The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has a simple vision: better data, better decisions, healthier Canadians.
It does appear at times that we are drowning in data, raising the question of how accurate and timely it is, how it is used, and whether we have the smarts to draw the right conclusions from it. Hospitals have at times complained that the breadth of data demanded by the province raises the spectre that too many priorities means there are no priorities.
The choice of what data to collect can create incentives that may not always be the best. The focus on hospital length of stay, for example, has led to charges that patients are being sent home early without adequate care.
However, health data can tell us a lot about how we use the health care system and where to put our resources. One hospital executive noted at a recent Longwood’s conference on Big Data that many of their emergency room readmissions came from patients who lived alone – information that would be useful in planning and justifying enhanced home support.
Despite the existence of CIHI, not every health provider is on equal footing when it comes to utilizing information technology.
The evidence does suggest that the information savvy providers are capable of achieving better health outcomes than the information poor. That’s been the mission of HIMSS – the Healthcare Information and Management System Society — for more than 50 years.
HIMSS certifies health care provider organizations according to their adoption and use of electronic medical records. For many, it is the Holy Grail in achieving quality service delivery.
Dr. Larry Garber, Medical Director for Informatics at the Massachusetts-based Atrius Health spoke recently at the Longwood’s Big Data conference at the Rotman School of Business.