National Quality Forum advocates for big data quality frameworks

As the healthcare industry pulls in buckets of information from electronic health records, wearables and health apps, "more data, more problems" is becoming a new refrain.

That's where the National Quality Forum and Peterson Center on Healthcare step in--trying to make the case for use of big data while advocating for meaningful quality frameworks for the information, according to an article at HealthITAnalytics.

"Everybody needs and deserves to have consistent and accurate information about healthcare," NQF President and CEO Christine Cassel, M.D., says in the article. "[B]ut in a world where data sources are multiplying by leaps and bounds ... there's a lot of complexity when it comes to actually implementing systematic improvements."

Collecting healthcare data on patients and populations will soon be easier than ever for the industry, but making sense of all the information that will be the biggest challenge, according to Drew Harris, M.D., director of health policy at Thomas Jefferson University's School of Population Health in Philadelphia.

EHRs are helping providers create platforms for data analytics, but there are still issues to overcome. One of the biggest is a lack of interoperability in the industry, which Cassel notes makes it hard to get comprehensive information on an individual. The NQF and Peterson Center is trying to usher the process along, according to the article.

Cassel adds that it's important for data developers to see the benefit of passive consumer data, such as logging their sleep and exercise. There needs to be a more seamless way to gather that patient information, Cassel says, as well as "richer availability of patient reported data ... that could be used in a lot of performance measures."

In addition, sometimes data doesn't always show the full picture of the patient's health, which authors of a paper published in BMJ Quality and Safety call a "data shadow." Often there is information that may be missing from a patient's record that has direct influence on their health.

To get to a point where data is no longer disconnected, there will need to be "support, investment and encouragement," says Prabhjot Singh, M.D., special advisor for Strategy and Design at the Peterson Center for Healthcare.

"It can be very data-intensive, and we're looking for innovators and thinkers that can bring big data and systematic improvements together. That's something that we're keen to learn more about, especially from people that are doing it," he says.

To learn more:
- read the article