Thanks in part to the increase in data analytics tools, we’ve seen an explosion of new healthcare data. In fact, the volume of big data in healthcare will surpass finance, media, and manufacturing via compound annual growth of 36% through 2025.
But here’s the truth: Most of that data won’t help your healthcare business.
Nearly 80% of clinical information in electronic health records (EHRs) is unstructured. This puts physicians in a catch-22: Converting data into a “structured” format would make it available for analysis. Unfortunately, structuring data would also cause physicians to lose a lot of nuance with their patients, which could impede the quality of care they provide.
Despite this challenge, more healthcare delivery businesses will use big data analytics for healthcare. Gartner research (available to clients) says technology enhancements in core applications will boost the quality of EHRs, revenue cycle management, and population health management. This is good news since Stanford Medicine predicts that healthcare data will produce 2,314 exabytes by 2020.
But that left us wondering: How do businesses use big data analytics for healthcare today?
The state of big data analytics for healthcare
GetApp surveyed nearly 500 leaders at small and midsize businesses. (You can learn more in our methodology section.) We learned that healthcare:
- Has the highest utilization rate of data.
- Reports wanting more customer satisfaction scores.
- Has the lowest levels of confidence when it comes to making decisions based on data.
As part of our survey, we asked respondents from five sectors how much of their data goes unused. Within the healthcare sector, 25% of respondents said that less than 10% of total data goes unused:
However, we also asked respondents which part of the data analysis process makes them feel the least confident. Those working in healthcare had the most trouble collecting relevant data:
These responses show that although healthcare professionals use most of the data produced, they struggle to collect relevant data. This is a huge roadblock to making key decisions based on data.
Forty-two percent of healthcare professionals said they want more customer satisfaction scores before using data to make decisions. At first glance, they should have a lot to work with: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have required healthcare providers to collect data through Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys for more than a decade.
However, our survey’s results reinforce prior research on healthcare data collection. Last year, a report from Chilmark Research found that the time gap between conducting surveys and sending results to providers is too long. It said that Chief Experience Officers (CXOs) increasingly need real-time data about patient sentiment to improve experience prior to discharge.
How to improve
Today’s hospitals aren’t unfamiliar with software: Business Insider predicts that up to 80% of doctors will work at facilities with EHR systems by the end of 2019. This is a huge jump from 2008, when just 9% of non-federal acute care hospitals had EHRs. The problem is that EHRs often hurt more than they help.
In a 2018 survey of 15,000 U.S. physicians, 56% cited “Too many bureaucratic tasks” as the reason for their burnout. Poor user interfaces play big role here: EHRs provide the opposite of real-time analytics, often hiding patient details within interfaces that should’ve stayed in the ’90s.
Our survey shows a gap between what healthcare providers need and the features that their systems lack. Luckily, there are some steps that healthcare providers can take on their teams:
- Involve your physicians in the search for EHRs. Vince Vickers of KPMG’s healthcare practice cites unintuitive workflows as the main barrier to EHR adoption. To avoid this, ask for physicians’ advice on clinical documentation, CPOE, and CDS.
- Shop for EHRs with real-time analytics. Unless EHRs display real-time patient data, they’ll keep giving users irrelevant details.
- Look for practice management and patient portal software that integrate with your EHR. A 2016 survey found that 50% of surveyed IT leaders at healthcare provider companies planned on moving their EHRs to the cloud. If your EHR lacks crucial features, you can search for other tools that have them and integrate these products.
In April 2019, GetApp used Amazon Mechanical Turk to survey 488 business leaders in the U.S. Respondents were required to be self-employed, employed part-time, or employed full-time to take the survey. Respondents also had to work in a business with 500 or fewer employees. They worked in one of five verticals: Accounting/finance, healthcare/medical professional, IT/tech, marketing, or sales. Of the 488 qualified responses, 36 came from those in the healthcare/medical profession.