I started by observing that healthcare IT finds ourselves in a rather remarkable place as we look to Health IT Week as a focus for reflection. The adoption of EHR’s is widespread and these applications are facilitating a rapidly-growing trove of data with virtually unimaginable potential. As an industry, we’re poised to take the lessons-learn from other industries that have gone before us and realize the full potential of our data much more rapidly and without the failures we would otherwise experience. The promise of big data looms large in terms of the potential to drive a shift from the treatment of disease to the promotion and management of health. And lastly, the beginnings of a shift to paying for value rather than activity are starting to align financial motivations with clinical quality to drive unprecedented quality, efficiency, safety and value from what can – and should be—the best healthcare available anywhere in the world.
So after four days I think it’s fair to put in a plug for Informatica and the role we have to play in helping transform healthcare. When I speak on our vision for data driven healthcare, I highlight three core capabilities that are required for healthcare organizations to realize the full potential of their data:
- Data integration must be a core competency. Organizations must be able to rapidly connect to new sources of data; profile the quality of the data and apply data quality rules to eliminate incorrect and erroneous data from being used to make decisions; map and transform this high-quality data into new formats; and load the cleansed data into a wide variety of target systems that may include an enterprise data warehouse. All of this work must be accomplished in an environment that provides end-to-end transparency from source to target of everything that has been done to the data along the way, since it is only with this transparency that business and clinical end users can build the faith in the data required to move from questioning it’s accuracy to using data as the basis for rapid and effective decision-making.
- All healthcare participants and relationships must be clearly understood and documented. Delivering efficient, high-value care requires that we know with confidence who all the participants in the healthcare process are, and to measure performance and be proactive also requires that we know the relationships between the participants. For instance, knowing that John Smith and Jonnie Smyth are the same patient is key achieving the 360 degree view of the patient required for making the right healthcare decisions for John and managing his health. Similarly, knowing that Geoff Johnsen MD and Jeff Johnson MD are in-fact the same provider is equally important if we are going to capture his practice patterns and profile the care he provides. But equally, if not more important, to becoming data driven is knowing with confidence that Dr. Johnsen is Mr. Symth’s primary care physician. With this fact, we can now quickly attribute patients to providers for the purposes of quality and outcome reporting; deliver proactive alerts to Dr. Johnsen whenever one of his patients goes to the emergency room, etc. And this concept of trustworthy data about participants and relationships cannot be limited simply to patients and providers – it must include employees, members, locations, implantable medical devices or legal entities –basically anything that we want to develop a 360 degree view around must be managed as trustworthy master data so that when the data is needed, it can just be consumed without fear of errors.
- Organizations must be able to take action on what they know. Healthcare delivery is fragmented across organizations, facilities, hospitals, doctors, specialists and departments, to name just a few. Our information systems are similarly fragmented having grown up supporting the silos of care delivery, and these facts make it very difficult for these same information systems to deliver the decision support required to promote coordinated care that spans care settings. To be successful, healthcare organizations need a solution that can delivery alerts in near-real-time (during the moment of interaction with the patient) that provide health maintenance reminders; deliver key information such as a warning that a patient should not be discharged with a particular set of unresulted studies; or push discharge history and care plans to the point of care as a means of reducing avoidable readmissions. This sort of “decision support in the white space” is not a replacement for more traditional EHR-based features, but rather a complementary capability to bridge the gap between systems that exist both between, and within, organizations.
With this perspective, I will conclude my series of thoughts on National Healthcare IT Week with the final observation that all-in-all I think as healthcare IT professionals we’ve has a pretty good week.
And I really can’t wait for what the next few years have in store for us!