During a digital panel session, the experts first answered this question: If the healthcare industry is relying on data more than ever before, why haven’t costs gone down?

Tej Anand, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, said that the U.S. has the most complicated health system in the world, with high administrative and patient costs, and that there’s a lack of incentive to keep people healthy.

Betty Jo Rocchio, senior vice president and system chief nursing officer at Mercy, agreed, adding that patients struggle to navigate the system.

Wilson To, the head of worldwide healthcare, life sciences and genomic at Amazon Web Services, raised the issue of unstructured data. He said:

“We see a lot of unstructured data that’s out there. To what degree are they looking for new solutions to put some structure into that, to make it more usable or find ways of removing these data silos that exist within these organizations in order to make it more interoperable, for example?”

Payers have the most data that goes unshared across the spectrum, Rocchio said, and stakeholders aren’t working together on a standardized data set. She said:

“It’s not helping us across the continuum of care, but it’s siloing us on purpose. We’re getting exactly what we designed.”

The fragmented data ecosystems within healthcare have produced what Anand called the three Rs of efficiency.

Why Interoperability Is Important to Healthcare Delivery

“Data is so important to the workflow of medicine,” said Dr. Mujeeb Basit, associate chief medical informatics officer and assistant professor at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “We’ve spent so much time creating complex solutions to solve downstream data problems, when in reality, we should be spending our time fixing the upstream data access.

He highlighted the difficulties of creating quality metrics for every department in his organization and said improvements in institutionwide foundational systems are needed.

Healthcare organizations must design strategies to increase data liquidity and elevate meaningful information sharing among stakeholders seamlessly inside and outside of hospital walls, Basit added.

During a separate spotlight keynote session, Cerner President Donald Trigg spoke on the strategy behind excellent care delivery inside and outside the hospital.

Dynamic forces of change, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, are rapidly reorganizing the healthcare industry and models of care delivery, Trigg said, so that leaders are focused on not only solving today’s challenges those of the next five years and beyond.

Moving Toward Equity in Healthcare

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President and CEO Kim Keck outlined the importance of data sharing to addressing health inequities. She said:

“We can create lasting change. As an industry, we should commit to sharing insights that provide transparency to the prevalence and magnitude of health disparities.”

Data collection for information on race, ethnicity and language needs to be improved and standardized across the board, she added. Building trust among patients and committing to patient data privacy will also be an ongoing effort.

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