The past couple days I’ve had a the opportunity to interact with many of the top healthcare professionals in New York City at the Digital Health Conference. As I think back on the many talks I’ve heard at the event or had with attendees I’m struck by the power that data can hold for healthcare.
Whether we’re talking about the SHINY HIE which will exchange the healthcare data across the state of NY or if we’re talking about the multitude of sensors that are collecting more data than we can process, it’s becoming quite clear to me that healthcare is heading towards a very data driven world. Soon the day will come when very little is done in healthcare without consulting the data. Although, most of that “consultation” will just happen seamlessly as part of the process.
Most doctors already do this today, but on a much smaller level. A doctor consulting a paper chart as part of the care is a doctor looking at the data before providing care. Now imagine that times a million. That’s where we’re headed.
This was really driven home after Jim Messina’s keynote today. In his keynote, he talked about the detailed ways he and the Obama campaign used data to target their efforts. I can’t do his talk justice in this post, but the way he was able to use data to look at the population was remarkable. We need to apply that to healthcare as well.
I’m not talking some pie in the sky “big data” project that so many like to espouse. I’m talking about using the data to really change people’s lives.
I think a lesson can be learned from Jim Messina. He said that for the first year or two they really struggled with these efforts. My guess is that they were still gathering the data sources and trying to find the meaning in the data. The point is that it wasn’t an overnight thing. It took them time, effort, and focus to finally get their arms around the data in a way that they could benefit from it.
Although, Jim Messina’s efforts had one thing that seems to really be lacking in healthcare: a clear goal. Jim Messina had a clear goal of getting Obama reelected. Everyone knew and understood that goal. We need a similar clear goal in healthcare. I think that goal should be: better quality care at lower cost. The challenge is that this goal goes against some of the economic realities for many institutions. However, for those organizations looking long term, nothing will benefit them more financially than reaching this goal.