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An eye ball with data (numbers and letters) overlayed on it to depict big data in skilled nursing

The Big Deal About Big Data in Skilled Nursing

What is “big data,” and what in the world does it have to do with skilled nursing?

We’re glad you asked! Let’s tackle this conundrum in two parts.

Part 1: What is Big Data?
To put it simply, “big data” is a term for extremely large data sets that can be analyzed to reveal trends, patterns and associations. Pretty nifty, right?

Big data is being generated all the time by organizations across all industries, but simply collecting large amounts of data is not of much use. Companies and organizations that collect big data must have a means of analyzing it and gleaning information from it.

For example: Pinterest is an organization that leverages big data to provide users with a personalized discovery engine that “pins” the most relevant and recent content. With more than 30 billion pins in their system, creating a personalized experience requires some serious data-sorting. The company was faced with the challenge of scaling their data infrastructure to search and extract the “right” pins for each user.

Ever wonder how all the latest bathroom design pins show up at the top of your user page? The company uses a powerful processing and storage system to search through an endless stream of new and existing data to post ‘Related Pins’. So, if you were searching for terms like “bathroom renovation” or “bathroom design trends”, the system will pull and display all bathroom-related pins. Or maybe you’re done with searching for bathroom ideas and you start looking at bow ties for dogs; you can expect to see several dog-fashion pins start popping up in your feed.

No matter what you search for on Pinterest, their platform tracks and stores the data. In addition to using the data to provide personalized search results, the company is also able to obtain thousands of daily metrics – allowing Pinterest to put every user-facing change through rigorous experimentation and analysis before implementing.

Obtaining user insights by leveraging big data helps Pinterest create a customized experience. At the same time, they’re able to gather valuable intel that can be used to power targeted advertisements that entice users to make a purchase. All thanks to big data.

Part 2: Big Data in Skilled Nursing
So, how does all of this apply to skilled nursing? You may have already guessed, but if they have the right technology partner, skilled nursing providers can harvest and analyze big data to achieve more quality patient outcomes and prevent hospital readmissions that amount to costly events.

A skilled nursing facility that uses a cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) can collect a large amount of actionable data on each and every patient that the facility’s caregivers treat. In the past, all of this data — on medications, falls, habits, conditions, diagnoses, and more — would still likely be recorded and stored, but on paper. Paper records, though they may be comprehensive, are much more difficult to analyze quickly and to use to “see the big picture” on any given patient. The brain just doesn’t work that way but that’s not the case with a cloud-based EHR.

With a cloud-based EHR, caregivers, providers and care partners, like doctors and pharmacists, can find patterns in a patient’s health and behavior much more quickly, and can then tell immediately when a patient’s behavior is changing. Then, caregivers can work to proactively prevent falls or other issues that may arise due to the change in routine, like having to go to the hospital.

A cloud-based EHR is a one-stop shop for seeing a patient’s “big picture” and knowing whether they’re getting better, getting worse, or at risk for a hospital visit. Noticing changes in a patient’s behavior may take days, or even weeks with paper — and that may result in missed opportunities to intervene.

Another benefit is that skilled nursing facilities can use the information held in their EHR to demonstrate quality of care and positive outcomes, which is valuable when partnering with other care providers, like hospitals. In a way, data collected across health care providers can help drive better outcomes for an entire population. In no short order, it will become the new currency, more valuable than the gold hidden in paper records.

Follow the link to learn more about using your EHR for big data.

January 19, 2017