Big data may seem more useful for large facilities, but technology is making insights from big data more accessible to smaller organizations and private practices. The ability to analyze and learn from collected data can help a practice not only save money but better serve their community; data regarding population health and that identifies at-risk populations can help providers improve outcomes for at-risk populations and patients.
More Personalized Care
A big picture idea of how a population at large has responded to a particular treatment can help a provider come up with a treatment plan for a specific patient. Drawing on data can also help identify patients with greater health risks or who are on the verge of a health-related issue – before that issue requires urgent or emergency care.
Cost Savings for Providers
A recent survey by SERMO revealed that 74% of physicians felt they did not have financial control over their own practices. A quarter of physicians surveyed by Healthcare Daily reported falling revenues and financial pressure; respondents felt that the rising cost of care and compliance and falling reimbursements are to blame. Big data can be used to identify the areas a practice is struggling with; this information can be used to spot trouble zones, from reimbursement rates to collections and revenue cycle woes. The need for action for compliance, certification, and BLS renewal can also be spotted in real time, allowing the practice to take action without penalty or sanctions. Real-time metrics allow a practice to see where the money is going or where it is failing to come in and allow for immediate adjustments to billing policies and procedures when needed.
Population Health Insights
The unique makeup of the population in the area you serve can have an impact on the patients you see and the conditions you treat. Understanding what is happening with your population at large and learning from similar areas allows you to identify at-risk patient groups. From patients or parents who fail to adhere to treatment plans to complete populations that are unaware of or uninterested in healthcare, population health data allows you to better serve your community and to identify ways to improve the health and outcomes of your patients.
Patient Cost Controls
A private practice is already more affordable than a hospital or large organization; according to the Charlotte Observer, a patient can expect to pay twice as much for a procedure done in a hospital versus a private practice. Identifying which procedures are more cost effective for the patient allows a private practice to keep patient costs down and to better serve the needs of their own community.
Mobile Medicine and Big Data
Mobile devices that track a patient’s activity levels, blood pressure, blood sugar and more allow better insight into that patient’s well being. Connected devices that automatically relay information to the doctor’s office or team allows adverse conditions to be discovered early, before they pose a risk to the patient or require hospitalization. A pattern of increasing blood pressure readings should trigger an office visit; without mobile tech, an elderly patient or caregiver might not recognize the signs of a problem before hospitalization is required. Collecting data via a medical device and then analyzing that data in house allows even a small practice to improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions or who are unable to recognize clear warning signs.
Case Studies: Who is Using Big Data for Healthcare?
- Cleveland Clinic’s Explorys is using big data to identify and serve at risk patients and to control the cost of care for the Clinic’s diverse group of providers and patients.
- The blending of big data and care led to a boost in pneumonia vaccination rates and breast cancer screenings among identified at risk populations for Mercy Health in Cleveland.
- Propeller Health, an asthma inhaler provider, uses sensors and mobile apps to track when inhalers are being used; this collected data helps anticipate when patients will need inhaler support the most and identify the type of inhaler that will work best for a particular patient.
- Providers in Africa are using big data to track the Ebola virus and to mobilize quickly; data tracking helps identify the populations that are most at risk and to pick up the early signs that an outbreak is imminent.
A small practice that uses big data can help improve patient outcomes and lower costs in a variety of ways, from identifying at-risk groups to shoring up less than perfect billing and collections procedures. Technology has made it easier than ever to improve the health and well being of your patients and your practice by using and analyzing big data. Embracing big data can help level the playing field and ensure that even a small practice provides the best possible patient care.