FutureTalks logoYou might be surprised to learn that, not so long ago, almost all healthcare transactions (estimated at nearly 95%) were executed by way of paper and a fax machine. That was before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the “stimulus bill,” which included $25.8 billion for health information technology investments and incentive payments.

The result: A dramatic rise in the adoption of Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR). The numbers can be parsed in various ways, but Bill Hersh, M.D., our most recent FutureTalk speaker, says the use of electronic healthcare records have gone from approximately 5% to almost 80%! For more information and statistics on EHR adoption, check out the Health IT Dashboard, an Open Government initiative developed and maintained by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

FutureTalk speaker Bill Hersh, M.D.

FutureTalk speaker Bill Hersh, M.D.

So what is happening with all that digital healthcare data? That was the topic of Bill’s FutureTalk in New Relic’s Portland offices earlier this month, entitled Big Data in Healthcare and Biomedicine: Opportunities and Challenges. He shared his insights and findings into the opportunities and limitations of big data in healthcare and biomedicine. Bill is a professor at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and works in the field of biomedical informatics, which focuses on the application of “information” in healthcare and related areas.

Health information technology

While many people have concerns about today’s healthcare system—from safety, quality, and costs to the inaccessibility of information—not everyone is aware that many of these hurdles have data-driven solutions. In his FutureTalk, Bill described how the reuse of clinical data, complemented by research data and collected in data warehouses, is already being compiled to improve healthcare outcomes and spur advances in biomedical research and public health policy.

To learn more about these data sources, their limitations (inaccuracies, incompleteness, lack of specificity, idiosyncrasies, and other issues), the challenges facing EHR (from interoperability issues to data structure), and the growing concern in the field over data privacy, check out the video below:

For references and slides from Bill’s FutureTalk, along with a wealth of additional information (including details on OHSU’s biomedical informatics graduate program), you can visit his BillHersh.info website and Informatics Professor blog.

And for more information about our FutureTalks series, make sure to join our Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks PDX, and follow us on Twitter (@newrelic) for the latest developments and updates on upcoming events. We’re especially excited about upcoming talks from Michele Titolo and Ariel Waldman as well as a special Women Who Code Networking Night.

See you in Portland!

Christian Sinai is the Community Relations Manager for New Relic in Portland, Oregon. He is the community lead and liaison for our local outreach efforts, and manages initiatives such as the FutureTalks PDX technical speaker series. View posts by .

Interested in writing for New Relic Blog? Send us a pitch!