Part 3: Building Structures to Share Data

In Part 2 of this series, I talked about the shortcomings of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

Most small medical practices do not have the resources to mine the data within their Electronic Health Records (EHRs). A 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2015 nearly four out of five (77.9%) office-based physicians had installed and were using EHRs, but “only a third of physicians had used their EHR system to either send, receive, integrate, or search for patient health information and only 8.7% of physicians had used their EHR system for all four of those functions.”

So what we can we do to help fix this conundrum?

First, increase interoperability and promote data analytics expertise.

Healthcare systems, independent provider groups, payers and hospitals need to build structures to share their data with one another.

More precisely, they need to share their data and spend the resources to translate that data into information that can be used to improve care, lower cost and encourage patients to engage in care. This will require forming or joining organizations like clinically integrated networks, Accountable Care Organizations or other joint ventures.

We will need to train both data analyst and physicians to understand principles of informatics and statistics so we can gain the necessary insights into populations of care. This will require focused leadership and the desire to share this data transparently.

The government has supported some payment mechanism for this type of work, but more innovation will be required. New paradigms of healthcare leadership, success and individual physician training will need to emerge and be encouraged.

There are hints the healthcare industry is on track here. A Health Catalyst survey of CIOs and other senior IT executives of U.S. healthcare organizations found that “healthcare analytics is the highest IT priorityof the survey group.”

In the final segment, we will look at advances in Medical Screening Technology. Stay tuned for Part 4: Embracing the Technological Revolution in Medical Screening.

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