Pop health analytics top ACO priority

IDC study shows how data (and doing the right stuff with it) is increasingly recognized as the 'lynchpin' of accountable care.
By Mike Miliard
11:03 AM
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Analytics technologies, especially tools that track population health, are the chief investment priority for organizations pursuing accountable care, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights

The study, “Business Strategy: Analytics Leads Accountable Care Investment Priority,” was developed based on the results of IDC Health Insights' 2012 Accountable Care Survey and IDC's 2012 Global Technology and Industry Research Organization IT Survey.

The research shows how, even though they're often lagging in their pursuit of value-based delivery models, healthcare providers are recognizing the critical role data has to play in the success of accountable care. As such, there's recently a been keen interest in IT tools to manage population health.

According to IDC, the top four reported capabilities for which healthcare organizations intend to use analytics are:

  • The ability to identify patients/members in need of care management was the most frequent type of planned analysis, cited by 66 percent of respondents.
  • Clinical outcomes were identified by 64 percent of respondents as the second most frequent type of planned analysis.
  • Performance measurement and management was also identified by 64 percent of respondents as the second most frequent type of planned analysis.
  • Clinical decision-making at the point of care was identified by 57 percent of healthcare respondents as the third most frequent type of planned analysis.

Still, according to IDC, even as accountable care is on the rise, there is skepticism about the industry's ability to meet the objectives: to improve the health of the population, to improve the patient experience and to manage financial growth.


Previous attempts to improve quality and control costs through programs such as capitation and withholds were not successful, researchers note – in part due to inadequate data that was retrospective, and not in a format that was useful to physicians. The good news is that, nowadays, the ability to move, normalize and analyze data is far more robust than two decades ago.

“Access to timely, complete, accurate, contextual, and digestible data is the lynchpin for accountable care success,” said Cynthia Burghard, research director, accountable care IT strategies, at IDC Health Insights. “All indications, from survey results and from discussions with healthcare thought leaders and technology suppliers, are that analytics is the number one investment priority on the agenda for healthcare organizations engaging in accountable care.”

More findings from the study:

[See also: Population Health IT promises boom]

  • Healthcare organizations are beginning to embrace advanced analytics and new data sources. Respondents indicated 2013 investments in advanced analytics such as streaming data monitoring and analysis, text mining and social graph analysis were also a priority.
  • Sources of data identified by respondents include the types of data – e.g., claims 57 percent; clinical structured data 73 percent; and care management data 70 percent – that are needed to identify and manage patients with chronic illness or through wellness programs. These data sources indicate strong opportunities for analytics.
  • New data sources such as from mobile devices (42 percent of respondents), social media (32 percent) and unstructured clinical data (29 percent) are being used to support accountable care. Though the percent of respondents is not large, the survey data does reveal a willingness to invest in these new data sources. Health plan respondents had significantly greater interest than hospitals, according to the report.

[See also: ACOs need 'more' than an EMR]