Carolinas HealthCare embraces new data initiatives

Using data and analytics, physicians at Carolinas HealthCare System are undertaking many new initiatives, including ones on community health.

Michael Dulin, Carolinas' chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research, and Allen Naidoo, Ph.D., the health system's vice president for advanced analytics, in an interview with Healthcare Informatics, reflected on projects and challenges through their work in Carolinas' Dickson Advanced Analytics (DA2) department.

One of the larger initiatives under way, Dulin said, involves community health. They are looking at how to bring in data and use it to improve the health of a community. Through funding from the National Institute for Minority Health, Carolinas has built a "hotspot" in the community, Dulin said, with one of the focuses on asthma.

"We identified areas in the community at high risk, and patients at high risk, for problems with their asthma. Then we've built interventions, to improve outcomes for asthma," Dulin told Healthcare Informatics.

FierceHealthcare recently reported on the hospital system's use of data to assess patient risk, including for asthma.

There are also challenges that come with population health--including integrating data, Naidoo said. With information coming from a variety of places, they are working on collecting it into a centralized repository. He added that hiring the right people to successfully analyze data is a roadblock--and that there is a great shortage of those skill sets nationally.

Carolinas is not the only health system grappling with this problem. Many chief information officers have made hiring for IT positions, including data scientists and analytics experts, a priority this year, FierceHealthIT previously reported.  

Naidoo and Dulin also gave some advice to other health IT colleagues, saying that to successfully implement new projects, a high level of organization alignment, senior-level commitment and willingness to make investments are key.

To learn more:
- read the full Healthcare Informatics interview