Data analytics top concern, but industry stumped about where to start

'Organizations feel they need to jump on the big data bandwagon'
By Erin McCann
11:06 AM
Confused man with laptop
There's a problem in the world of data analytics. A new survey of health IT professionals underscores that, sure, the lion's share of them point to data analytics and business intelligence as top of mind for 2015, but the majority also say they don't even know what data to actually collect. 
The survey, conducted by HIT consulting firm Stoltenberg Consulting, queried HIMSS15 attendees on what they saw to be the biggest topic for them as the year unfolds. It's no surprise data analytics topped the list, with 41 percent of respondents saying it was a No. 1 priority – but a priority with a lot of uncertainty and confusion surrounding it. 
In fact, a staggering 81 percent of respondents have questions first, around either the quantity and type of data, and second, how to actually turn that data into valuable insight.
"Organizations feel they need to jump on the big data bandwagon," said Shane Pilcher, vice president of Stoltenberg Consulting, in a press statement. "Yet they approach this emerging issue reactively versus proactively. Healthcare IT leaders should instead focus on collecting smart healthcare data, monitoring what data they're saving and concentrating on the quality, quantity and validity of data needed to answer future questions for organizations."
As part of the survey, HIMSS15 health IT professionals also cited their key business objectives for the year, with improving patient care topping the list, at 40 percent, followed by attesting to MU at 27 percent; and patient engagement at 18 percent.  
Despite the healthcare analytics market seeing significant growth, recent research emphasizes that it's still very much in the beginning stages for the industry. A September 2014 Chilmark report, for instance, concluded that the "immature market" was still in its "infancy."
Indeed, a 2013 McKinsey report echoed similar sentiments, finding that "the big-data revolution is in its early days, and most of the potential for value creation is still unclaimed." But the market drivers are in place, researchers concluded, so expect that trajectory to change in the coming years.