The healthcare industry is still very much in the pubescent stages of data management and storage — experimenting with its new data capture proficiencies and what the general breadth of digital medical information means for care delivery. Nevertheless, it could stand to revel in its sophomoric state for a spell and be a bit more self-reflective, some experts opine.
According to panelists speaking at the preliminary roundtable for the Health IT Summit held in Boston on May 7, the tumultuous teen that is healthcare’s current data schema, while difficult, proffers promise in its immaturity — if only it could get back to its roots and “off the money.”
“This is a very immature market when we talk about data and data management,” said session moderator John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research, LLC. But in this nubile angst is impressive adeptness toward rapid advancement and a general, core idea of who the effort is for — the patient — Moore added.
Keeping the patient at the heart of data decisions, while regarded paramount, does tend to fall apart in business practice, though.
“I think one of the issues is that everybody is aggregating the data and pulling it together for their own particular self-interest, and that’s a challenge,” said Rodney M. Hamilton, MD, chief medical information officer for Informatics Corporation of America. “When you think about who is the natural aggregator for patient data, what unit is the natural aggregator? It’s actually the patient. It’s not the provider organization, it’s not all these organizations that are trying to manage this population or that population.”
“We should aggregate more specifically around the patient; we add more portability at that patient level, not necessarily the institution level,” Hamilton added.
What does that look like? For starters, smarter, more frugal storage.
“Storing the data is a mechanism…but we shouldn't store everything in the same way,” noted Cara Babachicos, CHCIO, CIO of Community Hospitals and Non Acute at Partners Healthcare. Not only does data need to be captured to meet clinical needs, but it must follow more closely its aggregator through every level of care.
“We also need to figure out the cost of care across the continuum,” Babachicos continued. “A patient comes to Mass. General Hospital needing a total hip replacement and touches Spalding rehab, a SNIF and home care and still goes to outpatient therapy. What did that cost us over the continuum? We should be able to furnish that information and do it very easily so we just know what it costs to do business and we can make better clinical decisions.”
“There’s a level of information that probably really matters that should be shared, a sort of core data set that is probably the right focus level,” Hamilton said. “There [should] be a more conscious awareness of what really needs to be shared and what doesn’t, and in those cases when you need to dive in and have that granular detail, find a way to provide for that, but that is not the type of data that needs to be continually replicated and bounced all over the place.”
As a proper model, Hamilton pointed to imaging storage practices.