Spotlight: Atul Butte – UC Health Executive Director of Clinical Informatics

Posted by the Office of Jack Stobo, EVP, UC Health.

What motivated you to join UC Health as Executive Director of Clinical Informatics?
I was motivated to join because of the amazing joint position I hold between UCSF and UC Health. The ability to use the data of 14 million patients in the UC system to improve medical care and our health systems is truly unmatchable.

What do you see as the major opportunities for your new role?
I see three major opportunities:
o Develop mechanisms to give data back to patients and create more informed consumers of health information,
o Inform our drive for operational excellence by using the data to track that we are doing the right, safe and cost-effective thing for our patients, and
o Advance research and innovation by tapping into the wealth of data we have in our EHRs, while respecting patient privacy.

Can you describe the big data initiative you are currently leading?
I’m currently working on a project to aggregate record data from EHRs into one safe, secure, and reliable data repository. Once we have the data, we want to start by asking one straightforward question – are we prescribing statins at the right time and with the right frequency? This nine-month pilot wouldn’t have been possible without the help and close collaboration of all five medical centers and we hope to complete the build out by early next year.

What is your philosophy on partnering with external entities?
We don’t intend to build everything ourselves. While the traditional health IT vendors and technology companies are integral to our success, we must also look at the new crop of tech companies who are investing heavily in programs, devices, and people with the skills to better understand health data.

What is your audacious goal for the next 10 years?
10 years is a long time – a decade ago, hardly anybody was using Facebook! I’d like to imagine a world with a real time system where we are learning from patients and their experiences, and applying what we learn from those patients in the care we deliver. It is a world where patients have data on themselves, have tools to interpret their data, and we as providers can also help them use their data to keep patients as healthy as possible.

Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?
I am a computer scientist and medical doctor by training and I really want to improve care for patients – to me, data is simply a new way of doing just that! I have an open door policy – please feel free to contact me by email, and I am happy to chat!

Note: Read about Dr. Butte’s recruitment from Stanford to lead the UCSF Institute for Computational Health Sciences and his election to the National Academy of Medicine in October 2015.

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