6 keys to the future of analytics

A recently released report by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation proves the value of big data is certainly something to take seriously. And as more organizations create plans to make better use of and leverage their big data, Joe Petro, senior vice president of healthcare research and development at Nuance Communications, believes the industry is on the brink of seeing some pretty remarkable things as a result.

Petro outlines six keys to the future of analytics and big data in healthcare. 

1. Organizations are "drowning in information, but dying of thirst" at the same time. According to Petro, one CMIO at Nuance sums up the current state of big data eloquently: "When you're in the institution and you're trying to figure out what's going on and how to report on something, he says you're dying of thirst in a sea of information," he said. "And what he means by that is, there's a tremendous amount of information but a big data problem, and the issue is how do we tap into that to make sense of what's going on?" This question applies not only to the patient, Petro continued, but also to the government's plans in regard to disease and population management. "The issue is it isn't organized," he said. "It's a mixture of structured and unstructured data, and what's going to happen over the course of next several years is the government is imposing a tremendous amount of information for folks to report."

[See also: Data collection center to start measuring payers' efficiency.]

2. Technologies that tap into big data will become more prevalent and ubiquitous. From a patient's perspective, Petro said, analytics and big data will aid, for example, in determining which hospital in a patient's immediate area is the best for treating their condition. "If I have a huge number of choices, today, you [determine that] by word of mouth," he said. "But the government wants you to be able to look at a report card for various institutions, and the way to tap into the report card is to unlock all that information and impose regulations and reporting." At the center of that, Petro continued, are the various types of IT used to tap into unstructured information, like dashboard technologies and analytics, business intelligence technologies, clinical intelligence technologies, and revenue cycle management intelligence for institutions. "These things will become more and more prevalent and ubiquitous … and [they] will become a lot more readily available to the patient."

3. Decision support will be easier to access. In the institutions, Petro said, evidence-based medicine and decision support will become easier to access as a result of leveraging big data and analytics. "For example, if a patient is suffering from a particular condition, there's a high potential something is going to happen to that patient because of their history," he said. "That stuff is going to be brought up in the front of the care cycle, and the physician will be tapped on the shoulder, so to say." Essentially, it's about a lot more precise information at the point of care. "These are all the things that are going to tumble out of cracking the code, so to speak, of the big data problem."

Continued on the next page.

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