Not just for data wonks, three ways analytics impact healthcare

18 November 2013 | Neil Jordan, General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft

Given how much money is being put into the healthcare IT system around the globe— an estimated $24 billion will be spent on software alone in 2014 —it’s more vital than ever that health organizations make sure they’re getting as much value as they can out of their investments. Therefore, it’s not surprising that for the third year in a row, analytics is the number one topic on the minds of CIOs, according to Gartner. Analytics offers the opportunity to unlock the value of all the data currently being digitized in the healthcare system.

And the great thing about today’s analytics technologies is that they aren’t just for data wonks anymore. Simple tools that people already know how to use, such as Microsoft Excel, can help everyone in the organization gain powerful insight to support their day-to-day work.

Here are three areas where I see analytics making a significant impact in healthcare today and in the future:

  • Little data. Much of the healthcare IT investments being made today are in electronic medical records (EMR) systems. To get the most out of their EMR investment, health organizations like Meriter Health Services are providing staff with self-service tools to analyze the data in their EMR—often together with data from other systems—in a way that’s useful for their specific decision-making needs. For example, orthopedic surgeons at Meriter can easily view accurate benchmark data on the performance of various implant devices along with timely information on which devices the hospital recommends. This is helping Meriter provide better patient care and save more than $1 million per year on implant device purchases.
  • Big data. Being able to analyze massive amounts of patient data from multiple sources offers tremendous potential for things like more personalized evidence-based medicine, behavioral economics, and more. One area where health organizations are increasingly using analytics to take advantage of big data is to prevent readmissions. For example, Microsoft partner Predixion’s Cloud-based Predictable Readmissions Solutions risk-score patients at admission and throughout their hospital stay. These solutions identify which patients are at risk of readmission before they leave the hospital with up to 86 percent accuracy according to Predixion. That way, staff can target those at-risk patients with appropriate care steps before they’re discharged to help prevent their readmission.
  • Internet of Things (IoT). IoT in healthcare represents the idea that we have more and more devices both in health organizations and home healthcare settings that can connect to the Internet and each other. These devices are capturing copious amounts of data about patients’ health and response to various treatments. Analytics can help health professionals get valuable insight from all the data being collected by these devices by enabling intelligent systems. By providing connectivity across medical devices to instantly register actions on records, or by connecting medication dispensers with healthcare databases, intelligent systems can make a real impact on patient care. IoT will make analytics not just useful, but a standard part of all clinical and process decision making in the future.

Data is nothing without the insight and knowledge that comes from it. Today’s health analytics solutions enable health professionals to understand and explore the exploding amount of digital information in our industry to help them make a real impact on clinical, operational, and financial outcomes.

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Neil Jordan
General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft