The healthcare industry was starting to recognize the importance of high value data as they moved from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based care models – but the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more apparent that hospitals need the ability to access and integrate data from multiple sources in order to make meaningful clinical and business decisions. TJ Elbert, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Data at Health Catalyst, said provider organizations, especially, were desperate to access trusted data as they treated patients in a virtual setting.

“There’s a real urgency when you are reliant on monitors and devices to get a full picture of a patient,” he pointed out. “That has increased the need for governance of all that data, from both inside and outside of the hospital, so providers feel like they can trust and then use that data to make decisions that impact care.”

Healthcare organizations with good data analytics capabilities in place, with strong governance, had a much easier time transferring to new models of care as they sought new ways to treat patients outside of the office setting, according to Elbert. In addition, they were also in a better position to make critical business decisions as the pandemic altered what kind of services they were allowed to provide.

“If you are able to use your data, you can better inform virtual care – and pivot to a more digital care model,” he said. “But more than that, you can make smarter decisions across the entire organization. Because when, all of a sudden, elective and outpatient surgeries are gone and you lose that revenue, you need to find a way to come back. Organizations with trusted data could figure out when it was safe to bring those services back, what capacity was needed to be for COVID-19, how to manage patient access to care and how to recover even as things kept changing. Having that information gives you a much fuller picture of what’s happening today – and where you need to be in the future.”

High-value data and analytics, truly, can eliminate the guesswork in healthcare decision-making, said Elbert. Unfortunately, he stated, many organizations still lack the tools to leverage the data they need, whether they are trying to facilitate team-based medicine and care collaboration or understand how to find the money to invest in new surgical technologies that will bolster their bottom line in the future.

“These capabilities can provide you the data to inform you where, when and how to shift – and how to do so in a way that puts your organization where it needs to be from a financial perspective so you are in a position to deliver the care your patients need,” said Elbert. “When you can do this modeling, you can tug on different threads and see what the impact will be, clinically and financially, to solve real problems. Data, really, is the key to allowing organizations to safely move forward with different initiatives – and, in doing so, improve patient outcomes and move the field, as a whole, forward.”

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