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The value of real world data and the growing pool of “big data” is not a new idea. The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 required the majority of healthcare providers to adopt Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) by 2014 and helped drive the spike in available data. There is also an increasing amount of claims and health systems data. Many pharmaceutical companies are also adding to the mix by aggregating and sharing research and development data in public databases. The potential of all these data sources is driving discussion and interest across stakeholders, but many are still asking: what do we do with it all? One obvious use seems to be an opportunity to improve adherence and outcomes while reducing costs, but translating numbers into results is not always a straight line.

So, while “big data” isn’t new, the interest and need for perspective is a continuing trend. The topic is increasingly included in editorial calendars and ProfNet queries. Last year, it was a top story for trade publications like Healthcare IT News and FiercePharma. And, perhaps most importantly, heavy hitters including Forbes andHarvard Business Review have also covered the trend. While the best practices to capture, mine and analyze health data are still evolving, many of our clients have already entered into large scale partnerships with payors and academia. Media are now looking to them for perspectives on what’s next and how to make the most of the information. A few savvy communicators are starting to make a name for themselves, but there is still an opportunity to elevate the work our clients are doing.

On the surface it may seem like old news or to be too far from brand for some, but as results and insights emerge, there is a clear path to demonstrate the real patient and cost impact. Bottom line: It is critical we engage our clients and start asking how they are playing in this space — learn how they are working to capitalize on the trend and ask to be a part of early learnings that may help elevate their visibility as change agents.

 

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