HIMSS News

Big Data and visualization 101: Saving money, saving lives

Ashley OhmannDan ErlerToday’s providers face the challenge of improving the patient care experience while integrating EMR/EHR and ancillary systems. For the survival of healthcare organizations and patient care, gaining insight into Big Data, interoperability and improvements to conforming and profiling data is critical. If healthcare organizations don’t have the right quality and accuracy of data, lives are at risk. 

What we’ve observed is that when it comes to the transition to value based care, Big Data and data visualization are turning into critical tools to help providers:

  • Mitigate financial risks and improve incentives.
  • Proactively manage and increase care quality, delivery and outcomes.
  • Manage population health and engage patients.

So just what is “Big Data?” Wikipedia defines it as “a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate,” with “challenges that include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, and information privacy.” If you go to 20 different hospital systems and ask about Big Data, expect to get 20 different answers. For the purposes of this article, what we’d like to define as Big Data lies in a customized approach to examining your analytics options, seeking recommendations and recognizing what is best for your hospital and your patients. 

Playing catch up in healthcare
Over the past 10+ years, a new generation of Big Data tools have quickly matured, driven by the needs of business users to access and develop insights from their own data with little-to-no reliance on IT support organizations. Within Big Data, data visualization tools are being successfully utilized in a variety of industries – such as manufacturing and retail – but have yet to catch on in the healthcare market. 

Data visualization tools connect easily to both static and server-based data warehouses. These tools have additional mobile capabilities for users to consume analytics on the go and the tools have robust integration with enterprise security systems, including SSO and SAML authentication. 

When it comes to healthcare, this translates into the ability for analysts to use these tools to gain powerful insights into emerging trends, including outbreaks of disease as well as interactive dashboards on more traditional metrics, like 30-day readmission rates. 

Here are some examples of the value of data visualization to healthcare:

Value: 30-day readmission rates for heart failure and heart attacks reduced by 10 and 12% respectively for population health management, with $2M in annual savings from consulting services; 23% in increased IT efficiency delivering $625,000 in annual savings; 7% improvement in patient satisfaction.

Value: Self-service analytics and improved supply chain, procurement and inventory visibility enabled by Tableau drove the supply chain efficiency efforts as documented in their presentation that delivered $50M /year in cost savings over 3 years.

What’s next for your healthcare system?
Readmission rates, supply chain efficiencies and population health management are just a few of the areas that can be optimized by the use of Big Data and data visualization tools. When it comes to the transition to value-based care and the potential to save lives, the data visualization and analytics will prove invaluable. Together they have the power to improve patient care and ensure operational and financial sustainability.

Join us in September for our next installment on the importance of understanding the value and evolution of Big Data in addition to data analytics in healthcare.

Dan is a U.S. Naval Academy alum and Past Chair for HIMSS Revenue Cycle Improvement Task Force. Dan serves on ICD-10 and Business Edge Task Forces and is past HIMSS HOA Chapter President. As CEO of The eHG Group, Dan recommends solutions to improve revenue cycle performance and patient satisfaction.

At Kforce, Ashley Ohmann specializes in the development and end-to-end implementation of technology solutions.