Using joined-up data to transform healthcare services

Data sharing between healthcare organizations can improve clinical efficiency and enable better decision-making. This is essential at a time when health services in Europe are facing perhaps their greatest challenge to date. Providers must accommodate increasing demand for services due to ageing populations, the rising prevalence of chronic diseases and budgets being constrained. The ability to compare costs to benchmarks will be crucial for healthcare providers needing to maintain or improve standards of care and achieve cost reductions and efficiency targets without cutting frontline staff. However, it will be necessary to look at key performance indicators (KPIs) more from a clinical achievement perspective than an operational cost or activity-based perspective. Data collection and dissemination will also be central to achieving these aims, as hospitals and providers adopt a more collaborative and integrated approach to healthcare.

by Peter Osborne

Growth in healthcare spending per capita has slowed or fallen sharply in real terms in almost all European countries since 2010 [see Figure 1]. Previous to the economic crisis, it had been rising faster than the rest of the economy, according to the European Commission (EC) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As a result, there is a pressing need to change the way healthcare services are commissioned and delivered. Although national health systems in Europe are diverse, with models varying from predominantly single payer health services, to systems of competing insurers and providers, there is a growing recognition that advanced analytics employed at every point of care will play a key role in advising on how to move forward.

According to analysts at Frost & Sullivan, hospitals and other healthcare providers will need to invest in advanced data analytics solutions to monitor end-to-end care delivery across a variety of settings, as well as provide comprehensive reporting on performance and quality measures to a variety of stakeholders.

Up until recently however, the healthcare sector has suffered from disjointed approaches to collecting data, with highly-fragmented systems used by various payers, providers, and government agencies. Furthermore, many have yet to adopt any form of analytical approach to the clinical, financial and administrative data they collate.

A recent Accenture survey of 3,700 physicians across eight countries globally found that the main barriers to health information exchange were: IT systems that are unable to