big data and healthcare

Big Data Analytics in Healthcare: Adoption, Barriers, and Opportunities

Mounting medical conditions, rising operating expenses, and more data than management knows what to do with is leading to major changes in the healthcare vertical – not to mention, huge problems. To get a handle on these issues, providers are looking to data and analytics for answers. The integrated concept of big data analytics is helping healthcare organizations leverage information to improve their ability to make decisions and produce desirable outcomes.

Intriguing Insights

Like most fields, the big boys in the healthcare arena are well aware of the benefits big data analytics has to offer. Market research reveals some very interesting tidbits on where the industry stands on adoption and challenges. Each year, the College of Health Information Management Executives and eHealth Initiative team up for an annual big data survey. The objective is to interview more than 100 healthcare executives to get their thoughts on data and analytics in the industry, and the associated benefits and burdens.

According to the 2014 survey, an astounding 96 percent of respondents use analytics. It seems, however, that few are taking full advantage. The survey found that just 20 percent of healthcare organizations have incorporated it on an institution-wide basis, while only 43 percent have a strategy built around scaling as their data needs increase.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from these particular research efforts is that organizations are overwhelmed despite their initiative and desire to take the plunge. According to the 2013 survey, there are a number of barriers between the healthcare industry and big data adoption. The top four barriers were cited as:

  1. Lack of qualified staff (64 percent)
  2. Ownership and compliance issues (53 percent)
  3. Integration challenges (40 percent)
  4. Lack of financial resources (39 percent)

When it comes to adopting big data analytics, the challenges facing the healthcare field are unique and not necessarily easy to solve. Some organizations have no idea where to begin. Others have taken the plunge and set on the course to driving actionable results.

Premier Streamlines Data Access

Premier operates the largest healthcare alliance in the United States. The firm has a robust network comprised of hundreds of thousands hospitals, long-term healthcare facilities, medical systems, and doctors that exists to improve the efficiency of the national healthcare infrastructure. With the aid of advaned analytics, Premier connects network members to a database that provides detailed insights on clinical outcomes, resource utilization, transaction costs, and other data needed to make strategic decisions that improve internal processes and results.

NYGH Taps Into Better Patient Care

Toronto-based North York General Hospital (NYGH) is using analytics to gain a better understanding of its business operations and improve patient care. The facility deployed a scalable platform that provides a holistic snapshot of its operations from administration to finances, delivering the type of visibility needed to see exactly where improvements need to be made. By collecting data from more than 50 sources and dispersing it across multiple internal systems, the solution looks to be a perfect complement to NYGH’s existing data infrastructure.

Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute Sharpens Awareness of Genetic Ailments

Bologna, Italy’s Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare and the cost of treatment for people with hereditary bone diseases. The organization turned to analytics to gain a more detailed understanding of the medical dynamics in family members who show substantial differences in the way of symptoms. According to a documented case study, Rizzoli met its goal on both fronts, reducing associated hospital admissions by 30 percent and the number of expensive imaging tests by 60 percent.

From saving money to saving lives, the potential of big data analytics in healthcare is too great to ignore. There are surely hurdles overcome, but when it comes to bettering this vital field, big data is just what the doctor ordered.

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