Using Big Data to Improve Healthcare Outcomes

April 16, 2014
iVantage Health
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John Morrow, Executive Vice President

From Wired magazine’s InnovationInsights (April 16, 2014)

Big data is the current buzz word in healthcare, and with good reason. Today, analytics platforms and ratings systems offer valuable insights into how healthcare providers manage patient care, cost and outcomes. There is no shortage of big data available across the healthcare landscape today; the challenge lies in effectively analyzing the data to better understand the cycle of care, implement the necessary improvements and ultimately, improve patient outcomes and keep cost low.

Healthcare providers and policymakers are just beginning to grasp the novelty of big data and how to take advantage of the insights it can offer. Provider ratings firms and clinical analytics agencies have been mining data year after year to identify best clinical effectiveness, save costs, deliver quality care, and manage risk. In fact, due to the array of ratings systems currently available to the public, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently released its “Guiding Principles for Public Reporting of Provider Performance,” to help sift through massive data and glean the knowledge needed for disruption.

I applaud the expert panel convened by the AAMC and their articulation of the guiding principles for measuring and reporting provider performance. There couldn’t be a more important time to make rigorous, objective and standardized performance ratings available to hospitals.

iVantage recently released the results of its 2014 Hospital Strength INDEXTM, which meets all AAMC guiding principles and provides the most comprehensive, objective ratings system, leveraging publically available data to measure 5,000 acute care hospitals, including 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals.  Hospitals are measured across 10 equally weighted pillars of performance, encompassing 66 different metrics: Competitive Strength, Competitive Intensity, Market Size and Growth, Population Risk, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives and Financial Stability. The combined scores across each pillar determine a hospital’s overall INDEX score; hospitals have access to their INDEX scores at no cost.

What Big Data Tells Us about Hospital Performance

The INDEX inputs included: 15 million inpatient cases and 158 million outpatient procedures across 15,000-plus medical conditions occurring in 5,000 hospitals for a population of 313 million. The results confirmed that the healthcare industry is making progress toward better performance.  In fact, the INDEX demonstrated that the traditional “Top 100″ ranking and the old measures of performance don’t cut it anymore.

This year’s analysis identified that, in fact, a record number 547 hospitals are achieving sustained benchmark performance.  These hospitals serve 16.9 percent of the US population or 53 million people and the data confirmed that they are having a positive impact both at their facilities and beyond their doors, affecting the wellness of their local communities.

Top performing hospitals are concentrated in the following top markets (Core Based Statistical Areas or CBSAs): Washington, DC; Boston; Minneapolis; Portland, OR; Chicago; Charlotte; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and New York. Patients in those healthcare markets have strong hospitals with the following characteristics:

  • Controlled population risk and beneficiary cost measures
  • Dominant market share with growing demand
  • Less direct competition with other hospitals
  • Outstanding quality and safety programs
  • Loyal, satisfied patients
  • Cost efficient and appropriately priced services
  • A strong balance sheet with surplus capital

These top hospitals set a new benchmark, and the lower-performing markets present the opportunity to change and save 3,962,850 years of potential lives lost (YPLL).  This potential is the equivalent of adding one year of life to either half of the population of New York City or to all the residents of Los Angeles. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) developers and narrow network managers will benefit from these comprehensive insights analyzing provider performance and their relationship with the psychographics of the health and wellness of local populations.

Hospitals’ ability to manage value, risk and wellness could generate national improvement that would expand the gross domestic product (GDP) by $513 billion through the extension of life.  This potential is the equivalent of the entire GDP of the state of Ohio or of the city of Chicago.

Big Data Analysis Leads to Improved Patient Outcomes

There’s little doubt that big data is driving a necessary revolution in healthcare. Although behind other industries in technological advancement of analytics, healthcare is catching up and recognizing the need and the tremendous potential that data analytics can offer to improve clinical quality, business efficiency and patient care.

It has the potential to transform vast amounts of static data sitting in silos across the organization into actionable intelligence, ultimately improving decisions about disease management, the quality of patient care and the organization’s financial performance. The leaders in the industry are committed to innovation and will reap the benefits of big data and ultimately improved patient outcomes.

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