Data Analytics: The Change Agent For Healthcare Transformation

Over the past several articles, we’ve talked about the development of healthcare quality improvement measures and how healthcare data analytics contributes to overall system success. Now, let’s dive into data analytics, specifically, and start to examine how, exactly, data analytics can drive progressive healthcare transformation. First, we’ll look at the types of data analytics currently utilized and employed most successfully in the healthcare system, even those in their infancy.  Next, we’ll talk about the data-driven technology that is most available and obtainable at the present moment. Finally, we’ll project what we’ve already learned from healthcare data analytics into the future and discuss the possible implications of further developments in data analysis, AI, machine learning, and predictive analysis as they relate to healthcare as well as healthcare data as an organizational asset.

Current Healthcare Data Analytics Applications

There are several healthcare data analytics applications that are already helping to further the goals of data analytics in a healthcare setting. Wearable technology is connecting doctors to patients in real time, cloud-based applications track usage trends, and hospital management is starting to benefit from software programs that help physicians and staff do their jobs and facilitate patient care more easily.

Wearable Technology

Data analytics and wearable technology
Wearable technology devices can monitor and report on  vital statistics in real time. 

Wearable technology devices that monitor vital statistics can help inform physicians in real time. This technology has become particularly useful in the field of cardiology where the ability to track and record patients’ data in real time has allowed physicians to shift from episodic to continuous care. Potential problems can be stopped sooner because the information about them is constantly transferred to doctors and healthcare practitioners. Wearable technology has implications in other fields, as well, and is a promising source of data for both collective study and personal care.

Cloud-based Applications

Cloud-based applications offer a single access point for patient data and information. Instead of having to fax or email your paperwork, you can just upload it to the cloud and your doctor can have access to it immediately. Cloud-based applications as a way to speed up communication between physicians and patients and centralize data are promising, but it also poses some security risks until more sophisticated means of facilitating it are created. However, it still remains a promising area of development where healthcare is concerned.

Hospital and Facility Management

data analytics and facility management
Data analytics can inform facility management decisions and improve performance. 

Predictive analytics, machine learning, and AI can work together to create facility management software that helps empower practitioners and staff to make better decisions more efficiently. By utilizing data to create user-friendly interfaces that provide information on staffing, patient needs, inventory, and other pertinent information, hospital and facility managers can get their jobs done more easily and avoid wasting critical time attempting to make educated guesses about situations that data-driven software could provide the answers for in a single touch. More efficient facility management translates into a higher quality of care because practitioners have more time to do what they do best — help patients.

Available Data-driven Technology For Healthcare Practitioners

data analytics and data-driven technology
Certain data-driven technology products already exist.

There’s already some promising data-driven technology available for healthcare practitioners who wish to be early adopters. Several physicians around the world are already utilizing big data to inform cancer research and to create data-driven treatments. Another way that participants in the healthcare industry are utilizing big data is to employ data visualization as a way to improve the effectiveness of treatments. For example, CBG Health Research created HealthStat, which is powered by SAS Visual Analytics. HealthStat enables health organizations to identify trends like flu outbreaks in real time. Using this data, individual practices can compare notes with others around the country and improve overall treatment effectiveness as a national team. The implications of data-driven technology are massive, and while development and research efforts are still ongoing and will be far into the future, the resulting solutions are exciting and promising.

Data-driven Policymaking

data analytics and healthcare policy
Data analytics informs healthcare policy creation and implementation.

Along with CBG in New Zealand, Bupa Health Dialog in Australia has started sharing member insights in order to create programs and policy utilizing its population health analytics. The resulting analytics inform the company about health patterns, emerging trends, future demands, and other important facets of healthcare. Utilizing this information, they can make data-driven policy that more accurately addresses the needs of those the policy is meant to serve.

Facility Management Efficiency with Data Analytics

data analytics and facility management
Data analytics can help create more efficient systems of facility management. 

Facility management programs are also delivering benefits to HCOs and even smaller practices, as well. Hospitals can benefit from data-driven information powered by machine learning, predictive analytics, and AI. The resulting information can be utilized to inform practitioners and staff about everything from patient trends and pharmaceutical demands to scheduling requirements and staffing needs. These software programs make it easier for practitioners to make better decisions faster, thereby increasing the quality of care overall.

Conclusion

While there’s much to learn and a long way to go, data analytics and the adoption of data-driven culture in healthcare is beginning to show great promise for the future. As healthcare culture moves from pay-for-service models to more quality-focused and patient-centered models, data becomes more and more useful in determining patient needs and epidemiological trends, among other things. It’s an exciting time to be in the healthcare field, and the future looks bright.