business

Clinical data often undervalued, underutilized

A study of health care organizations and health plans found that most are not prepared for the onslaught of data expected under meaningful use requirements.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted July 12, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Electronic medical records carry the promise of physicians being able to analyze patient data to identify trends and patterns that might help patient care.

But health care organizations are failing to see that potential, because they are dealing with data overload that is expected to worsen as more of them work toward meaningful use of electronic medical records.

That's the conclusion of a report published by HIMSS Analytics on behalf of Anvita Health, a clinical analytics engine vendor. The report authors spoke to 10 chief medical officers and chief medical informatics officers from health care organizations and payer groups.

EMR adoptions are expected to accelerate, thanks to incentives offered under last year's economic stimulus package. To qualify for those incentives, health care organizations will be expected to meet meaningful use criteria, which require them to collect, report and analyze data that many aren't using today.

"There's going to be a lot more data, and that's going to have its own challenges within itself," said Rich Noffsinger, CEO of San Diego-based Anvita.

"People perceive the stimulus to be the final chapter [of maximizing clinical data use], but I believe it to be closer to the beginning of the book," he said. "The next phase will be to really start to analyze it and understand what's going on and measure it in a much broader and comprehensive way."

But, Noffsinger said, meaningful use ultimately will bring more clarity to the data as the information will be in a standardized format. He further expects meaningful use to make it easier for health care organizations to capture data, since it will be accessible from one place and in one format.

For physicians in small practices, there likely will be a greater dependency on vendors to help them leverage use of EMR systems to meet data reporting requirements, Noffsinger said. When it comes to data collection and analyses, there likely will be a greater reliance on health information exchanges, he said.

Much of the analysis that occurs today is retroactive, meaning that little data are being used for real-time decision-making at the point of care.

Participants in the HIMSS Analytics study said they examine data to evaluate a specific patient, a population, a health care network or physician, and the prevalence or treatment of a specific disease.

"What stood out and what was key, but at the same time wasn't surprising, was the diversity on the perception of what analytics, and clinical analytics specifically, is," Noffsinger said. "The range or scope of what people and professionals view as analytics or clinical analytics specifically was quite broad."

The study said better use of clinical analytics would lead to better evidenced-based solutions that can be utilized at the time of care.

Back to top


External links

"Clinical Analytics: Can Organizations Maximize Clinical Data?" HIMSS Analytics, June 7 (link)

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story