Big data is changing health care

Nov 30, 2015 | Hospital Finance Efficiency

Big data could transform the healthcare industry as we know it. Since OptumLabs and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced their partnership, more health care systems are seeing the potential of big data to lower healthcare costs and improve the quality of care.

While big data has taken a lot of other industries by storm, health care has infamously lagged behind despite how useful the information could be. Big data analytics can help healthcare organizations become more informed about their patients and provide better insight into their care.

"Clearly there are some that are really innovative, but most systems are just starting this journey," Murtuza Mukadam, global head of healthcare strategy and solutions at consulting firm Virtusa, told Modern Healthcare.

As an example of how data can help the industry, OptumLabs, a research and innovation center based in Cambridge, Mass., will now provide HHS with the tools and technology to improve health care research, such as de-identified medical claims and clinical data. Their first research project will be led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and will compare the results of the government's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to OptumLab's claims data.

Other large organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic and Geisinger Health System, have also begun implementing this kind of research to improve their quality of care. The Geisinger Health System actually launched its own technology and analytics group, xG Health Solutions, in 2013 and has spent $200 million on information technology in the last 20 years. With these efforts, Geisinger reported to Healthcare IT News that it has been able to reduce hospital admissions by 27 percent.

While more systems branch out to data analytics, most healthcare IT efforts have focused on the move to electronic record keeping, motivated by the government's push through meaningful-use payments, Mukadam explained. These recent research projects are providing new incentive for other health care providers to focus on analytics, realizing how these efforts can ease financial risk.

To learn more ways to increase the financial efficiency of your health care organization, contact Professional Medical Services today.