Clinical informatics: data in action

July 12, 2014 in Medical Technology

If there is one emerging pattern within the clinical informatics field, it is the quest to make data “actionable” for users. With all the technology infrastructure development over the past decade to facilitate electronic health record installation in healthcare facilities, providers are finding that the data generated often can’t be used in a timely and constructive manner.

The obstacle to achieving this level of manageability, summed up succinctly by Dan Riskin, MD, is this: “It’s hard.” Riskin, co-founder and CEO of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Health Fidelity, may be a bit glib about the challenge of harnessing the magic of clinical data, but he says the juncture where healthcare finds itself requires more deep contemplation about how to proceed from here.

In explaining the high degree of complexity involved in transforming clinical data from being an inert body into a vehicle for quality care, Riskin dissects the challenge this way: “The problem fits into two buckets – risk and quality. Risk is a market need today for value-based healthcare in risk-based payment models and requires a fundamental understanding of what it means. There is also a lot of talk about quality and the same technology is needed for both. The base content is full clinical data – claims data plus narrative data. This is complete clinical data, providing the full picture.”

Providing that high definition picture is where the heavy lifting occurs, Riskin said, because of the multi-dimensional aspect of data accuracy, timeliness, patient profiles and relationship of all data elements.

[See also: Clinical informatics critical to reform.]

“One problem is that the government is paying people to report, but it doesn’t have to be accurate,” he said. “They are paying for information, but not quality information. So the need still exists to get accurate data.”

Another challenge, he said, is that there hasn’t been a strong enough demand for taking the critical next steps.

“What the market wants now is what the government made them want – ICD-10, pushing up revenue cycle codes and reporting – even if it is inaccurate,” he said. “I’m not laying this at the feet of the vendors. The reality is that there is minimal demand at this point.”

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