Thu, 04/12/2018

Not a day goes by when I don’t receive an email or see an article about the importance of good data at the point of care. As a proponent of maximizing the value of data this is a hard point to argue against. While this represents a trend in terms of thinking about healthcare data, it isn’t clear if there is a payoff for most practitioners, even if it were more than just an idea or goal.  Why?

Since we recently opened the 2018 MLB regular season, now seems to be the perfect time to include a baseball analogy. It would be hard to argue against the concept that the seasoned baseball announcer represents the pinnacle of “knowledge at your fingertips” and its impact on the craft of calling a game in real time. The traditions of the game dictate that especially on the radio, there are a myriad of statistics on the players, the teams, the opponents, and the ballpark itself that shape the perspective of every moment of every game. The announcer is perched in the announcers booth next to the press box with his/her cheat sheet, books, notes, a computer, and a co-announcer (with the same tools available), ready to react with the ‘perfect’ commentary based on what unfolds on the field.

But is this really the scenario we want played out in the precious moments when a healthcare practitioner is interacting with a patient? Or would we rather see a consistent, complete, and timely plan of evaluation and action that leverages the provider’s judgement and experience while maximizing the value of the right data for the moment? One of the best ways to accomplish this is in the systemic use of retrospective analysis.

The ability to maximize the use of data is directly impacted by its fitness for the purpose desired.  A foundation of harmonized core data has way more wide-scale potential than a collection of loosely correlated source-based facts, however voluminous (see big data!).  Further, when that data is organized in predictable ways (i.e. produce a grid of every relevant observation and clinical indicator for a particular chronic diagnosis ready to review at appointment time), it can allow the practitioner to concentrate on gaps either in our knowledge of the patient’s timeline (outside of network care) or actual gaps in the care itself. This data organization utilizes institutional information steeped in retrospective knowledge gained inside the provider network as well as through shared industry and government resources. 

By effectively looking back at what has happened and understanding its impacts on patient care, you can accelerate the use of high value information in the process of care delivery.  All from a change of perspective.