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Data in Healthcare: An All-Around Win

By: Robert Wood

data and health

To remain competitive in an increasingly crowded industry landscape, healthcare organizations must embrace the utility of data across their operations.

The era of charting on clipboards at patients’ bedsides and having massive filing cabinets serve as backdrops to nursing stations is over. Recent advances in data collection, analytics, cloud storage, and distributed computing have kickstarted rapid, large-scale change across the healthcare industry.

More than ever before, healthcare organizations want and need to utilize data solutions to improve patient care and health outcomes, reduce administrative and clinical costs, and optimize administrative and clinical operations. As a result, administrators and clinicians are turning to a variety of software as a service (SaaS) applications to streamline their approaches to digital transformation. Many hospitals and healthcare companies utilize several SaaS applications throughout their data ecosystems and cloud storage allows them to manage all their data at a reduced cost in a highly secure environment.

Let’s explore three of the major shifts in the healthcare industry that have been precipitated by the advances in and democratization of data solutions:

1. Exponential Increases in Data

The most significant shift in the healthcare industry stems from the ever-increasing volume of data that is being generated, captured, analyzed, and stored. For instance, paper health records are being converted to electronic health records (EHRs), which can be analyzed to determine treatment efficacy and patient recuperation status. EHRs can also serve as the foundation of systems that alert providers to abnormalities in clinical progressions, instances of serious conditions like cardiac and respiratory disease, mismanagement of prescription drugs, and more.

Clinical files, lab reports, and digitized CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays only add to the overwhelming volume of data that hospitals and healthcare companies need to capture and store. When all this data is placed at their fingertips, providers are able to use support vector machines and principal component analysis-driven classifiers to analyze CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays to ensure patients receive the best possible care at all times.

2. Moving Toward Comprehensive Health Records

The second significant shift in the healthcare industry is the progression toward comprehensive health records. While it is currently incumbent upon providers to ask the correct questions during consultations, in the future, a patient’s comprehensive health record will follow them throughout their entire healthcare journey.

It is already becoming increasingly common for patients to share more complete personal information with their providers and for providers to share information with each other (when authorized to do so). Once this becomes a true industry standard, the synthesis of genomic data, environmental data, family histories, and socioeconomic data will enable providers to deliver highly personalized treatments to patients across the care spectrum, which, in turn, will increase the likelihood of optimal patient outcomes.

3. Leveling-Up Administrative Functions with Data

The third significant shift in the healthcare industry involves hospitals’ and healthcare companies’ need to use data to optimize their administrative functions. Administrators understand that while patient care is of the utmost importance, patient satisfaction drives revenue. To that end, there is a substantial opportunity to use data to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing programs and patient satisfaction surveys.

For health systems that offer an in-house insurance plan, administrators can gauge patient satisfaction levels and treatment efficacy by using different provider networks as a baseline. They can also analyze the flow of patients through a provider system — from primary care to emergency medicine — to assess trends that can later be optimized and/or remedied as needed. Furthermore, administrators can use human resources data to evaluate staff retention by work group (e.g. critical versus acute care) and determine policies related to salary, PTO, and bonuses.

Standing out in a Crowded Healthcare Landscape

More often than not, patients default to choosing providers with exceptional performance track records and proven expertise. To ensure they achieve such a track record and illustrate their expertise, hospitals and healthcare companies have little choice but to start leveraging data as a means of navigating the industry shifts outlined above. That said, technology vendor selection and software implementation often require extensive planning, significant organizational change, and critical evaluations of current systems — all of which can be difficult for healthcare organizations to accomplish alone.

Fortunately, by drawing on our extensive experience and industry-specific expertise, consulting firms like SEI can deliver thought leadership throughout the transition from legacy data systems to modern data systems, help healthcare organizations understand the capabilities and solutions data analytics offer, and assist with the institutionalization of new methodologies. By partnering with SEI, healthcare organizations get the support they need to improve patient outcomes, practitioner satisfaction, and, ultimately, their own bottom lines.

Robert Wood


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