This is the era of data. With the rise of “big data,” the arrival of the “chief data officer” and the embrace of “data driven outcomes” in the business community, it becomes increasingly clear that the ability to collect and analyze has become a business differentiator.
Senior housing will be very much a part of that trend. As the models of healthcare change, and the role of senior housing evolves, industry executives will find it increasingly imperative to build up healthcare data solutions both to drive resident wellness and to enhance business outcomes.
What will some of these data systems entail?
Electronic Health Record (EHR).
For many senior housing leaders, electronic health records will be the first stop on the road to a fully-realized suite of healthcare data solutions. An EHR contains a person’s entire medical history and is held by a provider over time. It may include a wealth of clinical data along with any special notes regarding progress or challenges. EHR systems are being broadly embraced by practitioners, in this era of cooperative medicine. Housing providers who deliver medical services must plan a move toward utilizing EHRs in the near future, as the ability to share digital records soon will be an expected part of care delivery.
In planning for tomorrow’s healthcare data solutions, senior housing operators will need to understand the broad-based nature of this data. A patient’s medical information may rest in a particular department, such as radiology, or it may reside in multiple practitioners’ offices, especially for older adults who may have multiple conditions.
Data may take many forms including text, video and even paper records. Digital data may be densely packed with information. This plurality of forms and locations will present unique challenges to those sketching out their healthcare data solutions. This isn’t a factory floor where product moves in and out, processes can be regulated and all the information is in-house. Health data sprawls. While a range of solutions are now emerging to tackle this situation, one thing is clear: Senior housing operators will need a solid, well-conceived IT infrastructure underlying their organization, in order to support whatever data systems they should opt to implement.
Healthcare data solutions may easily be perceived as a matter of collection and dissemination. Users set out to capture the data from multiple sources. They warehouse it and, with the right tools, share it with others in the chain of caring. But there is another element that brings added business advantage to the management of data. That is, analysis.
Senior housing leaders are uniquely posed to implement data analysis systems as part of their overall solutions. As a resident’s primary day-to-day caregiver, the senior housing staff can record significant events and chart meaningful trends. Using varied forms for data analytics, they can meld those data points into a larger body of data supplied by doctors, hospitals and others. This data – now turned into information – can help improve care delivery, lower risk and drive operational efficiencies.
For housing executives trying to envision their emerging data solutions, analytics is the real win. The more information they are able to squeeze out of data, as they migrate toward a more medical model of housing, the more successful they will be in providing higher levels of care.