Healthcare's Missing a Big (Data) Opportunity

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , October 11, 2011

But most hospitals and healthcare systems aren’t ready for big data—not yet, anyway. What's stopping them? Part of the problem is that healthcare data—provider clinical records, payer claims, and pharma research and development, for example—is fragmented. It lies in multiple systems in varied electronic and non-electronic formats and has many owners that often don't share well.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, ONC's national coordinator for health IT, has said repeatedly that the push to get providers to become meaningful users of electronic health records will not only improve quality, patient safety, and care coordination but will also set the groundwork for "massive liberation of patient data."

Patients "have the legal right to access [their] own health information. And that has been the case since HIPAA was written,” he said at a recent ONC town hall event. "The problem is … that’s not always so easy.” Doctors and other providers are "not too thrilled" to share data, in part because they think it will mean more work and in part because providers feel a proprietary ownership of patient data, he said.

It’s “not just a technical problem but a mindset problem,” he said.

Without that massive liberation of data—and a change in attitude about who owns it—big data for healthcare will remain a big missed opportunity.

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3 comments on "Healthcare's Missing a Big (Data) Opportunity"

Beth (10/13/2011 at 11:11 AM)
Nearly 200 people gathered in Minneapolis just yesterday to discuss this very topic at the Healthcare Business Intelligence Summit. The day included excellent presentations and lively discussions. Mark your calendar for next year's Summit. More at:

Patricia (10/12/2011 at 11:23 AM)
Big Data[INVALID]making sense of patterns and trends over time in large databases then doing things differently as a result[INVALID]has transformed every industry but healthcare. The way we manufacture precision instruments, shop for shoes online and manage air traffic has changed forever with big data! Farzad Mostashari gets it right when he states that we need a new mindset, not just more complete data. For starters, I'd like to be able to see my year over year cholesterol numbers in a chart[INVALID]and I'll bet my primary care physician would too. This isn't big data but it would indicate a change in mindset. Making sense of trends over time rather than snapshot after snapshot of a condition could bring about improved outcomes at lower cost....Just like what has occurred in other industries.

Jennifer N (10/11/2011 at 3:59 PM)
The government's incentives can help jump-start the movement of this "big data" into electronic form. It's a huge task not only to share medical data but also to transfer such a massive amount of data onto a new platform. But like this article stated, there are so many benefits to sharing and analyzing big data. There is a great article from OptumInsight that presents a good way to look at how to collaborate on the macro level in order to successfully manage population wellness with an IT framework:




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