Innovating the health-care sector through analytics and AI: Meet new professor Christopher Sun
Christopher Sun was hired in summer 2022 as an assistant professor in data analytics in health information systems at the Telfer School of Management. His research interests lie in the optimization of health-care systems. He also works as a scientist at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to accomplish his research goals. We interviewed him to learn more.
Why did you choose to study data analytics in health information systems? Any personal motivation?
Connecting ideas, institutes and people to make a real-world impact through research has always been a passion of mine, and the field of health-care analytics provides me with the opportunity to do just that. With advanced analytical models and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies demonstrating the value in improving health-care quality and efficiency, analytics offers one of the promising paths to transform health-care systems.
How does your PhD training inform your current research program?
My PhD with Professor Timothy Chan at the University of Toronto and postdoctoral training with Professor Retsef Levi at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology allowed me to experience firsthand the ways that advanced analytics and AI models can improve health systems. During this time, I had the opportunity to collaborate with leading medical institutes, including Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte and Boston EMS, to work on and implement redesign initiatives.
Do you have any new research highlights to share?
I’m thrilled to be working with innovators at several health-care organizations, including Ottawa’s very own University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI). With UOHI, we’re investigating how operating room schedules can be optimized to reduce patient wait times, as well as investigating the perceptions of AI tools for clinical and patient stakeholders. One of the most exciting parts of this work is the unique collaboration between Telfer and UOHI — their forward-thinking culture and support of data-driven decision making will accelerate the improvement of care for the city.
How can your research influence business communities in Canada?
Canada is one of the leading countries in terms of health expenditures, yet we fall behind many peers in terms of both health-care system performance and adoption of innovative technologies. The question is, Why? Success stories and redesign initiatives stemming from my research and health analytics research in general can lead to the much-needed cultural and technological changes that will help communities make the most of the resources dedicated to the health-care sector.