Guest Commentator: Pam Clarke, Senior Director of Member Services and Chief Policy Officer, HealthShare Exchange, @HealthShareExch

Why is data extraction and analysis important to supporting population health and management in the Greater Philadelphia region?

The old adage that a question properly asked is a question half answered applies to our challenge of knowing where to direct resources and innovation in health care.  Our area faces population health issues that, while common, especially in metropolitan areas, are particularly acute in our city and Greater Philadelphia, including the severe opioid crisis and problems related to social determinants of health, especially poverty.

What’s more, in a region such as ours with a high concentration of providers, patients tend to receive care at a variety of hospitals and health systems with disparate electronic health records (EHRs).  Although an individual practice has records about the patients it sees, gaps arise in information about services rendered to patients outside the practice and/or health system.  Furthermore, a practice does not have information about people who have not engaged in treatment.  And information is key.

You can’t attack a problem until you’ve properly defined it.  So, being able to compile data about a group of patients from a geographic area requires data extraction from the different EHRs.  In order to truly illustrate the health of a population, data must represent the clinical services rendered for the population in comparison to the population as a whole.  Plus, it is important to have information about population characteristics separate from clinical conditions, including factors such as economic status, education levels, race, and ethnicity.  Combining the clinical data with these variables is a powerful way to understand a group of people whose health you are working to improve.

You also can’t tell if you’re making progress against a problem unless you measure it.  The function of a health information exchange (HIE) such as HealthShare Exchange (HSX) is to extract data from disparate electronic health records and enter it in a central repository.  Once the data is available from this source, we analyze it to learn the health status of the millions for which our regional medical service area cares.  We can slice the data in ways to tell us about health conditions for a variety of target subsets of the population.  HSX, the nonprofit HIE that serves Greater Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, including southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, collects data in this way and prepares reports that show incidence, prevalence, trends, and drivers in disease.  As a result, health information exchange will increasingly undergird population health endeavors throughout our region.

Pam Clarke is a member of the Chamber’s Health Care Action Team (HCAT), a unique, cross-functional group of 135+ leaders working to leverage the region’s health care and technology assets and is transforming our 11-county community into the global leader in health care innovation.

Discover the ways organizations in our region are working to secure a brighter future for overall patient health and experience at our upcoming event:

Health Care of Tomorrow: Transforming the Consumer Experience
featuring Stephen Klasko, CEO and President, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
8:00 – 10:00 AM
Quorum at the Science Center