Across industries, digitization and the resulting increased access to data is changing the way organizations are able to serve their clients and reduce their costs. Healthcare has not been left out of this digitization revolution, and as health records shift from paper to electronic, the amount of available healthcare data has proliferated rapidly. Understanding how to process all of this data can be challenging, and the amount of healthcare data available is vast and growing rapidly. Indeed, a study by EMC Digital Universe estimates that all available healthcare data will equal 2,314 exabytes by 2020; if all of this data were loaded onto tablets, the resulting stack of tablets would be 82,000 miles high. However, despite the challenges, the potential uses of this data are staggering. By taking a strategic approach to health data management, healthcare organizations can position themselves to reap the many benefits offered by this emerging field.
Better Control of Patient Costs
One of the most significant ways in which robust data management can benefit healthcare organizations is through reduced patient costs. Indeed, the University of Michigan Health Systems has been able to realize $200,000 in monthly savings in their blood transfusion program by incorporating data analytics into their criteria. Predictive modeling based on collected data can lead to lower healthcare costs by minimizing hospital readmissions, improving patient interventions, lowering the number of adverse events and reducing areas of unnecessary spending. Health data management can also lead to lower costs in areas that are related and affect patient care. For example, the more-than 2,700 member hospitals in the Premier network were able to reduce their supply chain costs by approximately $7 billion by utilizing big data analytics to look for areas of potential savings.
Improved Healthcare Outcomes
From small single-doctor practices to huge hospital systems, all healthcare providers and organizations place improving patient care at the core of their practice. Data management has the potential to improve outcomes for patients in dramatic ways. Through data analytics, doctors are able to detect serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions earlier and with better accuracy. Quality of care overall is increased, and the patients that can benefit most from more proactive intervention can be correctly identified through big data analytics. On a larger scale, population health can also benefit greatly from health data management as the use of data provides doctors and healthcare administrators with improved tools and the increased ability to anticipate patient needs.
Increased Guidance for Business Decisions and Functions
Healthcare organizations certainly place patient care at the forefront of their mission, but these institutions need to be able to carry out critical business functions more efficiently in order to be able to continue providing quality patient care. In this role, big data can improve key functionalities. For example, account collections can be streamlined and automated in order to reduce administration costs, while higher-quality reporting can be made possible in order to improve overall organizational efficiency. Even high level operational decisions can benefit from the increased support and insight provided by data analytics.
Expanded Access to Care for All Patients
As healthcare organizations embrace the possibilities of big data analytics and health data management within their practices, the potential benefits to patients through an increased access to care are profound. For example, mobile health tools and e-health applications can make it possible for patients to transmit information on their health status to their doctor’s office or hospital while at home. With proper data management, such tools can greatly expand the access that patients have to critical health resources without unduly taxing healthcare providers and organizations.
Taken together, these benefits of strong health data management clearly outweigh the costs of implementation for healthcare organizations of all kinds.