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Creating a Holistic View: Data Consolidation and Integration

The consolidation of data and integration of systems is essential to providing a holistic 360-degree view of patients and members. This view can enable a variety of activities to enhance and drive efficiency in business and clinical activities, such as increasing patient safety and the quality of care healthcare delivery organizations provide to patients.

One organization that understands the challenges associated with bringing data together across a large number of hospitals is Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization that has been recognized for high-quality patient care more often than any other academic medical center in the nation, has been going through one of the largest electronic medical record system overhauls ever. The implementation and integration of the system at its network of hospitals and clinics are estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

According to project co-chair Dr. Steve Peters, the unified systems will enable the organization to be more effective. “Having one integrated system builds on our foundation of putting the needs of patients first, which will enhance services, accelerate innovation, and enable us to provide better care,” Peters said. All health records will be in one system, regardless of which Mayo location patients are seen.

With a robust EHR solution, patients can send messages to their physicians, schedule and check into appointments, and manage (e.g., view doctor notes and test results) their health more efficiently. In addition, robust EHRs enable organizations to monitor the quality of care they provide to patients, which is critical, considering that insurance companies are increasingly being paid based on quality instead of the services they provide.

They also allow you to bring in data from any vendor source, whether it’s claims, revenue, patient-generated, or other EHRs. The interoperability factor is a big advantage.

Humana, one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers, stated on its 2018 Q1 earnings call that “We can improve the quality of care by using data analytics to predict when a member is at risk for an acute event, and using that data to arm the physician and in-home clinicians with a comprehensive view of the member.”

Ensuring that patient data is collected, centralized, and integrated can also reduce medical mistakes. Far too often, errors are made due to the lack of patient information captured or even the inaccessibility of the healthcare data that is already maintained in organizations’ systems. In fact, a recent study from Johns Hopkins University concluded that the most prevalent cause of death in the United States is related to medical errors.

According to a Technology CEO Council report highlighted by the software company MuleSoft (acquired by Salesforce), “An estimated 86% of medical errors are administrative.” The report indicated that three out of 10 medical tests are reordered because doctors and other stakeholders cannot find the results that are often hidden in a number of applications, systems, and devices.

These types of problems place a significant financial burden on healthcare organizations and therefore increase the costs for patients. It increases the time it takes for patients to be treated and keeps their health at risk.

Another area in which system consolidation, integration, and inoperability remain incredibly important is mergers and acquisitions (M&A). A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review cited a report that indicates 30 M&A transactions were announced in Q1 2018, which is up 11% from the year before. The $156 billion in deals made it the largest quarter for healthcare M&A in the last ten years.

With M&A activity expected to continue, the challenges it brings will also remain. According to 26 healthcare executives, EHR, analytics, and interoperability are the hot topics when it comes to IT, and in many cases, are topics of conversation during initial M&A discussions.

Specifically, healthcare organizations must decide whether to use one EHR platform or continue using disparate systems. Regardless of the direction in which the organization chooses to move, there’s a significant amount of work that is required. For those that choose to leverage a single EHR system, a migration of patient records from the hospitals needs to be performed.

For organizations that choose to operate multiple EHR platforms, interoperability becomes critical. How can an organization collect and integrate data from disparate EHR solutions and other systems to provide a consistent, central, and 360-deegree view of patient information?

When asked what their main challenges were regarding interoperability, findings from a poll of healthcare executives indicate that data migration was the most significant obstacle, followed by workflow synchronization and common standards of care.

Increasingly, the data captured from patients and member interactions via web, mobile, and social is also being used to enhance the 360° view leading to new opportunities for personalization, improved patient/member interactions, and methods for identifying and removing friction from the customer journey.

According to a press release issued by Fitbit, the company plans to leverage Google’s Cloud Healthcare API to integrate user data with electronic health records. Gregory Moore MD, Ph.D., vice president, healthcare, Google Cloud, said the partnership between Google and Fitbit would help “deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment.”

With the right data strategy and technology in place, organizations can avoid similar issues. The optimization of their data collection, consolidation, integration, and analysis processes can ultimately enable them to facilitate better patient care. It can enable organizations to make more informed decisions on treatments, costs, and claims.

We recently published a guide that explores how data and technology can enable organizations to make informed healthcare decisions, produce better patient outcomes, and create a better patient and stakeholder experience. You can download it below.

This blog was co-authored by Tom Lennon.

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