Thursday, July 24, 2014

Statistics! RUN!!!

David Marc
Speak the following word slowly and loudly: "Statistics"

The word was likely to generate a thought about a primary inducer of fear or pleasure, that when brought to your working memory, elicited a somatic state. The nature of that somatic state may differ depending on the primary inducer, but your amygdala is likely activated causing either a fight or flight response or euphoria and pleasure.

In other words, statistics may either frighten the daylights out of you or make you grin like a Cheshire cat.
Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland

I'm here to tell you to get over your fear! Statistics rule (especially in healthcare)! 

At the basic level, descriptive statistics (i.e. mean, median, mode, range) can tell you a lot about the utility, efficacy, and costs of medical goods and services. However, the real power of statistics is the ability to adopt techniques to quantitatively measure performance outcomes. Rao Castro explains how "Hospitals and other large provider service organizations implement data-driven, continuous quality improvement programs to maximize efficiency. Government health and human service agencies gauge the overall health and well-being of populations with statistical information." 

In the end, "Statistics" is not just something that we learn in school, read about in newspapers and periodicals, or hear about on the news. Statistics are a driving force of the healthcare industry.  Ultimately, you can choose to either wallow in your fears and avoid statistics all together or jump on the bandwagon and join the statistically significant party. 

Onwards, 

David

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Data, Data Analytics, Innovation, and Other Buzzwords…

David Marc
David Marc
Have you tried Googling the words “Big Data”? Go ahead, do it. You’ll get around 15 million hits.  Evidently, big data is a big deal! So what is this thing called, “Big Data”, and why is it so darn popular? Well, think of big data as a fishing net dragging the bottom of the sea picking up all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, in massive amounts! The same thing is happening in healthcare. We have this thing called an electronic health record (EHR) that is picking up all sorts of data including clinical notes, medications, lab results, and a bunch of other stuff.  The result is a massive warehouse of clinical data. 

But this begs the question, “What do we do with all of this data?” Cue up the term “data analytics”!  We have all read the facts. In the US, the cost of healthcare is rising, we have mediocre outcomes, we are being told that we are at the brink of imminent disaster!  

I say, nay nay. We have an opportunity to leverage the “big data” to identify how we can cut costs and improve outcomes by using “data analytics”. Yes, we do face challenges with analyzing big data including access to the data, a limited workforce that has analytics expertise, access to analytical software, security and privacy issues, among others. 

This brings me to my last buzzword, “Innovation”.  Although there are ample challenges to go from “Big Data” and “Data Analytics” to “Innovation” in order to reduce costs and improve outcomes...we have actually started the process! Dr. Bonnie Feldman, a prolific blogger, dentist, and businesswoman, recently wrote a report where she provided examples of how healthcare organizations are capitalizing on big data to reduce costs and improve outcomes, including: engaging patients, supporting genomic research, and developing predictive analytic models for chronic diseases. 

As an academic institution, we also have an opportunity to capitalize on big data and analytics. The College of St. Scholastica and the HIIM department are doing so by incorporating large healthcare datasets into our curriculum and offering students a hands-on data analytics experience.  In essence, the College of St. Scholastica is developing future healthcare professionals that will have the competencies to take on big data, mount their white stallions, and thwart off the sludge that the US healthcare system is currently under. We are creating big data analytics gurus, hot shots, bombshells, heroes, and any other word you want to use to describe an awesome person! I recommend that you take the red pill and join the ranks.

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth – nothing more.”

-Morpheus (from the movie, Matrix)



Onwards,

David

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's learn to say..."it's possible"

Ryan Sandefer
This week the HIIM Department hosted Gail Graham, Assistant Deputy USH for Informatics and Analytics, Veterans Health Administrationon St. Schoalstica's Duluth Campus. Graham was the keynote speaker for the LaTour Eichenwald Forum on HIM Leadership and Innovation, which is held annually in conjunction with the MS HIM Graduate Capstone Session. Graham spoke about the VA's vision for improving patient care by leveraging technology and data. You can view her presentation in its entirety HERE

One of Gail's key points was that it is tough to see progress when we are resistant to change. She spoke about the need to say yes to effectively address the challenges associated with patient engagement, health information exchange, data utilization, and software development. Of course we can not always say yes, but Gail's point is that we should not be so quick to say no. Perhaps we can start by saying..."maybe." Or,  "potentially." Or better, yet -- "it's possible."

Electronic health record adoption continues to be a major area of transition for us in this field, and Gail remarked on the struggles at the VA. This is also a major issue for those of us teaching in academic programs. I recently attended the American Medical Informatics Association's Academic Forum meeting in Ann Arbor, MI. The main topic of discussion was strategies for effective EHR use in the classroom, and I had the opportunity to speak about CSS's experience. What is clear is all academic programs are challenged--there are issues with access, cost, technical support, and curriculum development. Nevertheless, there are some cool things happening across the country. Check out the conference program and slides HERE

Healthcare is changing rapidly. Gail spoke eloquently about HIM's role in every aspect of this change. We look forward to working with you all to address these challenges. 

Here's to "it's possible!"

Ryan

Thursday, May 29, 2014

HIIM, Change, Plato, and...Blogs?


Ryan Sandefer
If Plato were living today, I bet he’d be a great blogger. In the Apology, Plato uses a significant amount of discussion between Socrates and his jurors to make this very basic point: Socrates was the wisest because he did not claim to know everything, and, equally as important, wisdom is gained through dialogue. Yes, I think these same points could have been made in a blog....


Just so we’re clear -- I am not claiming to be like Socrates. I don’t even like hummus! What I am saying is that no one can claim to know everything. I am also saying that the purpose of the new HIIM Blog is to provide updates about Departmental activities and reflections on current industry trends. We want to engage the Community -- faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends -- in meaningful dialogue about these trends. The blog posts will be submitted multiple times per month by HIIM faculty, staff, or students.




The HIM industry is undergoing substantial change--healthcare organizations are restructuring, we are moving from paper to electronic documentation, the amount of data being collected by organizations is increasing exponentially, and the expectations for what we as professionals do with that data is changing. HIIM is transforming and therefore how we educate future HIIM professionals is transforming along with it. We are seeking dialogue regarding how to confront these transformations head on--inside and outside the classroom.


An important issue we are currently grappling with is a change in HIM curricular competencies. A little over a year ago I was elected to the Council for Excellence in Education (CEE). The CEE’s major undertaking over the past year was a complete overhaul of HIM curriculum at all three academic levels (associate, baccalaureate, and graduate). You can view the curriculum here.


In short, academic programs must soon demonstrate that they are meeting the updated standards. Over the coming year we will be working hard to transform our academic programs to meet the changing needs of the profession. I hope you will join us in the dialogue.


All the best,

Ryan