How Freeing Your Data Drives Better Outcomes

March 23, 2022

Article Summary

Healthcare organizations across the globe have one thing in common—the desire to leverage data to improve outcomes. However, achieving this goal isn’t as easy as it sounds, according to, Jeff Selander, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Expansion Business at Health Catalyst. Selander says to effectively leverage data to drive systemwide improvements, organizations must democratize—or free—their data. Data democratization starts with a digital infrastructure that can support robust digital needs, such as electronic patient records and efficient patient data distribution. Once the infrastructure is in place, systems must connect digital patient records to other source systems (e.g., patient safety ancillary systems and pharmacy) for a complete picture of a patient’s health. Keeping these steps in mind, health systems are now ready to drive the greatest results for the greatest amount of people.

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Healthcare organizations share the goal of leveraging data to deliver better care, but the processes to democratize that data for systemwide use vary by region and country. Jeff Selander, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Expansion Business at Health Catalyst, discusses how health systems throughout the world increasingly turn to data to inform better decision making and the associated challenges with digitizing healthcare and democratizing data.

Data Democratization Is Key to Better Healthcare Delivery No Matter the Location

From payment models to operational procedures and healthcare legislation, healthcare delivery differs across the globe. Yet, Selander emphasizes that no matter the location, data democratization—breaking down data siloes and then distributing data for team member use—is key to better healthcare delivery. However, for effective data democratization, organizations need a digital infrastructure.

According to Selander, a digital infrastructure allows healthcare providers to digitize patient records and then more easily share patient information and relevant insights with team members throughout an organization. Without a digital infrastructure, systems must piece data sets together manually and exchange information much more slowly compared to an automated system, which can delay care.

Connecting Digital Patient Records with Other Data Sources Is Critical to Maximizing Data

Although there are many benefits to digital records, Selander says digitizing involves more than transferring paper records to electronic records. To reap the full benefits of digitization, health systems must connect their digital medical records to other source systems, including the pharmacy, claims, and operational systems, for a comprehensive view of patients’ health.

By linking patient health records to the other source systems mentioned above, care teams capture a more complete picture of a patient’s care journey and overall health. For example, the digital record doesn’t include patient safety data, but if a system’s infrastructure connects patient safety information with a patient’s medical record, the care team might realize that a patient experienced an adverse event at a prior hospital visit. With this new information, the care plan would include additional checkpoints for this patient’s care.

Digital Patient Records Overcome Medical Language Barriers

Even though distinct global regions describe conditions and procedures differently, automation capabilities in digital patient records make it easier to connect varying terms that describe the same procedure through customization. For example, rather than rewrite or erase a description or code on a paper-based medical record, organizations can customize their digital health records to read multiple codes or terms for the same procedure. Automating these processes alleviates the burden of sifting through paper-based records looking for specific terms, allowing the care team to focus on optimizing care delivery.

Digitization Is Crucial for Data Democratization—The Key to Better Healthcare Delivery

No matter where a health system is on its journey to improving healthcare, Selander says that data democratization data allows healthcare leaders and clinicians to use their data more efficiently to improve care in a meaningful, sustainable way.

However, organizations can only fully realize data democratization with digital patient records, according to Selander. Once health systems have embraced digitization and moved away from paper-based patient records, they are prepared to democratize and distribute analytic insight to team members throughout the organization. The shift toward digitization and democratization allows care teams across the globe to drive the greatest results for the greatest number of people.

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