Big Data: Becoming Truly Patient-Centered

I was recently working with one of my clients at a large, highly respected academic medical center. We started chatting about the scope of their data warehouse project and I was struck by the lack of focus on the patient and what the institution needed to put in place to better serve the patient. Not uncommon in what I run across in healthcare today.

For many years, the provider market has touted the need to become patient-centric…versus its historically provider-centric model. Yet, as with many new concepts that take years to be embraced, it is not always clear how a new paradigm impacts operational work.  In the case of patient-centeredness, does this new concept have any impact for data warehousing? It should, but it won’t if leaders of these projects don’t think beyond their normal paradigm.

What is a Patient-Centered Warehouse?

Being patient-centered for many warehouse builders translates to a very simple notion…the patient identifier is central to gathering myriads of data elements. Most of these data elements, however, are gathered inside the footprint of the institution where the warehouse is being built, typically, a hospital system that includes ambulatory and inpatient settings.

A truly patient-centered warehouse would have an entirely different perspective…it would hold the life information of the patient, including dietary, dental and non-system providers, perhaps dermatologists, clinics, pharmacy purchases and more. It would extend far beyond the walls of the traditional hospital system.

To treat the "whole" patient, we need to have the "whole picture". The challenge, anyone would say, is that we can’t always get the data. There are privacy concerns, cross institutional questions and technical challenges.  However, check out the "Consolidated Wealth Reporting" websites. I know that Fidelity Investments is launching one. Here is a link to one from Fortress Financial Services, LLC: . The financial services business has solved the challenge by having the consumer give access to whatever information they choose to consolidate.

A similar model is quite possible in healthcare. We have to develop the tools and technology, but a truly patient-centered approach to gathering and utilizing patient information is well within reach using current technology. What a healthcare system truly needs to embrace are technologists who come from other industries and who can accelerate the innovation that healthcare so desperately needs.

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