Healthcare data: the value of historical patient data

Published: June 16, 2022 by Experian Health


Healthcare data is mushrooming. Each patient generates hundreds of megabytes of data each year, from electronic medical records to activity logs on fitness trackers. The volume of data and diversity of sources is growing exponentially, churning out a wealth of information about patients’ medical histories, socio-economic circumstances, consumer preferences and lifestyles.

This is a gold mine for healthcare leaders and clinicians who want to improve clinical care and treatment. It reveals opportunities to reduce healthcare costs and address population health challenges. But with the rush to focus on fresh insights, there’s a mountain of historical data piling up in the background. Is this “old” healthcare data still useful? How can healthcare organizations ensure that their decisions and strategies are based only on the most relevant data?

Determining the relevance of healthcare data

Value-based care and efficient workflows rely on up-to-the-minute healthcare data. After all, what use is a diagnosis that fails to take account of a patient’s new medications? Why risk delayed payments by failing to check a patient’s current billing address? When providers have a full understanding of a patient’s current circumstances, they can deliver the best possible patient experience.

Providers are right to focus on box-fresh data (such as Experian’s unmatched, originally sourced healthcare, marketing and credit bureau data), but historical data shouldn’t be overlooked. What matters is how the data correlates with other data points. Can it be relied upon to fill in gaps in a patient’s profile?

To answer these questions, providers should look at the source, format and content of their datasets. Can the original sources be verified? If historical data was recorded manually and stored in paper files, is it compatible with today’s digital systems?

How can historical healthcare data be used? 

 While clinical decisions shouldn’t be made solely based on historical data, such data can help enrich patient profiles and build a fuller picture of the patient’s life. For example, data that reveals a patient’s past behaviors and habits may help to explain current symptoms. This can lead to improved health outcomes and a better patient experience.

When used in conjunction with more recent data, historical data can help providers create robust patient profiles and promote stronger patient engagement, better allocation of resources and more equitable access to services. Fortunately, multiple tools exist to help providers make sense of all their data to draw accurate, timely and actionable insights.

For example:

1. Unique patient identifiers help eliminate erroneous patient data

Utilizing more data points means there’s a higher chance of duplicate data creeping into patient profiles. Providers need to watch out for information that shouldn’t be there, information that’s missing, or information that’s associated with the wrong person. Inaccurate and incomplete patient information can lead to medical errors, reduced quality of care and suboptimal patient experiences.

A unique patient identifier helps eliminate identification errors and create a single source of truth for each patient. Universal Identity Manager protects each patient record, allowing both new and old data to be combined in a standardized format. The unique patient identifier makes it easier for providers to verify patient information at each touchpoint in the patient journey, so that new information can be checked against existing records to maintain a clean patient database.

2. Consumer marketing data helps create personalized patient experiences

Older data offers additional insights into patients’ behavior, lifestyles and consumer preferences, which can be combined with new information to create a personalized healthcare experience. For example, by leveraging third-party data from a reliable source such as Experian, a provider might discover that a patient has a preferred language that’s different to the one being offered. Being able to refer the patient to a physician who speaks their language will create a much better patient experience and avoid potential misunderstandings. Experian now offers nearly 200 language codes, making it easier for providers to communicate effectively with individual patients.

A consumer marketing tool such as ConsumerView also enables providers to tailor the content, method and timing of marketing communications. This supports value-based care by making it easier for patients to engage with healthcare communications and access the support they need.

3. Improved revenue cycle analytics can increase reimbursements

Of course, being able to access increasing volumes of current and historical data is only useful if that data can be turned into actionable insights. The more accurate the data points, the more reliable the analysis will be. This is particularly true of revenue cycle analytics, which encompasses everything from patient access and billing to reimbursements and payer performance. Experian Health’s web-based business intelligence tool gathers together multiple data streams into a single analysis, so providers can make better decisions across the entire revenue cycle. User-friendly dashboards give staff at-a-glance summaries of what’s happening across the revenue cycle, while allowing them to drill down to see detailed trends analysis for specific key performance indicators.

A reliable data partner can help providers harness vast datasets

Harnessing these ever-growing datasets to generate the most relevant insights is no mean feat. By partnering with Experian Health, providers can enrich patient profiles with originally sourced, reliable data and secure the greatest ROI from Experian’s unmatched suite of analytical tools. Providers can tap into thousands of healthcare, credit, marketing and lifestyle data points to get a 360-degree view of their patients. They can validate the source, standardize the format and interrogate the content of new and historical data with Experian Health’s user-friendly software.

With clean, comprehensive data presented in a timely and accessible way, providers can future-proof their workflows and capitalize on the transformative power of big data – old and new.

Discover how Experian Health’s data and analytics tools can help healthcare organizations build robust patient profiles by leveraging both old and new datasets.

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