News Feature | March 2, 2016

Using Big Data For Better Health Outcomes

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Big Data

Big Data Analytics offers transformative options to healthcare organizations.

The speed and scale of the current challenges and demands experienced by today’s healthcare organizations are unprecedented. The creation of ever-increasing amounts of data, coupled with the application of new advances in treatment, diagnosis, and analytics, puts healthcare is on the brink of some major developments. The promise of analytics lies in its ability to transform healthcare into a truly data-driven culture.

And while privacy and security risks are the challenges to using Big Data, the potential positives outweigh the negatives. Healthcare data is considered the most complex and disconnected set of any industry, but successfully exploiting these opportunities provides huge returns not only financially, but also for the quality of care.

As the Gartner report Seven Steps to Monetizing Your Information Assets notes, “The trend to see and use information as an asset is still in the ‘early adoption’ phase, making doing so a competitive differentiator for leading organizations. But even where information leaders have embraced this idea, there’s an array of challenges to transform the idea of value into a reality that benefits the organization. Information has economic value that organizations can ‘turn into money’ in two ways: selling, bartering or licensing it; and by using it to reduce costs or increase revenue. Yet most information and business leaders lack the experience and tools to monetize information.”

From collaboration to building sustainable systems to increasing access to healthcare, Big Data and analytics solutions are helping healthcare organizations improve health, outcomes, and efficiency.And when Federal IT and business executives from healthcare-related agencies were polledby Meritalk regarding the benefits of Big Data, 63 percent stated it will help track and manage population health more efficiently; 62 percent stated it will significantly improve patient care within the military health and VA systems; and 60 percent said it will enhance the ability to deliver preventive care.

When the Cleveland Clinic implemented analytics in 2009 to improve patient services, Chief Experience Officer Dr. James Merlinoordered a quantitative and qualitative study on patient expectations. The results revealed patients wanted hospital staff to feel emotionally engaged in their care, contrary to historic interpretations of what patient expectations were.

As Merlino explained, “We were surprised by these findings, and I never would have known any of this without digging into the data with hardcore analytics. But through analytics, we gained valuable insights as to how patients really felt.”

The push for Big Data is being driven by the demand to create more value in healthcare. “The healthcare system of today is based on fee-for-service and reimbursement for activity, with little or no connection to value,”explained Daniel Garrett, partner and leader of PwC’s Healthcare IT practice. “The IT platforms of tomorrow need to serve the new health economy, which centers on patient outcomes and reimbursement for creating value.”

Ultimately, the strategic and savvy use of Big Data Analytics means reimagining not only how data is used, but also how healthcare is delivered. PwC’s Garrett states, “We need to remove the barriers of time and space between the patient, the doctor, and the healthcare administrator. It’s about not just crunching a lot of data, but inserting that data at key moments when healthcare is delivered and consumed.”