High Stakes

Healthcare’s Big Date with Data

Policies, politics, regulations – each day brings something different in healthcare. So, in these interesting times, what’s certain for our industry? According to the folks at last week’s McGuire Woods Healthcare and Life Sciences Private Equity and Finance Conference in Chicago, certainty is a four letter word: DATA.

Across the spectrum – and especially as the industry navigates the change from volume to value – access to data along with the ability to translate it and use it properly will be requisite for any provider organization’s long-term success.

Discussion of data can induce phobic shivers in some individuals. However, its importance is only going to increase. With that in mind, consider a few nuggets from the conference’s expert thinkers:

Data and Big Data are different, but they’re both important.

As Joanne Steffen, an advisor with iHealth Technologies put it, “Data is where you are today. Big Data is how you make decisions about the future.” More and more data is being collected about patients and outcomes – and over longer periods of time. To use it correctly, providers must know what questions need answering and what information is needed to answer them, plus how to use the right information to make the right decision.

Data will increasingly drive relationships between providers and payors.

As new care models come to market and care is increasingly taken out of the traditional hospital setting, payors are going to turn to the data to determine a number of things. Chief among them: reimbursement rates and network status. For providers, positioning and negotiating will be more successful if they can use strong data to show that their care and care models improve outcomes, add value and provide a better overall patient experience.

The intersection between technology and data will be critical in a value-based world.

Telemedicine. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS). Wearables. In a digital, mobile world, patients will have their health data at their fingertips. The same goes for EMRs. Michael Healey, a principal at Triple Tree Capital Partners, refers to these as great “filing cabinets” that the industry needs to unlock so they can leverage the insights lurking in the reams of data.

What if providers could effectively access all of the data being collected – actively and passively – on their patients? If so, they could intervene at the first sign of trouble instead of waiting to treat an unchecked illness. Trends could be tracked over time. Care plans could be amended to be more responsive and personalized. Here, data could go beyond facts and figures to equal value.

Healthcare is already data intensive, but the vast majority of providers lack the analytical tools to make sense of it all, according to Brooks Dexter, a managing director at Duff & Phelps. While daunting, providers should take advantage of this opportunity to make their data their own. The advice: Embrace data – learn to collect it and to leverage it in a way that works best for your organization. Doing so will help take relationships, service and outcomes to the next level.


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