stethoscope-on-keyboardIn April 2014, eHealth Initiative (eHI) and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) ran an online survey to assess the use of data and analytics among healthcare executives. The key findings from the survey were published last month, and underscore the early but growing use of analytics in the healthcare industry.

Those key findings are:

  • Diverse data comes from many sources (internal and external).
  • Analytics are still in the early stages of maturity (basic analytic operations are largely used for support).
  • Organizations recognize the importance of data and analytics, but many have not committed to its investment or use.
  • New barriers to analytics are emerging beyond staffing, interoperability, and cost (such as access to external data, lack of ROI, and increases in patient privacy and regulatory / compliance requirements).
  • Consumer engagement is a growing business area.

Hard problems such as data acquisition, integration, and management are preventing healthcare organizations from implementing analytics effectively into practice. Many legacy systems and clinical approaches which capture data in different ways are in existence. Chuck Christian, Chief Information Officer at St. Francis Hospital, noted that “…Data governance, standardization, and normalization are going to be key.”

The skills of the analytics workforce will need to evolve as well. Mony Weschler, Chief Strategist at Montefiore Medical Center, noted a shift toward employing data architects who “aren’t necessarily as technical, but understand the process and the data, and can ask the right questions.” The importance of identifying meaningful associations through the seas of data is required to properly set strategic priorities.

Given these challenges, managed BI services are an attractive option for a healthcare organization. By outsourcing BI and analytics, you increase the odds of harnessing tangible value from BI investments. Managed BI services offer end-to-end BI expertise as dedicated support, at a predictable monthly cost. The integration of specialized talent, delivery best practices, the right technology, and high quality training programs is essential to further the analytics movement. By working with an analytics services partner, you can spend more time using analytics to support informed critical decisions as opposed to managing BI.

In the survey results publication, Chuck Christian compared analytics to essential infrastructure: “I don’t know too many businesses that do an ROI on their parking lot, but they’d better have one if they want customers. If we don’t have these things, we can’t compete.”

The survey results discussed can be found here.