Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

Top 5 Christmas Gifts for the Healthcare Big Data Analytics Pro

Think you're done with holiday shopping? Make sure that these gifts for your big data analytics department made the list.

By Jennifer Bresnick

- There may be only a few short hours left until Amazon stops guaranteeing deliveries by Christmas Day, but that’s still plenty of time to scratch the last few items off your list. 

Healthcare big data analytics

Ergonomic keyboards for your medical coders?  Squeezy stress balls for your physicians?  Comfy slippers and a bottle of wine for your tireless nursing staff?  Check, check, check.

But what should you buy for your big data analytics team?  After all, the IT department has had one very busy year.  From the big ICD-10 switch to prepping for precision medicine to a renewed effort to kick population health management into gear, big data has never been more important to the healthcare industry.

For those running out of ideas for that last-minute addition to the holiday party present pile, here are five things your big data analytics professional may be hoping are waiting under their tree.

Oh, you didn’t get me the $12,000 gold-plated one?  That’s okay, I guess.

READ MORE: Top 4 Machine Learning Use Cases for Healthcare Providers

The top-shelf Apple Watch may be out of the budget for your office’s Secret Santa gift exchange, but wearable devices are all the rage this year as patients get enthusiastic about tracking their health and wellness. 

Providers may not have figured out what to do with all this new patient-generated health data (PGHD) just yet, but there’s no harm in giving your IT department some first-hand experience with the Internet of Things.

After all, it will be their responsibility to help retool your data warehouses and EHR interfaces to accept blood pressure readings and sleep tracking data that can be used in a meaningful, intuitive, and streamlined way for informed decision-making.

And if a Fitbit, Pebble, Google Glass, or Samsung Gear is still above your price range, consider pointing them towards this stunning collection of IoT resources from  It’s free.

The most valuable loose-leaf binder in the world

READ MORE: Top Healthcare Business Intelligence Companies by Hospital Users

What’s 8 by 11 inches and contains the most priceless item a healthcare organization can imagine?  The notebook that holds your big data integrity plan.

Give your big data experts the gift of a lifetime by developing a comprehensive, actionable data management strategy that makes it easy for end-users and IT experts alike to understand how data should be collected and used in a secure, meaningful, patient-centered manner.

As an added bonus, this particular present can tick the gift-giving boxes for a number of different departments: your health information managers, privacy and security experts, HIE architects, and informaticists should all pitch in for this one.

A new pair of running shoes and a bag of change?  Must be time for HIMSS16 in Vegas!

Are your population health management and big data analytics gurus secretly stashing quarters in their desks for a few surreptitious hits on the slot machines?  Digging out their luggage and searching for their pedometers?  They may be getting ready for the annual health IT extravaganza that is the HIMSS Conference and Exhibition, which is taking place in sunny Las Vegas from February 29 to March 4, 2016.

READ MORE: Unfiltered EHR Data Overloads Physicians, Perpetuates Burnout

This year, hot topics will include accountable care and alternative payment models, patient engagement, population health management, privacy and security, and data governance.  Join tens of thousands of your peers as they soak up knowledge from thought leaders and experienced experts in the health IT field…and Peyton Manning.

A good pair of sneakers, a map of all the coffee kiosks in the conference center, and a fresh notebook for scribbling down ideas collected from educational sessions are essential components of the HIMSS16 gift pack.  Throw in some tickets to a magic show at one of the famous hotels on the Strip, and your IT attendees will come back with nothing but good cheer.

When I said I wanted a makeover, I meant for my EHR!

A certificate for the local salon may be a thoughtful gift – if slightly loaded with unintended negative implications about your current haircut – but what most providers really want is an overhaul of their electronic health records system instead.

Fill your staff’s stockings with promises to address lingering EHR usability concerns and a pledge to make interoperability and health information exchange a top priority in 2016.  You might want to investigate how EHR templates can make population health management tasks easier, or ask your HIM professionals for their tips about optimizing your interfaces.

Make plans to work with your vendors to break down data siloes and improve the flow of critical information across the care continuum.  Set up brainstorming sessions with your in-house experts – and don’t forget to collaborate with business partners outside of your own four walls.  Public health organizations, behavioral health and long-term care providers, and community service organizations can all contribute important ideas about the difficult process of coordinating care across the continuum.

On second thought, maybe a mani-pedi and a massage wouldn’t be so bad…

Healthcare providers are stressed out.  They have too much to do and not enough time to do it, and the demands on their daily schedules keep growing.  Health IT tools are often more trouble than they’re worth, and EHRs can sap time and energy from even the most tech-savvy clinician.

Burn-out may be so common that physicians, nurses, and other providers think of it as just another fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be. 

As employers and care providers, healthcare organizations have a responsibility – and a financial motive – to ensure that their staff members aren’t cracking under the extraordinary pressures involved in delivering high-quality services to their patients.  They can start by making sure that individuals feel supported, engaged, and valued as they navigate an increasingly complex and challenging data-dependent environment. 

It’s as simple as taking the quick, compassionate step of asking if your nurses, coders, care coordinators, and physicians are doing all right after a long and difficult day. 

After all, the holidays are a time for thinking about others.  Take a cue from the American Medical Association and focus on bringing the joy back into medicine during this festive season.  Your patients and your staff will all thank you for taking a little extra time to make their days a little brighter, whether or not you spring for the rose gold Apple Watch Edition.


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