Mayo Clinic Names Head of New Digital Healthcare Platform

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John Halamka, M.D., has been named by Mayo Clinic to lead its initiative aimed at catapulting Mayo to global leadership in digital healthcare. Halamka, previously an executive of Beth Israel Lahey Health, has been appointed president of Mayo Clinic Platform, effective January 1, 2020. [John Halamka, M.D., Twitter feed, @jhalamka]

Mayo Clinic has named an executive of Beth Israel Lahey Health to lead its initiative aimed at catapulting Mayo to global leadership in digital healthcare.

John Halamka, M.D., was appointed president of Mayo Clinic Platform, effective January 1, 2020. The Platform is a strategic initiative aimed at improving healthcare through insights and knowledge derived from clinical data.

Most recently, Halamka served as executive director of the Health Technology Exploration Center for Beth Israel Lahey Health—the second-largest health system in Massachusetts, formed in March by the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health.

At Beth Israel Lahey Health, Halamka oversaw digital health relationships with industry, academia, and government partners worldwide.

“It’s an exciting time to join Mayo Clinic and work with new colleagues to enhance what we can offer to patients worldwide,” Halamka said in a statement. “The Mayo Clinic Platform provides us the opportunity to shape health care in a new and dynamic way.”

Earlier, Halamka served as chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for more than 20 years, where he oversaw all clinical, financial, administrative and academic IT. Halamka was also the International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School, in which role he served the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and other governments worldwide, in planning their health care IT strategies.

Halamka, who is also a practicing emergency medicine physician, remains chairman of New England Healthcare Exchange Network. He has written a dozen books about technology-related issues, hundreds of articles and thousands of posts on the Geekdoctor blog.

Halamka will remain on GeekDoctor, but told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, MN, that his blog posts will now focus entirely on the Mayo Clinic Platform.

“What if a Platform of technology, policies and people were able to radically shorten the time to evaluate emerging companies and created an ‘innovation factory’ for collaboration? That’s how I think about the Mayo Clinic Platform opportunity,” Halamka wrote today on Geekdoctor.

Three Early Projects

The Platform, according to Halamka, will focus initially on creating three tech-based service projects:

  • Scheduling Mayo Clinic staff and contractors that provide certain forms of home healthcare.
  • Enabling patients to upload their personal healthcare data from wearable devices, and have that data analyzed through tools and algorithms to be offered by Mayo Clinic.
  • Supplying patient-specific treatment information for a variety of diseases and disorders, using insights from Mayo’s more than 150 years of patient data.

“Wouldn’t you want to know what’s the best treatment for Asian women in their 50s with this type of breast cancer? In the U.S. today, it’s really hard to answer that question,” Halamka told the newspaper, citing the experience of his wife, who is in remission after having been diagnosed with breast cancer.

At the Platform, Halamka added, he will serve as “an orchestra leader” building on Mayo Clinic’s healthcare technology presence as established by Clark Otley, M.D, who has been the medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Department of Business Development—and was named yesterday as the chief medical officer of Mayo Clinic Platform, working directly under Halamka.

Otley joined Mayo Clinic in 1999. He is a professor of dermatology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science; a physician in the division of dermatologic surgery; medical director for the Department of Business Development; and president of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

“Dr. Halamka has a proven track record of success in innovation and value creation,” stated Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Mayo Clinic’s president and CEO. “His extensive experience and network will help power the Mayo Clinic Platform forward to benefit our patients and to support Mayo Clinic’s path for the future.”

Halamka completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he received a degree in medical microbiology and a degree in public policy with a focus on technology issues. He received his MD degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and simultaneously pursued graduate work in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on technology issues in medicine. He completed his residency at Harbor—UCLA Medical Center in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Halamka also runs Unity Farm in Sherborn, MA, where he serves as caretaker for 250 animals, 30 acres of agricultural production, and a cidery and winery.

“Personally, I will live in an apartment in Rochester, Minnesota from Monday-Thursday, then return to Unity Farm Sanctuary for weekend animal care and farm maintenance.     The flights are easy (2.5-3 hours, 3 times per day on Jet Blue), and even with weekly commuting I may actually travel less in 2020 than in 2019 (400,000 miles in 40 countries),” Halamka added on Geekdoctor.

“Am I excited by the work ahead? Most definitely. Am I daunted by the responsibility and accountability of shaping the future of Mayo’s digital businesses?   Of course,” Halamka added. “I call this, excited anxiety.”

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