"Clinical analytics are a top priority for all providers, and big data is beginning to move from research to mainstream," says Spooner. Using clinical analytics, doctors can see what the most common ailment and conditions are; look at recovery rates for different procedures; and monitor vital signs of patients remotely, in real time.
It also provides a means for hospitals to use population data to identify patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. These patients often require repeat visits and information provided by analytics could help better identify, train and educate these patients to better treat their disease or illness reducing costly ER visits and follow-ups.
"We are seeing HIT companies begin to apply advanced analytics tools to understand population health opportunities, increasingly important as the industry advances to collaborative, accountable care models," says Spooner. The challenge-and the opportunity for IT pros with analytics skills-- lies in finding efficient ways to store and maintain all this data while keeping it secure from prying eyes.
And, of course, there is the bottom line. Big data is giving providers a way to better examine where their resources are being spent. This, in turn, allows them to see how cost effective intricate and expensive procedures are. Then a hospital or a doctor can decide to invest more time and money in a specific area because it generates more revenue. Or, to the contrary, they could drop an area because it's not making money or is even losing money.
4. ICD-10 Compliance
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, or ICD, is a diagnostic coding system put in place by the World Health Organization and used by healthcare providers globally.
While the rest of the world uses ICD-10, the U.S is still operating on ICD-9, an outdated version of the code set. This medical classification list holds different codes for symptoms, diseases, injuries, external causes and a host of other things including billing software, which should be a good indicator of just how far it reaches into the healthcare sector.
"The transition from the ICD-9 coding structure to ICD-10 is major. ICD-10 will provide far greater coding specificity for more accurate reimbursement and research," says Spooner.
Where ICD-10 has roughly 68,000 code sets, IDC-9 has only about 13,000. That sounds daunting enough but it is even more than that. It is also a way to ensure that current and future software releases can support these codes. It's fixing drop-down menus, expanding text boxes and hounding electronic health records (EHR) vendors to make sure they are, in fact, working on it.