I am patient, hear me roar.
That's what I couldn't help thinking -- to the tune of the '70s Helen Reddy classic, "I Am Woman," of course -- while listening in on the 11th annual SAS Health Analytics Executive Conference yesterday. As data and analytics advance, healthcare, like retail and banking before it, is going to take on a decidedly more consumer orientation, in look, feel, and practice. And, as a result, patients truly will be empowered.
Take health portals, for example. One day, they should be to patients what Zulily is to the modern mom-cum-shopping maven, suggested keynote presenter Farzad Mostashari, who, as I mentioned yesterday, is a visiting fellow at Brookings Institution and former national coordinator for the federal government's health IT program. (See: Advice From a Health IT 'Data Ferret'.)
I don't shop at Zulily, but apparently it's the place to go even if you don't know what you want to buy because, as Mostashari said, it's "damn good" at figuring that out for you. If you're the mother of a second-grade girl, for example, you're going to see a picture of a 7-year-old wearing a sundress when you click on the site. But if you're the mother of a 3-year-old, you're going to see that sundress on a toddler. "What healthcare institution website do you know of that shows you something different depending on who you are?" he asked rhetorically.
Zulily is in constant learning mode. It serves up those sundresses on appropriately aged girls because its predictive engine tells it that moms are more likely to buy when they see clothing on the same-aged kids as their own. Whether the prediction pans out or not, Zulily will learn from the interaction and apply that knowledge in a continuous cycle.
It's about time that health organizations did the same, Mostashari said. "Every other part of the economy does this except for healthcare."
Same goes for randomized A/B trials, in short cycles, he added. "We need some of that in healthcare."
In a sense, healthcare needs to get "Uber-ized" -- one click, and the car comes, easy as that. Using smartphone apps, for example, healthcare winners "will reduce the friction, and increase the loyalty, the engagement, and the communications. They'll make it easier for people to do the right things and improve their outcomes," Mostashari said.
Certainly, increasing the quality of care, while better managing or reducing the cost of that care, is a drumbeat heard throughout the healthcare industry, agreed Terhilda Garrido, vice president of health IT transformation and analytics at Kaiser Permanente, during a panel discussion on organizational change.
Many industry watchers, including Mostashari, look to Kaiser Permanente for the next wave of innovation when it comes to data-driven patient outreach. That's because it has the advantage of being a three-in-one organization -- a health insurance provider, an integrated hospital system, and a set of medical groups. "Obviously we have provider data and the healthcare continuum under one roof, so that gives us a wonderful advantage," Garrido said.
And the future for Kaiser Permanente, she added, is in "collaborating out to the patient."
Kaiser Permanente feels it must be able to collect more from and have ready access to data providing the patient's own perspective -- meaning, patient-reported outcomes, with no touchpoint left untapped. It wants sensor data culled from those FitBits and other remote monitors, as well as anecdotal information shared over social media, for example, Garrido said. This kind of outreach and collaboration with patients, she added, takes health organizations beyond their traditional borders.
"We need to have the patient as an active part of the healthcare system and data. That would be really helpful, and it's the direction we're pursuing."
WellPoint, the Blue Cross Blue Shield license holder in more than a dozen states, feels much the same, said Patrick McIntyre, senior vice president of healthcare analytics for the health plan provider. Patients need to be the winners of health analytics and the affordable care mandate -- even if there are no others, he said.
Not everybody will thrive as the health industry transforms itself around patients, McIntyre said. "The people who will be the winners, outside of the patients, are those who realize that the world has changed. Consumers will be driving healthcare in this country."
Personally, as I suspect most do, I love the idea of patient empowerment. But like that woman of the song, will our ability to roar come only after considerable pain? How high of a price -- on privacy, say -- will we need to pay? Share your thoughts below.
— Beth Schultz, , Editor in Chief, AllAnalytics.com