Where CommonSpirit’s CIO is focused next


Daniel Barchi, senior executive vice president and CIO of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, sees digital technology transforming healthcare. But not necessarily through more applications and IT spend.

Mr. Barchi joined the “Becker’s Healthcare Podcast” to share his strategy for digital innovation and how the CIO role is changing. An excerpt from the conversation is below. You can also see Mr. Barchi speak at the Becker’s 14th Annual Meeting, April 8-11, 2024 in Chicago.

Note: responses are edited lightly for clarity.

Q: What do you think of digital innovation in healthcare right now? What excites you most?

Daniel Barchi: The thing that excites me the most is the way we can use data to improve the care we deliver. Healthcare has accelerated so much in the past couple of years. It was a point care solution as recently as 10 years ago. Now the kind of data we can provide our physicians and our caregivers is so extensive that it allows them to make choices they weren’t able to make before.

If I think about a patient in a remote area of the country, he or she didn’t have access to world-class academic medicine, and now they do. We can provide the same type of care no matter where a patient goes with the same type of care team, with the same type of insights, and we can provide our physicians with cutting edge technology and insights that they didn’t even have a couple of years ago.

Q: What are your top priorities for technology? What are the big issues you’re trying to solve?

DB: It’s important to recognize that more technology is not better. We’re not looking for more technology at every turn; what we’re trying to see is what are the best tools we can provide our caregivers so that they’re able to best serve the needs of our patients. That might mean better data, it might be better integration of the tools that we have. It might be simplifying the tools we have, better optimizing them for what we need.

We’ve got many, many different instances of electronic health records. That’s not a good thing. I wish we just had two or three so our physicians could count on one tool. My team is focused on optimizing the EHR, and we’ve got more than 4,300 different applications. It’s not a good thing. You should have fewer than a thousand.

In many cases, my role as a technology leader is not about searching out new technology; it’s optimizing what we have. I think that’s where our teams focus for the next couple of years, especially as resources are constrained and we need to focus our capital on other areas, not just technology.

Q: Five years from now, what do you think will be the most significant change in healthcare delivery and operations, and how should leaders prepare?

DB: We’re going to be surprised at how little has changed in five years and at the same time how much has changed. I think that reimbursement is going to be much the way it is today. We’re going to be focused on coding and documenting appropriately. Healthcare executives are going to be focused on patient throughput, length of stay and a lot of the infrastructure of how we run healthcare will not have changed, and yet the tools we bring to the table will.

If I think about things like AI, there was a great Harvard Business Review quote that said AI is not going to replace leaders, but leaders who use AI will replace leaders who do not use AI. We’re all going to have to become very facile with using tools like AI to drive the way we change care.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

DB: I think the most important thing to know is that our health systems in the United States are working hard to keep up with the expectations for care, and yet the challenges of reimbursement and investing in our infrastructure to keep up with all the ways we need to care for our patients is changing. I’m proud of what we do at CommonSpirit. I’m proud of the healthcare system in the entire United States, and I’m really proud of the way that technology is coming to bear to improve the lives of patients.


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