Black Branch Consulting is kicking off a new series today, where we sit down with industry experts to discuss a hot topic, watershed moment or prolific event happening in health IT. We’re interested in picking the brains of the people influencing new innovations and affecting change. In our inaugural Q&A, we’re talking big data with Doug Burke, president and co-founder of Cognitive Medical Systems, a provider of standards-based Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems.
Big data is unavoidable. There is an influx of healthcare-related information being captured, digitized and stored by clinicians, researchers, payors and commercial and public healthcare providers. All of which is being used to make more informed healthcare decisions. However, these large marts of unstructured data come with inherent challenges. How can this vast amount of vital patient and population health data be standardized, protected, securely shared and leveraged into intelligent, actionable information to improve how care is delivered?
Cognitive is tackling the big data challenge with its standards-based CDS Framework and mobile solutions that enable clinicians to search, receive and use data that is contextually relevant to the setting and personalized for the patient. Resulting in higher-quality healthcare decisions at the point of treatment and throughout the continuum of care.
We took an opportunity to speak with Doug, ahead of tomorrow’s HIMSS NCA Big Data and Analytics event, which will explore how agencies are embracing new technologies and best practices for more advanced statistical analysis. (Cognitive is an event sponsor.)
Black Branch: Tell us about Cognitive Medical and what you're doing in the big data arena.
Doug: We're doing several things in big data. First, we're working with the DoD Defense Health Agency on a research and development project called Legacy Program Integration (LPI), where we're using a Hadoop data store to facilitate terminology mapping and translation.
We're also starting to work in and around the Million Veteran Program (MVP) where the VA is capturing the genome information for up to one million Veterans in order to perform longitudinal health research. Genome information is very data rich and thus can often be better mined using non-traditional database architectures and technologies (i.e., "big data").
Black Branch: How do you envision big data analytics impacting how clinicians deliver better evidence-based medicine?
Doug: As a part of the Affordable Care Act, HHS CMS is moving towards and experimenting with "value-based purchasing" of healthcare. Value-based purchasing are initiatives that reward care delivery systems with incentive payments for the quality of care they provide. How you measure quality and outcomes, and the data needed to compare treatments across providers, health systems, geographies, demographics, etc., all have aspects of big data analytics. Cognitive is particularly focused on automating the many thousands of evidence based treatment protocols and care guidelines which health delivery systems use, day in and day out, to delivery quality of care. And, we're particularly focused on that because we believe that payors are going to move to models where they only reimburse (or perhaps "better" reimburse) providers for following agreed-upon care pathways and treatment protocols.
Black Branch: Cognitive is known for being heavily involved in standards work, having steward three HL7-balloted Draft Standards for Trial Utilization (DSTU) initiatives important for health information systems in general--and CDS in particular. Can you tell us what kinds of new standards should operational and clinical professionals get ready for?
Doug: I think any of the interoperability standards from either HL7 or ONC are important, as HIT interoperability between health systems (i.e., EHR/EMR) is becoming more and more important and getting a lot more attention from the Federal government.
We're particularly interested in content interoperability--healthcare content defined as orders, treatment protocols, structured documents, etc., and have done a lot of work with helping to build and deploy the ONC "Health eDecision" standards. With the move to value-based care, clinical quality measures are also very important and we've spent some time helping to develop those standards as well.
Black Branch: Any final thoughts?
Doug: This week’s event is a must-attend for anyone interested in tracking where big data and standards work is netting out in the healthcare arena. Big data is transforming a complex industry--impacting not only how healthcare is delivered but also how patients themselves and our government are becoming better stewards in personal care and population wellness.
You can learn more about Cognitive Medical Systems’ work in the clinical decision support and standards arena here.
More information and to register for the HIMSS NCA Big Data and Analytics event can be found here.
Be sure to check back in February for our next Q&A!