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"We're making the haystack bigger without changing the size of the needle?"

Shawn Griffin, MD
Chief Quality and Informatics Officer
MHMD - The Memorial Hermann Physician Network

"What if the transcontinental railroad was built with 300 different gauges of track?"

Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

A Special Report On
Data & Analytics

Last month, HXP attended the National Forum on Data and Analytics in Washington, D.C. The 2 day event gathered some of the greatest thinkers and industry leaders to discuss reform and policies affecting electronic health records today. This is a report based on those ideas and the changing expectations that we face as the medical industry goes digital.

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How Much Is
Too Much?
Let's Simplify

What do you want me to do with this?

That is a question that many of the doctors ask themselves when confronted with the task of analyzing self generated data. Patients are bringing quantified health information to the exam room as wearable technology becomes more mainstream and driving this force.

The future of eHealth is changing in exciting new ways, but with also the added hardships of that change. How much data is too much and how can we achieve meaningful uses from our information?

The current EHR system is designed to bring efficiency to the healthcare system by capturing the past and current condition of the patient as well as creating predictive models across population health to generate new insights into treating disease. We are beginning to analyze the results of this data into populations to think about how we can improve quality and health for not just one person, but for everyone in our system.

We are just beginning to understand how this data can integrate into the system. Using technology and empowering the digital patient to become an active participant in their own healthcare will individualize treatment with a “One Fits One” mentality while also aggregating information for better population health.

Physician Opinion on EHRs

(Verdon, "Physician Outcry On EHR Functionality, Cost Will Shake the Health Information Technology Sector", Medical Economics, Feb 2014)

My Doctor Never Makes Eye Contact

We’ve sat patiently in the waiting room. We’ve filled out the paperwork for the 100th time. Now it’s time to see our doctor… who is staring at a computer screen entering endless amounts of data.

The NY Times reports that the average time for a patient/doctor visit is only 8 minutes, during which that time the doctor is required to input health data and update patient records.

Physicians are spending 2.7 hours of their day on average using EHR tools, a system that is designed to reduce time and cost. With each technological step forward, it seems to pull the doctor/patient relationship further apart.

Let’s create solutions. We can use advances in technology to re-engage the discussion to create patient-centered care.


Skype just recently announced some dramatic breakthroughs in voice recognition and translation technology that can be utilized into new EHR data capturing devices. Combined with other existing technologies such as iBeacon (for location based services) and Google Glass (for facial recognition), lets develop a device that currently works as the doctor works. This device will seamlessly connect with the EHR data being able to provide and capture data from real time conversations.

Patient Privacy Rights

“The ability to access medical information far outweighs concerns for privacy invasion.”

“Only 1% of U.S. population agree that researchers are free to use their medical data.”

This is the debate that panelists Daniel C. Barth-Jones and Deborah C. Peel brought to the table in their session “Protecting Patient Privacy vs. Advancing Clinical Research”. Both viewpoints raised some interesting statistics and arguments for their side, primarily siting identifiable data as being the breakpoint.

Dr. Peel states that with new technology, a patient can still be identified even if the 17 HIPAA identifiers are stripped out. Anonymization is being compromised by developing technologies. She noted that 1 in 8 patients have put their health at risk due to privacy concerns by avoiding seeing their regular doctor, asking their doctor about alternative diagnosis, and avoiding tests.

Dr. Barth-Jones responded to those comments saying that reliable data disintegrates without identifiable data. Sharing of information is going to benefit both personal health and the health of others for the overall improvement of technology and healthcare systems.

Look To Other Industries

We need to look to other industries like banking, e-commerce and social media to allow control and consent into the hands of the patients.

We need to have a shared set of rules and expectations about data privacy and security, a patient matching and authentication system, provider directories, and other communication tools to provide a platform that standardizes how data is shared, how to protect it, and what we do when someone steps out of bounds.

Connected Health

We need a system for connecting our health records... no, wait. Last thing we need is another system. We need transparent technology - true integration that collects and shares data seamlessly to improve patient outcomes. These analytics will include wearable data, social information, medical records, payer perspectives, and population health insights that will be easily accessible to improve health, yet individually secured to protect privacy rights. All of these data points will join forces to provide information to reach the ultimate goal of better health for the "Unit of 1" - YOU. Designed by your data, for your health and for the health of others.

Now all we need to do is figure out how to build this.

Is there a data opportunity for us?

Hundreds of the country's most forward-thinking data experts gathered at this conference to talk about the impact advances in analytics and metrics are having on health. Their conclusion: We're just not moving far enough fast enough.

Is there anything we can do from the marketing suite to get there faster? Definitely. A few ideas we've been talking about to accelerate both communications and better health:

This is a new era. And, we can be among the first to define it for healthcare.