Op/Ed: Moving Outside the Hospital's Four Walls

We need to improve care coordination and data connectivity from the hospital to the home.

The best approach to improving outcomes is to understand the behavioral changes and social aspects that lead to improved health, says Dr. Fauzia Khan of Alere Analytics.

The best approach to improving outcomes is to understand the behavioral changes and social aspects that lead to improved health, says Dr. Fauzia Khan of Alere Analytics.


The health care industry continues to evolve, and 2014 will be a truly transformative year. Due to new opportunities from health care insurance exchanges, there will be greater access to health care and millions of new patient consumers. Along with this influx of new users, there will be the daunting task of managing the associated “big data,” determining how best to capture it and analyze it for meaningful use. If we start to view the hospital and primary care offices as central hubs of patient data, rather than simply isolated points of care, then we can move beyond their four walls and truly engage patients and physicians in managing chronic conditions and supporting wellness.

[Hospital of Tomorrow: How an Industry Is Facing the Future]

As device data and Web applications begin to play a more integral role in the health care technology landscape, we will see a paradigm shift similar to the one that happened previously in the financial, media and music industries. Those industries evolved from supply- to demand-based systems, where data consumption occurs as desired and is available 24/7.

Health care is moving in this direction as well, where patients are consumers of health care services and new regulations create a value-based system, where empowered patients will demand quality above all. We need to uncover the best ways to successfully compete in this new marketplace by utilizing mobile device data. Incorporating patient-driven metrics that can be recorded by devices at any time and then seamlessly transmitted to providers is where the future of healthcare is heading.

[READ: Telemedicine's Vast Potential]

Concurrently, there has been a positive shift in the health care industry towards an outcomes-based approach as we move away from the traditional fee-for-service to a value-based model. Providing patient-centric care, instead of merely treating diseases, means that we need to stop looking at information gathered from disparate systems, but rather capture all digital patient data, including data recorded on devices, EHRs, claims and clinical systems, on one comprehensive electronic health record (EHR). We then need to take this one step further by not only recording and aggregating data, but also transforming this data into actionable information to better manage health and decrease costs.

The best approach to improving outcomes is to understand the behavioral changes and social aspects that lead to improved health. Providers and payers must also be able to effectively measure outcomes with statistically valid data and find ways to ensure that the most medically relevant information is made actionable. This means focusing on the financial, health and social cues that positively affect change. In addition to outcomes measurement, managing costs is also where there is a tremendous financial savings opportunity.

Industry statistics show that healthcare waste—spending that could be eliminated without harming consumers or reducing the quality of care—may constitute one-third to nearly one-half of all US health spending, which is estimated around $3 trillion. The Journal of American Medical Association conducted a study that analyzed several waste areas that could be eliminated or reduced through technology usage. These waste areas include: failure of care coordination ($250 billion), overtreatment ($250 billion) and administrative complexity ($400 billion). By understanding these pain points of waste spending, we can develop better tools to improve care coordination, ease administrative complexity, and ultimately reduce unnecessary spending.

This is an exciting time in health care and with these new sweeping changes, there is the potential to positively affect the health of millions. Through patient engagement and better communication between physicians and patients, we will start breaking down the old information silos and connect data in a patient-centric format, no matter where it originated – whether in the ICU, at a primary care facility, in the patient’s home or from their mobile device. By empowering patients to better manage their own health and improving care coordination through real-time, actionable data across the continuum, providers can make informed decisions and develop personalized treatment plans while better managing risk, reducing costs and meeting their ultimate goal of improving outcomes.

health care
health care reform