Creating a Learning Health System with Big Data

Electronic Stethescopeby Angela Guess

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology has issued a new five-year plan to create a “learning health system” focused on the effective utilization of Big Data. According to the article, “Through a learning health system, the right information will be available to support a given decision, whether it is about the efficacy of a treatment or medication for an individual patient, predicting a national pandemic, or deciding whether to proceed with the research and development for a potential new treatment.”

The article continues, “Today, only a quarter of physician offices and 15 percent of hospitals have EHR systems in place, according to ONC, but that number will likely increase as the Health and Human Services department distributes up to $27.4 billion in incentive funding to the private sector for EHR adoption over a decade. Medicare payments to providers will start to drop in 2015 unless providers demonstrate ‘meaningful use’ of EHRs. So far, the department has paid out $37.57 million in EHR incentives, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

As to the specifics of the five-year plan, the article states, “The plan envisions ONC working with a few federal agencies to create a federated model for data exchange in what would be the first instantiation of the learning health system, and later expanding participation to other public- and private-sector organizations. Among the initial agency efforts that could form the basis of the learning system are the Food and Drug Administration’s Sentinel Initiative, which will track and monitor all FDA-regulated products; the Center for Disease Control’s health surveillance network; and an HHS database that will use insurance claims as a basis for medical research.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: tedeytan

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