Clinical analytics 'next big thing'

By Erin McCann
10:31 AM
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Clinical analytics and business intelligence tools have emerged as a top priority for hospital IT leaders who are moving towards accountable care adoption, according to a Black Book Rankings survey released on Wednesday. 

According to survey findings, more than 1,340 hospital IT leaders nationwide indicated clinical analytics to be their highest prioritized system to acquire over the next year. Clinical analytics or clinical decision support (CDS) is the rapidly developing field that harnesses real-time medical data to inference programs in order to generate fact-based diagnostic and therapeutic decisions, capture revenues and save costs.

Black Book officials say all 87 developing accountable care organizations (ACOs) participating in the survey confirmed the need for thoughtful adoption and proper use of evidence-based clinical decision support systems within a certain time frame before their respective ACO operations initiate.

[See also: CDS tools can change medical practice.]

CDS vendors have overwhelmingly won over their constituents, according to the report. Among hospitals responding to the survey, the majority has achieved a fast return-on-investment: 

  • Approximately 89 percent implemented clinical decision support tools to prevent medication errors.
  • More than 77 percent achieved anticipated cost savings from analytics-driven patient care. 
  • Improvements in studied population health were noted by 69 percent.

Despite the optimism over the possibilities of CDS, however, only 16 percent of U.S. hospitals acknowledge they currently have the clinical decision support tools to effectively manage the data needs of the accountable care evolution.

"ACOs, payers and pharmaceutical companies are leading the surge to gather analytic tools to improve clinician efficiency", reports Douglas Brown, senior partner of Black Book's health IT market research practice. "CDS vendors can expect their greatest number of provider procurements from community hospitals with two hundred or fewer beds where only 9 percent of feel technologically equipped for the reforming healthcare environment compared to 62 percent of larger hospitals."

[See also: Clinical decision support shifts to overdrive.]

Eighty-four percent of those provider organizations without CDS systems in place currently plan to acquire at least one new or additional clinical analytics tool within twelve months. However, survey findings also indicate that providers' confidence in these tools has decreased considerably over the past few years. 

A 2009 Black Book EHR survey found that 88 percent of provider organizations believed their EHR vendor would meet most of their interoperability and foreseeable clinical information needs. However, in 2012, fewer than 10 percent have the same expectation of their EHR system.

"ACOs and hospitals also face the hurdle of finding or training qualified clinical informaticists as well," added Brown, as 89 percent of CDS acquiring organizations plan on boosting their technology staff numbers, but 97 percent anticipate a shortage of qualified external and internal candidates.

The survey also finds 75 percent of providers with analytics in place reporting that changing clinical workflows and implementing new technologies were particularly intimidating to their organizations. And 93 percent of users advocated for systems that provide non-disruptive introductions of analytics and clinical decision support including automated patient education, patient-driven orders, provider analytics, population management strategies and alerts.

[See also: Study: Clinical decision support reduces unnecessary imaging.]

Among a group of 51 CDS vendors with solutions including patient-driven order sets and behavioral change support, population management, and analytics/reporting, three vendors achieved top client experience and customer satisfaction scores from the survey participants:

  • Top Ranked Accountable Care Organization CDS: DiagnosisOne 

  • Top Ranked Community Hospital CDS: Zynx Health 

  • Top Ranked Academic Medical Center CDS: Wolters Kluwer

The complete study and competitive analysis of the top twenty ranked CDS vendors is available here