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News & Press: MPCA News

What is Integrated Data and What’s the Big Deal?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018  
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In a world where patient outcomes are intrinsically linked to up and coming value-based payment reform with a heavy focus on reducing costs, health care providers have to look at communities — not just individuals. That means everyone needs data. Good clinical and social determinants data.

Successfully analyzing it can illuminate true gaps in care and identify trends that, once addressed, will help make health center operations more efficient and improve patients’ lives.

At health centers, collecting, documenting, and reporting on data is part of everyday life. It’s how payment is received and trends are monitored. And for years now, electronic health records (EHRs) have been the primary means at collecting data. As a data collection tool, EHRs are useful. However, their ability to provide useful, actionable reports on the fly or a user-friendly mechanism to validate data is limited.
That’s why integrated data is so important—and it’s why the Michigan Primary Care Association contracted with Azara to develop an integrated data system (IDS) that addresses the unique needs of Michigan’s health centers. The IDS combines data from a variety of sources within the EHR into a single, unified dashboard for the user, giving them the instant ability to view, filter, and validate data.

And here’s the critical part: that data can be used immediately. It’s actionable. It can help provide a needed service to a patient, such as following up on an out-of-range lab value, or suggest workflow changes within a health center. That data can even highlight places where health centers maximize their schedules to improve access to care, address patient utilization, and create economies of scale.

The IDS also demystifies data, helping users understand exactly what they’re looking at when they receive a report. There’s no confusion about where data are being pulled from or whether the data accurately capture the true quality of care. The IDS gives users the opportunity to see exactly what data elements make up a report, regardless of how big or small the patient population. As a result, reports from the system are more likely to be acted upon. This high-level view of specific data elements allows users to identify and focus on the people and populations with the poorest health outcomes and drill down to individual gaps in care.

Right now, 12 of Michigan’s health centers are using the IDS to transform the ways they provide care, and eight more have signed on to participate. The MPCA is excited about progress to date and plans to leverage positive results and experiences to build momentum in 2018.

After all, the future of population health is data driven.

For more information about how the IDS can benefit health centers and patients, contact Cheryl Gildner at You can also register for the Azara Annual conference, which will be held from April 30 to May 2 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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