By Paul James
Editors at Health Data Management recently identified the top 12 trends that they felt would “impact the use of IT in healthcare.” There is one issue that holds all the trends on the list together, like a keystone in a stone archway—and that is the vital importance of quality data and strong data management. Without effective data management as enabled by an enterprise master patient index (EMPI), none of these innovative trends shaping the future of healthcare would be possible. Let’s look at a few of those trends and how data management plays a role.
A report from technology consulting firm Infosys released in January 2018, titled “Leadership in the Age of AI,” found that, of 1,000 business IT and decision makers (in healthcare as well as other industries), 49 percent said their organizations are still unable to deploy the AI applications they'd like to because their data isn't yet ready to support it, and 77 percent said they are investing in data management technology to tackle this problem.
Poor data management in this complicated landscape can lead to duplicate diagnostic testing, the wrong medications (or duplicate medications) being given to patients, missed information about medication allergies or drug interactions, incomplete or inaccurate medical and family history information, and more. And any of these has the ability to negatively affect patient outcomes. AI simply can’t succeed in the clinical landscape if the data being fed into it is riddled with duplicates and gaps in information.
In hospitals lacking effectively implemented EMPIs, the rates of duplicate patient records vary widely, but can be surprisingly high. For example, one Texas hospital found that duplicates accounted for 22 percent of all patient records. And costs resulting from inefficiencies associated with those duplicate records were calculated to as much as $96 per duplicate. The inefficiencies of duplicate patient records impact cost in several areas, including patient registration, clinical errors, and unnecessary care.
Population Health Management
“In a broad sense, population health management is an aspiration. It forces healthcare providers to ask themselves how they can use health IT and patient-centered care strategies to promote better lifestyle choices, seek evidence-based care at recommended intervals, manage their chronic diseases most effectively, and keep unnecessary costs for the healthcare system low,” according to an article from HealthIT Analytics. “Population health management is both a noun and a verb – it is both the means and the ends of raising the overall quality of life and health status of a given patient group.”
In order to manage the various organizations and providers involved in population health management and their associated credential information and performance metrics, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool is an essential piece of the puzzle. A CRM provides the ability to determine those channels and messages that are most effective in reaching the specific audiences that healthcare organizations are trying to target, to help encourage healthy behaviors.
As the significance and impact of CRM has increased, it’s more important than ever that CMOs take a step back and ask the right questions about how their organization governs data, maintains the golden consumer record, and prevents data duplication. With so much at stake for marketing leaders and the organizations they serve, the onus is on CMOs and their IT experts to stay ahead of the curve.
Keeping up with Technology
As you can see, no matter what area of health IT the industry is focused on advancing at any given time—and no matter what the trends of the day—good data is the key upon which everything else rests. As hospitals and health systems continue to invest time and resources into health IT initiatives like those discussed here, it will be more important than ever to make sure that quality data and a strong EMPI is in place, so that the whole structure doesn’t come toppling down.
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