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How Carolinas HealthCare System is Turning Big Data Into Better Care
“We are able to integrate clinical, claims and billing data and are one of the few healthcare systems that have been able to accomplish this on such a large scale.”

Allen Naidoo, PhD
Vice President of Advanced Analytics
Carolinas HealthCare System

 As computing power grows, healthcare organizations are making great strides in processing large amounts of data for a greater cause. Carolinas HealthCare System is at the forefront of using big data for analysis and insight.

Today, the System announced it has developed and adopted several comprehensive capabilities that successfully integrate data analytics for evidenced-based population health management, individualized patient care and predictive data modeling.

These capabilities were created with the understanding that the future of healthcare is being fundamentally changed by data and technology, and sustainability of quality care is dependent upon the ability to understand and use data in a meaningful way. This includes developing some of the most advanced healthcare analytics available and creating a comprehensive Enterprise Data Warehouse to store 10 terabytes of patient centered data – equivalent to storing the entire printed collection from the Library of Congress.

The new analytics capabilities include readmission risk modeling that can help providers predict a patient’s 30-day readmission risk with nearly 80 percent statistical accuracy. Forty different patient variables deemed highly predictive of unplanned readmission are pulled daily from electronic medical records and are analyzed and delivered in real-time to healthcare providers who then can prioritize high-risk patients and customize care for patients.

“At Carolinas HealthCare System, we have more than 10.5 million patient encounters in a variety of care settings each year and have used de-identified, rich data to develop innovative models that can be scaled broadly,” said Allen Naidoo, PhD, vice president of advanced analytics for Carolinas HealthCare System. “We are able to integrate clinical, claims and billing data and are one of the few healthcare systems that have been able to accomplish this on such a large scale.”

Predictive Models in Geographic Information

The System also developed an outpatient analytics tool that allows its providers to benchmark and monitor patient improvements across facilities. Using electronic medical records data to analyze care patterns and disease trends for more than 1.5 million patients, healthcare providers can segment, and then stratify, patient data by demographics, geography and clinical diagnoses. Called geospotting, this is the crux for the System’s population health capabilities. It analyzes the layers within a community and combines geographic information systems and predictive models to identify health needs and outcomes.

“Each data set we collect is masked of the original data contributor, but being able to drill down into the data helps us reduce variations in care and deliver overall better care, outreach and coordination,” said Michael Dulin, MD, PhD, chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research for Carolinas HealthCare System. “In addition to providing better care for our patients, these tools and programs will help reduce the cost of care and create better value, impacting the entire healthcare community.”

An In-house Advanced Analytics Group

Carolinas HealthCare System began incorporating clinical and financial data across its continuum of care in 2011 and later created an in-house advanced analytics group, Dickson Advanced Analytics, dedicated to creating strategic, long-term programs for developing and implementing healthcare analytics. Through the group’s work, Carolinas HealthCare System can share diverse clinical and patient experiences and data to develop solutions that address unmet healthcare needs.

“Carolinas HealthCare System is creating solutions that allow us to build and leverage data models and information, adding significant value to patient care,” said Michael Tarwater, chief executive officer for the System. “In the end, healthcare analytics is about improving the health of the patient and of the population. To better understand and address their needs, we have to be able to see the bigger picture, and as we continue growing our capabilities, we can help patients more quickly and efficiently.” Carolinas HealthCare System is also collaborating with private companies, leading the way in employer health programs supported by data analytics. Private companies that adopt the System’s model for integrating claims and clinical data gain access to population, employer group and individual health analysis and healthcare trends, allowing companies to identify employees in need of additional services to prevent health complications, like hospitalizations. Early interventions reduce employer healthcare costs and allow companies to re-invest in hiring new employees.

Earlier this year, Carolinas HealthCare System also joined the Data Alliance Collaborative; a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at improving population health on a national scale through data analytics and shared business intelligence. The Collaborative allows members to co-develop solutions that integrate data and resources from four geographically distinct healthcare systems, operating nearly 100 hospitals and more than 1,600 non-acute sites caring for 28 million people.

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