What They’re Watching: Steve Robertson, Hawaii Pacific Health

Steve Robertson is the Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Revenue Management and IT, at Hawaii Pacific Health. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss tech innovations in health care, particularly highlighting voice-enabled technologies, artificial intelligence, and genomics.



“We spent the last 15 years working on getting ourselves to have electronic health records across our system. So today all of our hospitals — four hospitals, 60 outpatient clinics, and more than 250 independent community physicians — are using our electronic health record today. But now we’re actually at a point where we can really drive innovation in ways that we have never seen before. So, when it comes to innovation, we’re focusing on three areas; we see these as huge opportunities.

The first one is something called ambient computing intelligence — like an Amazon Echo, Alexa sitting in your house where you have it controlling a lot of your devices. Our long-term goals, and these are very long-term, is to use voice to get rid of keyboards not only for our physicians, clinicians, and our nurses, but also use that same kind of technology so that patients in their home don’t need a keyboard to interact with their own medical record. Today, if you were to go to Kapi’olani Medical Center, what you would find basically 160-170 rooms now have an Amazon Echo Plus in those rooms. And we’ve enabled it so it will answer basic sorts of questions from our patients. So, some of the most common questions are: What time are visiting hours? How much is parking? All of these kinds of questions that nurses get all the time. It’s dramatically improving our patient satisfaction scores and we’ve been able to do this in a partnership with Amazon to get these things rolled out there so that it’s HIPAA compliant, and meets all of those kinds of requirements. But it really is just the beginning. So, now we’re developing these things called APIs — application programming interfaces that allow us to integrate with other systems so we can merge this kind of technology with our EMR, with our nurse call systems, and then do all the things that you can do at home.

The second one is using, you know this is a buzzword but I actually do believe it, really applying artificial intelligence and machine learning, but doing it in ways that are a little non-traditional. We want to get rid of stupid stuff on the back-end. We really do mean that. I think that there’s a lot of stupid stuff that we do on our back-end processes that we could streamline and just get rid of…

…The third area is when you look at precision medicine, genomics and the pervasiveness of 23andme, ancestry.com, things like that, genetic information is widely available and it’s being adopted more at the consumer level. But we think that if you really look at a long-term vision, ultimately, I personally think that the human genome will be a fundamental part of your electronic medical record. That as soon as it becomes your record, and as medical advances become available, then we can install logic maybe using AI or other kinds of algorithms so that we’re providing you the best possible care based on your genetic makeup. So, those are the three areas: the first one is voice-enabled technologies, second is artificial intelligence, and the third one is genomics.”