Healthcare Analytics: A Key to Accountable Care Organizations

Electronic medical records allow healthcare providers to collect more data than ever before. Clinical and operational data is now readily available to hospitals and physicians, and is becoming an increasingly important tool for providing value-based care.

At the 5th Annual Becker's Hospital Review conference in Chicago on May 16, Chief Medical Officer of Optum Analytics Jeremy Orr, MD, MPH, gave a presentation titled, "How Clinical Analytics Can Help Create a Successful ACO?"

"Everybody loves to talk about data," said Dr. Orr. "If you are looking to make your organization data-driven and leverage all sources available to you, you can get value from your EMR data. EMR data is a reflection of a documentation method that has been around for centuries, but can be useful for analytics."

To transition from the traditional "narrative" data records to the EMR-based records useful for analytics, an organization will go through a significant transformation, which requires mapping and repurposing the transactional record to produce predictive events and find opportunities to act on.

"One of the great things about HITECH was that it did finally bring a lot of digital data to healthcare," said Dr. Orr. "To get to the most mileage out of the digital data, we still need to get rid of the silos."

The ultimate goal of predictive analytics for healthcare would be to reach patients who aren't sick yet. Currently, Optum is working with healthcare organizations to determine which patients are most at-risk for future admissions--due to advanced disease stages or chronic conditions--and reach out to them. The healthcare organizations are looking to bring these patients in earlier to manage their conditions appropriately and potentially avoid critically advancing the disease and future admissions.

"We identify these patients in pre-disease states and interact with them," said Dr. Orr. "For some of these patients, it has made them more loyal to the organization."

The first step is data collection and interpretation, but once the information is available health systems have the opportunity to develop actionable insights that will make a difference for their patients' quality of care. However, it's crucial for everyone to make a commitment to a true continuity of care and developing an action plan to really improve. At some point in the future, data will hopefully be able to show what types of care management work best.

"We really don't have a lot of evidence in the literature that care management is going to work, but we're investing in it," said Dr. Orr. "You can do an experiment where you take 100 heart failure patients, assign them to three different programs and see who has the best outcomes or lowest associated costs. We'll be able to find opportunities to understand which care management approaches work. It's going to take a long time before we have a body of literature around care management, but we're getting the pieces in place to start these cycles."

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