Laurel Borowski, MPH
Solutions Manager, Streamline Health, Inc.
Healthcare is moving quickly and irreversibly into a new era of risk-based accountable care. This business model will leverage predictive analytics on big data as a primary conduit to adapting and eventually succeeding in value-based purchasing programs. As such, it’s critically important to bring together traditional clinical and financial data in meaningful ways. However, there are many other sources of data available that can be factored into analysis. If properly collected and processed, this can provide valuable insight into managing care and aligning resources in ways that improve outcomes while also achieving value metrics.
- Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO): This is information directly from the patient on the status of their health condition—without interpretation from clinicians. When PRO collection is aligned with clinical care, this information can be used in real time to triage patients, for quality monitoring, to trigger interventions and education, or for research. These uses should be transparent to patients, clinicians, researchers, and other stakeholders. Over time, this may help engage patients in their own health care and ultimately inform and improve evidence-based patient care.
- Environmental Sensors: Data from environmental sensors can be collected to track and build linkages between environmental exposures and health outcomes. Adults and children are exposed to a wide variety of contaminants in food, water, air, and every day. There are clearly associated links between these exposures and disease or other conditions. Including environmental data is critical to tracking disease and health outcomes across populations, yet this information isn’t currently collected or integrated in meaningful ways.
- Social Media: Not only has social media become a place where the public goes to seek health information, but these same media channels allow for two-way public communication between patients, providers and other third parties. Given the reach and potential engagement level, social media outlets could represent the largest platform for health discussions available. Every day, this vast network of healthcare influencers, thought leaders, patients, providers, organizations, and governmental entities create rich healthcare content, messages and signals, including almost instantaneous feedback in many cases. If segmented, analyzed and curated in a meaningful way, this data can provide incredible insights.
- Wearable Technologies: Wearable health devices and apps could help fill the gaps in electronic health records. These devices can capture tremendous amounts of peripheral data such as activity levels, sleep patterns, and even dietary data like when and what a user has eaten. Given the growing understanding of lifestyle and behavioral influences on medical conditions, these could provide crucial information—captured and transmitted almost instantly— to support care delivery and outcomes tracking. By providing a more complete picture of patient health, wearable devices could also help cut healthcare costs as providers utilize preventive measures more effectively. Because both clinicians and patients can notice problems earlier, patients with chronic illnesses can address concerns before winding up in the emergency room.
While clinical and financial data captured and managed by providers will remain the foundation of effective analysis, these additional sources of information can deliver more robust insight. By collecting and integrating this data, providers and patients can both gain a more comprehensive understanding of health needs, care efficacy and the overall value being realized by all.