Big Data Tools Help to Lower Costs and Increase Value in Care

Published Online: May 05, 2014
Katie Sullivan, MA
Experts from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) found that “big data” tools can play an important role in personalizing healthcare delivery methods. Transforming care delivery models is an essential component of health reform because tailored, value-based care will lower costs and improve quality of care.

Historically, groups like UPMC rely on industry-wide cost estimates for making care decisions. The group found that “activity-based” costing methods could transform healthcare.

“Bringing together activity-based cost and quality measurement is a game changer in health care,” said UPMC chief financial officer Robert DeMichiei. “It will allow us to consistently maximize outcomes for our patients while using precious health care resources most effectively.”

With over 260,000 hospital patients and 4 million outpatient visits annually, UPMC’s activity-based costing system utilizes big data tools that aggregate necessary information about patients from multiple sources throughout its network. It also increases hospital employees’ ability to share and store data. UPMC financial analysts then use this stored information to recognize care patterns and compare or contrast the costs of different procedures. For instance, an analyst can use the gathered information to inform a surgeon as to whether a robotic surgical procedure might be more cost effective than a laparoscopic one.

“We will always do what’s right for our patients—but now we have a better way of figuring out what is right in terms of producing the highest-quality, most cost-effective care,” said Steven Shapiro, MD, chief medical and scientific officer. “The health of our patients—and, indeed, the economic health of our country—are at stake.”

UPMC will roll out the new cost management system at all its locations throughout 2014.

Around the Web
Researchers Crack Code for 'Personalizing' Costs to Transform Delivery of Care [Medical Xpress]