Healthcare organizations hope big data and analytics projects can help reduce costs and improve care. Consider these innovative examples.
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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC Insurance Plan Several years ago -- before analytics became a buzzword among healthcare organizations -- UPMC Health Plan wrote its own software application to analyze its vast database comprising information pulled from multiple, disparate sources. This database, which currently holds 6.3 terabytes of data, includes electronic clinical notes, claims data, patient demographics, individuals, self-reported health assessments, pharmacy data, household data, and more.
As the chief analytics officer of UPMC Insurance Services Division and VP of health economics at UPMC Health Plan, Dr. Pamela Peele and her team use the homegrown software to perform analytics and predictive models to forecast patient behavior and provide preventive care. The big-data-based analytics also allows the organization to evaluate itself, creating best-practices and scaling the most efficient and effective programs.
"We use multiple technologies and techniques, including data visualization software that provides a view of highly complex and large datasets revealing underlying and previously unknown patterns and interactions between patients and providers," says Dr. Peele. "We're seeing real progress predicting patient behavior and providing preventative care."
For example, the two organizations have modeled the future impact of the flu season on members; figured out which members who require high use of medical services will continue to do so in the future; predicted who will need emergency care; and determined the probability of readmission before it occurs, Peele told InformationWeek. As a result, patient care improved, the healthcare provider manages resources appropriately, and both organizations operate more cost effectively.
In the future, other organizations might be able to benefit: UPMC is very aggressive about marketing the technology systems it develops for in-house use to other healthcare providers and insurers. The company has the philosophy that if UPMC has to develop software to meet its needs, then there's an unmet need in the market that UPMC should fill by commercializing its in-house software.