Big Data, Predictive Analytics Priorities For Healthcare Organizations

Posted on August 16, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

Leveraging big data and healthcare analytics are key initiatives for C-suite healthcare executives, but barriers to making progress still remain, according to an item in iHealthBeat.

According to a survey by the eHealth Initiative and the College of Health Information Management Executives, about 80 percent of CIOs and other C-suite healthcare executives see big data and predictive analytics use as important goals for their organizations, iHealthBeat reports.

But it won’t come easy. In fact, 84 percent of respondents said that implementing these strategies and tools are a challenge for their organization. And only 45 percent said they had a plan in place to manage the growing volume of electronic data.

The survey, which questioned 102 executives in May and June, found that 90 percent of respondents used analytics for quality improvement, 90 percent used analytics for revenue cycle management, and 66 percent used analytics for fraud prevention. Also, 82 percent of survey respondents said that population health management is important to their analytic strategy.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of those responding said that health information exchange is important, according to iHealthBeat.

As for data sources, administrative- and claims-based data were most used, at 77 percent and 75 percent respectively. Eighteen percent of respondents’ staff were trained to handle the data, and 16 percent used third-party organizations to overcome staff shortages for data analysis.

Despite execs’ enthusiasm for big data/predictive analytics use, however, significant obstacles remain to rolling out such programs, iHealthBeat reports.  According to a separate CIC Advisory survey, budget strain and lack of needed skills is delaying the use of analytics at many healthcare organizations.

According to that survey, building an enterprise analytics system is held back by the difficulty of integrating different analytic systems. Moreover, most organizations don’t have a dedicated analytics or business intelligence team, and many rely on outside analytics consultants.

All of that being said, it seems guaranteed that hospitals and other healthcare organizations will eventually find a way to leverage big data. Healthcare organizations expect to keep ramping up their spending on data discovery and predictive analytics in coming months and years, research suggests.

In the mean time, however, there’s a ton of work to do, staff to be hired and trained and integration to be done. It’s going to be an uphill battle.