Do Healthcare Providers need to invest in more information technology or focus on leveraging existing information?

Healthcare providers today continue to invest and expand their information technology footprint to meet increasing demands of data. As we hear about healthcare provider financials put at risk due to RAC (Recovery Audit Contractor) audits, self-reporting appropriate use of ICDs (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), pay-for-performance, Bundled Payments for episodes care, Accountable Care Organization, etc., there is an increasing expenditure of technology to meet these growing information demands.

Given the enormous amount of information presently collected at the patient, physician and procedure level, is the issue that healthcare providers are not collecting enough data to support these ever growing and changing business needs?

I would make the argument that the existing information platform for most healthcare providers collects more than sufficient information allowing organizations to measure their operational performance and address both the present and upcoming business demands.

In addition, there is a wealth of healthcare provider information available either free or at a low cost allowing organization’s to compare their performance against peer organizations. Other sources of data are government and private payers. These organizations have a tremendous amount of information regarding the treatment patients for clinical conditions and the associated clinical outcomes. Healthcare providers should explore how to collaborate with payer organizations (government and private) to access this information. By linking a healthcare provider and payer’s data, creates a source of information delivering insight into a healthcare provider’s business, practice patterns of clinicians, care paths, costs, and associated clinical outcomes. This is a key component for healthcare providers to understand their business, reduce costs and improve clinical outcomes. It also can allow them to compare their best practices against peer organizations to ascertain where there are opportunities for improvement.

I would recommend that healthcare providers curtail their investment in new forms of information technology and focus on how to leverage the existing data. Healthcare providers should also explore how to work with government and private payers to share data with the intent to reduce costs and improve clinical outcomes. By bringing these sources of information together, healthcare providers will have the foundation to analyze, understand, and facilitate changes to the benefit of all.

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