Too many providers are failing to meaningfully integrate data analytics

And that's costing the U.S. healthcare system in a big way, even in the era of value-based care, according to a new survey from Black Book.
By Nathan Eddy
10:54 AM

Healthcare providers are failing to integrate digital data platforms into their IT infrastructure, and analytics into their clinical and operational workflows. This despite widespread availability of the technology – and a definite need for it, given the demands of value-based reimbursement.

Those were among the findings of a Black Book survey of 748 providers organizations, which found utilization of advanced analytics was described as "negligible" by a whopping 80% of respondents.

Meanwhile, 84% of the C-suite execs and board members polled said their health systems only used analytics to a  "limited or minimal extent to generate commercial or outcome insights," according to the survey.

Even while the market for healthcare data analytics booms and provider access to such tools has risen sharply in past years, multiple factors, ranging from a lack of strategic direction to the absence of internal data scientists, have sharply curbed usage.

A lack of financial resources and a lack of reinforced training were among the other challenges providers cited – just 15% of respondents reported any meaningful utilization in financial forecasting and strategic planning.

Even health systems that are using data analytics are doing so in a superficial way to justify the investment already made, according to the report, even while the vast majority (93%) feel data analytics will be crucial to helping meet future healthcare demands. 

"The accessibility of integrated data and the surge of new technologies, which empower providers to analyze data more comprehensively, allow every healthcare manager to make strategic decisions and costs implications and measure goal progress analytics," Doug Brown, president of Black Book, said in a statement.

He noted however that besides "occasional dashboard viewing," post-implementation analytics and business intelligence software and services go greatly underutilized.

This was particularly observed in the survey responses from financially under-performing hospitals in 2019.

"Because analytics need to be customized for each hospital or medical group business problem, analytics are often seen as complicated and time-consuming," said Brown.

In order to successfully utilize integrated analytics, providers need to go beyond formal training and online tutorials and offer ongoing support such as an analyst forum or community of interest that they can turn to with questions about tool functionality and techniques.

The picture doesn’t look particularly rosy going into 2020, either, with just 2% of all C-suite respondents reporting that they are budgeting and recruiting data scientists with healthcare expertise in 2020.

Integration of data analytics platforms with medical records and a lack of available time to learn often complicated systems were among other major contributing factors to the lack of analytics implementation – 71% of surveyed executives said they were too busy to learn such systems.

However, nearly nine in 10 survey respondents said they at least plan further investment in more analytics software and services in 2020.

A November survey by Black Book pointed to another worrying trend: Just under half of all post-acute providers surveyed said the state of their staffs' health information technology proficiency is either "extremely poor" or "non-existent."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer:
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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