HealthToon: How can you improve patient care with unstructured data?

Social Media Execution Strategist, IBM

In April 2015, the Hub kicked off a series of cartoons illustrating healthcare and analytics issues. Last month’s HealthToon focused on using manual data management and real-time streaming analytics to heighten the efficiency of brain injury research. This month's HealthToon highlights a care system that uses IBM Watson Explorer (formerly IBM content analytics) to convert unstructured data into useful alerts and reports for physicians and patient care managers, helping them enhance patient care and cut readmission rates.

View the case study video

The story

The UNC Health Care System (@UNC_Health_Care) is a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system owned by the state of North Carolina. It draws from a pool of approximately 1,800 faculty physicians and physicians in training to provide treatment for more than 800,000 people each year.

When the UNC Health Care System realized that hospital discharge instructions and results of abnormal cancer screening tests are often lost to follow-up, buried in free-text reports within electronic medical records (EMRs), it designed an advanced care insights solution based on IBM technology. The solution analyzes unstructured text for key terminology, then extracts relevant content and converts it into structured data useful for generating alerts and reports for physicians and patient care managers.

The takeaway

Using this solution has enabled the UNC Health Care System to communicate post-discharge treatment plans in a timely fashion, avoiding what could otherwise amount to $1.1 million in Medicare and Medicaid fines caused by hospital readmissions. Moreover, the UNC Health Care System is now able to achieve desirable Medicare reimbursement rates by accurately reporting Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) cancer screening measures and to enhance preventive care by uncovering abnormal test results that would otherwise remain buried in unstructured clinical report data.

With the IBM Watson Explorer (formerly IBM Content Analytics) solution, we can potentially improve communication among our healthcare providers and successfully complete patients’ recommended treatment plans.
Dr. Carlton Moore, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, UNC Health Care System

Does your organization need help making sense of unstructured data? Share your thoughts in a comment or tweet to #IBMHealthToon—and stay tuned for an upcoming illustration that just might apply to your own organization.

Don't forget to join us for healthcare announcements and knowledge sharing at IBM Insight 2015.