This blog is co-authored by Chris Aulbach and Greg Locke.
By definition, the spinal cord is “the cylindrical bundle of nerve fibers and associated tissue that is enclosed in the spine and connects nearly all parts of the body to the brain, with which it forms the central nervous system.” In essence, it’s the most important structure between the body and the brain.
In the healthcare industry, big data functions much like a spinal cord. Pulled from across a variety of diverse sources, data helps health systems derive the level of insight and trends needed to personalize treatment, foster effective communication between patients and physicians, and improve the overall quality of patient care.
But, with 32 million newly insured Americans entering the healthcare system as a result of the Affordable Care Act, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to unlock the true value of data in an ever-growing and more complex healthcare landscape.
So what’s the key to realizing the inherent value in big data and harnessing that information to create real-time, actionable insights?
Let’s take a look at the critical role healthcare data management plays in helping enterprises improve the quality of patient care throughout the entire care continuum:
Integrate Data to Provide 360 Degree View of Patients
In today’s digital world, health systems are swimming in data. Case-in-point: California-based Kaiser Permanente is estimated to manage between 26 and 44 petabytes of data – from its EHRs alone.
But having access to data is not enough. In order to fully leverage data to improve patient outcomes, healthcare organizations must be able to integrate and align data from disparate sources (EHRs, health surveys, administrative data, physician notes, etc.) so that they can create a full and complete picture of the patient journey.
Patient marketing solutions such as healthcare CRM, which integrates, measures, analyzes, and reports on a broad variety of data, help health systems make better administrative, clinical, and financial decisions that work to improve patient engagement, and ultimately patient care. With CRM technology in place, healthcare organizations can develop a 360 degree view of patients that encompasses not only the entire patient lifecycle (patient’s condition, medical history, prior treatment, etc.) but also their consumer profiles, preferences, and behaviors.
The end goal, as noted by Blackford Middleton, M.D., chief informatics officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is “to ensure the right things happen for the right patient at the right time.”
Leverage Technology to Personalize Patient Care
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, more than 90% of U.S. hospitals are using EHRs and adoption across healthcare providers in private practice is approximately 60%.
As the consumerization of IT spreads to the healthcare sector, however, it isn’t just these structured forms of data that health systems must appropriately manage to facilitate improved patient care. Ken Willett, vice president of healthcare IT strategy at global data cloud service broker Liaison Technologies, says smartphones, wearables, and other monitoring technologies will generate a new wave of end point data that can be leveraged to further develop an even deeper 360 degree view of patients.
But, as noted in a Hospitals & Health Networks article, “the promise of technologies such as wearable devices and EHRs [will be] negated if providers can’t deliver their findings – or any information, advice, or encouragement – to patients using the communications pathways a patient prefers, whether that’s via Web portals or personalized, automated emails, voicemails, or text messages.”
As the healthcare system transitions to a value-based model, it will be critical for health enterprises to take patient preferences into consideration in order to provide truly patient-centric care. Research from the TeleVox Healthy World Research Initiative, for example, shows close to 50 percent of patients prefer email for communications about patient care between visits, followed by text messaging at 31 percent.
Translate Big Data Insights into Practice
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, data can unlock more than $300 billion annually in value across the entire U.S. health segment.
The question then becomes: How do health systems use all of that data?
In today’s rapidly-evolving healthcare landscape, enterprises that want to remain competitive need to turn patient data into a strategic asset. Indeed, the true value of healthcare data management comes from the ability to turn insight into action.
“Although the rapidly expanding variety, volume, and velocity of data can be a challenge,” Healthcare IT News reports, “sound data management practices help healthcare organizations make informed, high-impact business decisions.”
In an increasingly complex and competitive healthcare marketplace, effective data management isn’t just a good idea – it’s critical. Data collected, enhanced with third party data, and analyzed from across multiple sources can, in fact, be the key to driving patient engagement and satisfaction, increasing brand awareness and visibility, and ultimately improving the quality of patient care overall.