Health 2.0 EDU Explores Big Data’s Reaction to Legislative Change

Tsang and BhandariHealth 2.0 EDU’s summer webseries on Big Data, Big Business finishes with a flourish this Tuesday, 3pm PT, with co-instructors Aman Bhandari and Dr. Tom Tsang of Merck’s Data Partnerships Group. Bhandari and Tsang both hail from the public sector where each dedicated years contributing to the construction and execution of health care reform legislation. Both are experts on the HITECH Act and the ACA, and will provide a unique take on how these particular pieces of legislation are creating both big challenges and big opportunities for using big data in health care.

EDU: You both have worked in government as well as the private sector of healthcare: how does each body use big data to improve the healthcare system? Are there any similarities?

AB: Everyone across healthcare is being asked to demonstrate greater value while also doing more with less in a challenging economic and business context. While there are differences, both the private sector and government are operating in that same environment.  Yet at the same time, implementing new business models in a transformative atmosphere makes for an exciting time.

EDU: Can you briefly explain the interplay between HITECH Act and the Affordable Care Act?

AB: The HITECH Act created a framework to incentivize the country to adopt healthcare information technology toward goals of reducing cost and improving quality of care. It was the first “act” that provided the foundation and glidepath for the delivery system and payment reforms in the Affordable Care Act – legislation that required an integrated and less-fractured approach towards care delivery.   Such an integrated, coordinated model demands information flow and increased data liquidity.  HITECH allows for the creation of the necessary HIT framework.

EDU: How has this recent legislation impacted how data is used in health care?

AB: Data is a key aspect and driver of both the ACA and HITECH legislation, which represent the largest changes to the American health care system since the advent of Medicare. The incentives the ACA and HITECH put into place to digitize the system and test different payment models will translate into more available data and, further, a need for more robust data capabilities so we can understand whether the payment model experimentation is working.

EDU: In what ways has health care reform encouraged new health IT markets? Has it inhibited them in any way?

AB: There are many areas of potential impact. One area includes the creation of over 100 ACO pilots which have been followed by many more private sector attempts. These policy experiments along with things like the readmissions penalty program or initiatives such as the CMS Innovation Center’s $1B innovation grant, or fraud detection initiatives, have all created more room for potential health IT and analytic solutions.

EDU: What are you most excited about in regard to your upcoming Learn It Live class with Health 2.0?

AB: With this new era we have an opportunity to showcase the power of both the health IT and the analytics world to improve patient care and patient experience in our healthcare system. The burden is on our health information technology community to prove our value in making a difference for patients. I’m excited about having a discussion about such a critical area that is going to impact us all and to learn from others.

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