Unified Cloud Data Models to Overcome Healthcare’s Law of Unintended Consequences

Seth Joseph
Fri 19 Oct 2022
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In his latest Forbes column, Seth Joseph asked the question, “Is Platform As A Service (PaaS) becoming healthcare’s preeminent cloud model?“ He then offered four compelling reasons why he believes PaaS is the superior data management and application development model for healthcare delivery systems that want to create more value for their organizations, patients, and other healthcare stakeholders.

He joins us here to dig a little deeper with a follow-up that looks into the role a unified data model plays within a data PaaS. His argument: It’s not just the platform, but the unification and use of high-quality data within the platform where the outsized impact can be found.

Unified Cloud Data Models to Overcome Healthcare’s Law of Unintended Consequences

Guest opinion by Seth Joseph

Healthcare today suffers from “the law of unintended consequences.” Though there is more health data than ever before, the shareability and usability is severely lacking. The majority of software sold today is still on-premise, which means information often remains locked up in EHRs and other point systems (pharmacy, labs, payers, and, increasingly, medical devices of all sorts).

A cloud data PaaS that embodies a unified data model is the key to unlocking information held in disparate EHRs and virtually any other crucial healthcare IT system. It makes it possible to rapidly integrate high-quality data from myriad IT silos—EHRs, claims, labs, pharmacy, revcycle, and even third-party sources (such as SDoH, community resources, Admission Discharge Transfer [ADT] sources, Transitional Care Management [TCM] protocols, and so on).

The end result is a unified patient record: a longitudinal view of the patient and the care management process that serves as a single source of truth to power clinical engagement, decision making, and actionable analytics at both the person and population level. This fundamental shift from a fragmented data environment, ripe with multiple data models and weak to no interoperability, to a holistic patient view provided by a unified cloud data model is seeing success in hospitals and health systems.

Just as I offered four reasons why PaaS is better for healthcare data and analytics, and applications, I now offer the mic drop: four reasons why and how a cloud data PaaS built around a unified data model is more than a differentiation. It’s an obvious choice for embracing and extending the ROI of existing healthcare IT systems (let’s not rip and replace!), while also establishing a long-term basis for accelerated innovation and digital transformation.

  1. By using a cloud data platform, healthcare organizations are relieved from having to do the nitty gritty work of basic data processing, data quality, and data governance—processes which can take years and cost millions. This frees up resources to focus on higher-value interests; and focus on extracting value from, and adding value to, existing data.
  2. A cloud data platform enables healthcare organizations to focus on adding solutions or building applications that apply insights from that data into work processes. Using this approach, organizations can more rapidly deploy or design unique applications and disruptive market applications that bring new value to their organization and the industry.
  3. By breaking down existing information barriers, healthcare organizations can have unprecedented visibility into the patient’s clinical record, for example. Integrated into care workflows, this opens the door to true cooperation and coordination, enables a more seamless and integrated consumer experience, and leads to better clinical and financial outcomes.
  4. A cloud data platform establishes a path for contracting to be standardized, making it easier for health systems to add or remove capabilities and applications as needed, such as predictive AI, referral and utilization management, voice-enabled digital assistants, behavioral health management, avoidable readmissions and risk management, integrated SDoH data, predictive analytics, and more.

Cloud Data Platforms and Network Effects

Another benefit of cloud data platforms, particularly if they are built with modern APIs and a collaborative business strategy, is that they can benefit from network effects: third-party developers will create innovative new applications that integrate tightly into the platform, which creates more value for and attracts more healthcare organizations.

Health systems can increasingly play a central role in creating and leveraging network effects, but they haven’t been able to play that role yet because of existing data silos and limitations. The traditional mindset in healthcare is to control and isolate data to keep it within a system’s walls—with EHRs taking similar tactics. But health systems who embrace the network effect will be better able to pursue quality, convenience, and value. And they can then leverage their scale to create their own network effects.

Using a unified cloud data model, healthcare organizations can focus on outcome objectives, extend the value of the existing IT investments, and thwart (even end!) data fragmentation. These efforts improve care coordination, support quality care delivery, reduce the cost of care, and enable a more connected patient experience. Moreover, they help healthcare systems take advantage of the network effect to speed their ability to meet new use cases, and scale operations locally, regionally, or even globally.


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Tags: Healthcare
Seth Joseph

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