by John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | August 22, 2019
Providers and medical device manufacturers across the U.S. have a new resource to turn to for making clinical and business decisions, in the form of Mercy Technology Services’ Real-World Evidence (RWE) Insights Network.
The St. Louis-based technology sector of Mercy health system has launched the network nationwide, enabling hospitals and health systems to pool together their de-identified patient data from EHRs and other sources and use it in conducting advanced analytics that will provide insights for improving the care they provide to their patients.
“We began this work to ensure the medical devices Mercy uses work for patients,” said Dr. Joseph Drozda, Mercy’s director of outcomes research and pioneer in using unique device identifiers for tracking implanted medical devices, in a statement. “With more than 8,000 new medical devices entering the market each year, it’s critical that we find better ways to evaluate their performance.”
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Designed over 10 years in collaboration with tech giant SAP, the network is powered by the SAP HANA database and manages data using MTS’ RWE solution, which draws insights from millions of Mercy’s de-identified patient records. It is also supported by the FDA-sponsored BUILD initiative, large volumes of diverse data, and more than a decade of records for historical analysis. Potential uses include cost and outcome comparisons of products used by an organization, and decision-making and performance assessments based on benchmarks derived from the experiences of participating providers.
Evidence supplied by the network includes information within orthopedics, cardiology and oncology that is delivered as curated data, rather than data dumps. Information is regularly updated with new records and patient encounters, and then organized by Mercy data scientists to answer questions as they arise. The data available consists of more than just claims and registry information, with insights from the clinical practice level to provide subscribers with context. The network also extracts data from doctor’s notes, providing users with up to 80 percent more clinical information.
Aside from providers, the RWE helps medical device and pharmaceutical companies address regulatory requirements, increase drug and device development, reduce their products’ time to market and support outcomes-based contracts. Federal health agencies can also use RWE for enhanced monitoring of a product’s safety once it is on the market, tracking adverse events and leveraging data for regulatory decisions.
“It’s a clinical research model where everyone wins,” said Curtis Dudley, MTS’ vice president of data analytics. “Mercy built our RWE platform to make sure we’re providing the best possible care, but with an urgent need for data-driven change across healthcare, it just makes sense to scale our efforts, share unique capabilities and come together as empowered providers to create better care for patients everywhere.”
The first three years of its RWE use has saved Mercy an estimated $33 million in implanted devices and surgical supplies, with no effect on care.