Collecting and analyzing data can be a matter of life and death for hospitals and other health care facilities.  Although the health care industry was a bit of a latecomer to the use of data analytics, it is now becoming a big user of data to predict future needs and costs.  Healthcare facilities collect a wealth of data – types of treatments, lengths of stays in hospitals, number of outpatient procedures, amounts of supplies used, number of personnel involved in a case, and, of course, costs for everything, just to name a few.  

This large amount of information is becoming better organized and processed to help health care providers get a better understanding to make better predictions. Data can be used to determine such things as which patients are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital, how hospital and rehabilitation center stays can be reduced after joint replacement surgery, and how much staffing is needed to reduce overtime costs.

Large Data Analytics Marketplace

The extensive number of health care facilities and the corporations that run them present a huge marketplace for data analytics companies.  According to Hospitals & Health Network, more than 200 data analytics companies – some big names like SAS and IBM – are trying to tap into the health care industry’s growing need for their services.  As with most industries, the health care providers who have not tapped into their large amount of data to make better decisions are lagging behind those who have put resources into analyzing and using their data.

The shift from just collecting and managing data to deeply analyzing that data has taken the health care industry some time. There are many players involved in providing health care – from doctors and nurses to vendors and suppliers – often across several facilities; and nowadays, using new technology, ever-more data is being collected on patients.  On top of the logistics of collecting the data, patient privacy rights have to be taken into account, which may limit or corrupt the data.  Just managing the data is a big job in the health care industry.

But the growth of the data analytics field and the tools to analyze data are allowing the health care industry to use the data better.  With improved applications of data analysis, health care providers, as well as pharmaceutical companies and other ancillary industries, could improve in areas such as:

  • Epidemiology – to better predict disease outbreaks
  • Clinical Trials – to bring drugs to the market faster
  • Genomics – to provide personalized medicine based on DNA
  • Health Insurance – to have faster approvals of treatments 

A Future in Health Care Analytics

The growing use of data analytics in the health care field provides ever-widening opportunities, especially for those with an interest in healthcare and data analysis.  With the expanding need for data analysis, health care providers and  especially large health care organizations, may need to employ their own data analytics professionals instead of outsourcing it to a data analytics company.  

Professionals who know both how the health care industry works and how to use data analytics tools will be highly valued in the coming years.  Therefore, while many degree-holding health care professionals have taken a basic statistics course, those who want to give themselves more opportunities in health care should continue with their studies of statistics and delve into the analysis field.

Administrators of health care facilities will also need to have a better handle on data analytics – at least insofar as understanding what types of benefits deep data analysis can provide them.  Thus, those who study data analytics or at least do not shy away from data and statistics will be in a good position to aid their organizations and work with those who do the actual data collection, processing, and analysis. This means medical schools will need to increase their offering of data-related courses and partner with other schools to provide the education that practitioners will need to be positioned to take advantage of what data analytics can do for them and their organizations.

Find Out More

More and more, computer- and data-savvy leaders will be needed in health care. To find out how to jump start your future in data analytics and healthcare, click here.

Resources:

Hede, Karyn. “How Predictive Analytics Are Changing Healthcare.” Hospitals & Health Networks, 4 Apr. 2016, www.hhnmag.com/articles/7011-predictive-analytics-is-transforming-health-care.

Montgomery, Mike. “The Future Of Health Care Is In Data Analytics.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Oct. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/mikemontgomery/2016/10/26/the-future-of-health-care-is-in-data-analytics/#359cb9453ee2.

Author: Neil Starr