Podcast: VP of Data at Geisinger Health System on Embracing HealthTech Disruption
By Joanna Augenbergs



Welcome to the 12th installment of Elevar’s Executive Roundtable interview series. These podcasts highlight emerging trends and insights from industry leaders discussing their experiences and perspectives on healthcare innovation. Enjoy and check back regularly for future interviews!


We recently sat down with Bipin Karunakaran, Vice President of Data at Geisinger Health System. Geisinger is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development of innovative care delivery models. As one of the nation’s largest health service organizations, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and in southern New Jersey.

Bipin Karunakaran is responsible for the build and implementation of the big data system at Geisinger. He is also responsible for advanced analytics systems used to process millions of clinical notes to extract key diagnosis using Natural Language Processing(NLP) and predictive modeling- helping providers make better informed care decisions. He was the principal developer for Microsoft’s first version of the digital media encoder on the web. He led the team at the Walt Disney Company responsible for the first companywide implementation of big data. Bipin held board seats as a technical advisor for two major startups. He received his MS in Computer Science and Engineering from University of Washington Seattle and his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Business Los Angeles.


Thoughts from Bipin:

  • Healthcare can stand to learn from other industries especially when it comes to customer experience – How do we apply the Ritz Carlton treatment to patients’ care for instance?
  • There are three barriers to healthcare innovation: 1.) inertia from established processes that are followed very methodically; 2.) the risk allowed is limited when it comes to patients lives; and 3.) innovators are not attracted to the space… because it lacks innovation (and the cycle continues).
  • Geisinger approaches startups carefully by balancing any risk (such as security) with innovation. We like to use pilots as a way to test and integrate new technology.
  • Providers want to do what’s best for the patient. If you have a great product that works well and is easy to use, they’ll adopt it pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you don’t meet their threshold of usefulness, there will be zero traction.
  • Digital health startups and entrepreneurs must understand the needs of provider, how healthcare systems work and the environment – and then provide a solution that works the first time with greatest accuracy.
  • In a future world where providers are expected to provide more/ better care at lower cost, technology (such as AI) and access (including patient engagement and education) will play key roles.


Check out the full podcast for Bipin’s thoughts on health IT and digital health startups, how large enterprises can embrace innovation and innovative thinking, and the future of healthcare technology.

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