The case for innovation in health care through data

HERSHEY, Pa. — When Dr. Marco D. Huesch joined the faculty of Penn State College of Medicine’s Department of Radiology last July, he brought with him a passion for transforming data into innovations. Having spent a decade in the data-driven business of management consulting after leaving clinical practice, he knew first-hand the power of analytics to improve performance.

As head of CORVA, the newly established Center for Optimizing Radiology Value, the vice chair of radiology research leads a small team of data scientists tasked with streamlining operations and improving patient care within the department and throughout Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

In a recent article in NEJM Catalyst — an online platform from the publishers of the The New England Journal of Medicine — Dr. Huesch and Dr. Timothy J. Mosher, distinguished professor of radiology and orthopaedic surgery and chair of the Department of Radiology, make the case for data scientists “inside” health care. Every academic medical center like Hershey Medical Center, they argue, should have an in-house analytics team whose insights inform decisions and drive innovation.

Huesch believes that patient data — from electronic medical records, vital signs, nurse intake forms, and lab and imaging reports, for example — are a woefully untapped resource for academic medical centers.

“We’re so busy looking after patients, often we don’t have that ability to step back and say, ‘Well, as part of our treatment of the patient, we’re generating lots of interesting data,’” Huesch said.

In fact, it’s estimated that an astonishing 30 percent of the world’s stored data is generated in the health care industry. At Penn State College of Medicine, small analytics teams mine this information to create outcomes models and answer operational questions large and small.

Read more about these efforts in this Penn State Medicine article.

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Last Updated June 15, 2017