Leveraging Technology for Improved Patient Care | Pt 2

Date: 06.06.2013 | Zach Urbina">Zach Urbina

electronic-medical-records-270Guest Blogger Kathy McCoy

[Note: This is a continuation of part one, from two weeks prior.]

Stuart Gross, MBA, Principal Consultant of C-Level IT Solutions, discussed the role of big data in managing patient care. Defining “big data” as a collection of data sets so large and complex it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications, Gross said that nevertheless, the trend is to larger data sets.

The challenges of the data, Gross said, are that the systems are disparate; they don’t share data. “The government set out all these rules that EHRs are supposed to be interoperable and they’re not,” Gross emphasized.

“So what can we do? Eventually, interoperability will be here and everyone will be happy. But in the interim, we have a job to do: We need to provide better patient care.”

Gross sees the solution in big data, utilizing “crawlers” that can glean the elements of big data and gather the necessary information. He says big data includes 14 elements of both structured and unstructured data, with unstructured data defined as items such as unstructured reports, referrals and authorizations with notes, family history, etc.

The “missing link” up until now, Gross said, has been capturing the unstructured data; but the technology now exists to do it.

As for the benefits of utilizing big data, Gross said they include:

  • Identifying and analyzing cohorts—that is, identifying best practices and outcomes for similar patients
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Facilitating the determination of best practices
  • Providing appropriate care at an affordable cost
  • Preventing diseases

“Once we have unstructured data, we can pull out the pieces we need and put it in tables we know how to analyze. Now we can apply tools from any one of the sources for doing analysis on data,” Gross concluded. “Again: pull out cohorts, analyze/predict diseases, disorders and outcomes; then apply best practices to cohort predictions and go back and treat the patient.”

Finally, Constance Berg, RN, MBA, FHIMSS, of CMB Consulting, described her vision of a PCMH and the use of telehealth in both ACOs and PCMHs. Describing a PCMH as “a team-based model of care where the primary care provider is in charge,” Berg said that the PCMH is “trying to make the patient feel more comfortable and have access to all the services the patient may need.

“The patient should not have to go to another building for tests,” Berg said. “Everything’s going to be close by.”

Berg saw health information exchange as crucial to patient engagement, and telehealth as a cutting edge technology that will support public health.

“Here’s where we see the patient experience and perceptions of care are essential metrics of patient-centeredness,” Berg said.

Approximately 2.8 million patients were remotely monitored worldwide at the end of 2012, Berg pointed out. “It’s a mature industry, used to monitor 1 million cardiac patients per year,” she concluded.

Kathy McCoy, MBA, has written about healthcare for more than 5 years for leading medical software, medical marketing and medical billing companies. She has more than 17 years of experience in continuing medical education, developing programs with respected educational institutions including Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, and Cleveland Clinic.

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