4 keys to achieving the Holy Grail of big data

Lots of people in a hospital can say "No." Which of these people will say "Yes" and become your internal advocates?
By Paul Levy
10:22 AM

About every six months, one of the young brilliant and enthusiastic "big data" people who hang out in the MIT neighborhood near Kendall Square or in the Bay Area of California comes to me for advice as to how to break into the healthcare market. He or she is inevitably prepared to deliver the Holy Grail to a waiting healthcare world, i.e., a real-time decision support system that will codify the world of evidentiary medicine and help clinicians reduce length of stay, the number of unnecessary readmissions, and the cost of care. The person has sometimes, but not always, set up a "comparable" company in another field, analyzing big data and improving industrial processes, and s/he has often sold that business for a handsome sum to a multinational corporation or private equity firm.

I love meeting with these young people. They are true believers with no shortage of confidence, and they are fun to hang out with. So, I'm a bit reluctant to offer this blog post because I am going to set forth my advice in writing--knowing that I might perhaps make future personal meetings redundant. (But I'm hoping they'll still call.)

To obtain the Holy Grail, you need to satisfy the following interrelated conditions:

  1. A sophisticated data management system that, indeed, provides clinical advice that will be accurate in the vast majority of cases;
  2. A plan to integrate that system into the various support systems that exist in a hospital so that it can be used in real time, i.e., as patient care is being delivered;
  3. A plan to convince doctors and others to use the system;
  4. A strategy for getting the procurement approved by the various high-ranking clinical and administrative officials in the hospital.

On the first point, what level of accuracy do you think is required to offer a decision support system that could have the confidence of doctors? How would you test that accuracy?

On the second point, how long will it take to invent the interface between your system and the variety of clinical and administrative information systems that exist in your targeted hospital(s)? Think about it this way: How likely do you think it will be that you will get the time and attention of the CIO to install your system, as s/he is a bit busy with Meaningful Use projects?

On the third point, well, you know the issues. Please don't think that because you've satisfied #1, above, that adoption by MDs will be assured.

On the final point, who within your targeted hospital(s) will carry the water for this project in the strategic and budgetary reviews with the CIO, CNO, CMO, CFO, and CEO? Lots of people in a hospital can say "No."  Which of these people will say "Yes" and become your internal advocates?

If you can figure this all out and stay capitalized long enough to make sales and bring in revenue in a timely fashion, all will be well . . . if your approach truly offers a comparative advantage to the dozens of others trying to enter this arena.

This post appeared originally at Not Running a Hospital.

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