There has been a great amount of discussion the last few years about EHRs, meaningful use, and successful data-sharing implementation. Much of this discussion still continues, and has generally focused on what to do with the data, how to collect it, how to encrypt and protect it, and how to securely and efficiently share it.

Now that a large share of hospitals (most estimates are about two-thirds) have, at a minimum, effectively implemented Stage 1 meaningful use, the obvious next question is- “now, what?”

Implementation is only the beginning. There are still more meaningful use roll outs both in Stage 1 – that’s far from over – and the next stages. But, one can make the argument that once the medical data-sharing infrastructure is in place, the real challenges begin. Simply sharing and analyzing the associated data will likely take years to fully realize, but the same difficulties arise in the medical field as in any industry with such a large amount of information: gathering, classifying, analyzing, and turning a mountain of raw material into something which contributes to the medical field.

On an individual basis, this could save a life by detecting high-risk persons far ahead of any potential health concerns using family history, habits, potentially connected ailments, and other contributing factors. But what then? What else could it do, once all pertinent data is gathered? There’s no end to possibilities of what an experienced HIM specialist and a physician together could achieve. Once fully implemented, consecutively more sophisticated software and analytical tools will change the scene of healthcare over the next few decades.

As an aggregate, however, there is even more benefit. Data and information, once costly and time-consuming to gather, is now able to be called using basic query methods. Understanding obesity trends could help implement initiatives to stop the trend. Recognizing frequently low insulin production after eating certain foods comprised of a chemical in western states could help the FDA in assessing what foods are safe. Ascertaining the habits of a large group of people with heart disease can help identify who is more at risk. And, after several decades of EHRs, this information could shed light on very specific factors such as contributors to diseases and disorders that are very difficult to identify.

Collecting the data itself is an ongoing process, and the initial collections methods are only the beginning. What do to after will prove to be a steady process of developing new tools for analysis, refinement, and filtering. With a collection pool of 300 million Americans, there are very few factors that cannot be filtered out – or in – by searching for specific characteristics.

No matter what your HIM needs are, MedPartners can help. We specialize in HIM talent, and can help your business find the talent and skills you need to perform. We have an excellent track record of success, and have partnered with dozens of facilities on a variety of projects.  Contact us today to see how we can help you!