Only a small percentage of healthcare organizations use a software platform with AI capability, but potential for strong growth exists within the next three years.
Healthcare analytics is evolving from analyzing what has happened (descriptive) to anticipating what will happen given past data (predictive) and, in its most powerful iteration to date, expecting what will happen plus providing proactive solutions based on those predictions (prescriptive).
So, what comes next?
The next step in this evolutionary process is the application of artificial intelligence to healthcare data to help providers make the most effective decisions possible, both financially and clinically.
While AI is still in its early stages and has yet to be fully embraced by healthcare leaders, many believe that AI offers tremendous potential for analyzing the vast amount of data generated by the industry.
Only 14% of respondents say that their organizations use a software platform that provides an artificial intelligence capability, according to respondents in the 2017 HealthLeaders Media Analytics in Healthcare Survey.
However, 35% of respondents say they don’t currently have this capability but plan to within the next three years, indicating that there is potential for growth. That said, AI is not for everyone, and 35% of respondents say that their organization does not plan to have this capability.
A fairly large share, 17%, don’t yet know how their organization will proceed.
Survey respondents also say that the three most promising areas for analytics development in general are clinical best practices (56%), real-time delivery of actionable information (54%), and population health data (47%).
Steve Hess, chief information officer at UCHealth, an integrated health system serving the Colorado area that includes seven hospitals, 1,620 hospital beds, and more than 17,000 employees, says that the difficulty today is not access to data or having enough tools to analyze it—far from it; the real challenge is not having the time to extract analytical value from the data.
"We don't have a shortage of data. We don't have a shortage of dashboards. We have plenty of tools. What we don't have is plenty of time to analyze all of that data. Prescriptive analytics are what the healthcare industry needs to move the needle."
Clearly, the solution is not more tools, but more intelligent ones.
Jonathan Bees is a research analyst for HealthLeaders.