Three Ways Providers are Using Big Data to Improve Care

In 2005, only 30 percent of office-based physicians and hospitals used even basic electronic medical records (EMRs), according to a report from McKinsey & Company. In 2011, that number rose to nearly 50 percent for physicians and nearly 75 percent for hospitals. Today, nearly 80 percent of office-based physicians use EMRs. As providers continue to gain access to patient data, they are using that data to improve the care experience by providing better care at lower costs to produce more positive outcomes.

Here are three ways providers are working with data to improve the care experience:

1. Improving Care Coordination

Sharing data among the various locations where a patient receives care, when possible, can help providers better coordinate patient care. For patients and hospitals participating in health information exchanges, if a patient is admitted to the hospital, their primary care provider can receive an alert so that they can schedule a follow-up visit. This communication and sharing of information ensures the patient will receive coordinated care from the hospital and their primary care provider, which has been shown to lower costs and improve outcomes. 

2. Identifying High-Risk Patients

Analyzing claims data on patients with certain conditions can identify high-risk patients who have a greater chance of ending up in the emergency room. A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care found that predictive analytics can look at comorbidity and historical service utilization data to determine which patients are likely to end up in the emergency room. Using this knowledge, providers can intervene to provide preventive care in order to improve patient outcomes and lower costs by preventing emergency room visits.  

3. Remote Monitoring

New technology, including popular “wearables,” allows providers to access real-time key health metric data that impacts patients. One example is a remote “smart glucose monitor” that provides constant updates on information related to patients’ diabetes. Doctors can access biometric data on their diabetes patients’ glucose levels, as well as meals and physical activity. Armed with this data, doctors are able to make personalized treatment recommendations that are more likely to improve their patients’ health and prevent future costly and distressing hospitalization. 

Technology will continue to allow providers to access crucial data that provides key insights into their patients’ health. Each provider will find ways to analyze that data and apply the findings that work for his or her practice and patient population.