Oliver Wyman’s Graegar Smith attended the Health Datapalooza 2016 conference in Washington, DC, earlier this week as part of his research into consumer-facing health and healthcare information, particularly for vulnerable populations. Oliver Wyman and the Altarum Institute, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, launched the study in February and plan to release initial findings in the next few weeks. What follows are some observations from the point-of-view of the questions-at-hand in that work:
1) Opening eyes to new sources of data and use cases
As part of the panel “Finding Untapped Value Through Sharing and Use of Multi-Sector Data,” Aaron Truchil, Director for Data, Research & Evaluation at the Camden Coalition, offered a fascinating dive into how data can be used to identify and treat populations, particularly the greatest utilizers of healthcare services. Camden, which includes a high number of vulnerable consumers, has expanded its community-centric approach to integrate data from other social services, law enforcement, and corrections to understand correlations and leverage that data to develop predictive analytics that can help identify at-risk patients. It is also changing its models of care to incorporate the new insights.
2) Tapping patient stories for guidance
In the provider track discussion “Making Data Work for the Public’s Health: Telling the Story Behind the Numbers,” the focus was on patient-submitted stories to healthcare payers, providers, and other healthcare organizations. Diane Stollenwerk, Board Chair & Co-founder of the Patient Voice Institute, shared a number of key themes from their data-mining efforts about what the consumer and patient really want from payers and providers, whether it’s safety, information, dignity, empowerment, accountability, or affordability. From our own RWJF research and general client observations, it’s clear that payers and providers very likely have a wealth of unmined insights sitting in their patient stories that represent a tremendous untapped asset for transforming to a more consumer-centric, value-based model.
3) Recognizing and breaking through false barriers to give consumers more data
The panel “The Debate Over How to Rate Doctors and Hospitals” highlighted what data should be given to consumers to help inform and influence their decision-making. Donna Cryer, President & CEO of the Global Liver Institute, raised awareness from the patient perspective of problems associated with the lack of data availability, asserting that consumers are left to make decisions with little-to-no data and that providers (and by extension payers) should not “let perfect be the enemy of good enough.” This echoes themes we are hearing in our RWJF marketplace interviews. Some payers and providers have not made as much progress on consumer-facing health information because they first want to better understand decision-making processes and finetune the datasets available before improving connectivity between datasets. The big elephants in the room are regulation, from CMS processes and standards to privacy policies, and the costs of any missteps. Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part.
4) Changing the end goal or objective and improving its measurement
The panel “We’re Swimming in Data; Now How Do We Build Business Models That Allow Us to Use It?” featured individuals from a number of early-to-mid stage companies. Amino Co-founder & CEO David Vivero raised some interesting points. Key was the idea that those in the industry, including those in policy and regulation, need to change their objectives. It’s unrealistic for most, if not all, consumers to become educated healthcare consumers. There is just too much information to ever absorb and the probability and frequency that most consumers will ever want and need to access even 1% of the available information is very small. Most consumers will effectively be first-time buyers of healthcare all the time. This necessitates a different type of offering and a different type of business model. The panel also had a strong undercurrent around how best to measure and prove the return-on-investment or positive net present value from investments in consumer-facing healthcare information. We’ve seen this challenge in our work too and is something that must be tackled – there is a clear need for an industry roadmap.