IT Leadership in the Hotseat during lunch hour. Photo credit: Dawn Jackson-Freyman.

Sharecase 2015: A Glimpse into Health IT at UCSF

Graduate Division

On Oct. 22nd, one day after the heralded “Back to the Future Day”, [email protected] hosted Sharecase 2015, a one-day conference and expo at Mission Bay Conference Center. In the digital health era, it was no surprise that such a conference attracted more than 1,000 attendees from the community.

Many were attracted to the several talks held throughout the day in various tracks: security, data, health tech, IT process, library and research tools, and tech tools. As in previous years, the conference showcased innovative health technology and highlighted UCSF’s often underutilized tech resources.

These resources help clinicians and researchers with communications tools such as WebEx, Outlook, and Jabber; data storage and management tools such as REDcap; create and host a website with tools such as Drupal; and much more.

The most important resource, however, has been data. “After our people, data is the most important asset of [our] future,” Joe Bengfort, CIO, stated in his opening remarks at 9:00 am. To reflect this, Atul Butte, director of the new Institute for Computational Health Sciences, followed with a keynote emphasizing the great power “big data” holds in healthcare and its future.

Examples of UCSF-hatched projects that have utilized or processed big data assets include Health eHeart, a growing mobile platform that engages heart patients all over the country to collect long-term patient-reported outcomes and SuperAlarm, an advanced analytics platform that addresses alarm fatigue by synthesizing, analyzing, and aggregating patient data to predict cardiac arrests before they occur in the ICU.

Two major themes emerged out of Sharecase: (1) using big data effectively and (2) mobilizing big data safely. But the two themes are actually one and the same: the power of big data on its own. As long as you have the data and the right computing tools, you can do incredible things in buzz-word fields: precision medicine, personalized medicine, decision support systems, and predictive analytics. The unique challenge in healthcare is to move the data around amidst the storm of regulatory and privacy concerns. “All of us experience varying states of wellness and illness in our lives and contact many points of care where important data is generated. We move freely between those points of care, but our data does not,” Dr. Aenor Sawyer shared at her talk, owing the problem to the complexity and multitude of data sources. “Some people are trying to solve this by creating standards in data. We believe that isn’t possible.”

To address this challenge, the UCSF Center of Digital Health Innovation and Cisco announced an ambitious joint initiative to develop a comprehensive interoperability platform that would make data more available between mobile devices, electronic health record systems, wearable technology, medical monitoring devices, and more. This announcement is part of a large and serious push at Cisco to bridge interoperability gaps in healthcare and just as it has done for a diverse array of other fields. For UCSF, the push for an interoperability platform follows the need for more powerful analytics, streamlined data, and sophisticated security.

Finally, researchers who are interested in enriching their current projects or integrating into the UCSF IT ecosystem can turn to many resources or services that were represented at Sharecase including computing tools and data management tools using Mulesoft or other platforms. For data extraction, resources such as APeX Reporting, Research Data Browser, and Academic Research Services are good starts. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI) also offer many opportunities for funding, consultation, and support. The Information Services Unit (ISU) provides technical expertise and user-centric processes for partners and departments wanting to establish a digital presence. For a full list of resources, visit