As the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) reach critical mass, the healthcare industry is increasingly looking for ways to optimize on this now digital data. As we look beyond the implementation of the EHR, we have to ask ourselves, what’s next? Digital health data, and the ability to mine that data, holds the promise of improved efficiency, lower costs, fewer errors, better health outcomes and greater accessibility. Access to actionable and easy to understand personal health data could also be helpful in creating a more consumer focused health system.
While it is likely that most health entities have begun to collect some form of electronic health data, the challenge now is to figure out how to use big data to achieve the promise. Healthcare entities should be planning their big data future. Entities should define their strategic objectives, and go about the work of developing a roadmap. Start with the end in mind. The big consideration is insourcing vs. outsourcing. Insourcing can be a high cost, high-risk proposition but it is an option that may pay out in the long run if done properly. Outsourcing offers a lower entry cost and lower risk option in that it allows you to push off the costs of implementation, development and maintenance. Regardless of which path an entity takes, a well-planned process will yield results by giving payers, providers, and patients access to the right data, at the right time for the right outcome.