In a world full of data, every industry stands to benefit immensely by building processes and leveraging tools that extract more meaning from the numbers.

However, while some sectors have the potential to satisfy customers and improve their bottom lines through advanced analytics, others, like healthcare, can change the world.

According to a new report by Deloitte, global healthcare spending is projected to grow at an annual growth rate of five percent between 2018–2022 to reach $10.06 trillion.

Let’s examine the state of the healthcare industry further and how data analytics can, and already is, remedying needed areas for change in clinical, operational, and financial functions.

It All Starts with Strategy and Buy-In

Regardless of the industry or company employing data initiatives, success starts with an alignment on vision, internal responsibility, and governance. Deloitte’s research shows encouraging trends in health systems:

  • 70 percent of health systems have defined strategies and visions (vs. 40 percent in 2015)
  • 88 percent have dedicated departments (vs. 76 percent in 2015)
  • 68 percent have centralized governance models (vs. 58 percent in 2015)

These findings indicate a bright future for healthcare. But to truly drive value from analytics programs, healthcare organizations are shifting away from hiring roles to build analytics infrastructure and instead filling their teams with professionals that understand data — including how to promote data literacy and instill the importance of using data throughout their ecosystems.

Survey responses reflect well in this regard, too:

  • 30 percent of organizations have a C-suite role dedicated to analytics (vs. 12 percent in 2015)
  • 84 percent of executives say analytics will be extremely important for their organization’s strategies in three years (vs. 36 percent who say analytics are extremely important today)
  • In the next three years, organizations are planning to hire data scientists (29 percent), visualization designers (21 percent), and data architects (21 percent).

With more healthcare organizations receptive to all the ways data can position them for future success, here are a few specific areas of focus.

Improving the Quality of Patient Care

A lot of areas are worthy of prioritization in the healthcare industry, but creating better patient outcomes stands above the rest. Of eight areas surveyed, 89 percent of organizations agreed on this.

When asked about important drivers of analytics in the next three years, however, investing in personalized medicine saw the most significant increase in responses (64 percent vs. 41 percent that currently think it’s a top priority). Predictive analytics technologies will make it easier to leverage patients’ electronic healthcare records (EHRs) and the efficacy of past treatments to develop personalized, precise medicine. Additionally, the shift from reactive healthcare management to a chronic care approach will yield fewer emergency and high-cost procedures for patients down the road.

Reducing Healthcare Costs

Healthcare providers agree that lowering costs is the second-biggest driver of analytics both today and in the future (82 and 89 percent, respectively). Reducing costs sounds obvious, but in reality, it’s quite difficult to accomplish. This is because healthcare ecosystems are complicated, and many roles and processes have an effect on a patient’s end bill. The use of AI-driven healthcare analytics platforms, combined with the expertise of newly-staffed analytics departments and leadership, will help healthcare providers drill down into every state of their operation. From maintaining adequate staffing levels and streamlining administrative tasks to introducing new approaches like value-based payments strategies, advanced analytics clarifies ways to stretch operating costs further and passes those savings on to patients.

Managing Population Health

As the growing global population ages and life expectancy continues to climb, healthcare costs rise as a result. Implementing telehealth strategies, such as wearables, sensors and other biometrics help physicians stay abreast of patient conditions. This type of tech can also help healthcare professionals provide better care to more people, and in a fraction of the time compared to in-person visits.

Another way analytics promises to help manage population health is by providing insights on various social determinants. Currently, just 38 percent of organizations use them, but 77 expect to by 2021. This is key, as factors like socioeconomic status, employment, education, physical environment, social care networks, the specific neighborhood an individual inhabits, and of course, access to healthcare, play a much more significant role in health outcomes than healthcare itself. Analytics will help healthcare providers make sense of this trove of data and create strategies that alter the trajectories of the many disadvantaged people in society.

Even with a proper blueprint in place, changing many aspects of the healthcare industry won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But of the many use cases and potential solutions advanced analytics presents, healthcare is undoubtedly a worthy cause capable of benefitting so many people.


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