Using Big Data analytics, officials with the Minnesota Department of Public Health have identified nearly 1.3 million unnecessary hospital visits, representing $2 billion in potential savings. They uncovered the potential windfall by analyzing the use of hospital emergency departments, admissions into hospitals, as well as the preventable readmissions rate data from Minnesota’s All-Payer Claims Database, according to an article in HealthITAnalytics.
The data analysis showed that two out of three emergency department visits in 2012 could have been avoided if people chose other options that didn’t cost as much, including visiting urgent care facilities, or their primary care providers. The cost for these emergency visits: $1.3 billion, the article notes.
Additionally, the state identified about 50,000 “frequent fliers,” patients who showed up at emergency departments four or times per year with conditions that could have been treated by their primary care physicians, including back or abdominal pain. Although only 14 percent of people living in Minnesota are Medicare recipients, they accounted for 40% of emergency department visits.
Healthcare officials realize that surveying patient activities across various healthcare settings using Big Data analytics can do more than just help hospitals save money. The information gleaned from their data analysis can help officials and healthcare providers better manage people’s health, improve care for the chronically ill, expand access to primary care for at-risk groups, and save money, according to the article.
Working with community organizations, including public health departments, schools, community centers, and social services, healthcare officials can educate individuals about their healthcare options, the article notes.
“Equipped with these findings, we will work with providers and community leaders to ensure patients more consistently receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” says Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger in the article.
The state’s health department also notes the importance of health information exchange and interoperability to ensure that patient data is accessible so providers can make informed decisions about care options, preventative measures, and patient follow up, according to the article.