Big data tracks docs and may reward performance over care

Summary:New big data-based performance tracking systems take qualitative analysis somewhat out of the equation in favor of quantitative analysis.

Here's a new one for you: big data analytics is tracking detailed performance of doctors within a hospital system. According to the Wall Street Journal, a new digital performance improvement program is keeping an eye on the medical practitioners.

It turns out that once you implement electronic health records, all kinds of opportunities open up. The data is being captured, and since we're in a world with massive database capabilities, real-time in-memory analytics, and absolutely enormous data stores, it's now possible to aggregate patient treatment information in ways never before dreamed of.

On the one hand, this is good. Medical costs in the US are completely out of control. On the other hand, this is bad, because performance tracking systems take qualitative analysis somewhat out of the equation in favor of quantitative analysis.

Insurers like this, because they're starting to enact fixed prices for specific treatments. Doctors or hospitals who takes longer or use costlier tests may find themselves underwater in terms of reimbursement. As a result, they may choose to provide less personalized treatment , turning the U.S. medical system into more of a treatment mill than it already is.

Even worse, if docs are measured (or, worse, compensated) based on aggregated performance data without regard to individual patient needs, they may gravitate to a style of decision-making that optimizes for their own income or hospital cost containment rather than patient care.

The bottom line is that we continue to spend too much on our health care, enormous profits are being racked up in areas that don't benefit patients, and we're all stuck with the bill.

Topics: Big Data, Health

About

Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse who also has 20 years of operations, logistics, and editorial management experience. She is the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.Denise co-founded ZATZ Publishing, and has been the managing editor... Full Bio

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