The ability to accumulate data in the healthcare industry is enabling personalized medicine to improve treatment and reduce cost, but the massive amounts of data healthcare industries produce present new challenges. A study from Dallas’ NTT Data Services and Oxford economics sheds some light on dealing with data in healthcare.
Only a quarter of healthcare organizations have standardized their data well enough to allow it to be shared across the business. The sheer volume of data being generated can be daunting and only five percent of healthcare data is ingested and utilized, says Karen Way, health plan analytics and consulting practice lead with NTT Data. With data coming from sources as diverse as x-rays, electronic medical records, enrollment, billing, and customer relationships, it can be difficult to get the information in a uniform format so that it can be properly analyzed and connected. Federal pressure is helping diverse companies make their data interoperable, but challenges remain.
Innovative data analytics companies can help healthcare corporations by taking disparate data and creating a holistic and broad view of a member, analyzing demographic and health information from all the data inputs a patient may have, from blood sugar to zip code. This profile is valuable for a health insurance company or health system when caring for members and patients, allowing it to provide preventative care and catch problems earlier, reducing cost and improving quality.
The study also revealed that only five percent of companies surveyed feel prepared for regulatory changes in the healthcare industry. As companies made changes based on the Affordable Care Act, political changes have repealed aspects of the law and threaten to reverse the legislation, making those changes obsolete. “Data management for healthcare has been like the titanic; it doesn’t turn on a dime,” says Way.
Finally, the study revealed that only 35 percent of healthcare organizations are making hiring and retention changes to make sure their employees have the data analytics skills needed for tomorrow’s healthcare industry. Way says that healthcare executives find it difficult to staff and retain this type of talent because the technical knowledge is difficult to achieve. Other times, employees understand technology but don’t have familiarity with the business and aren’t able to apply their skills to a business solution.
To combat the problem, NTT Data has created a knowledge academy, where they help employees employ their skills between industries, allowing them to shift resources between projects, expanding their ability to reach different markets. If healthcare companies take the same attitude, they will be able to better analyze their own data, improving efficiency and performance.
“We need to make data management sexy,” Way says.