Technology is continuously evolving and new tools are being presented to help advance various industries and improve processes. One of the more recent technology buzz words affecting the healthcare industry today is “Big Data.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Big Data is defined as, “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.”
The term is popping up more and more and seems to be all the rage in the technology world, but what does it mean for home healthcare?
Healthcare providers are adapting to new technologies such as wearables, rpm monitoring and electronic health records (EHRs), which allow them to gather these “extremely large data sets” of home health documents.
While we could dive into the details of how Big Data works and all the tools and technologies that are surfacing in order to manage and utilize Big Data, let’s rather focus on how it will affect you and your home care agency specifically:
Trends, Patterns and Predictions
Through big data analytics, home healthcare providers have the ability to determine a number of trends and patterns in both clinical and operational settings. By looking over data collected in home healthcare software solutions, providers can use the information to solve problems and improve care processes in their organization and for their clients in their homes.
For example, it’s possible to set up predictive alerts based on clinical vitals, resulting in provider decision-support and the reduction of hospital readmissions. Providers could also look at the data around missed visits and identify any trends amongst employees to help develop new processes and policies to prevent them from being missed in the future.
While big data can be used to predict events and issues that occur in the future, it can also be used to better analyze current client problems allowing providers to more effectively address them. With the data collected in a clinical setting on a large scale, providers can get a sense of the signs of a client who isn’t managing their care or treatment plan effectively.
For example, they can use data collected from smartphones and remote monitoring to detect signs of depression or lack of exercise, allowing them to intervene accordingly. You could also determine the effectiveness of various treatment plans based on a broad range of clients, improving outcomes and reducing overall costs.
Outcome-Focused and Prevention
The home care industry is shifting to an outcome-focused model, which involves providers making use of all of the available clinical data and factoring in data science and analytics.
Bringing all client information together gives stakeholders more visibility and insight into the care being provided and opens up the door to improved care coordination, outcome-based reimbursements, population health management and improved outcomes.
Health System Value
As bundled payments take a prevalence in healthcare reimbursements, home health has become an important part of the continuum of care. The data that can be communicated back to the payer sets an agency apart from their peers and competitors.
The ability to take clinical data on chronic conditions (the highest cost to health systems) and allow payers to identify how to best spend healthcare spending is of amazing value. Similarly, the ability to send compliance data to a payer ensures them that the healthcare budget is being spent in a responsible and ethical manner.
These trends set your agency apart and makes your agency the preferred choice by clients and payers alike.
Now that you have an idea of the ways that big data can directly affect your home care organization, what are the next steps? Most home care agencies aren’t in a position to be the innovators and analyzers of Big Data at this time, and that’s okay.
Cloud computing, mobile health and EHRs probably weren’t originally your specialty either, but your organization probably still benefits from them. Simply thinking about the ways that Big Data could be enabled in your organization and adjusting accordingly will get you ahead of the curve. Here are a few steps to get you started:
- Choose a home healthcare software system that allows you greater functionality and flexibility. Rather than a general home health scheduling system, look for a solution that offers reporting and analytics. Also look for a platform that integrates with referrals and other health records or organizations, to help increase interoperability and generate more data.
- Start gathering key metrics and statistics such as missed visits, hospital readmissions, and other key clinical or operational vitals that you can use in the future when you’re ready for big data and advanced analytics.
- If you haven’t implemented a home care software solution, research the AlayaCare platform in a web-demo and see how our system can prepare you for Big Data and the future of home care.
If you’d like to learn more about Big Data and data science, watch this video of AlayaCare’s Director of AlayaLabs, Jonathan Vallee, as he explains the roll of these technologies in the home care industry.