Tackling the Unstructured Data- One EHR at a Time

Sandeep Gupta
Fri 30 Mar 2018
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Remember the debates around the US healthcare system circa 2000?

“We should find ways to reduce the soaring costs.”

“We should leverage technology to bring about the change.”

“Healthcare system has become much different than how it was a decade back.”

Felt a sense of déjà vu? Do you still hear such statements quite often? Despite our push for revolutionary changes and shift to value-based incentives, we are far from achieving the goals we set a decade or two back. What have we accomplished, and what have we failed to do in these years? But we brought technology into the picture- that ought to have made it all better. Did the challenge of pulling unstructured data together defeat us? Looking back, has technology failed our care providers? The answer- neither of them. The problem lies somewhere else- not in the EHRs, not in the claims data, and not in other disparate sources of healthcare data. The problem lies in the way we deal with the challenge of data influx from multiple sources, and what we do with it.

How big is the problem of unstructured data- and why do we need to address it?

The struggle of physicians with managing data is real. For instance, take an independent practitioner who roughly sees 15 patients a day. Every time, he has to manually feed the prescription details (and the test reports that he may have prescribed in the previous visit) in his EHR. After the episode, he also needs to report on the different quality measures. If it takes him 15 minutes to go about this process, he approximately spends close to 4 hours a day in data entry and reporting!

Even if a provider moves away from “legacy EHRs”, the benefits of coming-of-age solutions may still be limited if they do not offer transparency and speed. This can be attributed to the fact that the data silos are often too large to handle, and the prevalent black-box approach doesn’t give too many transparent insights. If a provider doesn’t know what goes into their system, how can they truly analyze what comes out? Further, if the “right insights” aren’t available at the “right time,” how can the “right person” actually put them to proper use to serve the underlined purpose?

Inpatient facilities, ED facilities, outpatient facilities, pharmacy, labs- data from every single source is essential. The data of millions of patients can further be classified into clinical and claims data, vendor and payer data, and so on. With so many different sources and transfer protocols in place, the data generated automatically becomes unstructured for the users. It is not only hard to access all of it, but data duplication too is a very complicated problem in itself. Factually, the problem is hard to define. And the consequences of ineffective data management are dire- ranging from physician burnout to substandard care outcomes.

How to address this problem- and how to unleash the freedom of data?

Right from the different points of data ingestion, we need to evaluate opportunities in our network. It is important to understand that even the greatest of pioneering technology needs the right implementation to turn data into insights, and ultimately, actionable information. The preferred approach, therefore, should be-

  • Extracting the data from different sources
  • Integrating the entire data on a unified healthcare data platform
  • Parsing the data and ensuring zero duplication and redundancies
  • Leveraging the generated insights to power care processes
  • Enabling provider-centric workflows and two-way interoperability for effective communication within the network
  • Reaping benefits like reduced care gaps, enhanced population health management, and outcome-centric referral management

Innovaccer’s unified healthcare data platform deals with all the heavy lifting of data to transform the care continuum. The obtained integrated data is a blend of clinical and claims data that translates into action-oriented information shared across all the practices within the network.

The focus is firmly shifting towards adding value to the care continuum, and the providers can no more afford to rely solely on the symptoms to accurately diagnose the patients. It is important to engage patients in their care journeys to vouch for best-possible outcomes using minimum resources. This can be done by identifying high-risk patients based on their medical history, Social Vulnerability Indices (SVIs), lab reports, and so on. If providers can stratify the patients based on their needs, they can assign suitable care managers, deduce round-the-clock action plans for patients with chronic diseases, ensure medication adherence, reduce readmissions, and whatnot.

It’s important for care gaps to be minimized that the provider and the patient are on the same page. All of this can be made possible with effective data analytics. Innovaccer’s unified healthcare data platform integrates data from different feeds like CCDA documents, ADT files, HL7 feeds, FHIR, among many others. These insights can only be of value if accessible to the entire care team in time irrespective of their location. This end-to-end solution ensures that the care teams get the best insights right at the point-of-care.

How important is the data quality and turnaround speed for the organizations?

“It takes a lot of hard work and planning to harvest all of your data,” remarks the CEO of a New Jersey-based ACO. The process may take months, but do healthcare organizations really have that much time at their disposal? Probably not. Network leakages and readmissions, for instance, can cost them millions of dollars annually.

Chronic back pain contributed significantly to the expenses of this New Jersey-based ACO- costing them about $158 million each year. They leveraged a unified healthcare data platform to gather insights about their utilization levels and referral processes. They worked on evaluating whether the patients responded better to a physical therapist or an alternative treatment by rigorously analyzing the data of the last two years. They found out that not only one of those treatment methodologies yielded substantially better results, but it also cost them $46 a patient, as compared to $86 a patient for the same treatment by the other methodology. Similarly, they were able to identify low-performing physicians based on 28 metrics like access to care, resources used, et al. They started focusing on better-performing physicians and directed referrals to these providers. These practices collectively saved the ACO tens of millions of dollars a year and made their patients healthier. The best part, they were able to do all this and in no more than 4 weeks of leveraging a healthcare data platform!

This is probably one of the many examples to testify the kind of impact smart data analytics can create. The healthcare leaders just need to ask the right questions and seek real-time information for their organizations. With the right technology, they can bring the data together and analyze it- all without the hassles of multiple interfaces and workflows.

The road ahead

An average American can just spend $50 on a dictation-based system that will guide him through all the traffic and even suggest him other, more efficient routes. With such simple technology within our reach, why does a patient have to run across the state seeking health! The data in healthcare is so easily available- it’s all about piecing them together with financial, administrative, and patient data. The data we have has a story tell- we just need the right tools!

To learn how the freedom of data can unleash a world of opportunities to improve clinical and financial outcomes, get a demo.

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Join Team Innovaccer at booth #1210 this Becker’s Hospital Review 9th Annual Meeting, from April 11 to 14, at Hyatt Regency, Chicago, Illinois and learn how we can assist you in delivering an efficient, data-driven healthcare.


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Tags: Healthcare, Integration
Sandeep Gupta
Tackling the Unstructured Data- One EHR at a Time

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