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The Healthcare IT Revolution: Big Data, Analytics, Interoperability and Connected Care

By , Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Informatics and Analytics
and , MD, Lead Medical Director
Health IT, Population Health & Wellness, Technical
Healthcare IT is evolving. How do these changes improve population health management?

The Healthcare IT Revolution

Over the last decade, the transition to value-based care has sparked significant advancements in how we process, store and analyze data. In this blog we explore how healthcare information technology (IT) is evolving with the opportunities these advancements present, what unique challenges the healthcare environment faces in embracing these opportunities and how the resulting changes can enable value-based care for successful population health management (PHM). From integrating a myriad of data types and sources to implementing interoperable technology and analytics for a more connected approach to care, the healthcare industry has many benefits to reap and many obstacles to overcome on the path to population health and wellness.

Big Data Applications in Healthcare Today

“Big data” commonly thought of in alignment with Doug Laney’s “three Vs”: volume, variety and velocity, is continuing to evolve, and while there is a wealth of data available to analyze and develop insights from, various challenges remain. A key challenge includes translating information at the population level to outcomes at the patient level and vice versa. The role of the clinician is to bridge the gap between population-level data and patient-level treatment paradigms and to improve patient engagement with the broader aspects of their care. Providing clinicians with usable tools to resolve this disconnect and improve care coordination should be the goal of any big data project.

Bridging the Gap between Big Data and Analytics with Interoperability

The bridge between big data and meaningful analytics is interoperability and integrated healthcare—the ability to combine and analyze various forms and sources of data to provide meaningful insights and practical solutions on the road to PHM. Harmonizing the approach to health outcomes across the healthcare environment is one of the biggest challenges and one of the most important factors for successful interoperability and the integration of big data tools and insights in the experience of care. Optimizing the interoperability of data sources, medical devices, analytics tools and people in the healthcare environment should be a priority for developers and health systems, health partners and policy makers. By focusing on this aspect, we can start to incorporate other, less easily obtained outcomes from the patient pathway in our analysis and insights.

Realizing the Power of Healthcare Analytics

Healthcare analytics is becoming a specialty in and of itself, as clinicians need the ability to combine digital and technical aspects with their clinical knowledge and experience. Preparing for and continuing to refine the analytics process will help to drive the appropriate use of big data for maximum impact in the healthcare industry.

To realize the true power of healthcare analytics, here are some critical questions to think about:

  • Where does the data currently exist?
  • What is the best way to gather the data?
  • How do we collate it?
  • How does the data interact?
  • What analytics tools can we use to gain insights?
  • Can these insights be translated into practical and useful solutions for both patients and the health system as a whole?

Influencing the Pathway to Connected Care

There are many factors that influence the pathway to connected care. To get there, the healthcare industry needs to adopt new technology and embrace the growing expertise in analytics to allow care teams to effectively drive the experience of care. Incorporating actionable health insights into day-to-day situations in which care teams make decisions and supporting clinicians with the training necessary to leverage new technology is critical.

We are now seeing more physicians trained in clinical informatics, combining their areas of expertise to bring value to the healthcare community and the patient. These professionals provide expert analysis of data and have the clinical experience to garner valuable insights around end users. However, these end users—patients or healthcare professionals—need to be considered and consulted when it comes to developing and implementing new care tools for connected care. Are they comfortable with them? Do they understand them? Do they agree with their insights? Can they use them seamlessly without disrupting their normal workflow?

Asking these questions will help developers create tools that are tailored for the intended end user and ultimately support a more connected approach to care.

Interested in taking a closer look at interoperability in healthcare? Read our white paper “Interoperability in Healthcare: Closing the Gap between Patient Expectations and Reality” for a deeper dive.