4 Bold Predictions for Healthcare Analytics in 2014 and Beyond

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140795347As the new year approaches, it’s natural to reflect on the events of the past year. It’s a way to see what’s working and what could be improved—while also providing a sense of closure. Health Catalyst had a great 2013. We are truly grateful to have welcomed so many success stories from our existing clients and to have added so many new clients.

I am also ready to welcome the year to come – and make my best effort to predict what is on the horizon. So I’m publicly donning my prognosticator’s hat and offering you my predictions for healthcare analytics in 2014 … and a little beyond too.

Looking ahead, 2014 feels like the turning point for analytics: those who have invested smartly will find themselves at a competitive advantage; those who haven’t will find themselves playing catchup. Specifically, here’s what I believe will happen:

Prediction #1:

Health systems that invested in data warehousing as the foundation of their analytics strategy will emerge as industry and market-share leaders. In analytics, everything depends on incorporating data from multiple systems, which is the basic purpose of an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Hospitals and health systems that have already invested in data warehousing as the foundation of their analytics strategy began this year to uncover information that helped them dramatically increase quality and remove cost.

In 2014, this will help them cut aggressive ACO contracts and take significant market share from their competitors. And they will have done it without taking the easy way out and betting on a horse with no track record (see below). It’s an approach that we believe will become increasingly obvious in 2014 and beyond.

Prediction #2:

Health systems that have not yet made a data warehouse investment will look for quick answers in their EHRs. When overwhelmed by complex choices, most people will opt for the one that’s easiest – but in healthcare, the easiest solution isn’t necessarily the best. In 2014, many healthcare leaders who are overwhelmed by the sheer number of analytics vendors and strategies will opt for the easy solution – they will ask their EHR provider for help.

Prediction #3:

Health systems will soon realize that EHR providers can’t provide the help they need for healthcare analytics. A 2013 survey by the eHealth Initiative and CHIME confirmed the market’s confusion about analytics. Eighty percent of CIOs believe analytics is an important strategic goal but only 45 percent feel they have a handle on the growing volume of health data. Much of the confusion stems from a lack of clarity about the analytics required for value-based care.

Organizations once could get by with internal reporting and key process indicators (KPI). But health reform has sparked a renaissance in analytics. Multiple vendors are pushing point solutions that focus on one small aspect of the data as their answer for addressing capitated payments, fee-for-quality and ACOs. Not surprisingly, EHR vendors have their own offerings. Unfortunately, they have no credible history in healthcare analytics. Thus, healthcare organizations that take this route will be betting on a horse with no track record in this particular area of the market. EHR vendors’ products, built on the tightly coupled early-binding data model, lack the agile architecture required for big data. You can learn more about this by downloading Why an EHR Can’t Solve Your Most Important Healthcare Transformation Challenges. Moreover, many health systems operate multiple EHRs, yet EHR vendors have no interest in integrating competitive systems.

Prediction #4:

When it comes to analytics, no organization will be able to afford to sit on the fence. With numerous regulations set to take affect in 2014, each affecting ROI and a hospital’s bottom line, the coming year will require action. Implement a data warehouse and make all information accessible enterprise-wide or continue to move along with EHRs alone? Organizations will find that, in order to survive, 2014 is the year they’ll have to make a decision.

How was your 2013? What do you see coming for healthcare analytics in 2014?

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