Intermountain Shares Tech Goodies, Big Data Plans

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , March 19, 2013

The big data announcement

Intermountain's alliance with Deloitte, announced at HIMSS, takes a big-data twist on innovation. Deloitte will bring 30 years of data analytics extracted from Intermountain's electronic health records to life science, pharmaceutical and maybe even other healthcare provider customers.

"This is our patients' data, not ours," says Intermountain CIO Marc Probst. "But we did think we were learning a boatload of stuff based on this data."

Deloitte's recent acquisition of big-data analytics firm Recombinant gave Deloitte the skill set to become Intermountain's go-to partner, Probst says.

Although financial benefits of the deal will hardly be a blip on Intermountain's balance sheet at first, Intermountain is taking a longer view. "Right now we have around 150 formalized completely researched and implemented protocols," Probst says. "If what we can do with this process with Deloitte is triple that, imagine how much better our care will be, and what it could do to lower costs."

Initial targets of the alliance will be to unlock research insights, including best practices in treating diabetes and asthma, Probst says. "As we continue the relationship, as other people get involved, that should broaden the data, and therefore the quality and the types of research that can be done," he says.

Probst hopes to see the first fruits of the alliance by July, although with a laugh he adds, "Just what I needed was another published goal to hit."

Probst reminds me that wherever these centers of innovation exist—at Intermountain, at Partners, at Mayo, or wherever—part of the investment is to recognize that healthcare providers are generating inventions and that means intellectual property to protect. "We've got 30,000 people coming up with great ideas, so some of them you definitely want to protect," he says.

Healthcare reform continues to make strange bedfellows. On the technology side, stranger days are yet to come.

Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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