“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The healthcare space is ever-expanding and has only shown exceptional trends ever since its evolution. True, with emerging technologies and improved methodologies, healthcare has made astonishing advancements. However, the packaging and the delivery of that healthcare are often inefficient, ineffective, and at times- unfriendly.
Where Does the Problem Lie?
For a country that spends almost 18% of its GDP on healthcare and has the per capita healthcare expenditure of more than $10,000, there is little or no coordination among different healthcare providers. Not to mention how the fragmented and siloed nature of data systems make data access and exchange a challenge. The transition to value-based care is still underway, the profit margins are dipping, yet the overall healthcare cost is increasing at a rate much higher than that of inflation.
Driving innovation in healthcare
There has been an enormous investment in healthcare to make it seamless and patient-centric. The ability to share information without a hitch is one way- and it will not only help improve the current processes but also empower innovation throughout the healthcare industry.
Better innovation in healthcare can result in more convenient, effective, and less expensive treatments for patients. For example, new medical systems that can capture even the slightest of variations in a patient’s pulse. Or, there could be a simpler way that patients, especially the ones with chronic conditions, can easily travel from one healthcare facility to another for treatment. Or even better, a connected, vertically-integrated healthcare where patients are freed from the burden of coordinating their care across a myriad of providers.
All of these innovations require integration. Be it bringing together systems that could have crucial insights into healthcare data, or integrating different providers to create a multidisciplinary team thriving on information transparency- integration has to be the key. And it has to begin one datum at a time.
Leveraging data to fuel innovation
The influx of data in the healthcare industry is staggering. Healthcare data is growing at a whopping rate of 48% a year, and by 2020, there would be no less than 2,300 exabytes of data. And yet, we are unable to use data in a holistic manner to advance patient-centric care- something that could save the healthcare industry as much as $350 billion a year.
Data coming in from multiple sources in multiple formats is probably the biggest challenge we are facing in the healthcare industry currently. And since it’s collected from multiple systems, healthcare data is complex and requires advanced analytics to ensure meaningful insights.
Looking at this challenge of disparate data sources closely, we realized that this data, no matter how rich, doesn’t mean all that much as long as it resides in silos. As healthcare evolves to become one of the most data-oriented industries, it’s crucial that we also learn how to tap the potential of data and integrate it.
The first step could be collecting all this data together in a scalable, agile repository. It could be structured, like the claims data, or it could be unstructured, like lab results or EHRs. Or, it could even vary with every second, like data from wearables. All of this has to be brought together to understand the complete picture, a 360-degree view of every individual patient. Not only would it help understand the specific gaps in care for individual patients, it would also help understand the population health at large. Answers to questions like where have the ED visits been higher, what kind of chronic conditions are resulting in higher readmissions, or what facilities are tallying high on their utilization- can deliver important insights.
Towards an innovative, integrated healthcare
A holistic, integrated picture can significantly boost innovation in healthcare. Consider the first and the most important facet- becoming patient-centric. With integrated records at hand, providers can easily view the health status of their patients, understand the gaps in care, and formulate a strategy that addresses the specific needs of the patients. And taking care beyond the brick-and-mortar structure of hospitals, providers can engage community services along with an extended care team to coordinate care across the entire continuum. From traveling to one care setting to another, to having a greater control over their lifestyle, innovation can greatly enhance patient-centric care.
Even network performance and efficiency can be greatly improved by integration. The healthcare activities distributed among several different settings can be brought together to deliver a hassle-free experience for the patients. Not to mention how greatly it would impact the efficiency of care and save time. That would even draw attention to the immense cost drivers in a network and pinpoint the growth opportunities. Plus, a multidisciplinary approach would reduce the likelihood that a patient’s care will fall between the cracks.
And lastly, as healthcare witnesses a growth of technology, we could very soon be looking at implanted sensors that could alert healthcare providers of underlying risks. We already have a plethora of data, incoming from CCD documents, EHRs, 835/837 files, HL7 feeds, and wearables- and a holistic integration is required to connect the many islands of information in healthcare.
At Innovaccer, we deploy a Hadoop-based big data repository, an Integrated Data Lake that can ingest any kind of data format. Be it the CCD documents or the ADT feeds, or the X12 billings and claims files- the data lake is scalable and grows as the amount of data grows. All of this data is acquired, integrated, and stored in a normalized format with a unique Enterprise Master Patient Index. All the data is available on a unified platform, where organizations can leverage specific analytics to gain actionable insights.
A provider may wish to understand how their patients traverse in and out of the network to ensure the patients get the best care and remain within the network. A payer, on the other hand, would want to ensure that the patients are being referred to the best providers within the network. Both these organizations want to manage their network efficiently, albeit for different reasons, and would require different analytics- but integration remains primary for both of them.
The road ahead
Innovation in healthcare has been nothing short of explosive, delivering tools and solutions to improve life expectancy and quality of life. And as we find ourselves under another major transformation, innovation in healthcare is becoming a focus once again. Although a major part of innovation has remained and will be focused on developing new diagnostic procedures, therapies, drugs, or medical devices, we must not overlook promises to deliver more personalized care tailored specifically to a patient’s genetic profile and needs, more efficient, technology-enabled care models, and more integrated organizational designs. Only this time, integration and technology play a crucial role in driving innovation- the wise will recognize and ride this trend!
To learn how you could boost innovation with integration, get a demo.
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Join Team Innovaccer at booth #649 this HIMSS ’18, from March 5 to 9, at Venetian Palazzo, Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, and learn how we can assist you in delivering an efficient, data-driven healthcare.