What is healthcare analytics

What is healthcare analytics?

November 9, 2021
November 9, 2021

Healthcare Analytics Defined

"Big" data drives business decisions in virtually every industry, but healthcare has a seemingly endless list of metrics that can mean very little to the big picture until there is some rigor around the analysis and the presentation of that data.

Among other things, industry analysts can use this data to help providers predict market trends, improve the patient experience, optimize their service mix and improve clinical quality, business outcomes and employee and physician engagement. Recent improvements in the areas of data collection, reporting and healthcare reporting analytics mean that healthcare leaders now have real-time or nearly real-time data for many of the metrics that are crucial in clinical and business decisions. Virtually every healthcare encounter can be made safer, more efficient or simply a better experience for patients, physicians and employees, when we harness the power of all of these metrics.

Optimizing Data

Big data can yield big insights, but only if the data can be visualized in such a way that it is usable for leaders. In the not-so-distant past, a massive spreadsheet that included an amalgam of measures from every discipline in the organization may have served as the dashboard that leaders would use to measure progress and make decisions. This was usually a frustrating and cumbersome process and did not come close to really harnessing the decision-making power of the organization's own data.

Now, interactive dashboards mean that it is possible to take a birds-eye view of the organization while preserving the ability to drill down to specific areas of interest. The data should be able to tell a story about the organization that also allows for deeper analysis. It should be able to identify areas that are not executing on the must-haves. It also should be optimized for all leaders so that the CEO can quickly and easily get an overview for the entire organization and department managers can also use the same tool to drill down to department-specific data. Data can also be presented alongside organizational goals to help leaders focus on progress and performance – an important insight in the age of value-based purchasing.

Healthcare Analytics in the Age of Value-Based Purchasing

More rigor around healthcare analytics and more robust tools for reporting the data are perhaps the natural outcomes of the continued move towards value-based purchasing. It is only prudent to keep your eye on the numerous metrics that are now driving reimbursement.

Harnessing the power of your organization's enormous data set can really provide focus on improvement in the areas that have been keeping healthcare leaders up at night.

  • Managing Risk: This is a broad category and includes identifying both risks to patients and to the organization. Healthcare analytics can identify patterns where best practices are not followed creating risks for patients and therefore, for the organization. It can also identify risks to patients from chronic diseases where early intervention and disease management are significant factors in outcomes. Robust healthcare analytics tools can help leaders identify risk in their patient and community populations. This data can also be used to identify the behavioral factors such as patient health and risk behaviors, socio-economic conditions and environmental factors that can then be modeled in these reporting tools to help healthcare organizations respond to the real healthcare needs of their communities. Early intervention in high-risk populations means better outcomes and reduced costs – for patients and for healthcare providers. 
  • Measuring Provider Performance: Provider performance has typically been a bit difficult to evaluate perhaps because it is difficult to analyze the vast array of data associated with provider performance. Factors such as patient perceptions of care, direct observation, complaints and outcomes are key considerations, but trying to aggregate and evaluate these measures manually will not usually lead to improved performance. Actionable data analytics can help providers make meaningful changes in their performance.
  • Reducing Costs: Moving away from volume-based to a reimbursement system that is much more focused on value and outcomes means an increased focus on those outcomes. Better analytics can also help identify trends in chronic diseases and help identify best practices and resources needed in treating those conditions making it easier for healthcare organizations to efficiently and accurately allocate resources to patient care.

HealthStream can work with your organization to address your healthcare analytics needs.