Education, HIPAA / HITECH Enforcement, Meaningful Use, Trends & Technology

How Big Data helps patients make smarter decisions

The explosion of information in the Age of Big Data, a moniker coined by the New York Times, is leading to greater transparency, better understanding and new treatments in health care. Big data according to Gartner is one of the most hyped technology term currently: “Big data” is high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.”

Big data investments in 2013 continue to rise, with 64% of organizations investing or planning to invest in big data technology compared with 58% last year according to the Gartner’s 2013 Big Data Study. Investments are led by media and communications, banking and services companies. Enhanced customer experience is the top big data priority, with process efficiency close behind. Cloud adoption, with its supplementary nature, is the overriding technology that companies are using to derive value from big data.

The Gartner Research Circle is a Gartner-managed panel composed of IT and business leaders. It includes global organizations across all industries, both Gartner clients and non-clients. In total, 720 Research Circle members participated. A survey was performed last June 2012 and results will be compared.

In an industry where patient privacy is held in the highest respect, data mining, the process of discovering patterns in large data sets, offers new opportunities and challenges for health care providers.

Some of the recent health care data news:

— The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released data on Medicare spending and utilization as well as selected data on hospital outpatient charges. Government data included significant variations in what hospitals charge for common inpatient services. Find out what your hospital charges and how much they are reimbursed by Medicare here.

— In a different report, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services aggregated the data on the prevalence of chronic conditions among Medicare beneficiaries for five years from 2007 to 2011. Find out how common conditions such as hypertension and osteoporosis are in Kane and Dupage counties here.

— Using the data about Medicare’s prescription drug program, the investigative newsroom ProPublica recently reported how certain doctors who prescribe certain medications most often are also tied financially to the drug companies of those medications. Interested patients can search for Medicare prescribers at ProPublica’s Prescriber Checkup news app and for drug company payments to doctors and other health professionals at Dollars for Docs.

— The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is co-sponsoring an app contest known as “code-a-palooza,” a national competition to design an innovative app using the Medicare data that primary care providers can use to help manage patient care.

Imagine how this information will help individual consumers make better, more informed decisions about their health care including evaluating hospitals, doctors, medications and care.

“A more data driven and transparent health care marketplace can help consumers and their families make important decisions about their care,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the Health Datapalooza conference in June according to a press release. “The administration is committed to making the health system more transparent and harnessing data to empower consumers.”

Forbes mentioned big data in human resources (HR). There are around 160 million workers in the US alone. Payroll is the largest expense for businesses, or about 40% or more of total revenue, meaning that total US payroll expense is many billions of dollars. A huge amount of money is spent on marketing campaigns and sales. But in reality, the company does not know why certain sales person out performs their competitors. One of the suggestion is to hire the best sales person using statistical analysis of sales productivity.

“What did drive sales performance:

  • An accurate, grammatically correct resume
  • Having completed some education from beginning to end
  • Having successful sales experience in high priced items
  • Demonstrated success in some prior job
  • Ability to work under unstructured conditions

What did NOT matter:

  • Where the candidate went to school
  • What GPA they had
  • The quality of their references

Data Tells the Story

If you’ve done a lot of hiring, you know how hard it can be to assess an individual’s likelihood of success.

For big data, 2013 is the year of experimentation and early deployment. The adoption is still at the early stages with fewer than 8% of all respondents indicating their organization has deployed big data solutions. Twenty percent are piloting and experimenting, 18% are developing a strategy, 19% are knowledge gathering, and the remainder have no plans or don’t know.

The proliferation of data, particularly in health care, means that health care providers need even greater vigilance of its data security to ensure privacy protection mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) while balancing the good offered by that information in its aggregate form.

For help in navigating the sometimes murky waters of data security, enlist the aid of a security expert like RISC Management & Consulting which specializes in data privacy and information security regulations and frameworks.

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