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Leveraging the data platform for healthcare

To meet value-based reimbursement and business objectives while providing the highest quality care, many healthcare organizations are tapping into a resource they have in abundance – data.

Heather Johnson | Aug 31, 2017 09:13 am

Improving patient outcomes and keeping costs down aren’t new goals for healthcare organizations. However, the move to value-based care, combined with unsustainable growth in healthcare costs, declining reimbursement rates and tighter operating margins, has prompted healthcare organizations to push the envelope in terms of patient and financial health.  

To meet value-based reimbursement and business objectives while providing the highest quality care, many healthcare organizations are tapping into a resource they have in abundance – data.

Experts estimate the average hospital manages more than 665 terabytes of data.1 That data comes from many sources, including:

  • electronic health records (EHRs)
  • medical images
  • patient-generated health data
  • diagnostics
  • medical equipment
  • genomic testing
  • mobile devices
  • wearables
  • telemedicine

How does a healthcare organization derive meaning from all this data in a way that allows them to improve care and lower costs? A robust data storage and analytics platform.

“A data platform allows you to drive better and more actionable insights in a just-in-time fashion from your data,” said Vik Nagjee, vice president and chief technology officer for Pure Storage's global healthcare and life sciences practices. “It uses speed, agility, and intelligence to produce better patient care and outcomes and better financial health and margins.”

Lessen the IT burden

Most healthcare organizations understand that patient data analytics can improve patient care and outcomes as well as operational performance. But for a business that uses hundreds of applications, some of which generate data governed by strict privacy and security rules, how does it make analytics happen? And who has the time?

Nagjee sees a solution in a centralized IT organization. Rather than hundreds of applications operating as silos, applications would operate under single governance, with all data stored, secured and retrieved under one centralized organization.

“Centralized governance gives you standardization, security, compliance and better organizational bargaining capabilities,” he said. “It frees up an IT organization that’s spending all its time managing infrastructure and applications.”

A centralized IT organization built around an all-flash data storage platform allows IT staff to “set it and forget it.” They can consolidate important datasets and reduce the number of storage components. That means less time spent configuring, managing and monitoring storage and more time innovating.

Mercy Health, which includes 45 hospitals and more than 700 physician practices and outpatient clinics throughout the south and Midwest, used EHR data and machine intelligence to create what Mercy calls “clinical pathways.” Using one pathway, Mercy learned that by giving knee replacement surgery patients pregabalin before surgery, they could reduce the need for post-surgery medication and shorten length-of-stay recovery time.2

Another clinical pathway cut the mortality rate in half for coronary bypass grafting surgery patients.3 “None of this would have been possible if the IT organizations weren’t able to support this particular initiative,” said Nagjee.

Make the most of your data

While artificial intelligence and genomic sequencing promise to improve service and help doctors design precise treatment plans, tight operating budgets don’t always allow for such tools. Even so, a healthcare organization can put data to use with a robust storage platform and EHR.

EHR systems are a critical factor in improving patient care, satisfying meaningful use compliance requirements, enabling evidence-based care initiatives and supporting advanced disease management processes. With interoperability and data sharing, EHR supports population health and value-based care initiatives as well as collaboration among organizations.

Epic EHR, for example, integrates with Tableau and QPID analytics software. This enables healthcare organizations to transform data into actionable insights that benefit clinicians and healthcare administrators.

Nagjee recalled a healthcare CIO who reported his hospital reduced emergency room wait times by an average of 120 minutes. He achieved this result with EHR analytics and “elbow grease.” “He used data to figure out what the choke points were, and then figured out how to apply people, processes and organization culture changes to help address them,” Nagjee said. “The hospital had a good outcome both financially and in patient experience.”

The data storage platform provides the foundation for elaborate data science projects. With an all-flash platform, healthcare organizations get the capacity to handle terabytes of data, as well as IOPS performance to deliver information 10 times faster than a hard disk drive.

When storage, EHR and analytics vendors collaborate, healthcare organizations get a powerful, Nagjee concluded, data-driven solution for improving patient outcomes and operations.

Resources

1. Chris Hayhurst. “Mining Answers from Big Data,” Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, March/April 2015.

2. Todd Stewart MD; Francis X. Campion MD, FACP. “Using Machine Intelligence to Reduce Clinical Variation,” Presentation for American Medical Group Association. March 24, 2017.

3. Brad Haller. “Computerworld Honors Mercy for Data Innovation,” Mercy.net, September 2, 2015.