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Want to Cut Healthcare Costs? Peer Into the Data

Christina Scolaro
Big Data Download

Everyone in the United States seems to know that the nation’s healthcare system needs an overhaul. Some hospitals are taking the reins and using big data to try to turn things in the right direction.

Phil Simon, author of bestselling nonfiction work “Too Big To Ignore,” says that at the current rate, almost $3 trillion is spent annually in the U.S. on healthcare, and that number is rising by 6 to 7 percent per year. Of the total, more than $1 trillion is just thrown away, he says—wasted through inefficient practices and redundancy in data.

Eighty percent of that medical data is unstructured, which means it’s not going to do much good for the future or for other patients. Medical data currently resides in multiple places such as emergency rooms, physicians’ notes, insurance claims and labs. If that data were in one place, he says, access to it would be easier, creating better care and outcomes for patients and diseases.

Some hospital groups have caught on to the benefits of big data. The Cleveland Clinic, data management firm Premier Health Alliance and North Carolina-based health provider Cornerstone Health Care have put platforms into place.

Cornerstone uses software that operates using a clinical database of nearly 30 million patients in 38 states. Cornerstone began a patient outreach program in 2011. Since then, Cornerstone says, its software has provided clinical analytics that helped identify at-risk patients, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Cornerstone through kept appointments, and resulted in 28 percent of patients showing health improvements.

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