Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

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70% of Healthcare Execs Pin Growth to Big Data Analytics Skills

Big data analytics skills are essential for healthcare organizations hoping to achieve growth and improve consumer satisfaction, a new survey says.

Big data analytics and healthcare success

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Healthcare organizations that successfully cultivate their big data analytics skills are anticipating a significant competitive advantage over those who fail to make the transition to the digital economy, reveals a new survey from SAP and Oxford Economics.

Close to 70 percent of healthcare leaders say that health IT tools are “essential” for organizational growth and improving the consumer experience. 

Three-quarters of respondents are planning to accelerate their investments in big data analytics tools over the next two years to cement their place as top performers in their field.

“Digital innovation will fuel the next wave of breakthroughs in healthcare and accelerate the broader shift toward data-driven care for health organizations,” said SAP Health Global President Thomas Laur.

“Unlocking actionable data insights in real time is critical for the future success for value-based care.”

READ MORE: Information Governance Gaining Ground in Healthcare Organizations

Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning and artificial intelligence will accelerate the industry’s progress towards technical maturity – a complex and onerous process that is currently a top challenge for most organizations.

The impact of healthcare big data analytics technology investment over the next two years

Source: SAP / Oxford Economics

Just two percent of participants said they have fully completed their digital transformation, while 32 percent have completed at least some of their mission-critical tasks.  The majority (54 percent) are still piloting innovative technologies, and the remaining 23 percent remain in the planning phase.

Forty-eight percent of organizations said that immature technologies are holding them back from achieving their goals, which are largely centered on increasing consumer engagement and the value of their services.

More than half cited a lack of an experienced workforce as a main concern, a state of affairs which has been plaguing the industry for years.

READ MORE: Big Data Analytics, Population Health Top Executive Priority List

Separate surveys conducted earlier in 2017 have showed similar struggles to secure top talent, including informaticists, data scientists, data visualization experts, and health information managers with the big data skills to optimize electronic health records, develop business intelligence programs, and return actionable insights to end-users across the organization.

“Having the right platform and rules around data sharing and coming together to share best practices and drive improvements are the hallmarks of true digital transformation,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, chief executive officer of CancerLinQ LLC, a nonprofit subsidiary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Forty-six percent of organizations admitted that poor management may also be to blame for their inability to architect successful health IT initiatives.

But organizations anticipate that the next two years will bring critical improvements in the way technology will contribute to their business objectives.

While just a quarter of organizations are seeing technology increase their consumer engagement levels today, more than 60 percent believe that their projects will pay off by 2019.

READ MORE: Using Visual Analytics, Big Data Dashboards for Healthcare Insights

Just under half are expecting measurable growth in revenues and profitability, while similar numbers are looking forward to more automated and streamlined processes, better analytics insight, and higher levels of employee engagement.

Organizations hope for consumer engagement improvements from their big data analytics investments

Source: SAP / Oxford Economics

Cultivating effective management techniques is a high priority for 60 percent of respondents, who believe that better planning and strong leadership will be their key to success. 

Forty-nine percent added that they are exploring how to streamline their processes, while 47 percent are placing their focus on implementing the most up-to-date technology tools.

“The shift to pay-for-performance programs and quality measures has necessitated a strong digital transformation strategy, which reinforces our focus of providing the best possible care for patients,” said Dr. Philip Styne, Florida Hospital Chief Medical Information Officer.

Forming productive partnerships with big data and health IT vendors will be an important competency for healthcare organizations as they invest more heavily in analytics tools.

When choosing a vendor, most executives are looking for tried-and-true products with robust backing from established companies.

Just under 80 percent said proven vendor expertise is a top criteria for making a technology selection, while 75 percent judge a company mainly on the quality of its product capabilities and 76 percent focus on interoperability and the ease of system integration with legacy tools. 

A similar number are looking for high-quality customer service to support ongoing relationships and collaborative development of innovative tools and strategies.

With the vast majority of organizations anticipating minimal increases in their budgets over the next two years, ensuring that vendors are holding up their end of the bargain is of the utmost importance.

Approximately ninety percent of executives believe their technology investment budgets will stay between zero and nine percent of their organization’s total operating budgets, with just under 20 percent hoping for a bump of a few percentage points over the next two years.

The overall expectation is that organizations will have to make do with the technology budgets they have, and must learn to extract more value from existing infrastructure and incremental improvements than they have done previously.

The ability to succeed with this challenge, especially while value-based reimbursements continue to alter the revenue landscape, will separate industry leaders from the rest of the pack.

Organizations that quickly develop the competencies required to see patient-facing improvements and richer insights from big data analytics are likely to be well positioned for success in the coming years of financial and regulatory uncertainty.


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