If the accountable care organization is to avoid the fate of the health maintenance organization, then ACOs need to take advantage of the data that HMOs lacked in the 1990s -- and realize that holding, viewing and using data are different concepts that each come with different issues.
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HIPAA understandably makes it hard for organizations to obtain personal health information and even harder to use that information for the purpose of data analysis. Empowering patients to own and share their own data -- and then assuring them that it's being properly de-identified -- can ease this process.
The promise of big data in healthcare--increased efficiencies, better outcomes, more personalized care--is undeniable. How the industry reaches the promise land will happen in many stages, but hospitals and insurers aren't wasting any time getting started.