IHT2 Cleveland “Big Data” Conference: A conversation with David Muntz

mark stevens
Mark W. Stevens, Contributing Editor

Each year, the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (IHT2) hosts a series of events and programs which promote improvements in the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare through information technology and facilitating knowledge exchange. iHT² programs are designed to support multi-stakeholder organizations who are navigating through health IT issues, policies and strategies in an attempt to improve care. Institute programs include a variety of guest speakers and keynotes representing many diverse sectors within healthcare. Speaker faculty provide expert advice, practical recommendations, solution-oriented best practices and reactions related to the most pressing issues.

This hosted “Big Data” themed event in Cleveland brings together C-level, physician, practice management and IT decision-makers from North America’s leading provider organizations and physician practices. For two full days, executives interact with a national audience of peers, national leaders and solution providers featuring the latest solutions for practice management, mobility, telemedicine, outsourcing, IT infrastructure, next-generation electronic medical records, disease management and more.

Now in its eighth successful year, the health IT summit is the premier executive summit focused on the strategies and tools that are re-defining customer care, collaboration and efficiency in the healthcare provider markets. (For more information and to register, please visit:  http://ihealthtran.com/cleveland/iht2-health-it-summit-cleveland)  Among the most anticipated speakers for the Cleveland event is former Principal Deputy National Coordinator for Health I.T. and Baylor Health CIO, David Muntz.

David has more than 30 years of experience as a CIO. In his career, he led talented teams that authored, acquired and implemented many forms of health information technologies including EHRs from all the major vendors.  Under his leadership, his teams managed more than 180 project go-lives annually. Due to his team’s efforts, he was awarded CHIME’s Innovator of the Year at two different employers. His organizations have been recognized nationally for innovation in information technology for more than 25 years including his time in the federal government. In 2014, the CHIME Board presented him its CIO Legacy Award. 

David Muntz is currently an advisor at NextWaveHealth Advisors. He delivers strategic, tactical and public policy advice for client organizations. His primary areas of interest include but are not limited to change management, governance, innovation, IT operations, interoperability, public policy and patient and family engagement. His leadership skills along with his strong informatics competencies helps organizations successfully adopt and optimize technology. He is a frequent speaker on a wide range of topics. Additionally, he has and currently serves on multiple boards and in various advisory roles.

For the first 18 years of his career, David worked at the Wadley Research Institute and Blood Bank in Dallas, Texas, a collection of cancer and leukemia research facilities starting as a biostatistician, assuming the role of CIO for 14 years, and ultimately accepting the role of CEO. He returned to healthcare information technology (HIT) at Texas Health Resources, where he functioned as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for 15 years. He then worked for 5 years as the SVP and CIO at Baylor Health Care System (BHCS) overseeing a staff of more than 700 employees, with an annual budget exceeding $225 Million. His responsibilities included directing the Clinical Transformation activities for BHCS.

In 2012, David accepted a White House appointment to serve as the first Principal Deputy National Coordinator, Chief of Staff, and CIO in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC through 2013. His team managed a grants budget of $2 billion. After public service, David returned to the private sector as CIO of GetWellNetwork through 2015 where he now serves as a member of the Board of Directors and as a consultant.

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Stevens: David, you’ve worked as a hospital CIO and CEO, a vendor CIO, and as the principal deputy national HIT coordinator for ONC. With your varied background and perspective, can you identify the areas where regulators can best collaborate with vendors and/or providers and payers to accelerate innovation in health IT?

David Muntz, CHCIO, FCHIME, LCHIME, FHIMSS, and Principal, Muntz and Company

Muntz: Meaningful Use regulations were focused primarily on measures tied to features and functions. I’d like to see future regulations for HIT focus on outcomes measures. Instead of everyone using a similar approach, new and innovative approaches could be pursued by providers and vendors, hopefully in close collaboration. I’d also suggest that a forum for on-going collaboration between all participants be established to further the education of each party about the other’s political, practical, and pragmatic pressures. Why not set up programs where internships, fellowships, partnerships are the norm? It’s easier to make policies and create solutions when all parties share a common understanding of concepts based on experience and a shared vision of the future. Vulnerability management and reporting, not just security related, would be a great opportunity for public-private collaboration. As we install systems, vulnerabilities associated with technology, processes, and people will surface. We need a way to share those vulnerabilities in much the same way as we share security information. 

Stevens: You’ve also made no secret of your frustration with government’s role in healthcare. Now that you’ve moved on from ONC, can you offer some candid observations on how we can improve how policy makers and regulators influence how we provide and consume care?

Muntz: The best way to help regulators is to educate them. It’s not just the elected officials that deserve our attention but the staff that supports them. That education should begin with white papers, letters, and briefing sessions, but most importantly getting the regulators and their staffs into our environment for site visits is even more important. Show them our world. I can remembers the best lessons I learned were a result of shadowing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians, observing them in their environments. The other way is to spend time working inside the government. Finally, the government frequently reaches out for guidance from the public with RFIs, RFCs, NPRMs (several versions), committees and working groups, technical expert panels, and other forums.  Participate. Share your candid insights, provide evidence, use anecdotes, and comment on both what you like and what you see as challenges. Get involved. 

Stevens: Among your areas of focus, interoperability and cybersecurity rank high – both offer daunting challenges. Can you share your thoughts around possible solutions?

Muntz: We’re closer to achieving widespread interoperability than is generally reported in the press. The biggest challenges are cost, ease of implementation, and optionality of content. We live in a world where we can plug an incredibly diverse group of devices into a USB port with the expectation that we’ll be working with the newly attached devices in seconds or minutes. Why don’t we insist a similar approach to interfaces and interoperability? Of course, testing and validation would be necessary prior to use in a production environment, but we should be able to eliminate months of work from our current approach. We do need to agree upon a single trust framework, a common set of consistent standards without room for optionality, and a reliable positive person identifier. The challenges with cybersecurity are well-known and affect everyone. The simplest answer is that we need to create a culture of security in the home, at work, and for the community at large that ensures all participants do the right thing to protect the sacred trust that patients put in the healthcare professionals.

Stevens: At the upcoming IHT2 Cleveland “Big Data” conference April 19 and 20, you will help lead a panel discussion on patient engagement. Can you please provide information regarding your background on this topic, and share a preview of your panel and what you plan to discuss?

Muntz: I have worked for decades on providing patients, families, consumers, providers and payers with information that was important to them. Our panel will share their diverse perspectives on how we can provide information to empower all participants in the healthcare continuum achieve the goals of the 3-part Aim. Policy, practicality and pragmatism will be threads that are woven together to provide a tapestry on how to progress.


cybersecurity, IHT2, IHT2 Cleveland “Big Data” conference, Institute for Health Technology Transformation, interoperability, Meaningful Use, Muntz and Company, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, ONC


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