Clinical data analytics next big thing

Population health needs clinical analytics solutions, new report finds
By Erin McCann
10:25 AM

The clinical data analytics market is about to get red hot. With the shift toward new payment models and the sheer amount of clinical data contained in electronic health records, more and more healthcare groups are looking to analytics solutions for population health management, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The clinical analytics market report, conducted by Chilmark Research, describes a relatively immature but burgeoning market for clinical analytics solutions, driven primarily by the major new challenge of population health management.

Healthcare groups are now taking myriad approaches to address their analytics needs including combining claims with clinical data. As providers increasingly seek to reduce the risk of the patient populations, this claims-based legacy will be both a starting point as well as a distraction from analyzing much richer clinical data from clinically-housed sources.

[See also: Data analytics poised for big growth.]

"There is no way around the fact that clinical data analytics will play an essential role in furthering PHM efforts," said Cora Sharma, lead analyst of the Chilmark report, in a news release. "High-touch care management processes of the past will no longer suffice as the size of the problem is too vast, resources too few and patients too numerous. However, with the exception of payers, the healthcare industry as a whole is late to the analytics game," Sharma continued.

Clinical data analytics is poised to grow at a CAGR of 37.9 percent from 10 percent adoption in 2011 to 50 percent adoption by 2016, according to a recent Frost and Sullivan market analysis.

Report findings detail, however, that despite strong market growth, it’s not all smooth sailing for data analytics.

First, managing such complex and extensive data troves proves very much a daunting task for providers who already have a lot on their plates.

Such analytics solutions can also cost a pretty penny, and when provider organizations are currently pinching pennies due to financial woes, clinical analytics may often be put on the back burner. A common language across the industry has yet to be established, as vendors still prefer to market under terms like "big data," "population health management" and "ACO," researchers say.

Furthermore, claims-based analytics is still very much a reality. The end result, a market that creates significant challenges for those providers and healthcare organizations that seek to adopt analytics solutions in advance of payment reform driven in large part by the Affordable Care Act. These providers come from a range of payment perspectives, from those seeking P4P reimbursement, to those plowing headfirst into managing patient risk, to those that simply want to practice managing risk before they take the leap.

[See also: 5 ways hospitals can use data analytics.]

Many analytics vendors in the industry are seeking to align their brand with PHM by any means necessary, researchers say, which has led to an uptick in competition, making it increasingly difficult for vendors to differentiate themselves in the market. Report findings detail that, surprisingly, several well-known brands are still in the beginning phases of entering the market, while some other startups have seen more momentum when compared to some of the biggest market competitors.

"Clinical best of breed vendors had initially enjoyed little competition, but in the last 12 to 18 months have seen a significant increase in competition," said John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research, in a news release. "Unfortunately, we have also found a very immature buyers' market. This has led to significant confusion as to what the true capabilities are of various analytics solutions to address the strategic needs of a healthcare organization. It is our hope that this report will lead to a more educated market and wiser purchasing decisions going forward."

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