I had a few revelations during our July 14-16 Healthcare Analytics Symposium & Expo 2014, which I chaired and during which I listened to the best and brightest analytics leaders discuss their efforts.

First is the great divide we're facing in terms of understanding the effects of real-world medicine. Our speakers were there to explain game-changing benefits their analytics programs yielded. What's encouraging is how analytics are driving efficiencies in clinical practice that yield enormous health and financial benefits; what's disheartening about many of the presentations is the realization of how many inefficiencies there are, and how these inefficiencies-and so many are right there in the data, slapping people across the face-are occurring right now, as you read this column.

But about that data … What struck me is the type of questions being asked after the presentations. If our presenters had been renowned culinary chefs, the questions would have been akin to asking them how they turned on the stove. Information governance and management have room to grow in this industry. As other HIT leaders deeply immersed in analytics agreed during a roundtable we recently hosted, for this very reason healthcare analytics is in its infancy, in an industry that has absolutely no time to lose.

Our speakers one and all mentioned the grueling effort to put together data marts and get coherent data from various sources, including EHRs-many different EHRs under the same roof.

It takes incredibly forceful leadership for organizations to commit to walking such a painful and expensive path, but our speakers were up on the podium able to talk about what happens when you come out the other side of that effort, because they are forceful leaders, and they're often surrounded by C-level executives that understand the do-and-die nature of analytics at this juncture in healthcare's history.

Many of you are in a position to drive change. Having listened to what can be accomplished if you forcefully lead, I ask you, as a patient and as a citizen nervously watching healthcare drag down the economy, to please get moving.

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