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Harnessing Big Data in the Healthcare Industry

Posted by Colleen Balda on Dec 4, 2017 1:48:50 PM

Big data has become a hot topic. Yet, companies are all over the map in terms of understanding what big data is and how they can harness it to optimize their business processes and innovate within target markets. Big data adoption follows a classic maturity curve. After seeing specific and measurable benefits realized by early adopters, an increasing number of companies want to put big data to work, and those in the healthcare industry are no exception. The problem is they don’t know how.

The future impact of big data remains to be seen. What we know today is that big data allows for more accurate analyses that empower more confident and strategic decision making. Better decision-making means developing greater process efficiencies, cost savings, and risk reductions.

With so much technology available, it’s a common mistake for healthcare companies to acquire shiny new applications and expect a miracle transformation within their business. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Here’s how to get your healthcare clients started:

Start small and ask basic questions

To get the most out of big data, it’s important to start small. Attempting to tackle a variety of complex issues by throwing technology at the data is a common mistake that wastes time and resources. The process of seeking answers can devolve into drudgery, and nothing seems to get accomplished.

In the beginning, it helps to give your customer a clear understanding of what data is available and how they can use it. Start by asking some basic questions in very specific areas of the client’s business that have a high value. Your client will find that the answers to those questions can yield a high return.

For many healthcare providers, a major issue is readmissions. Under the Affordable Care Act, providers get penalized for Medicare reimbursements when there are excess preventable readmissions. The greater the readmissions, the lower the reimbursement.

These Medicare regulations are intended to give healthcare providers an incentive to lower preventable readmissions by improving care coordination and, as a result, to reduce unnecessary spending. Because this is a very specific issue that directly impacts a provider’s cash flow and reputation, it’s a perfect example of how the application of big data analysis can make a difference.

For many companies dealing with readmissions, basic questions would include:

  • How many readmissions are occurring over a period of time?
  • Where in my facility or facilities are my readmissions coming from?
  • What illnesses are resulting in the most readmissions?

Getting answers to these questions involves a specific type of data integration to produce specific sets of data. The process of obtaining these answers is well-defined and contained to avoid becoming a path to nowhere. The answers are extracted from the data and the problem is much closer to being solved. Once your customer has overcome this problem, you can move on to the next question.

Build capability and ask more complex questions

Obtaining answers to these basic questions can help your client build capacity from a technology, people, and processes standpoint.

With each question answered, the customer will be able to demonstrate the value of big data to their organization and broadening support for future initiatives and investments involving big data.

Tech Data can help you turn “IT speak” into “business speak” to help your healthcare customers discover how they can best use data to answer questions that will have the greatest impact on their organization.

To learn more about how Tech Data’s data analytics and IoT team can help you deliver true business value, visit the Knowledge Network or reach out to your Tech Data account representative.

Tags: Big Data, Analytics, Healthcare, Big Data and Analytics, Big Data Analytics