicaid, fiscally, that responsibility is there. Healthcare is a business. We are in the business to deliver care in the most fiduciarily responsible process, but also from a perspective of the patient, to give them the best care possible at the lowest cost. Understanding that and how what drivers there are will help me expand my It knowledge as a medical informaticist, consolidate the clinical workflows of understanding as an emergency physician, but also bring in that last piece of the business of healthcare. So from a CMIO perspective, I believe the three areas informatics clinical experience and business experience in training and have credibility.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:34:32]:
There is an important part of who I am, but how I lead into the future. So I can discuss with our financial people, with our business people, with our strategy people, what is a perspective from a clinical understanding that they would understand from their perspective? And as a clinician, the CMIO selfishly is in the center of a lot of what we do in healthcare, clinical It and business. And I have to be at top of my game. So going back to school to add that extra piece makes the trifecta of success moving forward that much more better to achieve.
Ben Hilmes [00:35:11]:
Wow. I love that. It’s just powerful. And I think it stems back to your earlier comments about being a servant leader. The more well rounded, that trifecta helps you serve better. So I love that and really respect the fact that you’re making that commitment. So one last thing. I need some advice here.
Ben Hilmes [00:35:32]:
We have a lot of clinicians that listen to the show here, and some of them might be, huh, what about this It thing, this CMIO thing? If you could give some advice to maybe some junior physicians or maybe even ones that are even more senior in their career that are considering a change, what advice would you give them about making a transition like that?
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:35:58]:
I believe it’s a very important part of your career. Understanding what informatics does to healthcare better facilitates your ability to excel in our new healthcare environment, we’re not going backwards or going forwards, and we’re going forwards in an accelerated rate. What EMRs have done for healthcare over the last 20 years, good or bad, is now being improved, enhanced, augmented by artificial intelligence. The 20 year change is going to be 18 months change when it comes to AI. So understanding technology is an important part of that. I believe we need to be teaching informatics at the medical school level. There should be a track informatics every year and understanding what the EMR does, what it can and cannot do, and why it’s an important piece. And allow medical students and residents to interact with informaticists to garner the best abilities and knowledge to better their careers in the future.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:37:00]:
We’ve set up a clinical informatics rotation with us. We’re starting that in January to bring in residents who are interested in learning more about it. Just a two week rotation, but give them an understanding and hopefully one out of each year will want to join us in our march for innovation. Technology is here to stay. It’s everywhere. It is now part of healthcare, and the better you are at understanding it, the better you are at directing your own future and creating the abilities of change moving forward. The abilities to come in can be at any time. We have medical students who are interested in informatics, we have attendings and we have volunteers say, hey, I want to be part of your upgrade.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:37:41]:
We have an upgrade coming up in the spring. Count me in to be part of that change. I want to learn how you all do that. The interest is there. It’s not for everybody, but it is a wonderful way to facilitate both innovative changes and improving the care delivery as well as clinical practice. And creating that balance is something that a lot of people enjoy.
Ben Hilmes [00:38:03]:
That is awesome. Well, I echo all your comments. I appreciate the perspectives. I really appreciate your time.
Dr. Albert Villarin [00:38:11]:
It’s a pleasure joining you today. Thank you for the opportunity.
Ben Hilmes [00:38:17]:
Dr. Villarin was really thoughtful. We need more clinicians like him thinking about the impact of technology in healthcare. Here are my top takeaways from our conversation. One AI is transformative innovation. Hospitals should prioritize ethics and patient trust in their AI programs. Two, techity is the use of technology to advance health equity. It requires leaders to acknowledge and root out biases in current systems that make healthcare less equitable.
Ben Hilmes [00:38:47]:
Three, the best CMIOs are a triple threat, combining clinical and It knowledge with a true understanding of the business and the economics of running a health system. So what do you think? What were your big takeaways from the episode? I’d love to hear from you on our social media channels or drop me an email from our website at healthcareitleaders.com. Until next time. I’m Ben Hilmes.
Thanks for joining us. For leader to leader. To learn more about how to fuel your own personal leadership journey through the healthcare industry, visit healthcare. It leaders.com. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any insights. And we’ll see you on the next episode channel.