Make Data Work For You
This past week, Becker’s Hospital Review held its Eighth Annual Meeting, inviting hospital executives, industry leaders, and vendors to join together and contemplate some of healthcare’s most pressing issues. Unsurprisingly, many of these sessions focused on ‘big data’. How big is ‘Big Data’? How do you learn from it? How do we extract valuable insights from it to positively impact patient care and improve the bottom line?
Despite the industry’s drive to better understand the data currently being collected, there are no clear answers to some of these questions. As 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, hospitals must learn how to use it appropriately in order to stay clinically and operationally relevant. The Key Real World Uses for Big Data panel sought to teach fellow hospitalists how to use big data based on measurable success.
During the panel, hospital leaders from Mercy, the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, and the University of Colorado Health shared their experiences, struggles and learning from navigating data to help inform the actions of others just beginning this journey.
Moving Beyond Manual Processes
Hospitals are moving beyond the information gathering stage into how to make information usable and meaningful for both clinical and support teams. All panelists agreed that the amount of information available in hospitals today has surpassed what can be manually processed. Hospitals now need some level of analytics solution or machine learning to navigate these troves of information.
According to Todd Stewart, MD, Vice President of Clinical Integrated Solutions, Clinical Informatics at Mercy Technology Services, the turning point came when the mass quantity of data created started to be a problem rather than a resource for hospitals. By leveraging a real-time decision-making platform built with machine learning to processes this data, his hospital is able to more quickly take action from data coming in, forcing this data to work for the hospital.
Panelists also agreed that Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence based platforms make it easier to identify areas of inefficiency while supporting efficient patient care. As many of these platforms are constantly running in the background, they can proactively monitor for any issues before they impact a patient’s care or experience. As Steve Hess, CIO at the University of Colorado Health put it, the power of ML tools is finding patterns in data and answering questions you haven’t thought of yet. Rather than needing to know what trends predict what outcomes, new technologies today allow you to point to what outcomes you want to avoid, and track back to the source.
Navigating Change Management
As with EHR implementations over the last two decades, the thought of implementing a new tool on an organization-wide level is daunting – as it should be. Anything with the propensity to impact patients should be diligently evaluated. Panelists argued that, at some point, hospitals need to take the plunge to understand and deploy the tools that support operational and patient experience goals.
To begin this process, Audrius Polikaitis, PhD, CIO at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System urges hospital leaders to focus on the identification of specific use cases that add value. It requires a cultural transformation to become an organization that is data conscience, and the first step is building support for a data approach with practical low-risk applications that can demonstrate success.
Despite ‘big data’ being the buzzword of healthcare today, the data we see is only a fraction of what will exist in five years. Hospitals that don’t start developing a strategy now may face an unruly amount of information in the future. In an industry that is often overly cautious and slow to adopt new technologies, all panelists urged that hospitals need to start tackling their data. As the ability to survive in healthcare is increasingly based on the quality of data and how it is managed, hospitals must have the right tools in their arsenal to extract value from their investments.