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Analytics in health care: Finding value in volumes of data

As health care shifts its focus from volume to value, enterprise analytics is poised to play a critical role. There’s an increasing emphasis on creating long-term views of patient populations, which is made clear in the bundled payment regulations coming from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Robust analytics are key to defining populations, understanding the care that’s provided, and determining variations across practitioners, physicians, and regions.

January 27, 2017

A blog post by Chris DeBeer, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Despite the need for strong analytics, many organizations often struggle with implementation due to the sheer volume of data that's available. A data explosion has resulted as electronic health records (EHR) allow more data to be captured. Yet as data volume has gone up, access to meaningful information has decreased. Many organizations find themselves data rich but information poor, struggling to make decisions without analytics tools in place.

Aggressive merger and acquisition activity has contributed to the problem. Large health systems have ended up with multiple EHR and system solutions, often yielding disparate data sources that take time and resources to translate into usable information. Bigger has not necessarily led to better, it's just led to bigger. Finding value in these acquisitions is now essential.

A new role for the finance department

At a major health care organization, the finance department is emerging as a key player, linking analytics from across numerous functions. Its role is shifting from managing the organization's day-to-day finances to becoming a strategic thought partner.

The organization began by consolidating its disparate costing and financial decisions support systems into one enterprise system to make sure that data and insights are leveraged across multiple functions (finance, quality, supply chain, operations, and strategy). A self-service analytics tool provides access to information and the right information at the right time to improve insights. In the process, finance has shifted from being decision support services to becoming an analytics consultant.

Insights for the enterprise

The results have been pretty amazing. For instance, clinical leaders look at care patterns and quantify the cost difference across facilities and between providers. The organization can review service line profitability and understand where best practices exist and where improvements can be made.

Although finance drove the initiative, many stakeholder groups have benefited from having a consolidated view that delivers advantages for the entire organization. Next, the organization is looking to shift away from descriptive analytics (what happened where, when, and why) to predictive and prescriptive analytics (what will happen next and what's the best possible outcome).

Mission critical

Throughout the health care industry, three key considerations are driving analytics investments today. Instead of arguing about who's right and who’s wrong, health care organizations are now more interested in having systems with a high degree of transparency across functions, getting buy-in from the top down, and focusing on the goals of the enterprise to prioritize investments.

Is your organization considering an analytics initiative? How will you design a solution that's functional, accessible, and addresses everyone's needs? We'd like to hear from you.

Visit www.deloitte.com/us/providers for more information on taking data analytics to the next level.

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