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Live from iHT2-Vancouver: Kaiser CMIO Offers a Very Broad View of the Future of Interoperable Innovation in Healthcare

September 17, 2015
by Mark Hagland
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In a wide-ranging opening keynote address at the Health IT Summit in Vancouver, Kaiser Permanente’s John Mattison, M.D. offered his audience an exceptionally broad perspective on global healthcare innovation

In a very wide-ranging opening keynote address at the Health IT Summit in Vancouver, sponsored by the Institute for health Technology Transformation (iHT2, a sister organization to Healthcare Informatics), John Mattison, M.D., assistant medical director and CMIO of the Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente healthcare organization, offered his audience, gathered at the Rosewell Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver on Sep. 17, a very broad look at healthcare’s data and innovation future, in an address entitled, “How Innovation and the Plecosystem Will Restore Ancient Wisdom and Reshape Healthcare.”

Mattison, who explained that he had invented the term “plecosystem,” explained that coined word as he walked his audience through some very big-picture perspectives on where healthcare has been, and where it’s going, for an audience that included many Canadian healthcare leaders and some American ones.

Mattison began by invoking three very broad metaphors to explain how he believes innovators will come together to share, analyze, and use data to innovate in the global healthcare system. He looked at how astrophysicists have been delving into aspects of the Big Bang Theory of the evolution of the universe, how biologists have learned about human evolution through investigating the process of cellular meiosis, and how eco-scientists have analyzed the functioning of tropical rainforests in order to uncover their startling ecodynamic efficiency. In all three cases, he noted, scientists have come together from diverse disciplines and sub-disciplines, and have used existing knowledge and data collaboratively in order to work in concert to advance understandings of how the universe works. He said he believed that innovators will do the same when harnessing big data in healthcare.

John Mattison, M.D.

The “plecosystem,” as he has coined the phrase, is a multi-platform technological ecosystem—“The ‘p’ stands for platform,” he noted—that will use six different platforms to generate innovation.  Those six are service platforms, including the Internet, cloud, and smartphones; data platforms, including the genome, digital phenome, and microbiome; API platforms; experience platforms such as SMART on FHIR, Google, and electronic health records; experience platforms, such as the user interface and interaction model and empathetic design; financial platforms, such as venture capital funding for start-ups; and sociocultural and geopolitical platforms, meaning, society’s ability to provide for “failure fault tolerance” through capitalist funding of data innovation. Together, the harnessing of all of those vast platform types will allow for computing, analysis, and care delivery innovations such as have never been seen before in global history, he emphasized.

Mattison cited four principles of the emerging “plecosystem.” The first will be exponential growth: just as it has taken only 10 years from the development of the smartphone to the ownership of the first billion smartphones, so, too, the plecosystem will explode in growth in the coming decade. The second principle, he said, will be synergy. “Value rises exponentially with both the number of nodes accessible and the number of platforms within each of the four dimensions of the plecosystem,” he assured listeners.

The third principle of the emerging “plecosystem,” Mattison said, will be the creation of sufficient data liquidity, along with the federation of data, while respecting local values around data use and ownership. And the fourth principle, he said, will be person-centricity. In the second half of his speech, he strongly emphasized that success in this emerging plecosystem in healthcare will rely very strongly on putting and keeping the person at the center of all activity.

How will global healthcare drive value in this emerging plecosystem? Through the intersection of big data—the universe of knowledge—with little data, the data that so many organizations are already collecting on individuals, to help determine “actionable data”; through balancing the leveraging of data platforms via processes that balance “missionary”-driven work with “mercenary” benefit for those creating innovations; and through a forceful emphasis on allowing innovation context to drive innovation strategy, meaning tht the needs of communities must absolutely drive innovative work in healthcare globally.

It will be inevitable, Mattison concluded, that the concept of “population health” will be replaced by the concept of “community health.” And he ended his speech with exhortations around what he calls the shift towards recognizing the “behavioral symphony of wellness and mindfulness”—the global awakening among community and health leaders to encourage healthfulness among members of all communities across the globe.