November 14, 2018 by Pamela Dixon,
managing partner CastLight Search
view full article at healthcare informatics
Anyone who has seen the baseball movie, Moneyball, will remember the opening scene — old guys talking around a smoky table with marked-up stacks of paper outlining the pluses and minuses of draft prospects. The old guys “critique” these prospects with the knowhow of hardearned experience and the familiarity of a weekly poker match.
So when they are presented with a buttoned-up computer kid from Yale who will present his draft picks to them, there is a moment of surprised silence. The kid clicks oﬀ his list of little known players to stares of disbelief, and matter-of-factly explains, “The picks are based solely on statistical analysis.” That’s when you see their world get upended.
Healthcare may be caught in a similar moment, on the edge of a fundamental shift. In Moneyball, the shift away from money driving decisions to information driving the decisions upended the World Series and, subsequently, the game of baseball. Big data may similarly upend healthcare.Admittedly, our opening scene in healthcare has some old guys in the room—half of doctors in the U.S. are over 50 years old—and, yes, they show resistance to change. Meanwhile, healthcare consumers are in the bleachers increasing pressure for a big win. And coming on to the playing ﬁeld is big tech, betting on its AI prowess and other technology tools to address big data. Can it ﬁx healthcare?
Big Tech’s Growing Interest in Healthcare
Following the money, we see big tech’s interest in healthcare starting to grow in 2012 (above). In 2012, the top-10 tech companies that were involved in healthcare equity deals were worth about $277 million. In 2017, that grew to $2.7 billion. Driving part of the interest is big data.
“It’s not the data. It’s the analytics. Up until three-to-ﬁve years ago, all that data was just sitting there. Now it’s being analyzed and interpreted. It’s the most radical change happening in healthcare.”
Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.
What’s in it for Big Tech? Data-rich Facebook and Google make their money on advertising—an industry worth $200 billion, which is small compared to healthcare’s $3 trillion industry. David Friend, managing director at account ﬁrm BDO, estimates a major opportunity for these two tech giants. “In theory, if this is done right, you’ll have 15 Facebooks and 15 Googles. That’s what’s up for grabs.”
While driving a proﬁt is one opportunity, the ability to capitalize on data is key to developing consumer-centric models of care, improving patient outcomes, and lowering costs—which are all critical for healthcare. Healthcare systems are working to accomplish the same goals using big data analytics, sometimes together with big tech companies.
So back to our opening scene, we have the old guys in the room resistant to change. We have the consumers demanding change from the bleachers. We have big tech on the playing ﬁeld applying tools to big data to create some wins. We have a few healthcare providers coming on to the ﬁeld using data to create wins.
But who is our buttoned-up computer kid, the one that puts together the “moneyball” playbook? Enter the chief data oﬃcer; he or she is there to provide your playbook and your data strategy.
The CDO role is generally tasked with oversight of a comprehensive data strategy, enabling a data-driven culture, creating operational eﬃciencies and, in some organizations, revenue opportunities. These leaders provide the organization with a clear set of objectives and goals.
The chief data oﬃcer enters the scene as healthcare is on the threshold of a major shift.
The chief data ofﬁcer provides your data playbook
In addition to transforming care, controlling costs and enhancing revenue, data can be used to negotiate competitive rates with insurers, set more accurate (and justiﬁable) prices for healthcare procedures, and create the transparency that consumers are demanding. Understanding the ﬂow of data will also ﬁnd hidden opportunities to control costs and enhance revenue. Just your basic “moneyball” playbook.
While the CDO role has gained broad acceptance outside of healthcare, adoption has been slow inside healthcare. According to the International Institute for Analytics, which ranked various industries’ ability to harness data, healthcare providers came in last—lagging behind all other industries and all other healthcare segments, including health insurers.
"Moneyball" helped level the playing ﬁeld by looking at information. This is where healthcare providers also start playing the game with new tools and a new type of leader.