‘Data minimization’ could be key to helping doctors deal with data overload

Now, years into the so-called “data revolution,” the healthcare system is still working on how best to use that information to improve patient outcomes. That’s especially true in public health and value-based care, where dozens of data points can flood healthcare providers. Technology has emerged as a way to help manage and organize data for clinicians.

A panel at a ViVE partner event sat down to discuss the future of analytics in public health.

“When a healthcare provider is at the point of care, they are typically limited in time, capacity, and likely resources,” said Kevin Coloton, founder and CEO of Curation, during the panel. “They have many other stressors in their time. One of the main challenges is the volume and ability to sift through massive amounts of information.”

Looking at the issue through a technological lens, he said there are two ways to look at data: data maximization and data minimization.

“Data maximalism is focused on generating as much analysis as possible using highly accurate tools to search through medical records and retrospective card reviews and CCDA documents to put together this huge list of potential. Those organizations… focus on the potential in the value of the data. The challenge is, how do you use it?

“Data minimalism is literally: what is the minimum data set that a healthcare provider needs at the right time to act, to improve patient care? And when done right, the patient will get better care, better outcomes and appropriate financial compensation.”

Ben Quirk, Chief Strategy Officer of CareMax and co-founder of CareOptimize, said the healthcare industry’s perspective on how to best use patient information has changed over the decades.

“When Managed Care was all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was all about usage management and making sure the patients went to physical therapy before going to orthopedic surgery. It was much more about cost control. This new wave of value-based care is really about empowering physicians at the point of care to provide better care for the patients.”

Quirk’s company works with dual-eligibility patients, meaning patients are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid. He notes that this population often has a lot of healthcare data.

“It’s incredibly important to keep that together and manage it for the doctor. We don’t want the doctor looking through charts. We want them to be really focused on that patient at the point of care or between visits, and it would impossible to do without technology that brings it all together and creates a cohesive chart for that doctor to go through and look at.”

Dual eligibility patients are not the only population where health data can be overwhelming and often inconsistent.

“A lot of people, when you think about autism, I think it’s very natural to think about the behavioral health side,” Jia Jia Ye, co-founder and CEO of Springtide, said during the panel. “That’s what immediately comes to mind. But in fact, kids with autism tend to have really high and complex co-morbidities on the medical side as well.

“So over 70% have comorbidities in sleep, diet, GI, psychiatric problems, and the solutions that exist today are incredibly focused on point solutions. So you have the therapy providers on one side, and then you have a huge portfolio of doctors where you send your child… so it’s very difficult and very fragmented for families.

“What you see is the result of that, there’s huge costs. So there’s huge costs for the payers and huge costs for the system.”

Designing for the end user is a common thread between patient populations. Coloton said it’s crucial to keep the provider’s perspective in mind.

“It’s really important [that] the concept of data minimalism is really about what a provider needs?” Coloton said. “A genuine focus on end-user actions. And if you typically look over a healthcare provider’s shoulder and they open one of the main EMR screens with a patient summary, we’re not surprised to see 50 to 70 items that need to be addressed.

“Now, if they had 10 minutes, are they going to do five a minute? It’s just not plausible… Let’s really organize it so that it’s doable and directly related to the strategic priorities they have as a practice and a patient’s needs, and simply deliver them to the point of care.”