Survey: Big data still has potential in healthcare setting

Dive Brief:

  • Asked about the three most useful sources of information currently, 95% of healthcare executives and clinicians said clinical data, 56% said cost data and 56% said claims data, according to a recent survey from NEJM Catalyst.

  • Survey respondents (a total of 682 individuals) indicated usefulness of claims would decline in the next five years compared with clinical, cost, patient-generated and genomic data.

  • Asked about the three biggest opportunities for using data in healthcare, 81% of respondents said care coordination, 79% said decision support, 68% said predictive analytics and 45% said precision medicine.

Dive Insight:

Big data has been a big topic among healthcare professionals for several years, but the industry is still figuring out how best to collect, share and use data to improve quality while reducing cost. Almost 20% of survey respondents said they used data very or extremely effectively to improve patient care while 36% said their use of data was just effective. Another 40% said data collection was not very or not at all effective.

It should come as no surprise that lack of interoperability was cited as a barrier to big data programs. Asked about the top three barriers to better use of patient data, 72% said lack of interoperability, 62% said difficulty collecting data, and 60% said time required. Multiple applications, applications that are difficult to use, and physician resistance were also cited as barriers.

Results to the survey reflect other recent complaints about the health IT industry. In a recent interview with HIStalk, former acting administrator for CMS Andy Slavitt said digitization of healthcare has essentially shifted paper recordkeeping systems to computers, but has not taken advantage of many technological capabilities.

While barriers exist, the potential for big data to drive predictive analytics programs or to aid the development of personalized treatments is still there. Progress might not be occurring as fast as some would like, but it is occurring. For instance, there are seven times as many hospitals today offering patients the ability to view, download, and transmit health information than there were in 2012. As basic capabilities such as these continue to gain traction in healthcare, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before big data can really take over.

Filed Under: Health IT
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