Connecting health care’s data dots

Getting past the “same, but different” dilemma

The health care industry has spent the better part of the last decade focused on automating processes. Not surprisingly, the industry now faces a familiar dilemma: disparate systems with similar, yet different data. Back-end and clinical systems are unable to talk to each other, and when they do, they aren’t speaking the same language because the data doesn’t necessarily match. This isn’t surprising given that different systems look at data differently—most were originally intended to operate separately.

As health care pushes to become a data-driven industry, it must use all of the data from its various systems to make improvements in every area: cost reduction, performance, efficiency, and, above all else, patient care. This will require health care CIOs to lead the industry in integrating systems to drive even greater value from the data. If data remains locked in silos, the industry will hit a ceiling in terms of achieving its goals.

Consider, for example, calculating the total cost of care, an increasingly important industry measurement.

Electronic health records (EHRs) play an important role in determining the cost of care.  During the past decade, EHRs were one of the most significant technology investments made across the industry. The implementation of EHRs was a $28 billion business in 2016, and it is forecast to grow to $36.6 billion by 2021.

Moving EHRs beyond the status quo

The expectation is that EHRs will help enable the industry to deliver patient care more effectively and efficiently. The data recorded in EHRs can be used for in-depth outcomes analysis and adverse event reporting. It can also help improve revenue growth by ensuring that organizations record complete and accurate information on chargeable items.

EHRs on their own do a fine job automating patient records but fall far short of their intended bigger picture value because the information in the record is limited in quality and scope. This is not a design flaw but exemplifies the challenge you face when you allow your systems to remain in silos.

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