Big Data Sparks a Quest for Simplicity

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , December 18, 2012

Again and again, the words we use to describe healthcare and the technology being deployed are loaded—with ambiguity, double meanings, and potholes waiting to trip up the next set of policy makers.

In 2013, another such word will be "identity."  There is an effort, much needed, to uniquely identify patients as the healthcare system moves from fee-for-service to population health and accountable care. But no one can agree on which set of unique identifiers should be used to determine that unique identification.

Should it be one factor or two? Biometric or token-based? Can someone be anonymous yet unique? Identity technology mavens talk about "relying parties." How can we translate tech talk like that into something that doctors and patients can understand?

Do you own your identity, or is it something that someone else is entrusted with? It depends on how you define the word identity.

It's the adoption of health IT that allows caregivers and patients to become better owners of their data. But our headlong rush to adopt this technology is about to run into some profound hurdles that will make EMR vs. EHR look like a child's game.

Whether you rely on the Pareto principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule) or just KISS, we need to always remember what problem we're trying to solve.

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2 comments on "Big Data Sparks a Quest for Simplicity"

Phyllis Kritek (12/19/2012 at 9:41 AM)
Kudos for tackling this tough topic. Your interest in distinguishing EMR from EHR may be more complex than you think. It points to an ingrained health care cultures dilemma that warrants your reflection. While the discipline of medicine often assumes all data on the patient might best be referred to as the data of "medicine", the other health professions view medicine's data as just that, the contribution of one essential source but not the only one. The composite of data from all health care contributors, including the patient, creates the health care data set. IT professionals often see the dilemma but do not see that it is embedded in an old and fairly resistant mindset that our colleagues in medicine often continue to embrace. I wish you well in your challenge. I know it well. This disconnect, among others, has us all drowning in poorly integrated data...

Joe Nichols MD (12/18/2012 at 2:05 PM)
At last! A breath of sanity. While everyone is heading towards the "Big Data" promised land, someone is finally asking the key question. Is more data better. The current challenge is not that we don't have enough data, it's that we don't have enough data that is standard, clearly defined, complete, accurate and all the other parameters of data quality that most organization many organization ignore. My experience in looking at multiple data from multiple entities is that better data quality is far more valuable that more bad data.




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