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Interoperability of Healthcare IT: Time to Bring in the Big Guns to Big Data?

Providers, regulators and policy makers agree: The interoperability, i.e., the ability to integrate disparate data systems, in healthcare technology has become an urgent need. Executives at one company in suburban Washington, D.C. think the answer lies in the same technologies that have been used in the defense industry to identify and defeat security threats.

Instead of the current inefficiencies involved in the manual integration of data, they propose the deployment of innovative software systems that aggregate and integrate a massive number of data elements in preparation for predictive modeling used by the government to identify potential terrorists, fraud, waste and abuse of government refunds related to claims and other transactions.

Christopher Cresswell, General Manager of EagleForce Health, a division of EagleForce Associates Inc., explains it as a multi-step process. “First comes the integration and normalization of the data.  We use our proprietary system called ‘SwissVault™,’ which has standardized the HL-7 international mapping format. Here we use over 2,400 data elements which are made available across the disparate data sources including structured and unstructured clinical, financial, behavioral, environmental and demographic data elements.  Moreover, we apply up to an additional 1,000 context dependencies to determine eligibility across all disparate systems and establish holistic and longitudinal patient profiles,” he said.

Kathleen Heuer, former CTO at FDA, goes on to state that, “Next, it is important that those data elements are integrated into a single view, offering insight into a more comprehensive population risk stratification including specific patient engagement and cost containment insights as we transform health data from basic information into knowledge and knowledge into actionable health intelligence. These capabilities will help benchmark, measure, predict and tailor patient care at both individual and population levels.”

LTGEN (RET) John Morgan, former NATO Land Forces Commander agrees. LTGEN Morgan currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at EagleForce Health. “Similar to healthcare, the defense industry learned long ago that linear modeling and traditional rules-based analysis was not accurate enough to protect the homeland from the asymmetric challenges associated with proactively defending the country,” he said.

The EagleForce experience includes working directly with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) following 9/11 for the analysis related to eligibility for commercial transportation. The TSA’s algorithms for the detection and analysis of persons restricted from flight utilized 19 elements (such as passengers buying one-way tickets). By adding one additional element, false positives reduced 68 percent. By adding an additional 50 elements over time, the TSA reduced false positives down to a fraction of a percentage point.

While the healthcare industry can draw massive amounts of data from  patients, hospitals, clinicians, pharmacies and even social media platforms, due to disparate and outdated systems, ways to collect, integrate and leverage the data remain elusive. Without interoperability and universal eligibility, the clinical insights and business intelligence potential of Big Data will remain out of reach.

EagleForce leverages its defense roots in the area of data security. The company claims to have the only system certified to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) Standard Technical Implementation Guidelines (STIGs) and the NATO International Health Information Exchange. As the globalization of Big Data evolves, Cresswell believes this distinction provides Eagleforce a significant competitive advantage.

“We are the only company that has handled telemedicine and the interchange of health data internationally – the technology is the easy part. Being trusted to handle the confidentiality and all the systems is the challenge,” Cresswell said.

As companies providing healthcare technology solutions jockey for a position in this highly competitive sector, no doubt there will be intense interest in determining if some of the answer to the nation’s Big Data problems have already been developed in the name of national security.

In any case, the ultimate prize of achieving interoperability of healthcare data stands to benefit all stakeholders. Meaningful clinical insights and business intelligence – however it becomes fully realized – is expected to pave the way for better decision-making at every point along the healthcare continuum.

Source: EagleForce Health

Last updated: 4/8/15; 1:20pm EST

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