9 Strategies for Leveraging Big Data in the Healthcare Industry

ref: 9 strategies for leveraging big data in the healthcare industry

    • Implement a data governance framework:  There is no point in collecting all the data unless it is tied to the governance structure.  Dashboards are getting very useful in hospitals these days and the possibilities are infinite.
    • Providers engagement:  It is important to engage the providers, so that they customise the software to suit end users.
    • Foster competition and transparency:  I’d say use of data is just entering the healthcare/hospital industry.  Till date it is not used the way it is in rest of the industry.  For example, comparing and contrasting the team performance and using it as governance tool to bring out the best our of teams.
    • Bake analytics into training:  All hospitals have Decision Support people who know little about healthcare and healthcare people who don’t know what wonders data can do.  There is absolute need for some convergence.  The best way would if healthcare people are trained on data tools that are available and what all information they can provide.  Then, analyst can do what all number crunching is required.
    • Provide for flexibility in information transference:  Depending on the work-style of the clinician, data should be made available to them.  The latest I am hearing is use of Google Glasses as a data device in hospitals.
    • When possible, choose in-house solutions over vendor-generated solutions: Naturally provides for greater flexibility, if our priorities change.  Else, the vendors should be ready to customize at short notice.
    • Create simple, understandable tools such as dashboard for clinicians on the frontlines to visualize incoming data:  Another great example would be various tablet or data device applications customized to suit various kind of users in hospital.  For example, one application for emergency people and other for medical or surgical wards.
    • Don’t scale up, scale out:  Some organizations may be prone to lean towards replacing their older servers with bigger and more powerful servers.
    • Close the Quality Loop:  Use change management methodologies to sustain changes being brought about by IT.

Mobile Aps for Patient Appointment

As per Health Minister Deb Matthew’s speech, there will be a lot of effort towards increasing accessibility of family physicians.  One of the ideas I have in mind is a database of cancelled appointments.  Probably at a LHIN level would be a good idea.  Say, physician assistant can upload the list of empty slots on to the database.  They can be sorted and searched by patients on the basis of postal code of the clinic.  That way patients/caregiver can find earliest appointment closest to home.

Considering these are they days of mobile applications, another thought crossed my mind.  Say, if you are driving down one of the roads, and are nowhere near your family doctor.  In such a situation, a mobile application will allow you to access the same database.  The mobile device will use GPS to determine your location, and suggest earliest and closest physician from where you are.  The phone will connect you to the physician assistant to make an appointment.  Also, already existing GPS based mapping application will give you driving instructions to the clinic.

EHR adoption and role of senior executives

In the latest edition of Healthcare Executives, there is articles by John M. Buell about EHR adoption and role of senior executives.   It compares one small, two mid-size and one large hospital.

I happen to go through what it had to say about small and one of the medium sized hospital.  In small hospitals their challenges were simple, whether to work upon existing IT infrastructure or go for system wide single integrated approach with one provider.  And rightfully so they chose the latter.  Another thing that stands out is that they got user buy-in before they approached their boards.

For their implementation plan they decided to go for big-bang approach, that is going live system wide on the same day.  It probably worked for them, but I’d won’t be in favour of such an approach.  Now matter how diligent or experienced you maybe, you cannot negate the possibility of last minute glitches.  It would be far better if one department goes live first, and once all problems are ironed out that the rest of the hospital goes live.  This will prevent undue pressure on IT department and allow team to learn from implementation process.

The article also sites example of their identifying a security problem, and how they found a unique solution from outside the industry.