Big Data and advanced analytics are disrupting and transforming some industries worldwide. However, few sectors facing change thanks to Big Data technologies are as significant as the healthcare industry.
In this post, Big Data is examined in the context of value-based care, as well as how Big Data is, and will continue to impact and transform the healthcare industry.
What is Big Data?
Before delving too deeply into this topic, it is important to understand what exactly the term “Big Data” means. A clear definition is an important basis for examination because there are many different interpretations of Big Data, and a quick online search is likely to yield a dozen variations of the concept.
In a Forbes article, Lisa Arthur defines Big Data as “a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.” By analyzing these data sets, helpful patterns and trends can be identified, which in turn can help inform both business and clinical decisions, as well as strategy.
How Big Data is Impacting Healthcare
Perhaps one of the most significant drivers of Big Data in healthcare is electronic medical records (EMR). Through EMRs, more data is available to providers, allowing them to make better and more informed decisions. The information gleaned from EMRs also allows practitioners to initiate interventions and take actions in real time – both regarding an organization’s clinical operations and its fiscal functions.
Big Data is also helping care providers to move toward a precision medicine model of care, one within which outcomes and the progression of a condition are predicted and proactively treated or addressed. Also, as technology evolves, so too do the tools around Big Data. With this progression in mind, it should come as no surprise that a significant market and growing demand exists for Big Data healthcare software.
While Big Data represents numerous benefits and holds tremendous potential for the healthcare industry, it is not without its challenges. One of the most significant challenges associated with Big Data is adoption and compliance related to EMRs and similar technologies.
For Big Data to be truly effective, information and documentation must be entered. Some physicians are resistant to new systems and change or simply fail to input their documentation.
Another challenge associated with big data is personnel. The effectiveness of big data in healthcare hinges on the knowledge, skills, and expertise of staff members. An organization can possess the best data in the world, but if there is no one on the team who can effectively interpret and analyze it, the information is useless.
Much of the processes and storage involved in big data occur in the cloud, but in a field as tightly regulated and concerned with privacy as healthcare, the cloud is a significant source of concern. In the cloud, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) – which ensures data privacy and protects patient information – can be a significant challenge.
Big Data Trends
Below are some key trends in Big Data which worth watching and examining.
Data gathered from EMRs has allowed for the development of predictive models, which can help improve health outcomes for patients, and also reduce fraud, waste, and abuse – a significant focus for various government agencies and contractors, such as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Data from various sources can be processed and analyzed in real time, allowing for instant alerts and notifications to providers when a patient’s condition changes.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
As technology continues to evolve and the number of smart, connected devices and sensors grows, so too will the data they produce and transmit between networks and individuals.
The Bottom Line
Providers are shifting toward evidence-based medicine and value-based care, models which heavily rely on clinical data to inform patient care and clinical decisions. Big Data is playing a critical role in collecting data and offering a complete picture of a patient’s condition and care plan. This capability allows for more effective and seamless care coordination, population health interventions, patient engagement, and care transitions. This holistic approach which is enabled by Big Data will also help eliminate redundancies, reduce readmissions, minimize avoidable delays, cut costs, and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.
Your Connection to Quality Care
At Access HealthNet, we know firsthand the benefits of Big Data in healthcare. We administer a cloud-based technology solution called “The Super Option,” which connects providers offering value-oriented services in the form of flat-rates and bundles to self-funded, full-pay entities which are seeking the most direct connection possible. We give administrators the tools and flexibility they need to effectively control costs and educate patients on value, thereby affording employers and others who administer self-funded plans the opportunity to take control of costs.
To learn more about our proven solutions, contact us today.