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New 'orchestra leader' to serve as chief of Mayo Clinic Platform

Dr. John D. Halamka
Dr. John D. Halamka is the new president of Mayo Clinic Platform.
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Dr. John D. Halamka, a well-known health care technology proponent, blogger and ER physician, is stepping into a new leadership role as president of the young Mayo Clinic Platform.

Halamka, who is leaving his position as executive director of Beth Israel Lahey Health's Health Technology Exploration Center in Massachusetts, will start his newly created job in Rochester on Jan. 1.

The Mayo Clinic Platform is a technology initiative driven by Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia. Halamka describes the "Platform" as a way to deliver a wide variety services via technology like apps, websites and voice-controlled digital assistants.

"Dr. Halamka has a proven track record of success in innovation and value creation," Farrugia said in the announcement. "His extensive experience and network will help power the Mayo Clinic Platform forward to benefit our patients and to support Mayo Clinic's path for the future."

Halamka paints his new role as "an orchestra leader" working with teams to build Mayo Clinic's new technology presence on the foundation created by Dr. Clark Otley, the medical director for Mayo Clinic's  Department of Business Development. Otley will serve as the chief medical officer of Mayo Clinic platform and Halamka's second-in-command.


When talking about the three early Platform projects, Halamka used the example of Airbnb, the online housing marketplace. It's quick and easy to connect with someone with a room to rent through Airbnb.

"What if lining up home health care for a loved one was as easy?" he asked.

Creating a way to schedule Mayo Clinic staff and contractors to provide specific types of home care with specific equipment is one of the early projects for Mayo Clinic Platform.

Another project is providing a place for people to upload personal data from devices, like a heart rate after a run recorded on an Apple watch. Mayo Clinic will offer tools and algorithms to analyze such medical data from wearable devices.

Building off people's habits to search for health care answers online, Halamka says a third platform project will go far beyond just searching a database for standard treatments. He said his wife, who currently has a clean bill of health, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Halamka described the difficulty in finding specific treatment information.

"Wouldn't you want to know what's the best treatment for Asian women in their 50s with this type of breast cancer? In the U.S. today, it's really hard to answer that question," he said.

Mayo Clinic is looking to tap into its patient records and research to analyze such a question to provide a much more precise answer than has been possible before.

"The patients of the past will help the patients of the future," said Halamka.


While those are the first projects, the Mayo Clinic Platform has a reach to provide many more types of new health care services.

Halamka has authored many books on technology and health care as well writing a longtime blog called "GeekDoctor." His new role will include communicating his work on the Mayo Clinic Platform.

"What I hope is that I can be a communicator .... That blog will now focus entirely on the Mayo Clinic Platform. Starting tomorrow, the blog will be a place with detailed communication about the work ahead," he said on Tuesday night.

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