The Two Faces of CMS IT

As I mentioned in last week’s article, I attended the Healthcare Analytics symposium in Chicago a couple weeks ago.  During this meeting, Niall Brennan, CMS Chief Data Officer, spoke about recent advances and future enhancements to data and systems provided by CMS for the healthcare community.

He described the new “Blue Button Initiative” where CMS and the VA are providing the public access to “synthetic sample data sets for the purpose of fostering innovation and enabling industry stakeholders to provide feedback for future development.”

He discussed the new CMS Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC).  This system allows users to access approved data files within a virtual environment that is supposed to keep this data private and secure.  Users can purchase their own workspace in this environment and upload their own data to generate queries against related CMS information.

Two Faces of CMS IT

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The Potential of Data Analytics in Healthcare

Earlier this week, I attended a symposium on healthcare data analytics held by Health Data Management in Chicago.  This was the fourth year of the convention and the first year that I attended.  I have attended many healthcare conventions over the last 30 years, mostly related to financial transactions, data and topics related to revenue cycle management.  This meeting was unique in that it related data to all types of healthcare management and showed how numbers could be used to predict the future as well as analyze the past.

Forward thinking organizations were already using analytics to do some pretty amazing things.  One facility had developed tools to predict future readmission rates of their own patients, another had predictive analytics for projecting future short term emergency department demand so that they could staff for these fluctuations in advance.  This tool used internal data collected by the healthcare organization and external data like traffic, weather and social media.

Vendors had tools that could not only model historical data and test hypotheses, but could measure and identify trends from data unseen by users.  New algorithms used in other industries can be applied to healthcare data to allow computers to assist users to explore their own information.  Think of when Netflix shows you “other films you may like” or when Amazon suggests similar products.  This technology can be used in healthcare to suggest things you may be looking for, but may not have thought of yet.

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Potential of Analytics

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The Perception of Quality

As a president of a software development company, I am both a vendor and a consumer of customer service.  After 30 years of working with my customers and obtaining supporting services for our tools and systems, I have learned the value of quality service and the damage that is caused when this aspect of our business is taken lightly.

Despite your opinion of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizen’s United case a few years ago, it seems to me to be a fact that corporations, and all forms of social organizations, develop a personality similar to individuals.  From this perspective, corporations really are like people.

Like individuals, corporations can be generous and caring, willing to sacrifice short term gains for long term results.  They can be driven, focused, and talented.  They can also be cold, vindictive and focused on the next measurable performance period at the expense of everything else.  Like people, the superficial organizations that talk about quality and teamwork without actually backing it up with action are much more common than those that actually exhibit these qualities.

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