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Sunday, April 21, 2024

UC Davis Health Digital CoLab joins Cloud Innovation Centers program by Amazon Web Services

The initiative kickstarts with goals of collaboration and healthcare equity 


By CHRISTINE LEE — campus@theaggie.org


UC Davis Health Digital CoLab launched the first Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) based at an academic medical center, in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). This initiative will work to address problems within digital healthcare operations.

The CIC program within UC Davis Health was created to promote healthcare equity and open collaboration with healthcare institutions, both within and outside of UC Davis. It will focus on challenges related to digital healthcare that community members, healthcare workers and patients identify.

“This cloud innovation center program is very specific,” Dr. Ashish Atreja, the chief information officer and chief digital health officer at UC Davis Health, said. “It’s an open innovation program where we will launch challenges, and the challenges will come from our community through the UC Davis campus, UC’s health system, and all across the world.”

After working to create solutions to the challenges submitted, the CIC team plans to make them publicly available.

“We’ll create teams that will work on prototypes to address those challenges,” Atreja said. “We plan to run about 10 challenges in a year and then publish, share that work and also make that code open-source so anyone can then take those solutions and build off it.”

UC Davis Health’s CIC is among the 13 globally established centers with the AWS CIC Program. Amazon will commit personnel and resources to UC Davis Health in its work toward health innovation.

“We are excited to be working with UC Davis Health to help healthcare leaders at the institution continue to innovate,” Katie Herritage, the global leader of worldwide public sector customer cloud innovation and acceleration programs at AWS, said via email. “Our goal in working with UC Davis Health is to support the institution on its digital transformation journey to improve healthcare services, and provide the power of the AWS Cloud to help find new solutions around healthcare that are equitable, inclusive and accessible.”

In addition to promoting equitable digital healthcare, the team aspires to make its work beneficial to the greater healthcare sector.

“When I was a UC Davis student at the School of Medicine, I really saw first hand how dedicated we are to the mission of reducing health disparities and how committed we are to the mission of delivering health equity,” Dr. Keisuke Nakagawa, the director of innovation at UC Davis CoLab and the executive director of UC Davis Heath ClC for digital health equity, said. “And now with the digital layer on top of that, we are in such a great position to address bold challenges around health equity from the lens of digital health.”

With working on digital health, according to Nakagawa, a challenge will be to create universal access to these virtual resources.

“As things get more technologically complex, it gets harder and harder to make sure that no patient gets left behind,” Nakagawa said. “All of our innovations have to be continuously thinking about how to be more inclusive and more equitable so that we are increasing the accessibility of healthcare — not decreasing it.”

Another main goal for the project is to bring in medical professionals and community members to work with the CIC team to provide feedback on their work, according to Digital Experience Lead at UC Davis Kate McLoughlin.

“I think that we’re going to hear insights that we maybe have never heard before,” McLoughlin said. “You can really only gather so many insights through a survey or a focus group, so having real personal stories to connect to and help shape the road with where we’re going with the different challenges really really excites me.”

The team that will be collaborating with healthcare professionals was created with diversity in mind, according to Melissa Mercer, the senior project manager for CoLab.

“The biggest thing we recognized early on as far as the makeup of the team is that really in order to come up with diverse and equitable solutions, your team has to be diverse,” Mercer said. “So as we’re building our team, we’re being mindful of making sure that we get a diverse group of resources with all sorts of nationalities, backgrounds as far as their experience, all sorts of genders and identities.”

Beyond the innovation of creating a CIC in an academic medical center, there are also plans to work with other CIC projects. Arizona State University’s CIC, Smart City, works to make citywide resources more available with fewer barriers to entry. Partnering with their project, as well as other CICs, and integrating their solutions to surrounding problems to healthcare is an opportunity to bring more equitability, Mercer said.

The team emphasizes the importance of collaboration with community members and students to create meaningful innovation, according to Nakagawa.

“We really feel like UC Davis students and students, in general, are going to play an instrumental role in the success of the CIC,” Nakagawa said. “I think that the UC Davis students have such a great perspective on how to be innovative and how to actually develop some of these solutions. We really hope that the CIC spans both campuses and really allows us to work together as a health campus, undergrad campus and graduate campus.”

The team plans to solve problems in the healthcare world with patients’ and healthcare workers’ experience in the growing digital space in mind, according to Mercer.

“For CIC, I hope that the message is clear that really anybody and everybody should be submitting ideas for how we can make healthcare equitable, whatever equitable means to them,” Mercer said. “Wherever the disservice is happening today, you don’t have to have a solution just bring us what the challenge is and what the opportunity is. We’re going to pick the ones we feel we can make movement on, and we really look forward to partnering with people, both inside UC Davis and outside to see if we can revolutionize the way that healthcare is done today.”

The CIC initiative will be delivered through UC Davis Health Innovation Technology Division.


Written by: Christine Lee — campus@theaggie.org


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