Health IT

Natural language processing, computer assisted coding and a new wave of health IT innovation

Doctor using laptopNow that the electronic medical records market is maturing, healthcare industry trends around innovation in IT big data are shifting, too.

In a Q4 market analysis, investment banking firm Triple Tree observed that the next step in the “journey from EHR deployment to informed healthcare” seems to be the organization and analysis of not only structured data but also unstructured data. As much as 80 percent of relevant clinical data is stored in narrative form that most data analysis tools can’t access,

That leaves great opportunities for innovative companies to swoop in and organize this information to make it part of clinical and administrative workflows. Citing Precyse and M*Modal as examples, TripleTree’s analysts wrote that companies leading the way will be able to organize data once and make it available for use across different healthcare business functions that have traditionally been managed separately.

Triple Tree expects to see vendors pushing products and services into these these categories:

  • Natural language processing. Some EHR vendors have already embedded voice transcription technologies into their products to turn narrative into data that can be analyzed to inform clinical decisions. Bigger companies like Nuance and IBM are working on beefing up this technology as well as smaller companies like Health Fidelity.
  • Clinical documentation improvement. Many hospitals employ specialists who review clinical documents and provide feedback to physicians on how to improve their documentation for compliance or granularity. There’s potential for automation here, in the form of systems that would recognize documentation deficiencies and issue real-time alerts.
  • Clinical data tagging and standardization. A lot of useful clinical data for population health is being collected, but the inability to map it to common standards means it’s not being used to its highest potential.
  • Computer assisted coding. Next-generation technologies will automate more complex coding by detecting clinically relevant observations in datasets and proposing codes that coders can accept or reject.
  • Clinical engagement and education. Facilities are spending millions on implementing these technologies but also need to foster a culture of completeness and accuracy in documentation by clinicians.

“Over time we expect innovative companies will combine the above capabilities into a single, integrated HIM product and services platform,” TripleTree’s analysts write.

[Photo Credit: Doctor using laptop from BigStock Photo]

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