Big data tracks docs and may reward performance over care

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.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Big Data, Health
1

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, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.


Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I does seem to go against QA principles

    Basic QA states "Doing the right things, Right, first time".

    This system seems to disregard that principle altogether, here you can do the WRONG things ALL the time, but as long as you do them efficiently you will be rewarded.

    Particularly in medicine, where I would consider doing the right thing to be far more important that doing the wrong thing, but efficiently !

    I certainly don't think this is going to significantly improve the overall costs of treatment in the US. A good QA evaluation, and ongoing QA will.
    Aussie_Troll