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Data analytics: a paradigm shift in health care requires a leadership vision

February 24, 2017
Jeff Klein
From the January 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Jeff Klein

The health care industry is experiencing rapid and evolutionary changes that will continue into the next three to five years. A significant part of the change involves the growing use of data analytics. Although a late adopter, the health care industry is now seeing the positive impact data analytics has had on retail and financial services. Payer organizations also have gone a long way using predictive analytics for population health management and reducing costs. Several changes are creating a paradigm shift in health care and driving the use of data analytics, including:

• The way providers are reimbursed under the value-based care model has shifted the responsibility for care to providers.
• Providers need to deal with external pressures in areas such as health care exchanges, where millions of previously uninsured people have joined the ranks of the insured. The exchanges also are changing how employers offer insurance.

• MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) and MIPS (Meritbased Incentive Payment System) compliance are driving accountability and reimbursement for quality care from payer to provider.
• Payer and provider organizations are converging into combined risk-bearing organizations to manage insured populations and care in one process.

For providers, these changes heighten the need for actionable data insights accessible in real time. Such access is not the norm today, as the majority of health care data exists in isolation. Hospitals, doctors’ offices and insurance companies all maintain their data differently. However, the technology already exists to bring the solution to providers in the near future.

Aggregating patient information across a higher spectrum of data — from the public records to commercial data — helps derive statistically relevant insights and provides a holistic view of the patient, allowing providers to see the patient move through time longitudinally. A focus on an episode of care as opposed to each incident of care, and throughout the entire patient journey, drives improved outcomes.

When socioeconomic factors (such as financial indicators, education and crime information, etc.) are added to the clinical data, providers have a much fuller view of patients as people and are positioned for improved decision-making about whether and how they can intervene. As health care systems and hospitals further incorporate data analytics into the DNA of their organizations, they need to plan not only for their short-term needs, but also have a long-term vision of how they will use analytics to improve outcomes. Aligning with an analytics partner will help organizations to be positioned for success in the following critical areas:

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