Healthcare Analytics Put Data Out Front

The Indiana Partnership for Healthy Communities recently published a review of its Community Health Assessment reports, emphasizing the importance of geoinformatics – data-driven analysis of unmet needs among populations in specified areas – in improving outcomes.

In a discussion with, Sharon Kandris and Karen Comer described the analytical metrics – Social Assets and Vulnerabilities Indicators – being employed to identify areas of interest in community healthcare outcomes.

The metrics have enabled “a large repository of community data about socio-economic conditions of neighborhoods and builds the capacity of organizations to use the data to be more strategic and effective as they plan, implement, and monitor programs and services,” Kandris said.

The review found that shortcomings in analytical data used by hospital represent opportunity for significant improvements, Comer added: “Preliminary findings included that the majority of hospitals are using only county-level data for both their CHA and their health-improvement plans. This suggests the opportunity to empower the CHA and health improvement planning processes with more local data. Also, most did not inventory community resources with geographic service specificity, but rather just included a list of organization or facility names, without address, contact information, or information about the programs and services offered.”

An additional metric, Kandris said, is derived from the aggregation of confidential federal, state and local government sources that generate meaningful indicators about local communities, around socio-economic conditions, health, housing, and public safety.

Comer added that the geographic breakdown of the analytics has generated insights into how hospital responses vary across Indiana, in terms of cooperation with local health departments.

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Social media can strengthen healthcare B2B integration

The success of B2B partnership in servicing the healthcare industry is, as with any industry, very dependent upon quality of communication between partners, and between B2B partnerships and their customers. That communication is about more than data; it’s about raising awareness, increasing demand, and enhancing credibility.

A tool too seldom considered for this kind of communication is social media, which is now ubiquitous, flexible, and very low cost. Dodge Communications has suggested a set of strategies for integrating social media into healthcare B2B Integration in ways that strengthen it.

B2B healthcare’s connection to both customers and providers cuts across a broad demographic, in all quarters of society. It’s wise, then, to cultivate content that provides and stimulates communication via as many appropriate social media platforms as possible, to target all the desired age groups, workplace environments and other relevant demographics. Leveraging different social media channels for the specific demographics they cater to is a wise direction.

Dodge Communications has also stressed the importance of consistency in maintaining social media channels. The manner in which specific messages are categorized and the rate of regular messages per category is important; customer and provider expectations will be both established and fulfilled by continuity in messaging.

Finally, Dodge has made the point that two-way communication between partner companies and customers/providers is essential, to provide necessary feedback for process improvement and the fine-tuning of service delivery expectations. Moreover, that same feedback mechanism can enhance customer acquisition, becoming a means of establishing a positive relationship as prospects become customers.

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Some Common Misconceptions about Managed File Transfer

Though the adoption of Managed File Transfer within B2B-integrated partnerships has been significant, a number of misconceptions about the technology remain pervasive, and can inspire reluctance in some partners to implement it – to the detriment of all.

The average employee sends/receives fifteen email attachments a day, for a total of over 5,000 attachments a year, per person – and even if that seems a little high, it does confirm that a great deal of ad hoc data transfer is occurring, much of it informal, yet in support of formal B2B processes. This compromises the security and robustness of those processes, while diminishing data integrity.

Managed File Transfer is the technology of choice for dealing with this maverick data handling; but its effectiveness depends upon its adoption throughout the supply chain.

IT Business Edge cited several misconceptions about MTF that could hinder its adoption:

1. MTF is only about moving data from Point A to Point B. No, it is also about implementing consistent security; reducing user error; and achieving deeper integration with the systems handling the data;
2. It is redundant; employees use IT-approved company email and systems for data transfer. In fact, almost two-thirds of employees surveyed said they have used personal email for storage and transfer of company data, so email should be eliminated as a data transfer method altogether;
3. Existing FTP and other methods are fine; employees know what they’re doing. No, nearly half of employees surveyed are unaware of their companies’ data transfer policies, and a third said that no such policies existed;
4. The existing data transfer policy is effective. How is it possible to be certain of this, when un-managed file transfer by definition cannot be monitored?
5. MFT is too expensive to implement. While it is true that MTF is more costly than conventional file transfer solutions, it is easy to see that it pays for itself in recovered downtime in supply chain operations, which are costly throughout the supply chain.

An obvious means of mitigating the reluctance of a B2B partner to adopt MTF is to offer incentive for adoption throughout the supply chain, making it a standard throughout, and sharing the costs of implementation and maintenance. This approach in itself can satisfy many of the objections and make for a smoother adoption.

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IoT to drive API usage for B2B Integration

IoT will be the biggest driver of integration technology in history. It will impact every point of  integration, whether its between two systems or two business entities. Devices are becoming smart and almost everything either has a sensor or will have one soon. As devices become smarter and use internet for connectivity, they will become more capable of handling tasks as well. In all likelihood, these smart devices will play a major role in e-commerce and B2B Integration.

We already see some examples of such activity and what future may hold:

1. Smartphones with NFC being used for payments. In future devices can become smart enough to recognize the shipment arriving at the warehouse, inspect it for damage, count it and automatically credit supplier account based on negotiated rate without any human involvement.

2. Smart watches for health information monitoring relaying data back for research and other medical usage. In future, the healthcare insurance card may just become an app on your smart watch and as you go through medical procedure, it may track diagnosis, prescription and claims.

3. Current thermostats learn usage patterns and automate settings. Next generation may even provide recommendations for reducing utility bills by showing ads from energy vendors or alternatives sources in your area and even change your utility company with a simple click.

The world is coming closer and the boundaries are disappearing fast. Sensors and devices transmit data in real-time and that will drive the usage of APIs for B2B Integration. APIs provide secure, real-time alternative to traditionally file based B2B interactions. Check out the Integration trends for 2015 and what future holds.

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