Clinical informatics critical to reform
August 10, 2013 in Medical Technology
The growth and maturity of clinical informatics over the past decade has been a prime catalyst in positioning the healthcare industry for the changes posed by reform measures. By understanding the process of analytics, clinical informatics specialists say healthcare providers have the insight necessary to make the process adjustments in the future.
“Clinical informatics will serve as the foundation for all aspects of successful healthcare reform initiatives as they are instituted,” said Greg Chittim, director of analytics and performance improvement for Burlington, Mass.-based Arcadia Solutions. “As the baby boomer generation continues to age and move away from commercial insurance to CMS and Medicare Advantage programs, clinical informatics will ensure that seniors are cared for and transitioned consistently across the landscape of their primary care physicians, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and hospice centers.”
As the Affordable Care Act implements new aspects of reform, clinical informatics will be required to measure quality and compliance, Chittim said. What’s more, as the Medicare Shared Savings Program and Accountable Care Organizations are implemented, clinical informatics “will allow organizations to understand their risk and cost profiles while ensuring the best care for patients.”
To be sure, Dan Riskin, MD, surgeon and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Health Fidelity sees clinical informatics as “absolutely sparking a change.” Information technology, combined with analytics deployment is fostering a greater understanding of how the health system should operate, he said.
“All of healthcare is the challenge of classification and intervention – by assessing and deploying quality measures, everyone is trying to classify and intervene,” Riskin said. Health Fidelity works in classification and says there are problems that constantly keep reoccurring with billing codes, quality codes, readmission codes and auditable events.
“This is a really tough nut to crack and it can’t be done with small data,” he said. “All the old models need to be thrown out.”
Clinical informatics represents a significant growth area for companies that provide health services, such as Rochester, N.Y.-based Creative Computing Solutions. According to a study by Frost and Sullivan, clinical informatics is expected to be worth an estimated $6.5 billion by 2013 – a major increase from the estimate in 2009 of $973 million.
“Clinical informatics is still in its infancy,” said Timothy Hays, senior director for customer health solutions at CCSi. “It is a tool that when properly implemented can increase options for treatments, reduce risks, improve processes, help with financial management, and ultimately improve patient care. It requires having the people, data, technologies and processes necessary to mine and act upon the information.”
Clinical informatics can be used across the broad spectrum of healthcare and is not limited to decision support functions, he said, adding “It is a very broad field, but it is also a very complex field.”