A recent partnership between multinational Pfizer and Israeli-founded CliniWorks is helping healthcare workers improve the value of medical data and cut rising health costs.

The collaboration brings together CliniWorks’ technologies that aggregate data from electronic medical record systems with Pfizer’s scientific, clinical and disease expertise.

“Thanks to the many data-gathering devices in use today, from machines to scanners to enhanced note-taking tools for doctors, there’s more information available about patients than ever,” according to CliniWorks’ Israeli CEO Nitzan Sneh, who founded the company.

“But much of that data is unstructured, making it difficult to use for healthcare workers. Our company has an effective solution to discover and utilize these details, making them available for workers, insurance companies, hospitals and anyone else involved in patient care.”

Taking advantage of that solution is American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which has partnered with CliniWorks to search through databases and identify details, tagging them with identifiers so doctors can call them up when needed in the context of patient care.

“Our system scans free text at very high speeds, and using specialized algorithms we figure out how the data fits in into the context of patient care,” Sneh added. “With this analysis, we can more easily determine the proper treatment for a patient, as well as how to cut costs in hospitals, which drugs are more effective, and much more.”

Traditionally, doctors would write down their notes on a patient’s chart, which was located in a file in the office, or at the foot of a patient’s bed in the hospital. Because writing takes work and composition takes thought, the notes were often limited, if manageable.

With the introduction of modern electronic data gathering systems in healthcare, a paucity of detail is no longer a problem. While doctors may take notes, usually with an electronic device, the whole concept of a patient’s chart has been upended, replaced by a data file that records everything about a patient’s conditions, including all the details recorded by blood pressure machines, X-rays, electronic stethoscopes, and the plethora of machines and sensors used in medicine today.

“Today, as in the past, much of the information in patient’s files is unstructured, so caregivers can’t sort through the details and use the information available in the most effective manner,” said Sneh. “That’s what we help them to do.”

Unstructured data — data that is “free floating” and is not part of a search structure — is the bane of many industries, but perhaps more problematic in healthcare than in any other area. Often the clue to a diagnosis is in the small details of day-to-day care, but those details tend to be hidden below the mountain of data that is now part of patient data files. As a result, those details – which can be life-saving – are unlikely to show up in a diagnosis or in the context of a care plan for a patient, because the doctor didn’t even know they were there.

Using natural language processing that can identify words, phrases, sentences and other features of language and assign them only search tags, but place them in context (was a patient “hot” due to fever, the heat in the room was on too high, the weather outside was hot, etc.) and provide a data structure to search for information. Formerly unstructured data now gets a context and a search structure, meaning that it can now be effectively used for all sorts of purposes.

Many health care organizations already use CliniWork’s solutions, and now Pfizer is jumping on board.

“This alliance builds on our existing relationship with CliniWorks and will allow us to collaborate with our key customers in innovative and impactful ways to potentially improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes,” said Teresa Griesing, vice president, North America Medical Affairs, in the Pfizer Global Innovation Pharma Business Unit.

Best-known as a pharmaceuticals manufacturer, Pfizer also has a healthcare management division, which helps hospitals and large medical organizations cut costs.

By examining details of customer care, said Sneh, Pfizer, using CliniWorks’s technology, will be able to help determine which treatments, doctors and protocols are most effective in dealing with specific conditions. The result – better healthcare for patients, and improved savings and efficiency for hospitals.

“All this has to do with financial outcomes, which everyone, including institutions, government, and insurance companies, are very interested in, as the result of new regulations in both government and industry that will be examining outcomes,” said Sneh.

Until now, practitioners and institutions were taken at their word that a particular course of care, or a specific monetary outlay, was necessary in order to care for patients. With the CliniWorks big data analysis system, insurers and government can now analyze exactly where taxpayers’ and premium payers’ health dollars are actually going, said Sneh.

Given that healthcare is one of society’s biggest expenses, the CliniWorks-Pfizer project could be the beginning of a true revolution in how data is used – and how health care is paid for.

“Pfizer’s leadership position in global healthcare and patient care complements our technology capabilities,” said Sneh, “and, collectively, will bring about significant efficiencies for healthcare delivery organizations involved in the continuum of patient care.”