In today’s healthcare environment, there are no laurels to rest on—and those who recognize that agility is the name of the game will do best when it comes to the business intelligence and clinical analytics solutions that healthcare so direly needs.
We know Big Data has a big future in healthcare. A recent Research and Markets report, “Healthcare Analytics Global Market – Forecast to 2019,” predicts a global CAGR for healthcare analytics of more than 25% during this period.
However, seeing the end of the rainbow and actually making one’s way to the pot of gold are two entirely different propositions—and a lack of vendors with top shelf business intelligence (BI) and analytics solutions could make the road to success a little more rocky than many foresee.
Leaders Are Lacking
Although leaders have emerged among vendors in various segments of the digital health market—such as for the EHR and ambulatory care sectors—a recent report from KLAS Research indicates that’s not the case for healthcare business intelligence (BI) tools.
There are a plethora of vendors available, but the more than 100 healthcare providers who were surveyed regarding their plans to purchase tools to support BI/analytics and value-based care didn’t mention any single vendor more than 7 percent of the time. In an announcement about the report, its author, Joe Van de Graff, noted,
"Business intelligence and analytics have gone from a 'nice-to-have' to a 'must-have' in today's challenging healthcare environment. To fulfill short-term analytics needs, many providers report shifting more consideration to vendors with healthcare-specific solutions. However, a clear market leader has yet to emerge."
Trends are Tepid
In analyzing trends, it’s interesting that last summer, KLAS put out a similar report, with similar findings. A few months after, in September, the HIMMS Analytics’ 2013 U.S. Clinical & Business Intelligence Study found that:
- “Over 50% of those hospitals that use a Clinical & Business Intelligence (C&BI) solution indicated the primary source of C&BI was embedded within their HIS/EMR.
- Enterprise Data Warehouses are the most widely used platform for storing/pulling C&BI data; fewer organizations have adopted operational data stores or transactional systems.
- Respondents indicated they are less inclined to purchase a best of breed C&BI solution due to satisfaction with tools currently in place.”
Today’s rapidly changing reimbursement landscape is driving an urgent shift in attitude toward the use of C & BI systems. As KLAS’ Van de Graf noted, they’re no longer luxuries, but essential tools in today’s ever-changing and always-challenging healthcare environment.
In looking at trends from then-to-now, we see that the embedded solutions of EMR systems are only as good as the data within them. If they don’t rank high on the scale of interoperability, and are unable to aggregate and integrate the tsunami of data from patient-generated and mhealth sources—then patients will yet again be cared for in silos, unable to benefit from what Big Data truly has to offer to improve their care.
Snoozers are Losers
So, the bottom line is that vendors and healthcare organizations have apparently been snoozing over the past year, as Big Data has infiltrated the ranks of “must haves” for patient care quality and business success.
Since the urgencies of Meaningful Use deadlines have been taking center stage during this time, it’s no wonder many organizations are about to be caught with their proverbial pants down—unprepared to deal with the coming onslaught of needs that only effective business intelligence and clinical analytics systems can provide.
In the midst of MU-weariness, the view of the trees has overtaken the view of the forest—since it’s well-known that the very definition of Big Data infers the use of information from many sources.
The tired approach of sticking with embedded C&BI solutions within EHRs that may not be interoperable, and using data warehoused within when essential data may be located without—does little to serve Big Data’s hirer potential.
And the fact that “respondents indicated they are less inclined to purchase a best of breed C&BI solution due to satisfaction with tools currently in place”? That sentiment will quickly change as competitors implement top shelf solutions that provide a long leg up in the market.
The irony is that even with all of the money poured into interoperability efforts—which has undoubtedly been a distracting factor contributing to our currently ill-prepared Big Data state—this key ingredient for optimized success has been a dismal failure.
The very vendors who have held providers captive with software that doesn’t play well with others may again contribute to their inability to apply reliable C&BI solutions that are dependent upon optimized data exchange as the oil that makes the analytics engine hum. And if we think there’s been a proprietary stick in the cog of interoperability’s wheel of success—just wait until the wagons begin to circle around the coveted treasures of analytics—the golden brush to groom Big Data’s cash cow.
In today’s healthcare environment, there are no laurels to rest on. They’ve been permanently booted from the landscape, and those who recognize that agility is the name of the game will do best in this rapidly-changing world. In that context, the ability to optimize Big Data for a variety of purposes will increasingly be a foundational component of patient care and business success. I think Ryan Beckland, CEO and Co-founder of Validic summed it up best for nuviun:
“The healthcare industry is undergoing an undeniable and significant transformation. Healthcare reform, value-based reimbursement models, Big Data, population health management, patient engagement, telehealth, patient health device usage, and additional factors have contributed to a major shift in the dynamics of the healthcare landscape…As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, there certainly will not be a shortage of data. Patient Data is the new currency of this health care marketplace. Those companies that understand this, look for ways to access this data and actively translate it to better patient outcomes will thrive.”
The Paradigm Shifts
Finding a way to make the most of Big Data is going to be a challenge for healthcare. Though other industries have been doing it for some time, it’s unfamiliar territory here—due to a number of complex issues—like patient consent and privacy regulations.
But leaning on complexity as an excuse for lack of execution won’t cut it—since out-of-the box thinkers will create a paradigm shift, forming new types of partnerships with those who can help them most. After all, IBM is already here, and with the recent buzz about the entry of tech giants such as Apple, Google, and perhaps Amazon into the healthcare space, some distinct possibilities do exist.
That’s not say that the giants will reign—but in some iteration, they may be best suited to do so. Certainly, no one can cite Google or Amazon for lack of analytical expertise.
However, vendors who will fill the ticket for healthcare’s Big Data needs must be able to combine solid BI and analytics experience, understand and deal with the idiosyncrasies of healthcare’s regulatory environment, possess clinical knowledge about what types of data matter most, and have the technical expertise to access and use it.
From all appearances, such a player doesn’t currently exist. However, we needn’t expect that to last for long. What we’ve seen is that if companies like Google want to enter a space they feel ill-prepared for, they just hire experts as needed—or, as we say in healthcare—hire prn. If that’s the case, the best indication for who’s set to fill healthcare’s big BI vendor gap might be reflected by new-hire titles quietly gathering under a tech giant’s roof.