State Innovation, Data Analytics and Population Health Management
Data analytics play an integral role in population health management. Experts cannot begin to address the well-being of a region’s residents without understanding the components that go into their overall health. Many healthcare industry leaders aim to put data analytics at the forefront of innovation, including the panel of experts that discussed this topic at the 2016 State Healthcare IT Connect Summit. Coming from varying sectors, the presenters emphasized the importance of stakeholders working together to achieve change in the healthcare industry that ultimately leads to cost efficiency and quality care.
A relatable analogy
Launching the discussion with a creative spark, moderator Jeremy Racine, director at SAS Government Healthcare, likened industry leaders to general contractors. Racine explained that their innovation efforts, such as mobile applications and electronic media records, are like houses. He posed the question: Are these leaders applying standards when building the houses? Buildings need electricity, plumbing and other infrastructure to have a solid foundation.
Similarly, industry leaders must have a firm base of standards and analytics when developing tools for reshaping the industry, which involves commitment from both the private and public sectors. Racine explained that there are many amazing houses – or healthcare innovations – across the U.S., but they lack connecting factors. The health information technology industry must work to link these platforms with good, clear data.
“Bad data means bad decisions,” Racine warned. That solid foundation of data and analytics is necessary to progress in innovation, healthcare payment reform and enhanced care quality.
During the question and answer session, Racine detailed this analogy further, explaining that data analytics are also like the windows of a home. They allow stakeholders to view trends and see results.
The importance of connectivity
Kate Kiefert, special advisor of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, agreed with Racine’s comparison of a house’s foundation to healthcare innovation data standards. However, Kiefert took it one step further, emphasizing the responsibility of stakeholders to collaborate.
She explained that general contractors wouldn’t build a water sanitization system for every single house. Similarly, health IT innovations should not always use separate infrastructure. She stressed that without underlying health IT used for exchanging, capturing, measuring and analyzing information, organizations will never understand where they can improve population health and reduce spending costs.
Patrick Roohan, director of the New York State Department of Health, expanded on the idea of collaboration, citing the importance of alignment for improving care quality, population health and cost reduction. States must prioritize alignment, particularly with policy direction and Medicaid. Additionally, states should find an effective analytical quality measurement process to get to the root of quality improvement.
Jason Buckner, the senior vice president of informatics at The Health Collaborative, expressed that it’s not enough just to identify problems. States must also come up with solutions, and he brought four possibilities to the table.
- Agree upon what to measure: According to Buckner, this is a “painful problem for all of us,” and states must come to an agreed-upon conclusion.
- Open source the math: As the logical progression from the above point, Buckner stressed that states must also concur on a means of measurement. This will ultimately answer the questions: What’s the attribution logic that’s being used? What goes into calculating data? Truly, it’s a vendor-specific issue, but the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have the potential to lead this type of effort, which would ultimately bring about a reduction of computing costs.
- Reduce the data touch points: Providers are faced with the burden of reporting, as they must send data to several different places. Buckner proposed a regional data intermediary approach in which providers would send data once to a single organization. Then, someone else figures out how to get the data everywhere else it needs to go.
- Operate regionally: Buckner explained there are national, state and even regional initiatives that all hold importance. However, healthcare gets truly transformed when it functions in a local environment, so changes must happen at the local level.
The right attitude matters
Arvinder Singh, the chief health innovation officer at CNSI, expressed that these innovations certainly pave the way to a bright future for data analytics and population health management. However, the healthcare industry must embrace the idea that having the right mentality sets the stage for better outcomes.
Singh explained that he has worked with Medicaid for 15 years but still considers himself a rookie. This mindset allows him to learn new things about what’s happening in the industry and fosters innovation. He warned that the minute industry leaders consider themselves experts is when they’ll stop innovating. The industry must strive to identify new areas for improvement and come up with solutions. What’s more, stakeholders must accept the fact that healthcare is uncertain, and there’s no way to create a product or solution that will serve the same purpose years down the road. IT systems and architecture have to evolve.
Along with that attitude, industry leaders must make privacy a priority. He noted that experts like those speaking on the panel are “guardians of the most vulnerable population.” They make privacy fundamental to the data processing pipeline.
Similar to Singh’s encouragement for respecting patient privacy, Eric Olofson, chief operating officer and chief information officer at Citra Health, also aims to put focus on the patient. He wants a product that enhances the patient-provider encounter and encourages the consumer to come back, leading to quality results and cost reduction. Olofson also noted having open platforms that allow the sharing of de-identified data would simplify everyone’s job.
Kiefert weighed in on this perspective during the question and answer session, noting that what industry leaders see as important may not be so critical to patients, the ones who truly matter. She said that there’s a “communication desert” between the healthcare industry and the consumer. Patients don’t realize they can advance change by making their voices heard.
While each panel member brought a different perspective to the conversation, the general consensus is that collaboration and a firm foundation are key to innovation, and leaders must consider the patient’s mindset, too.
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Moderator: Jeremy Racine, Director, SAS Government Healthcare
Arvinder Singh, Chief Health Innovation Officer, CNSI
Kate Kiefert, Special Advisor, ONC
Jason Buckner, SVP Informatics, The Health Collaborative
Eric Olofson, COO & CIO, Citra Health
Patrick Roohan, Director, Office of Quality and Patient Safety at NY State Department of Health
To learn more about opportunities to participate at the 2017 State HIT Connect Summit, please email Victoria Smith, Communications Director, Healthcare IT Connect email@example.com.
2016 State Healthcare IT Connect Summit