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Healthcare analytics present opportunities, poses challenges

August 27, 2013

In the past few years, there has been a drive within the healthcare sector to digitize records and move them to the cloud to enable information sharing between practices and hospitals and more efficacious treatment of patients. Now, as IT application services providers are growing more accustomed to the new technological norm, many healthcare organizations are investigating how the immense amount of data collected can spur further innovation.

Analytics enable practices, hospitals to better serve specific populations   
According to InformationWeek, a recent survey from eHealth Initiative (eHI) and the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) that surveyed 102 organizations revealed that 82 percent believe population health management will be a key focus of analytics in upcoming years, with an additional 80 percent stating that using big data and analytics will be crucial achieving their goals.

However, despite an overwhelming belief in the importance of leveraging healthcare analytics, 84 percent of respondents said implementing these technologies poses significant challenges to their organizations, including providing funding and training for employees. In fact, only 18 percent of healthcare professionals said they had staff who were prepared to collect, process and analyze data. Sixteen percent noted they had turned to consultants to make up for this shortage of staff and knowledge.

EHRs pose specific, significant challenges    
In a webinar discussing the results of the survey, healthcare professionals echoed the sentiments of the research while expressing frustration with how electronic health records (EHRs) collect and process patient information. Frank Clark, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), explained that the information EHRs have collected at MUSC has been compiled in an unstructured way, making it difficult for IT network services to organize data in an efficient way.

Curt Selke, Vice President of Analytics for the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE), offered a similar appraisal, explaining that more than 90 of the 120 hospitals IHIE connects are embedding transcribed reports, but remain at the starting point for creating a system to support big data analytics, according to InformationWeek. 

Recently, EHR Intelligence asserted that to make big data, analytics and healthcare initiatives work, organizations will have to foster strategic partnerships to break down silos, open up communication and de-duplicate data sets. 

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