Healthcare has generated copious amounts of data for decades — patient records, admission rates, seasonal infections, insurance claims, prescription fulfillment, and so much more. But it’s only in recent years that tools have become available to mine this data to derive meaningful insights. Healthcare analytics is being seen, and rightly so, as driving the digital transformation in healthcare. Decision-makers across the healthcare industry are leveraging analytics to optimize care, improve marketing, and raise stakeholder value. In this article, we explain what healthcare analytics is, how it’s reshaping healthcare, and how it’s aiding the fight against COVID-19.
What is healthcare analytics?
Before delving into the healthcare aspect, let’s see where ‘analytics’ fits into the puzzle. Analytics is neither ‘big data’ nor is it ‘insights’ — rather, analytics looks at how data can be evaluated and to what end. It’s a purpose-driven exercise, meaning that which data is collected and how it’s analyzed depend on what your goals are. There are numerous software tools that aid this process.
Healthcare analytics is the systematic collection and examination of medical data in order to make more informed decisions. It helps generate insight into aspects such as patient care, costs, clinical data, and more. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and practitioners can leverage the power of analytics to improve care, reduce costs, and reach out to patients. Analytics is being leveraged for things like:
- Developing new business models
- Streamlining administrative processes
- Reducing diagnostic and clinical wait times
- Improving staffing and scheduling
- Enhancing the patient experience
- Introducing predictive billing
- Creating impactful outreach
- Improving care protocols and procedures
In 2020, analytics has played an integral role in mapping coronavirus transmission and forecasting the spread of COVID-19.
The importance of healthcare analytics during COVID-19
Healthcare analytics has come into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare industry and governments are looking to analytics to curb transmission of the coronavirus, ensure care for the most vulnerable populations, predict infection rates, and now roll out vaccines. Healthcare institutions have been instrumental in developing predictive models for COVID-19.
- Predicting the risk of transmission: An analytics tool has been created to determine which patients are at greatest risk of coronavirus transmission. This tool is helping decide whether to discharge or hospitalize patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Optimizing COVID-19 treatment: Developed by the Cleveland Clinic, a predictive model developed in April 2020 helps forecast patient volume, bed capacity, ventilator availability, and more.
- Determining the spread of the virus: Researchers at Binghamton University have designed machine-learning algorithms to predict transmission rates at different places in the U.S.
Healthcare analytics will continue to play an important role in charting the progression of the disease and how it is best mitigated. Now, analytics is being used in vaccine distribution, providing answers to such questions as how many doses are required and where the vaccine is needed most.
How healthcare analytics is empowering organizations with insight
Even though COVID-19 has helped shine a spotlight on the usefulness of healthcare analytics, the full potential of analytics extends far beyond its current application. As a business intelligence solution, it can raise operational efficiencies, streamline procedures, reduce costs, leverage key performance indicators, and drive better decision-making — to only name a few. Analytics implementations are limitless and benefits are expected to be far-reaching for providers, patients, and payers.
Improving resource allocation and cost-effectiveness
Healthcare analytics is aiding in interpreting patterns related to community health. Electronic health records (EHRs) can help physicians spot trends and correlations that can boost successful outcomes and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary care. Overall, there can be a much better allocation of staff and resources. Alongside data analysis, the costs of specific diseases can be determined and prevention plans can be devised. For example, the spread of many diseases can be reduced through proper handwashing and hygiene, so spending more resources on awareness programs can ultimately reduce overall industry costs.
Reducing incidences of error
The use of analytics can help alert healthcare providers of any unusual dosages or prescriptions by comparing dosage trends, reducing the possibility of over- or under-prescribing medication. This is of significant help in fast-moving medical settings where clinicians may be handling multiple cases on a daily basis, and the chances of error are much greater. There is an associated reduction in risk of medical malpractice and personal injury claims, potentially reducing practitioner insurance rates and reputational harm.
Analytics and healthcare insurance (payers)
Health insurance is one of the biggest expenditures for most families today, and any cost reductions in insurance can be passed on to consumers. Using healthcare analytics companies can better identify audiences, and therefore market more targeted insurance products, assess hospital claims and prescription compliance to get insight into conditions, and assess qualitative metrics to identify healthcare providers that offer the best value.
With medical knowledge and healthcare data, healthcare providers are ideally positioned to answer the many questions that patients have around their conditions, or a healthy lifestyle in general. Analytics is a great way to promote targeted messaging and calls to action (CTAs). It can be used to enhance the patient experience and develop new forms of engagement.
Leveraging analytics for your organization
Discover the full potential of healthcare analytics. Our Certificate in Healthcare Analytics, developed in partnership with the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, is designed to help you make use of data in your organization.
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