Hospital IT leaders work to leverage big data

As big data becomes more widely used in healthcare, hospitals and other organizations are continually trying to find ways to use the information while addressing any concerns that may arise.

Leveraging big data is one way to become more efficient in the delivery of care, Darwin Cooley, director of pharmacy services at West Burlington, Iowa-based Great River Medical Center, recently told Health IT Outcomes.

At his facility, Cooley said, data is being used to increase the efficiency of drug delivery, reduce inventory costs and meet regulatory requirements. He added that the data is helping Great River meet requirements put in place by Meaningful Use.

For Michael Hunt, who serves as both chief medical information officer and chief medical officer at St. Vincent's Health Partners in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the challenge is making the data collected usable, he told Health IT Outcomes.

"We focus on making sure information is timely, actionable, and accurate and have seen many positive outcomes," Hunt said.  

The use of big data at facilities like Great River and St. Vincent's is part of a trend. Because of increasing health IT adoption and investments, the health analytics market is expect to see 25 percent annual growth over next five years, according to a new report from IQ4I Research & Consultancy.

What's more, through the use of data and analytics, physicians at Carolinas HealthCare System are undertaking many new initiatives, including ones focusing on community health. Through funding from the National Institute for Minority Health, Carolinas has built a "hotspot" in the community to identify areas in the community at high risk, and patients at high risk, for problems with asthma.

Using big data is not without its challenges, however. Cooley told Health IT Outcomes that training staff tops its list of hurdles. While the goal was efficiency, because there was a lot to learn, it took a while to get there, he said.

Meanwhile, Hunt called education a challenge at St. Vincent's, especially when it comes to reimbursement models. Medical professionals and patients, he said, had to be taught about the changes occurring and how those changes affect them.

Hospital leaders are not the only ones who will need to take a part in big data adoption--patient input will become an important part of the collection process, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Health IT Outcomes article