The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will begin selling analytics software the health system initially developed for it's own use, aiming to help doctors deliver procedures at a low cost, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Robert DeMichiei, UPMC chief financial officer, told WSJ that while the system was built with its own, in-house physicians in mind, discussions are taking place to expand with some potential partners. And now, some UPMC physicians are modifying their practices with the software to curb costs, he said.
How does the software work? DeMichiei told WSJ it starts with a baseline of the best health outcome achieved, and then measures costs and resources of procedures--including the cost of the equipment used, physician time spent in the operating room and patient length of stay. For example, WSJ noted, the software can measure the cost of blood replacement versus recycling a patient's own blood.
Judy Hanover, an analyst who covers healthcare for Framingham, Mass.-based research and consulting firm IDC Health Insights, told WSJ that building this kind of cost management system is difficult for most hospitals because it requires "holistic visibility of operations," an integration rough for a healthcare system with disparate, non-interoperable systems.
"Very few hospitals have these data ready available for integration, and even fewer have the capability to do the analysis required," she said.
While a growing number of providers are turning to data analytics to help improve care and lower costs at their facilities, the use of analytics in healthcare remains relatively immature, according to a recent survey from HIMSS Analytics.
For the report, touted at the recent Healthcare Business Intelligence Forum in Washington, D.C., roughly 1,800 healthcare professionals at 22 hospitals--including the Cleveland Clinic and Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare--were surveyed. The survey results also showed that, despite its growth, big data is seen as "one of the least important competencies" by providers.
A report published last fall by IDC, meanwhile, found health payers to be putting more stock in the effectiveness of big data and analytics tools than providers.
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