The Use of Big Data in Integrated Healthcare

Healthcare is complicated. The Affordable Care Act alone is 600 pages (at 400 substantive words per page) with over 20,000 pages of supporting regulations. Healthcare is big. There are some 800-pound gorillas in the room. Or more specifically, there are some $208-billion-McKesson, $200-billion-UnitedHealth, $185-billion-CVS, and $130-billion-Cardinal-Health gorillas in the industry. Healthcare is dynamic. Every day, companies try out disruptive innovative delivery systems, business models, and technologies.

How is a local integrated network of doctors supposed to survive and thrive when some healthcare firms have their own gravitational pull? Big data. Advanced analytics. That’s how!

Integrated networks are small. Don’t you have to be big to have big data? While small compared to the biggest companies in the economy, most integrated networks are big enough that their own data can move the needle on outcomes and efficiencies. That helps level the playing field.

Don’t advanced analytics require advanced skillsets that are beyond a local group of providers? The insights hidden in big data are like buried treasure. Finding buried treasure is the same whether you are $200B or $200k. Articulate hypotheses, manipulate data, test hypotheses, interpret results, and change your business accordingly. That helps level the playing field.

That’s just the scientific method. Big companies do this in their sleep, right? Not always; this doesn’t get easier as you get bigger. In some ways, it gets harder. While big companies may have more people looking at data, they often take longer to turn analysis into action. That helps level the playing field.

Doesn’t bigger size mean better data? Not necessarily! Once you cross a data threshold, it’s not the size that counts. It’s how you use it. Most integrated networks are beyond that data threshold. That helps level the playing field.

That gives integrated networks an advantage! They can be nimbler in their use of data. They can have shorter decision cycles. They can innovate faster. That’s right! That helps un-level the playing field to the advantage of integrated networks. Now what do we do?