We’ve discussed in previous blogs the sheer volume of data that is available to – and underutilized by – healthcare organizations. However, this wealth of customer information can (and should) be used by health systems to build and foster customer and patient relationships, with the ultimate goal of optimizing business, marketing, and clinical outcomes.
In order for key healthcare players to truly engage their customers and create a unique, intimate experience on a large scale, they must take advantage of and contextualize “big data analytics.”
1. What is Big Data Analytics?
By 2020, the amount of information stored worldwide will equal 44 zettabytes. This number is unfathomable to most, and rightly so – it is 50 times larger than the amount stored today.
Big data analytics in healthcare is the process of dynamically deriving patterns and insights from consumer and patient data and using that information to make better healthcare decisions.
The challenges with data – volume, velocity, variety, veracity, and value – should not be taken lightly. Sorting through 44 zettabytes of data is expensive and resource insensitive: this is the issue of volume. Healthcare professionals must address the problem that data has a shelf life, and it will only be relevant if it’s used before it expires.
The incredible variety of data is also a potential challenge: with so many formats of information (audio, video, image) it can be difficult to choose which form is most applicable. Some data also might not be accurate, or trustworthy.
Last is the issue of value, or data could have been useful, but was overlooked. It takes time, effort, and skill to overcome these challenges to find and utilize data points that are valuable, but it is a crucial process for healthcare organizations hoping to create more intimate consumer and patient relationships.
2. What is Analytics’ Value in Healthcare?
Most data has the potential for value. Though it might not have an immediate impact on revenue, any process that nurtures the intimate patient-physician relationship – will have a tremendous impact in the long run.
Take, for example, patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses. As of now, this segment of patients accounts for 78 percent of all healthcare spending, 81 percent of inpatient stays, 91 percent of prescriptions, 76 percent of physical visits, and 98 percent of home healthcare visits.
That’s a tremendous amount of resources dedicated to the care of patients with chronic illnesses, yet there is an immense problem of non-adherence that isn’t being addressed: 24 percent of total prescriptions, 65 percent of pain medications, and 31 percent of prescriptions for chronic conditions are never filled. This non-adherence has had dire consequences: 125,000 deaths per year, and an 80 percent higher rate of additional heart attacks for heart attack survivors.
To combat this, healthcare professions can leverage big data. Clinicians can pinpoint individuals who have a chronic illness, why they should contact them based on anticipated and predicted needs, what issues they might have with their current care, and how to craft their message so it’s relevant to that specific person. This opportunity exists outside of chronic illness, too – so long as a healthcare professional identifies who needs attention, what their issues may be, and how to craft a message that’s relevant to the patient.
Ultimately, the goal of leveraging patient data is to anticipate a patient issue before it occurs and be able to deliver a resolution or message through the preferred channel of communication.
3. What is Analytics’ Role in Engagement?
Clinicians choose their career path because they feel passionate about their patients’ health and wellness, but many feel frustrated because time pressures are not conducive for a flourishing and evolving relationship with their patients.
The average person only spends 90 minutes per year in healthcare settings, which means the data collected by clinicians and healthcare professionals through an EMR and health risk assessment is not enough to fully engage patients. That’s where consumer data comes in, via social data, demographics, buying habits, and customer satisfaction surveys. Having a working knowledge of both EMRs and more personal patient information can better inform clinicians about current or potential patients.
With the help of personal information, healthcare professionals can predict a patient’s future issues and deliver messages however and wherever they are most relevant to that individual. For example, patients might want this message to be delivered through mobile or online, and reach them either at home or in a healthcare office.
With the help of analytics technology and CRM software like Evariant’s, this information can be integrated from a huge number of patients’ EMRs and consumer data sources to paint a rich picture of the individual. Clinicians can then use this already-aggregated information to tailor a personalization plan or a patient profile. If they’ve done their research on consumers and patients, they can anticipate patients’ needs and be ready to engage with them wherever they are – whether it’s at home, online, in the hospital or in primary care.
4. Advice For Your Journey
There are so many opportunities to use data analytics in healthcare, but it can be daunting to know where and how your business can benefit without getting caught up in the swell of information.
If your health system is just scratching the surface of big data, be practical. Choose something easily measured, such as lives saved, patients added, remissions avoided, or mortality rates improved. Ask yourself what questions you are trying to answer with the data. This will help narrow the focus of your campaign planning. Ideally, choose something to measure that has an impact on your business priorities, whether it’s patient experience, growth, safety, or satisfaction.
The world of data analytics is a marathon, and your business won’t suddenly become innovators in analytics overnight. Instead, view your engagement with analytics as a continuous lifecycle that begins with acquiring and integrating data and continues with updating patient profiles, assessing risks, identifying gaps in care, and personalizing an engagement plan. Following these steps, plan to automate outreach campaigns so they will be most effective on a large scale and afterward measure the impact of these campaigns. Finally, it’s important to assess the success, or failure, of said campaign and start again with new data.
Big data has huge potential to positively impact the healthcare industry if utilized effectively. With the help of analytics software, healthcare professionals are able to aggregate patient data from both EMRs and consumer sources. This wealth of data then allows clinicians to address or anticipate existing or future patient problems, which fosters a close relationship between patient and physician.
Ultimately, investing in data aggregation and integration software will benefit the infrastructure of a healthcare business. Physicians are better informed to do their work and reach out to patients in meaningful ways, and fostering intimate relationships with patients will mean a healthcare business is more relevant and competitive in the long run.
For a more in-depth view of how to use big data in the healthcare setting, check out our webinar, “How We Use Big Data Analytics to Create Customer and Patient Intimacy.”