Turning data into action
At the Healthcare IT News Big Data & Analytics Forum this past week, more than two dozen chief data officers, medical informaticists, pop health gurus and other analytics leaders offered some valuable bits of insight about turning patient data into concrete change.
Recognize the value of what you have
"A lot of people struggle with the concept of 'data-driven,'" said Chris Keaton, director, information & analytical advancement at HealthNow New York. "They think they are if they read a lot of reports." But the true "data-driven" organization is one that realizes information is their primary asset, he says: "We're in the information age; information is money."
Innovation has to happen faster
What we mostly have now is "an infrastructure that shows the clinician, one patient at a time, what he or she typed in the past -- a very narrow slice of big data," said opening keynoter Kenneth Mandl, MD, chair in biomedical informatics and population health at Boston Children's Hospital. Health IT should look like an iPhone, he said: Apps on EHRs, able to be added or deleted, enabling innovators can get to point-of-care as easily as Angry Birds gets downloaded to a smartphone.
At the same time, it's important to slow down
"One of the key components in our success was giving technical resources the time to experiment and to innovate," said Jonathan Greenberg, director of fast analytics University of Michigan Health System. "Leadership needs to allow the thinkers to do some thinking."
Have a plan
No matter were you are in your analytics journey, you have to know the endgame, said Eran Bellin, vice president of clinical IT research and development at Montefiore Medical Center, quoting the great Wayne Gretzky: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
Pay attention to the outliers
"I've yet to see healthcare Big Data, only little data," said Sriram Vishwanath, professor of engineering at UT Austin, noting that, of tens of millions of patients, it's a few hundred thousand who are most consequential for costs and outcomes.
Nicholas Marko, MD, chief data officer at Geisinger Health System said the difference between just doing analytics, and doing analytics that get deployed in a meaningful way is having a strategy that backs it up. Analytics is just one piece of an enterprise data strategy, including enterprise data warehouse, business intelligence, governance, cybersecurity and infrastructure, he said, adding that analytics is not a technology issue -- it's about people: "If you don't have a good core team of people driving your analytics, it's not going to work right."
Draw inspiration from Demings
Ray Manahan, director of government programs at Providence Health & Services, cites four letters from W. Edwards Deming ("Father of the Science of Quality Improvement") as data guide: PDSA. PLAN or design the ‘experiment’; DO the experiment ; STUDY the results, outcomes, and unexpected problems; ACT on the results by integrating learning generated throughout the process to make adjustments. Manahan adds another acronym for data utility: SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound).
Data governance key (so is communicating its importance)
"Don’t let governance be something people have to do," said Chris Keaton (right). "Show value: how it will speed their lives."
"Pluralistic ignorance" (assuming others know something you don't, thus preventing you from saying something that could be valuable) is a major barrier to innovation, said Sam Sommers, associate professor of psychology at Tufts University.
Strive for quality