When it comes to data, Charlotte Baker says she feels like a kid in a candy store.
Baker is the director of epidemiology and health equity leadership for Truveta, which is founded and led by some of America’s top health systems. Truveta collects anonymous patient data from more than 700 hospitals around the country.
Now Truveta is providing more information and insights on social health issues.
“I can really help come up with some really good questions for an amazing internal research team, and help health systems come up with interesting ideas and good ways to use social issues of health[data]and we really hope they can use this data to save lives,” Baker says.
In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive®Baker will discuss the work Truveta is doing, the potential of data to close gaps in health disparities, and advice for hospitals and health systems seeking to improve health equity.
“We can have a more equitable future,” Baker says. We know we want better clinical outcomes. We know we want our systems to work better. This is the way.
Truveta says she’s gathering an enormous amount of information. We want to use it, we want others to use it. And you know, the sky’s the limit.”
(Watch our conversation with Charlotte Baker in this video. Story continues below.)
Truveta is supported by 28 large health systems, including Providence, Tenet Healthcare, Northwell Health, Advocate Aurora Health, AdventHealth and more.
Earlier this year, Truveta added data on 28 social factors to nearly 80 million patient journeys, including income, education, housing needs and more, the company said. Work in collaboration with Lexis-Nexis Risk SolutionsTruveta now has more than 400 different social drivers in health for those who want to get more insights.
Truveta has developed additional information on social issues in health. Maternal health outcomes. Maternal mortality is still a serious problem, according to federal data. Maternal mortality is expected to increase by 40% by 2021. compared to last year Figures It was released in March by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Baker said Truveta is looking at social issues related to health information and heart attack risk in early preeclampsia.
“There is a huge problem with maternal health,” says Baker. We don’t have enough information about it.
Baker marvels at the comprehensive data on health equity in maternal health now. Beyond arbitrary income levels, such as whether the patient earns more than $25,000 a year, Baker said there is data available in the few thousand dollars, which provides a more detailed picture of patients struggling to pay for groceries.
“We know there are some drugs that require you to eat to take those drugs,” Bakery explained. “They’re the kind of questions we can start answering and dive into.”
In addition, Truveta is obtaining doctors’ notes from patients that may provide important information.
“When we’re talking about patients who are probably low-income, who may not have a good outcome, the patient-level information in those notes tells us what the doctor wrote about that patient and what the patient is,” Baker says. “That’s very rich. It’s amazing information.”
When asked why so little is known about maternal health when it has long been recognized as a serious problem, Baker said the information is simply not available.
“It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money, it takes a lot of resources, it takes a lot of brains,” Baker says. “And the fact that Truveta can do that is a testament to people who are really going, ‘You know what? We are tired of talking about it. let’s do it.’ So the big thing, I think, is that we can create this dataset in a way that we can now get to the main answers.
Although some health care professionals and researchers have been alarmed by the decline in maternal health in the U.S. for years, Baker said there is a greater sense of awareness and urgency to help patients have better outcomes.
Health systems “in between, we know something, and we try to do something,” Baker says. And I think everybody’s in a position right now… you have to do something.
With more detailed information on the health issues of patients with poor outcomes, hospitals and health systems can gain more knowledge about their health issues.
With Truveta data, Baker says, “I can see everything about this patient, everything they’ve done, everything they’ve said in the clinical system. And then I can link to these really great social health issues and pieces of information. It means that we are able to see this in a new way.”
If we gain more insight into the causes of patients’ health challenges, Baker says, “we can actually create some better interventions, because we know exactly what we’re looking for.”
The added details on social health drivers hold commitments beyond maternal health, Baker said. Health systems can become more knowledgeable about patients with rare diseases. Hospitals are hampered by limited data on rare conditions.
“Not only do you have enough patients, you have more information about them,” Baker says. “As an epidemiologist, I’m floored. I’m as excited as a kid in a candy store.”
Focus on prevention
As many health systems focus on closing disparities in underserved populations, Baker emphasizes the importance of efforts to address the social determinants of health.
“You have to spend a lot of time on prevention,” Baker said, “and we know that prevention is much less expensive than the cure.”
Race and ethnicity do not change, health systems, in collaboration with partners, can make a real difference in community health by taking action against food insecurity and other social drivers.
“I’ve seen some different clinical systems where they’re holding farmers markets so their patients can get those fresh foods, making sure you share rides to appointments, making sure patients can get to appointments. ” says Baker.
In some cases, health systems may need to jumpstart some of their efforts, which Baker said would be more expensive than treating patients in the intensive care unit down the road.
“Know where you want to put your money,” Baker says.
Hospitals may need to partner with some social service organizations or government agencies for some programs, Baker said.
Small hospitals in particular need to work with community partners on issues such as housing, food and education programs. “Look for those community partners,” she says.
Hospitals need good data to determine where patients and communities need more help. She said hospitals can look at their own data, or turn to Truveta or other community partners for help.
“I think it’s really about partnership,” Baker says. “And that’s the beauty of what Truveta was doing. Because you can’t do this alone. You cannot do this alone. If I’m trying to solve a housing problem, I can’t do it alone, I have to talk to other people. So it is the same with health. If I want to solve a health problem, everything is related.
“That’s the beauty of social determinants and that’s where it’s important to know about,” Baker says. But you have to talk to the people around you.