In healthcare, big data alone isn’t enough

For what it’s worth, most hospitals and health systems have realized the value in investing in big data. They’re eagerly raking in a plethora of data, focusing solely on the collection aspect.

But that’s insufficient, Gray Matter Analytics president and CEO Sheila Taltonproposed during an event last week at Chicago-based startup incubator MATTER.

“The real story is: How do you have data that’s accessible that can actually become information? Because data is not information,” she said.

Most healthcare organizations have gotten the data gathering process down pat, and they’ve become experts at utilizing data to report what happened. However, the industry needs to keep moving forward so that data can be used to get descriptive insights, predictive insights and prescriptive recommendations.

Systems are clearly impeded from making good use of the data they have. Part of the problem is the fact that much of the data is siloed.

For other organizations, it’s simply a budget issue. The majority of health systems can hardly obtain the financial resources to maintain their existing tools, let alone implement new processes and programs.

When a hospital does hop on the bandwagon and begin to manage data, it’s often pulled into believing in a one-size-fits-all model. Every tool and solution that a certain hospital utilizes will work for me, the hospital thinks.

Yet that’s not the case, Talton stressed. Each hospital has a different patient population and budget, meaning it requires its own unique solution.

The need for better data integration is especially applicable in this day and age as the healthcare sector pushes for value-based care.

“Value-based care is here to stay,” Talton said. “That continuum is continuing.”

Since the industry is moving toward shared risk models, figuring out how to use data is more important than ever. Health system leaders need to ask, How do we manipulate and manage our data? How can we use it to make the lives of our clinicians easier?

On top of asking these questions, everyone from payers to providers needs to be finding ways to share data with each other. Only by doing so can the healthcare field glean meaningful insights and information.

In closing, Talton shared her belief of what a health system’s number one focus should be: Becoming a data-centric entity. But it also boils down to planning for the long term. Instead of focusing solely on installing one-off solutions and collecting data, systems must consider their ultimate goals.

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