Big Data: The Key To Better Health Care?

Published October 31, 2013   |   
Rob Wright

The discussion about how to fix health care in America shouldn’t focus on websites or servers or insurance mandates or policies. It should focus on better data analytics.

That’s according to a panel of experts who spoke Tuesday at the TechAmerica Foundation’s Big Data Roadshow in Boston, which examined the use of big data solutions in the health-care industry. Several speakers, including Corbin Petro, the chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Department of Medicaid in Boston, talked about the value of collecting good, actionable data to improve customer service and reduce costs.

For example, Petro discussed her office’s use of data analytics in Medicaid screening for more than 1 million residents. Massachusetts this year became the first state to implement a predictive modeling application for Medicaid pre-payment fraud and abuse.

“Data can be very valuable,” she said, “but organizations need to be cautious with big data and health care because of the nature of the data.”

Therein lies the challenge: Not only is the amount of medical data massive, but it’s also siloed by government departments and accountable care organizations and much of it is restricted by regulations protecting patient privacy.

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