Innovating in Healthcare: Q&A with the University of Utah's CTO

By Athena Peterson posted 11-26-2018 00:00


Jim Livingston, CTO, University of Utah.

Juggling different priorities, protecting patient care, balancing costs with value…Jim Livingston talks to us about the unique challenges of working in IT in the healthcare sector. And explains how innovation and carefully selected partners are vital to meeting the needs of patients and care providers.

What is your mission?

Our mission is really to provide the best quality care that we can. We want patients to feel that they're receiving the best care they can possibly get. That's why we've been in the top ten for quality for more than ten years.


What is unique about working in IT in the healthcare sector?

It's a unique environment because patient lives are actually affected by IT - downtimes can prevent providers from giving care. We are also a university, an academic medical center, so we do a lot of research. We're probably one of the most complex types of organizations that you can find out there! And because of that, our IT needs are very diverse and priorities are very different on the healthcare side than on the academic side. Keeping up with those priorities is a challenge and that's where innovation really comes into play.

Can you give an example of a recent innovation?

We were one of the first in the country to allow our patients to rate our care providers and transparently publish care provider ratings. We created a web-based solution called 'Find a doc', where a patient can go to our website and see a list of providers and where they practice so they can select one close to them. But the really cool thing about this solution is that we allow our patients to post comments and rate care providers. Just like an online retailer type of experience where a customer can see product rating and customer comments, we do the same thing with our providers to help guide patients to the one that best meets their needs. It was a bit of a cultural change for our organization but has been enthusiastically embraced because it sets us apart from others in our sector.

How is IT helping the University of Utah to achieve its mission?

We are helping in many different ways. One of the interesting things that we've been able to do is keep our budget flat for years even though we’ve seen significant growth. We do that through innovative solutions where we look to deliver best value but also agility and make sure IT isn’t a roadblock but an enabler.

How has partnering with Hitachi helped you in your role?

We’ve been working with Hitachi for more than 15 years and they deliver the reliability, performance and the innovation that we need. Hitachi gives us greater capabilities at a lower cost, which helps us to stay ahead of the technology curve.

The other unique aspect about working with Hitachi is that they really help us look at our services from an outside perspective and to be more agile in how we provide them. They care as much about this partnership as we do and in making sure they're delivering the best solutions and the best value that they possibly can.




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