It may seem hard to believe when you’re waiting at a doctor’s office, reading magazines from last December, but things change fast in the health care space — and it’s getting faster every day.
In 2010, we were doubling our medical knowledge at the rate of every 3.5 years. That seems fast compared with 1950 (every 50 years) or even 1980 (seven), but isn’t fast at all compared with current estimates closer to three months.
There are many reasons for this exponential acceleration. We have more people practicing medicine and conducting research. Underdeveloped parts of the world are closing the gap and contributing to our knowledge base. Certain significant discoveries, such as mapping the human genome, have opened the door to previously unavailable avenues of learning. And, of course, the introduction and proliferation of computers and IT systems have created tools that increase the speed of research and better collect and catalog what we learn.
Unfortunately, our ability to analyze, share and absorb all of this new information lags far behind our ability to collect it. Translating knowledge to actionable treatment options can take decades.
We’re only just starting to see advanced analytics applied productively to this vast universe of medical knowledge. At WhiteCloud Analytics, we are identifying patterns within the health care system and developing metrics that measure performance and identify waste. This is the front line of a health care transformation, eliminating traditional silos and volume-based incentives in favor of information sharing and performance-based service. Simply put, we’re using technology not just to learn more, but to better apply what we learn in the interests of improved patient care, outcomes and satisfaction.
That’s the next step in this technological revolution: using IT to identify opportunities for meaningful change. That means leveraging the full potential of the move to electronic health records — and that potential is significant. It means simplifying and streamlining access to new treatments and protocols — not relying on overworked physicians to read the thousands of new journal articles published every year. And it means scouring millions of cases and identifying patterns that lead to better outcomes — patterns that all too often go unnoticed in today’s fire hose of incoming data.
The potential implications of these efforts are enormous. It’s world-changing work, and we’re proud to be doing our part right here in Idaho.