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Great Expectations for

Will the next wave of analytics lead to a great awakening or more strife? By Rick Dana Barlow

T B Da Bigig Data

he concept of “Big Data” conjures up all sorts of Sturm und Drang in the healthcare information technology world. Roll out a fl eetingly fashionable moniker to describe a nebulous category to attract the attention-defi cit-addled social media set, mix in the notion of analytics to give it purpose and sobriety, and you have a strategic recipe to tackle the tactics of accountable care in a reform-minded industry.

Clearly, Big Data evokes great hope and passion among the healthcare IT set. In fact, Health Management Tech-

nology readers exude mixed emotions about the premise and promise of Big Data, with opinions sashaying between money pit and money pool.

Anand Shroff, Chief Technology and Product Offi cer, Health Fidelity Big Data keeps getting bigger, particularly in the healthcare industry, where the adop- tion of electronic solutions and increased connectivity are driving higher levels of information capture than ever before. Stor- ing data, however, holds little value unless

it can be accessed, analyzed and put into action. T e quandary of today’s healthcare environment is that

there is a massive volume of data, yet few viable automated processes to extract meaning from data that is diverse, com- plex and often unstructured. Advanced analytics provide or- ganizations with powerful tools to assess current performance metrics and model “what if” scenarios to make data-driven decisions that impact fi nancial stability and care quality. According to a recent study, If U.S. healthcare were to

use Big Data creatively and eff ectively to drive effi ciency and quality, the sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year. Two-thirds of that would be in the form of reducing U.S. healthcare expenditures by about 8 percent. Healthcare organizations that leverage the power of analytics have the potential to gain deeper insight into the factors that impact clinical quality and costs. T ey can also

18 March 2014

better understand the root causes of undesirable clinical and fi nancial outcomes, and drive improvements in processes and practices to elevate care quality while avoiding unnecessary costs. T ese are the components necessary for the industry to focus on rewarding high-quality care, instead of paying for the quantity of care delivered.

Anita Karcz, M.D., Chief Medical Offi cer and Co-founder, Institute for Health Metrics Electronic data availability and processing power have sparked a rapid evolution in clinical analytics. Clinical data has greater inherent complexity than fi nancial or bill- ing data, and traditionally, large data-set

analysis has been performed using billing codes, which are ubiquitous and easy to use; however, they do not refl ect clini- cal detail. While not all clinical information can be accurately reduced to structured and codifi ed data, ever-growing amounts of clinical data are available in discrete electronic formats. As a result, we now have the capability to analyze enormous volumes of electronic clinical data, so statistical validity is not a barrier and analysis can provide insights not available with traditional medical research methods.


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