Friday, January 17th, 2014

Duke TechExpo: Collaboration, Education and Healthcare

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Last week, I had the honor of speaking at Duke University’s TechExpo 2014, their annual IT and emerging technology conference for university employees, faculty and medical center staff. It’s a great event, drawing over 500 technology enthusiasts who connect, share ideas, and see what’s new in the world of IT. If you’re curious, here’s the presentation I used.

This year’s theme was particularly interesting to me: the Expo focused on collaboration (no wonder we got the invite), and specifically collaboration between the University and the Duke Health System. These are two highly collaborative teams to begin with, but like many large institutions, the sharing tools they have in place do not extend across organizational boundaries.

While on campus, I had the chance to speak with a number of departments, including Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and the Technical Education team. On the hospital side, folks from the Nursing, administrative and IT functions stopped by. Each had unique challenges to overcome, but some common themes emerged:

  • Device independence. Teams who work on Linux workstations need to share research and gather feedback from colleagues using Macs, PCs and mobile devices. And, each team uses different desktop apps to write and edit. This is a great use case for our new Box Preview – anyone can view a document, no matter what system they’re on, and leave persistent comments for the author. These departments need more flexible tools to share and collect information.
  • User-centric IT models. It was very exciting to hear this echoed at the conference. Aaron Levie, recently talked about a shift towards a more user-centric IT architecture, but this was a common discussion between Duke and the other vendors in attendance. 2014: the year user-centric IT takes over?
  • Agile project management. Related to user-centric IT, we’re also seeing the agile software development model positively effect how large organizations adapt and operate. Reflections of this were everywhere, from how IT projects were scoped and staffed to the coordination of care across physician groups.
  • And, of course security and HIPAA compliance. This topic was everywhere, with a big focus on getting more EHR management and communication into secure cloud platforms. I fully expect to see several large hospital systems make the switch to more modern EHR systems (like drchrono) to improve patient communications and ultimately get better outcomes.

Duke is early in their transformation. For an example of a university system who’s taken big strides in this direction, look no further than the University of Michigan. In Ann Arbor, they’re completely rebuilding their collaborative tools with Box, letting students, faculty and research teams innovate and work together seamlessly. In fact, they’ve enabled 33,000 people with secure collaboration spaces through their NextGen Michigan initiative, powered by Box!