From Alexa to Watson, Boston Children’s Hospital Ups Digital Focus

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spreading BCH’s expertise beyond its buildings in Boston, and trying to have a wider impact on pediatric care, Brownstein says. Digital technologies help make that possible.

“If we’re going to expand our reach, it’s not necessarily going to be [through] our workforce,” he says. It’s about figuring out “how do we take our know-how and turn it into decision support, so it can be embedded in apps on [electronic medical records systems], or devices, or Web-based tools?”

Of course, implementing new technologies is never simple, especially in a complicated and often slow-moving industry like healthcare. It’s getting easier for digital health startups to integrate their products in hospitals, but there’s still room for improvement, Brownstein says. “Just changing existing workflow [at hospitals and clinics] is always challenging,” he says.

Take wearable devices and health sensors, an emerging sector of digital health. If these technologies end up playing an integral role in patient care, the conversation between a doctor and a patient will move from sharing “huge amounts of information all at once,” during an annual physical, to sending “little pieces of information continuously,” Brownstein says. It’s like going from being a pen pal with your doctor to tweeting at her or him all the time, he says. “That just changes the nature of the relationship.”

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