Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, June 24, 2024

Analytics in Cloud Heals Healthcare’s Ills 

Now the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Affordable Care Act subsidies, healthcare providers and insurers can put the possibility of drastic change out of their minds and focus entirely on improving care while cutting costs.

Once news of SCOTUS' decision broke, stock prices rose for health insurers and providers. But healthcare costs grew 6.5 percent this year – much higher than most employees' wage increases – and 40 percent of privately insured individuals postponed care because of costs, wrote Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist and management consultant. This will ultimately increase the pain for patients and insurers, as minor health complaints could worsen into more complex (and expensive) conditions, she said.

To weed out internal expenses, improve operations and quality, and enhance patient care, the spectrum of healthcare organizations continue to embrace business intelligence, analytics, and big data. Once exclusively accessible to large, deep-pocketed institutions, cloud, managed services, and new applications now allow organizations of all sizes to leverage these powerful solutions.

In fact, 54 percent of CIOs ranked analytics as their highest IT priority for 2015, according to a late-2014 study by Health Catalyst. And 90 percent of those polled said analytics would be "extremely" or "very" important this year. Nobody in the survey said it would be "not at all important."

"Analytics is a prerequisite for all of the major initiatives currently underway to address value-based care. Once organizations have all of their data warehoused and accessible, analytics is the core tool to help them make sense of the data and put it to work," said Dan Burton, Health Catalyst CEO, in a statement.

Source: CDW "Analytics in Healthcare"

Source: CDW "Analytics in Healthcare"

Despite the allure of analytics and the promise of all the insight it can deliver, healthcare organizations – especially smaller institutions – must combat a number of challenges. For example, 45 percent cited the difficulty of combining data from multiple sources and 37 percent said it was challenging to manage volumes of data effectively, CDW's "Analytics in Healthcare" report found. Other hurdles included: Interoperability between technologies; lack of funding; dearth of knowledgeable staff; cultural resistance, and limited industry standards, according to CDW's study.

Outside Help

Some providers resolve these difficulties by turning to external partners that specialize in big data, especially those with expertise in healthcare. Many are turning to cloud-based analytics solutions; the total global healthcare cloud market is projected to reach $9.48 billion by 2020, compared with $3.73 billion this year, according to a newly released report by MarketsandMarkets. More specifically, the worldwide healthcare cloud-based analytics market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 29.7 percent, to $4.4 billion in 2020 from $1.01 billion in 2014, according to MarketStudy Report.

Data-science company Proskriptive recently partnered with Yellowfin, a business intelligence and analytics software developer, to offer cloud-based analytics to healthcare organizations. The solution integrates Proskriptive's predictive and prescriptive data models with Yellowfin's business-user focused BI solution, and is delivered as a fully managed service hosted on a HIPAA-compliant model of Microsoft Azure, via subscription.

The combined solution gives healthcare users a powerful, very visual analytics tool, Justin Richie, vice president of technology at Proskriptive, told Enterprise Technology. The software integrates with electronic medical records (EMRs) and pulls together data from all an organization's silos, he said.

"As healthcare evolves into prescriptive analytics and predictive analytics, you really need the historic analytics nailed down. There are all these silos of information and clinicians have to hire teams of people just to integrate this data," said Richie. "We can pull information from any silo. Any database or flat file, we've automated that schema to go into our system in a very fast, automated way."

Because of the Yellowfin partnership, healthcare organizations can opt for on-premise or cloud-based access. Proskriptive enables providers to create their own reports and dashboards, Richie said; typically, it designs five to 10 dashboards so end-users can create reports on the fly, he noted.

"This partnership makes it easier for healthcare professionals to manage patient care via an accessible, highly flexible, and scalable solution that works in conjunction with a clients’ existing data, analysis, and management systems," said Justin Wright, Yellowfin general manager, North America, in a statement. "Together, Proskriptive and Yellowfin can help healthcare professionals track, report and analyze things such as population health, likelihood of hospitalization, readmission probability, chronic illness management, and medication adherence."

For its part, managed healthcare organization Piedmont Community Health Plan recently chose Inovalon's iPort data integration toolset to integrate its various datasets into Inovalon's data lake environment. Piedmont will use the solution to perform retrospective and prospective analytics for quality improvement, risk score accuracy, usage efficiency, data reporting, and compliance, the provider said.

The solution integrates Piedmont's EMR and other patient, provider, and facility systems to deliver point-of-care support, according to Inovalon. "As a provider-based organization, implementing a holistic, data-driven approach to the patient, Inovalon's solution not only gains us valuable insight and improvement capabilities, but also does so in a highly efficient way," said David Brady, president and chief executive officer of Piedmont, in a statement.



About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.