How about that retail intelligence?

WOW!   Can you believe the holidays have come and gone?  The mad dash to pick up deals reached epic proportions.  Cyber Monday turned into Cyber Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Did you notice the degree to which retailers were connecting with us on their bargains with super secret special customer deals or the latest greatest “hour long” special?  Or what about that “you’re never going to see another price cut like this” kind of deal that we knew if we waited a day it would be even sweeter?

Are we the only ones that find it amazing how much time and energy is invested in notifying consumers about these bargains?  Beyond that, what about the almost spooky knowledge these retailers are collecting about us based on our purchase history?  Retail intelligence can now extrapolate from our buying habits that since we bought that great pair of shoes, we may now need a handbag to match.  The robust analytics can also determine if we are shopping for children or loved ones who may like a particular recording artist or author.  Frankly, the amount of data collected and then used to manipulate future purchases is astounding.  Yet, in this day and age, isn’t it hard to believe that those online retailers can know so much about us, but our local health care providers are not yet in a position to exchange information that would allow a doctor in an emergency room to easily see our medical history or life threatening drug interactions? 

Clearly, strides have been made in the heightened coordination of patient care between multiple providers.  With the surge in Health Information Exchanges and other similar entities, providers are seeing the benefits of exchanging data.  According to, improved care coordination through the exchange of data can result in the following:


“Better availability of patient information can reduce medical errors and unnecessary tests.


Better availability of information can also reduce the chance that one specialist will not know about an unrelated (but relevant) condition being managed by another specialist.


Better care coordination can lead to better quality of care and improved patient outcomes.”


To further reinforce the idea of sharing patient health information between providers to better handle transitions of care, a study and additional findings released in October 2012* by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Health Information Technology Initiative note how clinicians see access to information such as “medication lists” and “relevant laboratory and imaging tests results” as critical to patient care.  The resources further explain how “timeliness” of information is especially important for urgent problems. 


As we look to the future for ways we can improve the quality of patient care, enhance productivity, and tailor our systems to handle workflow changes and the exchange of data, isn’t it about time we take a page from those retail giants?  Are you going to be a willing and able participant in the continuum of care?  If not now, when? 


* “Clinician Perspectives on Electronic Health Information Sharing for Transitions of Care”  and “Accelerating Electronic Information Sharing to Improve Quality and Reduce Costs in Health Care” – Bipartisan Policy Center Health Information Technology Initiative (October 2012)