Health analytics holds tremendous promise for the medical industry. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, if US healthcare were to use big data to drive efficiency and quality, it could create $300 billion in value each year. That’s more than double the total annual healthcare spending of some European countries!
Harnessing big data, healthcare organizations can streamline their operations by analyzing highly detailed information on everything from staffing to admissions to inventories. What’s more, they can make predictions that help them facilitate positive outcomes while preventing negative ones. The result is better decision-making and significantly improved performance.
Although healthcare analytics holds tremendous promise, it is still in its infancy. According to a recent Gartner report, only 5–20 percent of healthcare providers are harnessing big data. Yet, with affordable health analytics technologies now available from Microsoft and other vendors, that percentage will surely grow in the next few years.
One medical provider that’s already reaping the benefits of health analytics is Helse Vest, a state-owned organization that’s responsible for operating some 50 healthcare facilities in western Norway. Helse Vest deployed a business intelligence solution based on Microsoft SQL Server and other Microsoft technologies. The solution is used by thousands of people at Helse Vest to access and report on more than 200 key performance indicators from a single, centralized portal.
With better information at its disposal, Helse Vest has transformed the bottom line of its facilities from a loss of NOK455 million (US$76 million) to a surplus of that same amount—a difference of NOK910 ($152 million). What’s more, it has reduced the average wait time for an elective procedure by 144 days, an improvement of more than 67 percent.
The improvements won’t stop there. In the near future, Helse Vest plans to improve efficiency even further by expanding its solution to support comprehensive analyses of service lines and clinical pathways. “With these analyses, we will improve our forecasting and planning as well as achieve further efficiencies for management of patient care at the Helse Vest facilities,” says Per Karlsen, the company’s chief financial officer.
Another company that’s capitalizing on health analytics is Predixion Software, which develops business analytics solutions based on Microsoft technologies. Preventable hospital readmissions present a costly problem for healthcare organizations. In the US alone, hospital readmissions account for an estimated $25 billion in wasteful healthcare spending.
Predixion provides a solution that helps healthcare providers identify, with up to 86 percent accuracy, which patients are at risk of readmission before they leave the hospital. By knowing which patients pose the highest risk, healthcare providers can conduct patient interventions that help prevent unnecessary readmissions from occurring later on.
There’s no end to the creative ways in which big data can be harnessed to improve healthcare efficiency. And with a greater number of affordable technologies coming to market, big data is poised to play a critical role in the future of healthcare.
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