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March 20, 2013 Readers Write No Comments

Improving Patient Outcomes with Real-Time Decision Support and Analytics in the “Connected Home”
By Fauzia Khan, MD, FCAP

Over the past decade, technology innovations have continually pushed the boundaries in the healthcare industry. Patient information in the hospital and ambulatory settings is now easily accessible through EHR/PHR systems and sophisticated Health Information Exchanges (HIE). With the addition of clinical decision support (CDS) and real-time analytics, clinicians are empowered to develop the best treatment plans for each patient, using intelligent and actionable information to improve care quality while reducing costs.

The mandate to embrace these technology innovations has been driven by federal government regulations, as well as disruption of the fee-for-service model. Although we have just barely embraced this model in the clinical world, what if these technology platforms could also be effectively used in the home setting?

With clinical decision support, patients could take a more active role in their own care. If the last decade was focused on inpatient, outpatient, and ambulatory data integration and interoperability, the next several years should focus on creating the “Connected Home.”

Data at the point of care in the home should be actionable, comprehensive, and increasingly accessible to patients, physicians, and payers. Whether that data is delivered through an HIE, EHR, or a smart device, patient data needs to be accurately captured and widely available, which will allow for the best healthcare decisions to be made. In time, once we move treatment closer to the individual, this will close crucial gaps, provide greater visibility, and accelerate decisions that lead to better outcomes.

All over the world, people want to be involved in their own care while remaining in their homes. Patients can receive attentive care in a comfortable environment, which ultimately improves their quality of life. If successful, home management will result in fewer urgent medical interactions and a reduction in hospital visits. In a recent Wall Street Journal story, the article demonstrated how the hospital-at-home concept is helping to take care of sick patients in the comfort of their homes.

With mobile technologies, ubiquitous Internet, and smart devices, the boundaries between home, hospital, and ambulatory and long-term care facilities will blur. Today, once data is captured through EHR, HIE, PHR etc., the next step is to make that information actionable.

With patient-specific and real-time information accessible at the point of care (the definition of which will also change), physicians could better manage common chronic conditions and patient populations. In addition to clinical decision support (CDS), another necessary layer to develop would be around analytics. CDS would empower clinicians to make more informed, evidence-based decisions, while real-time analytics would allow clinicians to view and analyze at-risk populations from both a preventative and interventional perspective. Analyzing patient populations and outcomes provides vital information for physicians that can significantly impact patients by triggering earlier interventions, reducing avoidable errors, and improving overall health outcomes.

A fully realized “Connected Home” is still in development, but it is certainly within reach. As we strive for more integrated technologies across hospitals and lab systems, we need to also spend our resources on developing a home network that can provide evidence-based data and real-time alerts to providers, patients, physicians, and even network managers. Once this integration takes place, the healthcare industry can focus its attention where it belongs—on better managing patients and populations.

Fauzia Khan, MD, FCAP is chief medical officer and co-founder of Alere Analytics.

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