A Sober Look at the Need for Analytics

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During a presentation at Health Data Management’s Healthcare Analytics Symposium, John McDaniel, national practice leader at data storage and management vendor NetApp, laid out the sobering reasons why data analytics are coming to the health care industry and must be embraced.

Start with a “unibyte.” That’s 10 to the 24th power, the amount of data the health care industry is rapidly reaching, with the amount growing more than 40 percent annually for the next decade, he said. The data comes from clinical documentation, genomics, personal monitors and sensors, medical images, electronic health records, health information exchanges, claims, and machine-to-machine transfers, which is the fast growing data source and partly fueled by telehealth/telemedicine.

And 80 percent of the data is unstructured, coming from audio dictation, clinical narratives, email, text messages, social media, photos and videos, and voicemail, among other sources. Today, however, less than 10 percent of health care organizations are focusing on analytics and more than 60 percent haven’t started, McDaniel contended.

The needs for analytics are wide and variable, but there are a couple areas that stand out, he said. One-third of the cost from health care mistakes come ordering tests, medications, supplies, procedures and other things that have already been done, resulting in massive duplication. And, roughly 20 percent of a hospital’s revenue can come from readmissions, but now Medicare is going to financially penalize hospitals with high 30-day readmission rates. Other major needs include managing chronic disease, care transitions, and wellness programs.

Top challenges providers face when getting into analytics include finding people who can analyze health data, deciding what data is relevant, a lack of business support and not having personnel with the right information technology skills, McDaniel said.

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