Brian L. Brewer, Medical Director of Surgical Critical Care, Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital and Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery, IU School of Medicine
With 15 years of healthcare experience and accomplishments, Brian Brewer is a versatile and impact-driven physician and healthcare leader. He has fulfilled various positions such as Trauma Surgeon at Emory Healthcare, Faculty Acute Care Surgeon at Life Bridge Health, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Medical Director of Surgical Critical Care at Indiana University. Brewer also co-founded and is the COO of Dream Launch LLC, a web-based consultant company that provides personal and professional development services to individuals and organizations. Brewer is dedicated to delivering improved quality services, comfort, and better experience to patients. Brewer's most recent achievement was when he received an MBA degree that he pursued to understand the business side of leading hospital administration.
In a conversation with Healthcare Tech Outlook magazine, Brewer has focused on the impact of innovation on the healthcare industry and how it can provide better experience and comfort for patients who require surgical critical care.
What is your view on the impact of innovation in the surgical critical care space? How is it helping hospitals and similar facilities provide better patient care and comfort?
Innovations in the critical care space is not something new. But this disruption could not occur as the healthcare industry kept on resisting it. Due to COVID-19, the healthcare industry is taking a step forward to implement this innovation. Today, the implementation of telemedicine has become an absolute necessity. Healthcare professionals had been hesitant towards this particular innovation as providing that level of remote critical care is undoubtedly risky. But, as social distancing norms are currently in place, telemedicine has turned out to be the way to facilitate patient care. Additionally, through telemedicine, certain institutions are supporting minor hospitals that do not have advanced Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in their premise; I think that this particular trend is here to stay beyond the COVID-19 era.
"Be curious; just continue to be curious and let innovations guide us and make us better"
Another innovation in the surgical critical care space is the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Over the last two decades, AI has been using adaptive learning and data gathering to help physicians like us to know about the patients' conation and any change in their physiology. It also helps us drive primary decisions and provides important data based on a series of findings of symptoms exhibited by them.
Innovation has been around for a while now, though not many of us use it. In my opinion, it is going to become much more essential as we make progress in healthcare. All I am sure of is we are nowhere near the end of the technology boom. A lot of innovations are still waiting to disrupt this industry.
Elaborate on the new changes you have witnessed in otherwise traditional technologies like medical-grade computers and how they are being modified to be IT-focused?
The healthcare industry faces challenges because it uses standard computers that are not designed to collaborate with advanced medical equipment. I do not think that the computers we are using right now are built to accommodate that much amount of information or data and provide analysis repeatedly based on it. While replacing equipment in healthcare institutions, we have to make sure that the equipment and computers are able to work well together. However, I think that most institutions are still far behind in this standpoint. I truly do not know of any medical-grade computer that has been explicitly designed to deal with critical care actions, say, the monitoring of a patient in ICU. Apart from that, I am not sure whether healthcare systems like Epic or Cerner have been modified for these particular critical care actions or not.
Why do you think intensivists need to be team players, communicators, facilitators, and arbitrators to achieve the best results in collaboration with all involved in patient care?
To answer this question, I would like to focus on my recent accomplishment, where I completed my MBA degree in 2019. It was one of the best and most humbling experiences of my life. I learned how other industries use soft skills, people skills, teamwork, empathy, and agreeableness to make their businesses work successfully; all of these aspects are somehow absent in the healthcare industry. I think if we incorporate all these aspects in our industry too, it would be revolutionizing. We will become capable of design and empower innovations and use it in creating diverse teams and making crucial decisions.
Another aspect I would like to implement in the healthcare space is agility. Gone are those days when we would have to wait for published papers and random trial prospective to save people's lives and have better treatment outcomes. Furthermore, I think we are seeing a tremendous shift towards being agile in the times of COVID-19. Every day, treatment guidelines are changing; we also have developed a vaccine within a year of its emergence. This type of agility and focus will be an integral part of anybody who is practicing medicine for the next couple of decades. I believe that our increasing inclination towards technology will make our job a bit more comfortable and efficient.
Would you like to give a piece of advice to your peers in the industry?
I want to say to my colleagues to get, achieve, and hone their people skills. It will be important because our patients will demand it, and our teams will need it to remain robust. With an aging population at hand, we are about to face a very challenging future. This is why we have to be agile, adaptive, and highly skilled in our specialization that is surgical critical care. These are the skills which corporations outside of our industry already know. I would advise—be curious; just continue to be curious and let innovations guide us and make us better.