Day 48: Data Gathering transitions to Information Analysis

22 Jul Day 48: Data Gathering transitions to Information Analysis

Transition (trăn-zĭsh’ən) n.

  1. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.
  2. A word, phrase, sentence, or series of sentences connecting one part of a discourse to another.

In the midst of running Medsphere I became aware that we were onto something very powerful. Somewhere along the line I finally “got it” that what we were actually doing was not implementing electronic health records but rather creating the data collection backbone that would enable future clinicians, researchers, and other interested parties to have access to large volumes of data that they could then turn into useful information and ultimately knowledge about health care delivery. This realization helped me move beyond the mere “features and functions” comparative sales pitch to a much more egalitarian view of how most any standardized information system could most likely serve as an effective tool to gather the data and transform it into clinical relevant and useful information. Since we could offer the tool at a fraction of the price of the other guys, it made perfect sense to me why the customer should select us!

The Veterans Health Administration clearly has led the way in this regard with their implementation (begun in 1996!) and utilization of an enterprise wide electronic health record to radically alter their outcomes. I was fortunate to help  transition this technology to the private sector with OpenVista implementation at Midland Memorial Hospital (and have followed with interest their successes with interest).  Kaiser Permanente also endeavored to initiate one of the largest ever civilian deployments of an EHR to the tune of ~$5Billion dollars across their 35  hospitals. This massive investment has paid off in spades, and we are now just far enough along that we are going to start seeing some of the incredible results enabled by a system wide electronic health record (regardless of variety).

Case in point: An embargoed article was just sent to me by my friends at Kaiser who are just publishing a new article in the Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research journal of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. The paper demonstrates how an EHR-enabled, large-scale total joint replacement registry has enhanced patient safety, quality of care, cost-effectiveness and research, and how a national registry could improve clinical practice and reduce revision rates in the U.S.

Key points from the article include:

  • More than 600,000 total joint replacement procedures are performed each year in the U.S., and the volume and costs associated with these procedures are projected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years
  • Kaiser Permanente’s Total Joint Replacement Registry– the nation’s largest such registry with 100,000+ hip and knee replacement cases – allows caregivers to analyze specific data from standardized forms and Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect (Epic software), the world’s largest private sector electronic health record, to help identify best practices, evaluate risk factors for revision surgeries, assess the clinical effectiveness of implants, and study patient demographics, implant characteristics and surgical techniques related to post-operative infections, revisions and re-operations.
  • Data from the registry has been integrated into a risk calculator that surgeons and patients use to make decisions about treatment. Research from the registry on implants and surgical techniques has influenced changes in clinical practice and optimized both techniques and implants.

The article features some of the authors, surgeons, and even a patient case study of how the registry was used to make an informed clinical decision (my friends at Dartmouth would be proud!).  We are clearly just at the front of this curve wherein we actually start getting into outcomes, accountability, and real shared medical decision making with legit data on the various treatment options. It is going to be an exciting journey to be a part of this data to information transition.

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