News Feature | January 17, 2017

Unified Data Architecture Allows Patient Insights

Source: Allscripts
Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

New initiative integrates analytics and management systems with point-of-care data.

Geisinger Health System has launched an initiative integrating its existing analytics and management systems with point-of-care data in effort to use Big Data, system officials wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review. The Unified Data Architecture (UDA) system transcends the simple numerical data available in standard databases and can process more nuanced information like the free-text language in physician reports. By processing this data, the system produces valuable insights about individual patients and greater patient/provider trends.

Geisinger Health System has managed to overcome the obstacles challenging the integration of Big Data, implementing a computing solution that allows them to leverage their existing patient and provider data to create important, actionable results. Staff can now track and analyze patient outcomes, compare genomic sequences to clinical care, and examine data across various group segments. Eventually, with permission from the patients, the system will also be able to access and integrate information from third-party systems like mobile health apps or even grocery store rewards cards.

As the Geisinger officials wrote, “Looking at patients solely through the lens of an EHR yields an incomplete picture; patients visit clinics outside of the health system’s reach, and in fact spend the vast majority of their time outside of healthcare systems altogether. They leave digital breadcrumbs everywhere they interact, from the grocery store and its loyalty program, to the smartphone and its apps. With patients’ permission, we can access and integrate some of that data. Our UDA provides a common data space for rapid integration of data from selected internal and external sources. The power to process troves of data from various sources, combined with the ability to integrate and store large volumes of data, makes the UDA uniquely positioned to fill the gap left by traditional healthcare data systems. The integration of data from Health Information Exchanges, clinical departmental systems (such as radiology and cardiology), patient satisfaction surveys, and health and wellness apps provides us with a detailed, longitudinal view of the patient.”

Among the early successes recognized by the UDA systems are:

  • “Close the Loop” program, which catches incidental but important findings on imaging studies. Using free-text imaging reports allows them to detect many patients with potentially life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysms who had no follow-up scheduled for the incidental finding. The program thus has already saved lives.
  • Early detection and treatment of sepsis. The UDA proved useful in identifying the timeframe in which important indicators of sepsis appeared, and second in allowing access to all sepsis-patient information in a single place, including lab results, medications, vital signs, and movement through the hospital.
  • Surgery costs and outcomes. UDA’s big data platform can track and integrate surgical supply-chain data and clinical data by surgery type and provider to reduce costs and improve outcomes.