Over the past several years, the industry has increasingly foregone paper medical records in favor of digital Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). The next major revolution is not only on the horizon, but already happening: big data.
Large, complex data sets are voluminous, complex and diverse. They’re also full of useful, actionable insights.
Big data has been creeping into the edges of healthcare operations for a while. Pharma companies have been organizing years of their R&D data into large databases. Companies also use big data to do things like improve clinical trial efficiency. Even federal agencies have jumped on the bandwagon, making years and years of their data searchable and usable. Researchers mine the data to look at drug development data to find new treatments, reduce hospital readmissions, and examine patterns in drug side effects. Insurance companies are looking at payor/payee data to reduce healthcare costs.
So what does big data mean for you as a healthcare provider? Big data provides you insight that usually leads to new opportunities you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.This ability to look at data for the first time, or look at data in new ways, makes your data more “liquid” and gives you new pathways of knowledge that you didn’t have before.
Before your data went digital, you probably felt like you couldn’t get the information you needed. Once you took the digital plunge, though, you now might feel like you’re experiencing a data explosion—data from providers and patients and suppliers. Your problem of not having access to data when it was in paper form suddenly changed into the opposite problem. You’re collecting so much data that it can’t be effectively used. Or can it?
A whole host of innovative companies are in the business of developing hardware, software and other products that can crunch these kinds of numbers and data. Wearable devices like Fitbit, Gear Fit and Jawbone allow patients to monitor activity levels, dietary intake, and vital signs. Medical professionals are teaming with data companies to use these data to paint a “health portrait” of the patient. One example is the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, which uses wearable device data, medical records, insurance records, and genetic data to offer a healthcare package tailored to the individual.
These pieces of data can inform decision-making, and that directly translates into increased revenue, in areas such as mitigating code error trends and responding to patient population changes that lead to new opportunities. The companies that most effectively utilize these data are the ones that will be in the forefront of the industry—improving healthcare quality.
Yesterday’s rigid data silos are transforming into big data, and organizations are changing all their processes to accommodate that change. Data are easily captured in electronic form as they are created, and the data easily flows between functional groups in your company and to your external business partners. Break the silos in your organization. It will mean extensive knowledge, better efficiency, and a better bottom-line.
If you’d like to talk about best practices for collecting and deriving insights from data, get in touch with our team.
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