Docs: Why the time for 'precision delivery' is now

The healthcare industry must catch up with other sectors by using predictive data analytics at scale to improve clinical practice and care delivery, according to doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Providers must use patients' electronic health data to move into "precision delivery," Ravi B. Parikh, M.D., Meetali Kakad, M.D., and David W. Bates, M.D., write in a viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There are already some instances where healthcare systems are starting to successfully implement analytics into practice, they write. Some examples they highlight include:

  • Lowering readmissions: At Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, an algorithm created using clinical data and social and behavioral information was used to predict the probability of patients with heart failure being readmitted. By knowing which patients were most at risk, the health system was able to provide them with interventions such as education and follow-up communication on medication adherence. For those who participated in the interventions, there was a 26 percent reduction in odds of readmission, according to the viewpoint's authors.
  • Improving care for patients with serious illnesses: Analytics were used by the Veterans Health Administration to improve care quality for patients with serious illnesses. The VHA used its Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW), which stores patient data from across the department. The CDW calculated risk scores for patients that predicted hospitalization and death, and those scores help nurse care managers to guide services.

For health systems to reach a point where they can integrate analytics into care delivery, the authors write, they need access to long-term data, integrated electronic health record infrastructure, and "robust, responsive tools to address suggestions and improve clinicians' workflow."

Currently, according to a market trends report from Chilmark Research, there's still a long road ahead for hospitals and health systems to get where they need to be when it comes to data analytics; the report's authors say that the "development of robust data analytics capabilities … are still likely several years away." In addition,a Deloitte survey published last fall found that many organizations still lack a clear analytics strategy.

However, the doctors at Brigham and Women's say the time for precision care and delivery is at hand.

"With the advent of accountable care, the healthcare organizations that succeed will be those that deliver high value," they say. "Perhaps the most important step to improving value will be implementing clinical analytics in routine care."

To learn more:
- read the viewpoint (subscription required)