Data mining is a concept that has long been linked to the world of consumer marketing. The idea is simple enough—with every purchase, a customer reveals something about his or her habits that can be studied and used to guide a brand’s decision-making process. That is provided, of course, that the right systems are in place to digest and utilize the data that has been gathered.

Today, the practice is finally making overdue inroads into the health care industry, a field where demand is exploding for improved IT systems that can turn huge quantities of patient data into meaningful information that can be used by physicians, hospitals and insurers to boost efficiency and improve patient care.

Data’s potential to spark industry-wide transformation is huge, and forward-thinking groups like Alignment Healthcare are taking steps to make an impact with data sooner than later. By tapping the power of data to bring benefits to everyone involved—patients, physicians, hospitals and insurers—we are closer to reaching our goal of a more fully aligned health care system.

"Many health care organizations are sitting on top of a data goldmine, but don’t even realize it. Even the act of seeing patients on a day-to-day business is a form of data mining because you learn how often patients with certain conditions come in for treatment, to use a simple example." —Dawn Maroney, chief sales, marketing and product officer for Alignment Healthcare

Likewise, health plans and insurers are generating vast amounts of data pertaining to the costs associated with providing treatment. The close study of these numbers can help health plans to establish more accurate cost structures and better assess the risk acceptance of a given market before putting down stakes.

Because the variety of data available is almost limitless, so are the possibilities. What many health care providers are lacking, however, is a way to turn all of this raw matter into meaningful information that can guide everything from treatment plans to reimbursement levels.

“One of our major strengths has been harnessing data to build more effective healthcare systems for our partners,” Maroney said.

"Data-driven decision-making is huge, especially in the frail and Medicare populations where plans, providers and hospitals are seeing increasing costs and decreasing profits."

One of the data-based initiatives Alignment Healthcare is most proud of is its predictive modeling program, which the company has implemented to boost the wellbeing of its patients while also driving down the cost of care.

“Our predictive modeling program uses data to predict a patient’s likelihood of developing certain kinds of degenerative conditions in the future,” Maroney explained. “Our providers can then take that knowledge and apply it to their treatment plans to minimize symptoms and prevent further complications. This proactive action is just one important way that data helps our providers improve the care they provide while also reducing the amount and cost of the care that must be administered.”