Bringing Big Data to the Forefront of Healthcare Delivery: The Experience of Carolinas HealthCare System

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The use of big data to transform care delivery is rapidly becoming a reality. To deliver on the promise of value-based care, providers must know the key drivers of wellness at the patient and community levels, as well as understand resource constraints and opportunities to improve efficiency in the healthcare system itself. Data are the linchpin. By gathering the right data and finding innovative ways to glean knowledge, we can improve clinical care, advance the health of our communities, improve the lives of our patients, and operate more efficiently. At Carolinas HealthCare System—one of the nation's largest healthcare systems, with nearly 12 million patient encounters annually at more than 900 care locations—we have made substantial investments to establish a centralized data and analytics infrastructure that is transforming the way we deliver care across the continuum. Although the impetus and vision for our program have evolved over the past decade, our efforts coalesced into a strategic, centralized initiative with the launch of the Dickson Advanced Analytics (DA2) group in 2012. DA2 has yielded significant gains in our ability to use data, not only for reporting purposes and understanding our business but also for predicting outcomes and informing action.

While these efforts have been successful, the path has not been easy. Effectively harnessing big data requires navigating myriad technological, cultural, operational, and other hurdles. Building a program that is feasible, effective, and sustainable takes concerted effort and a rigorous process of continuous self-evaluation and strategic adaptation.

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