August 31 2016 | 0 Comments | 246 reads Average Rating: 3.4

Moving Beyond Big Data Paralysis

by Rose Higgins in Health Analytics

Just about everyone has at one time or another experienced brain freeze: That sudden stabbing pain in your forehead when eating ice cream or slurping up an ice-cold drink. More recently, though, many people have started to experience a different – but perhaps equally uncomfortable – type of brain freeze: The one where a deluge of information paralyzes your ability to make good decisions.

Such information paralysis has hit healthcare professionals hard, as the proliferation of available data tends to overwhelm. Information is everywhere, as nearly 97 percent of providers now capture data via an electronic health records (EHR) system.

As a result of this information overload, many healthcare professionals simply don’t know where to start. And, that hurts.

In fact, the pain is become even more pronounced as healthcare professionals realize that they must leverage all this data to succeed under value-based care and payment models that now are permeating the industry. Because healthcare organizations are reimbursed based on the outcomes achieved with patients under such models, making intelligent choices is an absolute imperative.

For instance, healthcare professionals need to continually assess whether services will actually deliver the desired long-term benefits to patients. So, they need to wrestle with questions such as “Will delivering this specific care make a measurable difference compared to taking an alternate care approach?” of “If an intervention is performed on someone who will continue to deteriorate rapidly anyway, will the care will improve quality of life? ”

To successfully answer these questions, healthcare pros need to rethink how they use analytics. As they strive to produce “value,” the need to leverage analytics is critical to determine exactly what effect certain actions will have on patients. Predictive analytics that incorporate population health management data and the patient's individual history, as well as behavioral and socioeconomic factors, can help clinicians and others make better decisions to ensure they are dedicating their limited resources where they can do the most good.

Indeed, when used correctly, analytics can help healthcare pros assess the value of potential actions in terms of measures such as:

* Impactability that shows which patients/members will benefit most from a particular plan of care or treatment. Such analysis enables organizations to focus their limited time and resources where they will do the most good while helping avoid costly futile care, i.e., care that will not change the outcome.

* Intervenability, which determines the patient/member’s willingness and ability to follow a plan of care. This is critical since a plan of care is absolutely no good unless it is followed.

Armed with an understanding of the individual’s impactability and intervenability, healthcare organizations can better determine how much of their limited care management resources to dedicate to a particular patient/member. In a value-based environment – especially one where the emphasis is shifting from providing acute care to promoting health and wellness – this is a must do for healthcare organizations, as they need to concentrate their efforts where they can actually change outcomes. And, using analytics in this manner might actually release some of the pressure in the temporal lobe to boot.

Can you think of any creative ways that you could immediately start using analytics to make a real difference in the delivery of care?


  • 1. Charles D, Gabriel M, Searcy T. Adoption of electronic health record systems among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals: 2008-2014. Available at: https://www.healthit. gov/sites/default/files/data-brief/2014Hospital AdoptionDataBrief.pdf.

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Rose Higgins
SVP & GM, Data and Analytics

With over 25 years in healthcare, Ms. Higgins brings considerable experience and expertise in working with both payers and providers in addressing the challenges of a changing healthcare landscape.

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