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Unlocking the Value in Unstructured Data

By smace@healthleadersmedia.com  
   December 08, 2015

Parveen Chand, MHA

Carilion has ongoing research to determine better ways to approach patients in the larger at-risk cohort. "We would like to be able to release this list to our providers and say these are folks we have identified as being at risk," Morgan says. "Here are the areas that you need to focus on with these individuals. Could these patients have different medications that could be added? Could these patients be treated in a different way? We know that a lot of these folks, and no surprise, needed some behavior modification in their lifestyle such as smoking cessation and weight reduction."

The staffing investment on Carilion's part in the unstructured data initiative was minimal. "We had one analyst that worked directly with IBM," Morgan says. "There was also an analyst from Epic that was involved. We also had, just to be able to feed the information, some of our database administrators involved, and to be able to generate the reports, but it was a true collaborative between the three entities, trying to figure out how we can leverage this type of technology."

Carilion is preparing to have discussions with IBM about using this technology to find specific diagnoses in unstructured text in pathology reports, as a foundation for building decision-support systems to live inside the Epic EHR for providers, Morgan says.

Morgan notes that he often discusses the untapped potential of unstructured data with other CMIOs and CIOs. "We all struggle with the same problem with EMRs," he says. "Do you try to push physicians and providers and nurses into documenting into discrete data blocks, or do you give more leeway to be able to do transcription or voice recognition?"

Personal insights
Eskenazi Health, anchored by a 315-bed campus in Indianapolis, recently piloted an initiative using Watson to analyze the contents of call center conversations, not just for the words being said but also "the duration of the phone call, the sentence structure that's being used, the pitch and tone of the voice—to basically look at all that information against Watson analytics and what Watson has categorized as personal insights or persona insights," says Parveen Chand, MHA, FACHE, chief operating officer of Eskenazi Health.

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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