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    Making sense of big data: Data projects spur progress

    The use of data in healthcare has been hailed as a solution for saving time and dollars and improving patient outcomes for a healthcare organization. However, many health systems have a hard time capturing and using data from patients that can make a real impact on their businesses.

    Part of the issue lies in electronic health record (EHR) data, which can provide an incomplete picture of patient behavior, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. EHRs are inadequate in capturing mental health diagnoses, visits, specialty care, hospitalizations, and medication, according to the study by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

    For example, when behavioral healthcare is administered off site, EHRs can miss large amounts of data, which can lead to overprescribing and missed diagnoses. EHRs missed 89% of data for acute psychiatric services, and for those receiving less than two weeks of outpatient care for depression or bipolar disorder, 60% and 54% of care, respectively, according to the study.

    “Recent massive investment in EHRs was predicated on the assumption of improved patient safety, research capacity, and cost savings. However, most U.S. health systems and health records are fragmented and do not share patient information,” the study’s authors say.

    When big data can be used holistically to revamp healthcare processes including care coordination, patient relationships and financial services, the results can save organizations thousands of dollars and a lot of hours.

    According to research by Evariant, the effective use of big data in healthcare could save the industry $300 million a year. Analysis of real-time data saved one hospital $850,000 in overtime costs, with more intelligent discharge planning, disease management, quality assurance, and performance reporting, according to Evariant.

    However, it has been difficult for healthcare providers to integrate EHR data with clinical transcripts and other notation that would add context to patient care. According to a 2015 eHealth Initiative survey, only 17% of providers have been able to couple population health analytics with EHR data.

    Due to these data constraints, healthcare organizations have been partnering with technology organizations to make health records more complete, and increase patient engagement in the care coordination process.

    Next: Enhancing the record

     

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