Instant Health Data (IHD): Leading the Way in Rapid Analytics for Real-World Data

Written by Jack Fuller, Business Development Manager

Boston Health Economics (BHE), a 19-year-old healthcare analytics firm, is excited to celebrate greater industry use of our leading Instant Health Data (IHD) platform.  Over the past few years, IHD has been transforming the way researchers and analysts interact with real-world data for improved insights.

IHD supports rapid analysis of multiple types of data including claims, claims and laboratory results, electronic medical records, hospital, and integrated data sources. Drawing on a respected team of outcomes researchers, physicians, methodologists, and software engineers, IHD has become a standard analytical tool for life science companies looking to leverage real world evidence (RWE) data assets.  Through extensive adoption and use of IHD, we have learned countless lessons from our clients and partners, with the main focal points being:

  1. People matter. Analytics platforms provide speed of analyses and rapid hypothesis testing capabilities, but there is no tool that can replace the analytic decisions made by clinical and statistical experts.
  2. Benefits of Big Data have been realized for RWE groups. The time is right to leverage advances in computer hardware and software to make optimal use of the wide variety of data assets.
  3. Speed is everything. The move to value based reimbursement has put even more pressure on companies to provide robust analyses to support products like never before. Stakeholders need answers quickly that can impact company bottom lines.

For the past two decades, BHE has worked with large observational datasets to perform retrospective database studies for clients throughout the life science industry.  BHE has constantly been on the cutting edge of utilizing technology to improve the efficiency of our work and has built several tools over the years to improve how we analyze real world evidence. The vision behind IHD was to develop a web-based interface that would remove the technical barriers in transforming data into information that can be shared with key stakeholders.  IHD has been leveraged by companies across the life sciences industry, including many of the top 10 pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Agile analytics will be the key for companies moving forward, which we will explore in greater detail in future articles to come. If you are interested in learning more about IHD and how it can help your organization complete studies in days instead of weeks or months, please reach out to Jack Fuller at

Diabetes Hospitalization

The above is an example of the type of visualization you can build in IHD. This bar chart represents percent of patients who have a Diabetes related hospitalization, stratified by age groupings.

ICD-10: The New Metric System?

At last, the 30+ year old ICD-9 code set has become outdated in the US. No longer considered usable for today’s treatment, reporting, and payment processes, it does not reflect advances in medical technology and knowledge, or provide accurate patient diagnoses.

On October 1, 2015, ICD-10-CM, the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, became effective. Now including 68,000 codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or disease, ICD-10-CM has already had a profound impact on daily practice in terms of documentation challenges. In addition, the US also has the ICD-10 Procedure Coding System (ICD-10 PCS), a coding system that contains 76,000 supplementary codes not used by other countries.

So, what implications does ICD-10 have for healthcare analytics?

First, one must consider whether the full range of ICD-10 codes will be used, or just a subset based on convenience.  The clinical work necessary to accurately choose codes may be too overwhelming for busy practitioners, leading to time-saving short-cuts in the form of limited diagnosis code checklists.

Second, just like coding under ICD-9-CM, analysts need to be cautious about the clinical value and accuracy of ICD-10-CM codes. While ICD-9-CM has been using outdated codes that produce inaccurate and limited data, the hope here is that the new ICD-10-CM codes will make it easier to measure the results of treatment and the quality of care.

The structure of the ICD-10 code is as follows:

  • 1-3 (Category of disease)
  • 4 (Etiology of disease)
  • 5 (Body part affected)
  • 6 (Severity of illness)
  • 7 (Placeholder for extension of the code to increase specificity)

To make the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10, and sometimes vice versa easier, translation tables have been developed:

Embrace the change, it’s time to jump on board with the rest of the world.

Will Cost-Effectiveness Save the Day in the USA?

With the 2016 election campaign season fast approaching, conversations about high and rising pharmaceutical prices are moving to the forefront.  This topic, which has always been part of presidential politics — for those of us old enough to remember — has been supercharged of late by concerns over price gouging and downright greed.

The focus has been on individual medications, such as Daraprim, whose price increased from $13.50 per pill to $750 (Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2015), and the market more generally, with prices increasing by 76% from 2010 through 2014 for the top 30 products (WSJ, October 5, 2015). While some newspaper editorials have pointed to the value of innovation, which price controls will presumably stifle, there is surprisingly little discussion of value-for-money.

The privately-funded Institute for Clinical and Economic Review is playing a key, but perhaps less heralded role, in providing guidance on drug pricing through economic analysis, most notably for the new PKSC9 inhibitors for high cholesterol.  While the ICER methods still need refinement, its more rational, value-based approach to drug pricing is clearly better than arbitrary price controls or delisting drugs from formulary altogether.

Perhaps we’ve finally reached the point where economic analysis and value-based purchasing can supplant hyperbole and help turn down the temperature in an overheated election season.

There’s much more to come between now and next November’s election, so stay tuned, and enjoy our newly rebranded newsletter!

You also can learn more about BHE here.