While healthcare organizations seem to have an affinity for paper, executives are discovering that paper forms are notoriously ineffective for tracking critical performance improvement information. Why? First, those paper forms could easily become lost. Second, data entry is often a monthly or quarterly batch process, and by the time data is entered and analyzed, opportunities for improvement may be long gone. Third, manual data entry can be riddled with human error, which could lead to flawed analysis.
To accelerate improvements in patient safety, we must harness incident report data in ways that allow us to analyze trends in real time so that we can implement data-driven improvements immediately.
Big Data uses sophisticated computational analysis to reveal patterns, trends, and associations – especially relating to human behavior and interactions – within very large data sets.
Big Data is not new – although it is new to healthcare – and it has already revolutionized other industries. In fact, in August, Towards Data Science listed “5 Industries Becoming Defined by Big Data and Analytics,” with “Medicine” listed No. 1. Still, there is little, if any, debate that Big Data has not been fully embraced by healthcare – although strides are certainly being made. However, we must quicken the pace, as Big Data holds the the next big breakthrough in patient safety improvements.
For instance, a fully executed Big Data strategy will enable healthcare organizations to not only collect information electronically from a variety of sources, but also allow computational software to systematically review and analyze this information to create a better understanding and implementation of medicines, healthcare tools, procedures, and practices to ensure improved and safer care.
Because Big Data has the potential to accelerate improvements in patient safety, Datix has devoted and invested substantial resources in the development of robust computational software applications, specifically DatixWeb and Datix Cloud IQ. These next-generation patient safety software solutions can continually mine data in real time, generating flags and alerts that can prevent negative events from occurring.
Today, we have only scratched the surface of Big Data technology. Still, we are confident that if the 800 hospitals on CMS’s penalty list had fully integrated, electronic incident reporting systems that provided ongoing data mining, alerts, and improvement strategies, they wouldn’t remain on that list for long.
DatixWeb and Datix Cloud IQ are built on the Datix toolkit framework of Capture, Evaluate, Strategy, Implement, and Assess. Through this toolkit, we help healthcare organizations become learning organizations. Taking advantage of easy data capture and robust analytical tools, our software not only shows where improvements can be made, but also helps identify underlying causes and recommend changes to overcome them.
Although Big Data has already transformed many industries – such as financial services, aviation, and utilities – its full potential in healthcare has yet to be realized. A fully executed Big Data strategy that connects purposely built patient safety software to EHRs will enable healthcare organizations to not only collect information electronically from a variety of sources, but also allow technology to systematically review and analyze this information to create a better understanding and implementation of medicines, healthcare tools, procedures, and practices to ensure improved care.
In 2010, in a study conducted by the Society for Actuaries, it was reported that the economic cost of medical errors in the United States in 2008 was $19.5 billion – $17 billion (87%) of which was directly associated with added medical costs, such as inpatient care, ancillary services, prescription drug services, and outpatient care. The remaining $2.5 billion was linked to increased mortality rates and days of lost productivity from missed work.
Adjusting for the increase in the U.S. population from 2008 to 2016, the current cost of medical errors can be estimated at $20.8 billion. That number has been validated by other studies, including a report issued by the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, which put the annual cost of medical errors at $21 billion.
The only way to make a dent in the high cost of medical errors – and begin to reduce preventable patient harm – is to leverage Big Data to identify opportunities for improvement that can’t be identified through human analysis alone. By using patient safety software developed to integrate broad-population health data, analyze that data, and raise early warning flags, caregivers can easily view information from multiple sources and communities through a single application and quickly see patient safety risks throughout the healthcare enterprise – interceding before an event occurs.
By reducing variables such as human error and inaccurately inputted information, lowering the amount of time it takes to collect data, and organizing that data into well-structured applications, technology can improve patient safety risks and penalties. For most hospitals, the financial return on investment of such technology can be 10x to 20x per year; the human ROI is priceless.
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