Learning from others

HIMSS held its Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum recently, and the presentations showed an impressive range of work at organizations across the country to better inform care to achieve the triple aim.

There is a lot of room for improvement, said David Bates, MD, MSc, chief innovation officer at Brigham & Women’s Medical Center in Boston, with whether patients get the care outlined in best practice guidelines little better than a coin toss.

Partners has used its analytics to match high-cost patients with a case manager to bend the cost curve. Bates said everyone should be using algorithms to measure patients’ likelihood of hospital readmission. The key differentiators, he said, are tailoring interventions to the patient. How do you get the patient into the doctor’s office within a week of discharge? It’s not enough to get the appointment scheduled. If the patient doesn’t show up, you need a Plan B.

Chris Keaton, director of information and analytical advancement for HealthNow New York, a company that provides access to quality healthcare and innovative solutions for individuals and employers, talked about going from being a report factory to an analytics consultancy.

Looking ahead, Keaton said we’re in a search-based economy. “Your knowledge is based on access to information. There will always be a place for reports but how many questions can be answered by a quick Google search of your internal information. Just give me the ability to search it. This is where our success is going to be as an analytics group. Give people access when and where they need it.”

Healthcare is at the cusp of being transformed by Big Data, said Thomas Hill, PhD, executive director for analytics, Dell Statistica Software, Information Management Group.

The bread crumbs we leave on the internet are now very easy to collect, he said. The blogs a person reads, the groups a person belongs to all describe a lot of lifestyle choices which impact health and risks.

But, reaping the rewards of those data is difficult without the right people. “Data scientists are hard to find, expensive and difficult to keep,” said Hill. However, analytics will become more and more automated, he predicted. And because we cannot rely on data scientists, Hill expects to see the rise of citizen data scientists. Automation will allow for templates that can be understood and managed by the end user. A doctor or nurse, for example, could gain insights on their own based on predefined workflows.

Conferences like these are a great way to learn about others' experiences to better inform your goals. I hope you found our coverage useful and insightful.

Beth Walsh

Clinical Innovation + Technology editor