Healthcare leaders are tasked with managing what is arguably the most complex industry on Earth. The Healthcare Industry is one where access to the right information at the right time is very critical. With the broad adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), health systems no longer face a dearth of information. They’ve entered the digital age with a wealth of data. But now the there is a new dilemma: how to manage that data. Dashboard Solutions will go a long way in helping many who are drowning in that data. It’ll make easier the struggle to collect and interpret information from dozens of information technology systems and hundreds of reports.
Ironically while the industry spent billions of dollars converting to digital electronic health records (EHRs), executives still did not have access to decision-making tools to harness data and manage the outcomes of their organizations. All too often leaders can still be unaware of what is happening within their systems and risk of being blindsided by unexpected challenges. This problem affects and threatens the productivity of healthcare practitioners and the healthcare industry as a whole. In order to avoid this, healthcare data needs to be measured and tracked properly. Its, however, a complicated process to achieve this.
Why Healthcare Data is Difficult to Measure
Data in Multiple Places
Healthcare data tends to reside in multiple places. From different source systems, like EMRs or HR software, to different departments, like radiology or pharmacy. The data comes from all over the organization. Aggregating this data into a single, central system, such as an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), makes this data accessible and actionable. Healthcare data also occurs in different formats such as pictures, numeric or text forms. Radiology uses images, old medical records exist in paper format, and today’s EMRs can hold hundreds of rows of textual and numerical data.
Sometimes the same data exists in different systems and in different formats. Such is the case with claims data versus clinical data. The sources of data continue to increase also. Like patient-generated health data gotten from tracking devices, apps, pedometers etc.
Structured and Unstructured Data
Though electronic medical record software has provided a platform for consistent data capture, the reality is data capture is anything but consistent. For years, documenting clinical facts and findings on paper has trained an industry to capture data in whatever way is most convenient for the care provider with little regard for how this data could eventually be aggregated and analyzed. There have been attempts to standardize the data capture process, but care providers are reluctant to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to documentation. Thus, unstructured data capture is often allowed to appease the frustrated EMR users and avoid hindering the care delivery process. As a result, much of the data captured in this manner is difficult to aggregate and analyze in any consistent manner. The hope is that users will be trained better and there will be more uniformity in the capturing of data.
Inconsistent and Variable Definitions
There is an inflow of new research every day and often times healthcare data can present to be inconsistent in definitions. For example, ask two clinicians what criteria are necessary to identify someone as a diabetic and you may get three different answers or one group of clinicians may define a cohort of asthmatic patients differently than another group of clinicians. Situations like this mean there may just not be a level of consensus about a particular treatment or cohort definition.
Also, even when there is consensus, the consenting experts are constantly discovering newly agreed-upon knowledge. As healthcare practitioners learn more about how the body works, their understanding continues to change of what is important, what to measure, how and when to measure it, and the goals to target. There are best practices established in the industry, but there’s always ongoing discussion in the way those things are defined. Which means constantly trying to create order out of chaos and hit a target that’s not only moving but seems to be moving in an unpredictable way.