Health / Pharma

Experts Weigh Big Data's Benefits, Pitfalls in Health-Care Delivery

The head of the Texas state agency that funds two major public health-care programs said Tuesday that collecting better data from doctors could save tax dollars.

But Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek, a former practicing anesthesiologist and state senator, acknowledged it will be tough to figure out how to keep a fiscal eye on medical spending without interfering in doctors’ autonomy to treat patients as they see fit.

“We need to have a frank discussion about the cost of care,” Janek said before a Baker Institute panel discussion on technology and health care at Rice University. “It’s a painful discussion.”

Health and Human Services currently spends $30 billion annually to cover more than 4 million Texans under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Janek said officials have access only to recipients’ medical claims and costs – not diagnoses, the reasons health care providers performed the services for which they charged or whether the treatments were adequate. Insurers and other national, state and local health-care providers also have been looking at ways to make better use of the mountains of data that are collected from patients daily.

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