The Power of Analytics Transforming Healthcare Data into Actionable Insights

Uma Murty

Digitization became a reality in medicine barely a decade ago.  In some of the developing markets transformation of film to digital is still taking place.  “Paperless practice” while not completely eradicated is becoming extinct.  At the same time, we are also seeing devices getting smarter.  Diagnostic decision tools are gaining more power and resulting in great information for the clinicians.  Today’s patients are also more technically savvy than ever before.  We are living in a connected world; with Internet access everywhere and a common household utility much like power and water. Bottom line is that Information Technology and software adoption in the Healthcare Industry is no longer optional but critical to deliver quality care with operational efficiencies.

These trends are contributing to high volume, variety, and velocity at which the data is being generated.  The question is what do we do with this data? How do we make the data work to result in better outcomes? There is not a “one-size fits all” answer for healthcare organizations to put this data to work for them. The challenge is it requires management and fluidity.  However, there are key enablers such as Big Data, Analytics, Cloud, and Mobility that are setting the stage for the required transformation and result in actionable insights, which can lead to better outcomes.

Big Data and Analytics are key enablers for us to create insights from the volume and variety of data that exists in our industry.  Using these enablers, an healthcare organization can mobilize the data that is locked in silos, distributed across many systems across the enterprise.  Data that is structured and unstructured now can be put to work with Big Data analytics.   Big Data analytics enable the ability to explore and analyze historical and real-time data as it gets generated. These tools will deliver analytics that will result in insights that are actionable, whether that’s around your cost to collect or clinical quality measures or stratifying your patient population.   These insights will help drive outcomes whether they are in the area of clinical quality, hospital operational efficiency and/or financial performance.

The application of analytics tools and services are very crucial to employ data to affect healthcare delivery transformation:

  1. Patient care to population care: – Big data analytics identifying patients in the population with chronic or acute conditions that incur a higher percentage of healthcare cost. For example, patient groups can be identified based on risk stratification for a certain disease condition (i.e stroke or diabetes), and can be proactively managed with integrated healthcare programs. This drives healthcare service and investment priority.
  1. Episode of care to clinical pathway. Big data analytics can help identify care protocols that do not just provide care for the patient episode, for example a stroke, rather a complete care pathway to both cure stoke and prevent the onset of another stroke.
  1. Cure the symptom to discover the cause: Big data analytics can help identify care protocols for individual patient and genomics to deliver specific individual care pathways. Machine based data and advanced analytics are being used to determine causation and interdependencies with known ability to both prevent and cure population health.
  1. Heal the sick to prevent the sickness: Population likely to have breast, colon or lung cancer, with preventative screening programs to diagnose earlier; or predict the number of patients in the population likely to have flu or onset of pneumonia, then roll-out flu vaccine programs.

Clearly the potential impact of healthcare analytics is immense.  Healthcare is rich in data.  There are patient records, resource scheduling data, clinical procedural and protocol data, operational data, regulation and compliance data, safety data, equipment data, financial data, etc.  The challenge is to make sense of all this variety and volume of data that exists to result in actionable insights to drive outcomes. Information Technology tools and enablers such as Big Data analytics are becoming ever more powerful to help healthcare institutions to put their data to work.   Analytics are helping other industries to transform with data-driven insights and stay competitive. The healthcare industry, while it may lag other industries in adoption of these tools, is rapidly catching up.

What do you think?  Are you seeing healthcare data being employed to actionable insights? Love to hear your thoughts.  Stay tuned for more on this subject in my next blog.


Any descriptions of future functionality reflect current product direction are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a commitment to provide specific functionality. Timing and availability are subject to change and applicable regulatory approvals.

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