To combat the pressures from financial and service delivery perspective, healthcare executives need to make informed and rapid decisions to cut costs, streamline processes and cater to the needs of demanding customers. Informed and rapid decisions require aggregation and analysis of data from disparate systems within the enterprise and from across various entities in the eco system. This article looks at the opportunities available for software development companies and the accompanying challenges when handling the analytics requirements in the healthcare industry.
1. Reduced barriers to information sharing coupled with access to data across various entities in the healthcare system will lead to opportunities for software development services firms to provide analytics services for:
- Development of optimal treatment methods through comparative effectiveness research
- Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) improvement
- Clinical decision support systems
Software development companies can enable healthcare providers to deliver better quality healthcare at reduced costs through increased availability of clinical insights (by effectively leveraging the large amount of data for analytics)
Challenges: The key challenges to pursuing these opportunities would arise from the manner in which the various entities and regulators deal with data access and security requirements.
2. Better market segmentation: With regulations mandating insurance purchase by all citizens, software development companies can provide analytics services to organizations that would help provide focused offerings to the most attractive target segments and gain market share. Usage of data mining and analytics can help in predictive modeling, better risk evaluation and design of appropriate marketing campaigns to target the most profitable customers. This can help gain market share in a competitive market.
Challenges: Ability to store and secure confidential information that meets with compliance requirements
3. Empowering physicians to better understand patterns and abnormalities: Software development companies can build solutions that facilitate simultaneous analysis of unstructured data (clinical data from patient information) and predictive analytics to enable physicians administer the appropriate treatment. This would help healthcare organizations better understand patterns and exceptions.
Challenges: It would be challenging to analyze unstructured data as these would be present in patient forms and physician notes
4. Single view of enterprise: Data collected from EMRs, clinical department systems and back offices can be integrated into data warehouses to provide a single view of the enterprise. Various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are provided in the form of dashboards and reports from these data stores can help healthcare organizations to optimize clinical and operational performance. At a next level, this can also help organizations provide evidence based care and patient safety.
Challenges: Early involvement of business users to define the KPIs and possible integration challenges to obtain the data that resides in disparate systems besides issues pertaining to data quality
5. Engaging with patients: Intelligent use of patient related information (analytics) can help healthcare organizations engage meaningfully with patients by providing them with the information they need through the appropriate channel. Information can be provided with a call for action.
Challenges: While messages appear to be tailored, they may also reach the unintended audience. However, the possibility of being offended is less.
Using analytics, healthcare organizations can move away from being able to analyze historical data alone to being predictive about future outcomes. However, software development companies cannot adopt a one size fits all approach, but need to have tailored solutions to each entity in the domain. Emergence of clarity around the regulations combined with the pressure to lower costs and deliver quality healthcare will drive increasing adoption of analytics in this space.