Five considerations for data collection in a population health initiative

Data collection is the first step in population health initiative. The healthcare data is spread across a wide spectrum Image-(174)and involves the participation from various players. Below are the top 5 considerations for efficient data collection.

Electronic Health Records (EHR)
EHRs are digital versions of patient’s medical records. Every healthcare interaction leaves a digital footprint that is captured in an electronic health record. EHRs include a wide array of information such as medical history, laboratory test results, billing, and correspondence information. Prudent use of EHR can offer benefits such as improved access to data, diagnosis and treatment. EHRs are also less error-prone compared manual records. However, they have their limitations such as protecting the digital data and privacy concerns which have to be addressed accordingly.

Improving data collection
The inherent complex nature of the healthcare data presents a lot of challenges with its collection. Different players in the healthcare delivery cycle use different formats of data, which needs standardization for uniform usage across systems. Adhering to standards like HL7 can help overcome this challenge. Usage of unstructured data may prohibit providers from consuming data from health plans and vice versa. An all-inclusive source of truth system cannot be established with incompatible and inconsistent data. Improving data collection and coordination among the systems will enable representing the patient data closer to real time.

Patient portals
The collected data requires proper representation to enable efficient and timely decision making. Presenting data in the form of patient portals will help identifying trends in disease outbreak, patients’ response to long term treatment, and monitoring of vital parameters. Also, this can greatly help in identifying the time taken by the provider organizations to arrive at a diagnosis and the efficiency of care provided by them.

Legacy systems modernization
Legacy IT systems with their limited capability pose challenges in collecting, storing, and sharing of data across multiple systems. Using multiple systems for different needs limit internal organizational interactions. Outdated IT systems will pull down any effort to improve efficiency for both providers and payer organizations, adopting to latest data standards. Engaging with the IT stakeholders is a very important step towards modernization efforts.

Training of people working in provider organizations such as hospitals, physician groups, laboratories, pharmacy is an important aspect of efficient data collection. People should be trained in asking the most suitable and right questions to the patients, also to efficiently use the IT systems. Healthcare organizations should invest in training people with the most recent industry trends, regulations, standards to ensure they are up-to-date. Also they should be educated on the importance of data gathering, how it will be utilized for a broader goal and how they can play a vital role in achieving the goal.

Veerappan Rathinam

Architect, Virtusa. Veera is working as Pega Systems Architect for the past 10 years, helps major organizations to improvise their business process using Pega BPM technology. He has worked with clients across healthcare, banking and Insurance domains across multiple geographies.

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