Big Data Could Generate $450 Billion For Healthcare System

Here’s some information that should give all of us something to chew on  this week, courtesy of the always-interesting Jane Sarasohn-Kahn at the HealthPopuli blog.  In a recent piece, Sarasohn-Kahn pulls data from McKinsey & Company suggesting that if big data is properly harnessed, it can produce nearly — wait for it — $450 billion in value for the healthcare system.

As always, however, there’s a catch. This value explosion can’t happen, McKinsey says, unless big data is leveraged across five dimensions of care. These dimensions, which McKinsey calls “new value pathways,” offer opportunities for better efficiencies and economies of scale for the health system, HealthPopuli notes.

The five dimensions include:

Right living, in which big data is used to help patients take an  active role in staying healthy, by such mechanisms as daily health reminders and getting patients to seek care early when problems do arise.

Right care, in which big data tools, particularly coordination of data across providers and settings, make sure that patients get the right care at the right time.

*  Right provider, in which data analytics matches patients with the ideal provider for their situation, sometimes to lower-cost providers that can provide appropriate care.

*  Right value, which uses big data analysis to reward providers who produce the best outcomes.

*  Right innovation, a pathway in which big data is mined to promote continuous improvement and productivity in healthcare processes as well as R&D.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Well, maybe not so much given what has to change. To travel down these pathways, McKinsey notes, it will take re-aligning several key forces in the healthcare system, including privacy and data security, a shift to  value-based reimbursement, partnerships across industry segments currently found in deep silos (such as payors and providers), and data analysis capabilities current lacking in the health IT workforce. Sigh. And  I was feeling hopeful there for a bit.

As Sarasohn-Kahn notes, one way McKinsey sees to meet some of these goals more quickly would be to promote transparency as a cultural norm. But honestly, the silos we see today exist for important institutional and competitive reasons. If we want key partners in the big data effort to cooperate, it’ll probably take a governmental club to that head. Hey, ONC, are you ready to get rough with those who don’t want to play in the same data sandbox?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.