You have data; what do you do with it?

The proliferation of mobile medical devices means providers are collecting more data than ever before—but how do you leverage it to improve your practice?

With health-care reform making clinical outcomes more vital, payers and providers alike will likely come to see the value in collecting and analyzing data in order to affect future decision-making. Payers can use it to justify healthcare expenses and drive preventive health-care programs, while providers can use it to improve clinical outcomes.

Despite its value, the use of such “business intelligence,” as it’s called, is rare in medical practices. Lynn Dunbrack, program director for IDC Health Insights, noted, “The recent surveys show about 44 percent of providers see the value in analytics, yet only 26 percent have a business intelligence program in place.”

Electronic medical records are making date a collection easier. More and more, we’re seeing data in consistent formats. Down the road, we may even see vendors begin integrating analytics applications into workflows.

For now, if you’d like to implement a business intelligence plan of your own, remember, it’s not just about collecting the data; it’s about engaging in a conversation about it. “The problem is to take this incredible technical capability and match it with the appropriate insight,” says Thomas Payne, MD, medical director of IT services for UW Medicine.

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