Prescriptions for productivity through analytics

Health care looks to digital insights to drive efficiency

The experience of the health industry in using analytics–the term widely used for technology solutions that help organizations interpret data and predict business trends–warrants our attention.

Prescriptions for productivity through analytics

October 27, 2015

By Nitin Mittal, principal and capability leader for Advanced Analytics Enablement, Information Management, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Those who are skeptical of the potential of data analytics to transform a business need look no further than the health care industry. In Deloitte’s latest survey of technology trends among mid-sized companies, life sciences and health firms were most likely to say technology had increased productivity within their businesses. Given how vital information is to better patient outcomes, it may not be a surprise that data analytics was seen as the biggest efficiency enhancer.

The experience of the health industry in using analytics–the term widely used for technology solutions that help organizations interpret data and predict business trends–warrants our attention. There are nearly 5,700 hospitals across the country, with more than 35 million patient admissions each year.1 Wearable devices emit fitness data from consumers’ watches, smartphones, and bracelets. The government reports there are nearly 200,000 clinical studies currently in progress.2

From medical charts to drug trial results in longitudinal studies, that’s a staggering amount of data. Frequently this information is stored in unstructured formats–in tables, text files, images, and video, to name a few–that must be deciphered before the data can be used.

But early evidence suggests the effort is more than worth it. The National Cancer Institute, for instance, uses analytics software that examines census data and mortality rates. The tool helps calculate the possibility of being diagnosed with certain forms of cancer over a lifetime.3 This information can be used by researchers to pinpoint specific populations, consider behaviors and risks associated with particular types of cancer, and ultimately plan more precise studies.

At the hospital level, analytics solutions can help administrators boost efficiency and reduce costs. Software that can track patient accounts from admission all the way through the payment cycle can help identify gaps more efficiently than manpower alone.4 As seen in our technology survey, tools that help free up talent to assume new responsibilities are in high demand.

Given how much our nation spends on healthcare each year–health expenditures make up 17 percent of our gross domestic product5–the stakes are high. With a growing population and rising health costs, the urgency to provide better value to patients through technology is critical.

Identifying the right people to help address this challenge is part of the riddle. Organizations looking to build their analytics capabilities will need information technologists, data scientists and other professionals with the necessary skills to turn information into action.

But making the right technology investments will clearly be vital. Leaders will need to overcome cultural resistance and traditional business approaches to bring analytics and other technologies into their operations in order to improve research and care.

Bold new possibilities are emerging within the territory of analytics. With the right approaches, health care providers, researchers and other professionals can achieve a better view of their patients and customers and ultimately provide greater value to the industry.

Moreover, these examples show how leaders in any organization can use analytics to decode information, achieve deeper understanding of their businesses, and work with greater efficiency.


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