Building a true
Joining the dots on healthcare provision
Getting basic facts straight on issues such as death rates is hard enough, but things can get even tougher when dealing with complex health systems, according to one expert at Milliman
“If you can’t measure healthcare problems, you have no chance of working out how to solve them,” says Joanne Buckle, principal and consulting actuary at Milliman. “If you don’t know what the baseline is, it’s hard to do any kind of robust modelling and make change – even in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), one of the most joined-up healthcare services in the world.”
Milliman has worked with several organisations to try to help understand the data gaps in the NHS and find ways to deploy true population health analytics to predict and manage future medical interventions. Sharing data, Buckle says, remains a huge obstacle.
“We know what the total NHS budget is, but we can’t trace costs for a particular patient or see the costs of treating particular cohorts,” she says – a result of the fact that data is still stored in silos, with little internal incentive or resource to change that. “Everything in health is very, very slow, especially when you have legacy data and IT systems as we do in developed countries.”
Better healthcare data will eventually lead to great improvements across the board, she thinks – in diagnosis, treatment, payment and insurance. The question is how we share that data effectively around the people who need it.
According to Buckle, some of the most innovative approaches are coming from the developing world, largely because they’re not tied to legacy systems. And not all of this relies on the latest technology; she cites the role of data in helping to develop low-cost checklist-based approaches to improving surgery outcomes and productivity in India and elsewhere. “They’re forced to solve problems in other ways,” she adds. “If you have a blank sheet of paper, you can develop something more fit for purpose.”