Healthcare conglomeration to access Big Data and lower costs
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, CCurator
The expected benefits are not as easily realized as anticipated. The problem of access to data sources is not as difficult as the content needed for evaluation.
DARK DAILY DARK DAILY firstname.lastname@example.org
January 13, 2016
Recently-announced partnerships want to use big data to improve patient outcomes and lower costs; clinical laboratory test data will have a major role in these efforts
In the race to use healthcare big data to improve patient outcomes, several companies are using acquisitions and joint ventures to beef up and gain access to bigger pools of data. Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers have an interest in this trend, because medical laboratory test data will be a large proportion of the information that resides in these huge healthcare databases.
For health systems that want to be players in the healthcare big data market, one strategy is to do arisk-sharing venture with third-party care-management companies. This allows the health systems to leverage their extensive amounts of patient data while benefiting from the expertise of their venture partners.
Cardinal Health Acquires 71% Interest in naviHealth
One company that wants to work with hospitals and health systems in these types of arrangements is Cardinal Health. It recently acquired a 71% interest in Nashville-based naviHealth. This company partners with health plans, health systems, physicians, and post-acute providers to manage the entire continuum of post-acute care (PAC), according to a news release on the naviHealth website. NaviHealth’s business model involves sharing the financial risk with its clients and leveraging big data to predict best outcomes and lower costs.
“We created an economic model to take on the entire post-acute-care episode,” declared naviHealth CEO and President Clay Richards in a company news release. “It’s leveraging the technology and analytics to create individual care protocols.”
“The most basic, and the most important, thing is … they [Cardinal Health] share the same core values as we do, which is to be on the right side of healthcare,” naviHealth CEO Clay Richards told The Tennessean. “It’s about how you deliver better outcomes for patients with lower costs: How do you solve the problems [with growing costs]? That’s what we and Cardinal define as being on the right side of healthcare.” (Caption and image copyright: The Tennessean.)
Provider Investments Signal Continuation of Trend
Cardinal Health intends to combine its ability to reduce costs while providing effective care with naviHealth’s evidence-based, personalized post-acute-care plans. This is one approach to harness the power of big data to improve patient care. One goal is focus this expertise on post-acute care, which is one of Medicare’s quality measures.
Patients and their families often are unsure of what to expect after being discharged. And, according to an article published in Kaiser Health News, a 2013 Institutes of Medicine (IOM) report noted a link between the quality of post-acute care and healthcare spending following the discharge of Medicare patients.
However, maximizing the use of healthcare big data requires the participation of multiple stakeholders. Information scientists, hospital administrators, software developers, insurers, clinicians, and patients themselves must all perform a role in order for big data to reach its full potential. No single sector will be able to bring the benefits of big data to fruition; rather collaboration and partnerships will be necessary.
Other Collaborations and Alliances Target Healthcare Big Data
Two other organizations engaged in a similar collaboration are the Mayo Clinic andOptum360, a revenue management services company that focuses on simplifying and streamlining the revenue cycle process. In a press release, the companies announced that they were partnering to “develop new revenue management services capabilities aimed at improving patient experiences and satisfaction while reducing administrative costs for healthcare providers.” (See Dark Daily, “When It Comes to Mining Healthcare Big Data, Including Medical Laboratory Test Results, Optum Labs Is the Company to Watch,” December 14, 2015.)
In order to accomplish this, Mayo will have to share its revenue cycle management (RCM) data with Optum360, which will use the data to devise improved revenue cycle processes and systems.
“What we’re trying to find out, if we can, is what does healthcare cost, and what of that spend really adds value to a patient’s outcome over time, especially with these high-impact diseases,” stated Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, MD, in a story published by the Star Tribune. He was referencing another big data project Mayo is engaged in with UnitedHealth Group. “Ultimately, we as a country have to figure this out, so people can have access to high-quality care and it doesn’t bankrupt them or the country.”
Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, MD, believes big data may be the key to transforming healthcare costs by informing clinical decision-making and altering patient outcomes. (Photo copyright: Mayo Clinic.)
Another interesting healthcare big data partnership is the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance (The Alliance). It involves a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the University of Pittsburgh (PITT), and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The aim of The Alliance is to take raw data from wearable devices, insurance records, medical appointments, as well as other common sources, and develop ways to improve the health of individuals and the wider community.
The common thread among all these collaborative efforts is a desire to improve outcomes while reducing costs. This is the promise of healthcare big data. And no matter which direction the effort takes, clinical laboratories, which generate a vast amount of critical health data, are in a good position to play important roles involving the contribution of lab test data and identifying ways to use healthcare big data projects to improve patient care.