Physicians and healthcare administrators have increasingly come to recognize and rely on the value of real world data, and the analysis of these data known as real-world evidence (RWE), to inform their patient care decisions. According to management consulting firm Bain & Company, “88 percent of U.S. physicians and 83 percent of EU physicians consider real-world evidence a top criterion in prescribing drugs. But sorting through the vast increase in evidence has become an overwhelming task — physicians, payers, and healthcare providers are struggling with data overload.”
So just what should physicians and health care administrators look out for as they work to develop the most reliable use of the data now available to them?
The Role of Actionable Data
Dave Levin, MD, is Chief Medical Officer for Sansoro Health, which focuses on bringing true interoperability to healthcare. He’s the former CMIO for the Cleveland Clinic.
“Providing actionable information is essential when it comes to applying RWE in the real world of patient care,” says Levin. “Anything less is unlikely to have a meaningful impact.” Data, Levin points out, “is simply raw facts or figures while information is data that has been processed, analyzed, and is presented in a useful and meaningful context.” But that isn’t enough to have real impact. “The information must be actionable — presented to the right people at the right time and combined with the ability to easily and effectively act.”
Levin offers a simple example based on a common healthcare event — managing hypertension, or high blood pressure, during a routine doctor visit.
The data in this case consists of individual blood pressure measurements either taken in the doctor’s office or provided by the patient. This raw data is of limited utility, says Levin, because it isn’t information. That data can be turned into information, though, if it is used to produce graphs of blood pressure trends — and even more so when combined with other key data points, such as patient weight and medication history. The next step is to “couple the patient-specific information with treatment recommendations based on the best available RWE.”
Take that simple example and blow it up to include insights gathered across a number of patients, a number of healthcare settings, and a number of countries. When patient treatment outcomes and RWE can be aggregated across multiple sources — including scientific studies that have been published or presented — broader meaning and greater validity can be attained.
Technology can drive the capture, analysis, and reporting of data. In today’s big data environment, in fact, technology is a must have. It’s simply impossible for human beings to absorb and synthesize the massive amounts of information they now have at their disposal.
Beyond One-Off Insights and Siloed Systems
Individual patient results are clearly important to individual patients and their providers. Aggregated patient population results hold meaning for individual health systems.
Today, though, scientific studies and RWE insights are occurring around the globe representing both opportunities and challenges in identifying the best, most reliable, sources of this information and then capturing and synthesizing the information to drive relevant, data-driven insights that can fuel healthcare improvements.
It’s only when data can be captured and aggregated from multiple, reliable, sources and trended over time, that the most significant insights can be attained.