Goodbye data-driven orgs; Hello information-driven hospitals

Yes, there’s a difference, and speakers at the HIMSS Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum in October will offer a glimpse of the information-fueled road ahead.
By Tom Sullivan
11:15 AM
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Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum

Tom Sullivan moderates a panel discussion during May's Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum in San Francisco.

You say you’re data-driven? What was once bleeding-edge is becoming passé and giving way to a new turn of phrase: information-driven healthcare.

If that seems like little more than nuance, well, it’s not. Data is a raw material but, in this new realm, information is a tangible and actionable asset.

“That’s spot on philosophically,” said David Chou, chief information and digital officer of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. “We want the information to make decisions in real time.”

Chou is by no means alone. I’ve witnessed several renditions of that sentiment, in fact, at our recent HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum events. 

That’s a compelling goal for clinicians, technologists, executives and IT pros. Building the robust data infrastructure an information-driven hospital requires, in turn, will enable the next generation of care delivery — whether we’re talking about population health and patient-generated data, value-based care, precision medicine or a grand vision still to emerge.

[Register Now: Upcoming HIMSS Big Data & Health Analytics Forum]

On top of that IT infrastructure, of course, hospitals still need to figure out exactly how to use their information, what data and sources to look at and how to integrate this new approach into decision-making processes, according to Leigh Williams, administrator of business systems for the University of Virginia Health System.

HIMSS Analytics has asked providers about their pain points and found that the massive expense of operationalizing large-scale analytics programs to deliver fully integrated data sets is among the thorniest challenges.

“Hospitals have yet to solve all the technological, financial and structural issues that sometimes prevent data from flowing,” HIMSS Analytics Executive Vice President Blain Newton said. “Data normalization, consistency in defining metrics and sources across systems, as well as buy-in from staff are needed to manage data and apply it in a meaningful way.”

Experts will address those pain points as well as the immense opportunities — notably centralizing enterprise projects to reduce expenses by harnessing analytics, getting the biggest bang for your buck by impacting the most complex patients and populations, driving and measuring quality and performance, among others — at the upcoming Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum in Boston, Oct. 23-24, 2017.

Now, that was an admittedly ambitious list. I’m not suggesting it will be easy. No one is.

“We have a long way to go,” Williams said, “before we have operationalized a comfortable, trusted way to derive information from data and use it reliably and consistently to drive organizational priorities and specific decisions.”

That’s why now is the time to start steering toward actionable information for the sake of clinicians and, even more important, the patients that IT, administrators, executives and caregivers all serve.

I hope to see you in Boston.

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com


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