3 ways data analytics can transform healthcare

| June 20, 2015

Big Data Analytics

By Katie Dvorak

Analytics can and will change healthcare as we know it–but several obstacles remain, according to David Lee Scher, M.D., director at DLS Healthcare Consulting LLC.

Currently, data collected by healthcare entities is “warehoused in a contextual vacuum,” Scher writes in his blog, “The Digital Health Corner.” To truly make use of the data, analytics tools are needed to put all the pieces together, he says; to do that, data needs to be delivered in real-time while being included in workflows.

Some ways Scher says data analytics should be used in healthcare include:

  • Turning big data into “actionable data”: Remote patient monitoring is growing, and it’s a great way for systems to incorporate analytics, Scher says. Those kinds of data sets could help suggest ways to change a patient’s lifestyle or care. “This is a far cry from the provider receiving a deluge of useless data for analysis,” he writes. “This type of analytics can also incorporate clinical decision support based on evidence-based medicine.”
  • Creating personalized medicine: Analytics are vital to gain value from population health, clinical and digital data for individuals, Scher says. “Analytics can potentially readily address variances of diagnosis and/or treatment of a disease based on geography, race, and genomics,” he writes. That also is in line with President Barack Obama’s recently announced Precision Medicine Initiative, which aims to increase the use of personalized information in healthcare.
  • Lowering care costs: Analytics can help provide transparency on healthcare costs, as well as help patients choose where to be treated. In addition, apps can help patients compare what it will cost for certain procedures, according to Scher.

He adds that analytics isn’t the “Wizard of Oz of healthcare,” but that “a vision of utilizing cost-effective resources such as analytics can be the best investment for success.”

However, some don’t see the analytics revolution coming anytime soon.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak recently said that, despite all of the strides made in health IT over the last few years, data collection efforts have hit a lull.

“One thing that’s struck me … is that we’re still at the same tip of the iceberg,” Sivak said at the mHealth Summit just outside of the District of Columbia in December. “My Fitbit and Misfit [Shine] and Jawbone and other devices basically do exactly the same stuff with none of the additional analysis that I think is needed to actually make these things much more useful for helping others live a better and healthier life.”

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