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Informatics: Is it health care’s ‘Moneyball?’

From the May 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine
Informatics transformed baseball in 2002, bringing strategy, planning and “Moneyball” into a sport that had little thought into data mining and predictive analytics.

As noted by Wikipedia, the central premise of “Moneyball” (a strategy make famous by a book and movie that featured Brad Pitt) is that the collective wisdom of baseball insiders over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Traditional baseball statistics to measure a player’s success such as stolen bases, runs batted in and batting average present an antique view of the game. The Oakland A’s management staff took advantage of new and unique analytical statistics of player performance to build a team that could compete with powerful, richer competitors in Major League Baseball.

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In health care, key buzzwords for 2017 indicate a need for accurate and timely informatics far beyond the historical length of stay and case mix index. There is no doubt the informatics “Moneyball” theory has brought success to both business and sports, but can it also bring driving change to health care?

As health care begins to effectively manage the amount of data produced, the ability to turn that data into meaningful action has increased. Possibly the most exciting opportunity at the crossroads of health care and technology is the ability to make true inroads in quality care with the ease of pressing a button. In health care, meaningful action is most often represented as an improvement to quality of care. Informatics must quickly show its value by enhancing current medical practices.

For example, infections in the U.S. affect approximately half a million patients annually. As a result, almost every organization tracks its infection rate. By using technology, informatics pulls information from claims data, financial data, pharmacy data and demographic data so organizations can make strides in identifying high-risk patient populations. Physicians can then determine possible alternative clinical care plans to prevent infections or proactively treat infections. The end result could be decreased costs, less antibiotic usage and shorter hospital stays.

As easy as informatics sounds, organizations cannot just plug in a USB to obtain the types of reports needed to translate patient-generated data into meaningful information. In today’s health care environment, everyone has gadgets as 23.2 million Americans utilize Fitbit and over 2 million patients worldwide utilize self-monitoring pacemakers. More than 7 million people seek the benefits of remote monitoring devices, growing more than 44 percent in 2016 and poised to increase again in 2017.
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