The healthcare industry has long been a pioneer in adopting new technology, but how has embracing analytics improved the sector? Let's take a look.
How is data analytics changing the world? Look no further than the healthcare industry, which has embraced analytics with a fervour that sets the tone for how the world's biggest and most important sectors should treat innovation. And it's hardly surprising - healthcare has always provided a home to new technologies, staying at the cutting edge to ensure patients receive the very best care possible.
Now, analytics is improving the healthcare system in a variety of ways, from the experiences that patients receive through to the ways hospitals and other organisations manage their equipment and staff. But how exactly is analytics benefiting healthcare, and what are some ways that the impact of analytics can be seen?
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The benefits of analytics in healthcare
The impact of analytics in healthcare can be boiled down to one relatively simple point - prevention is better than cure. This applies just as well to treating illnesses as it does to the smooth running of a healthcare business, where the ailments may be fraud or inefficiency.
"The drive now is to understand as much about a patient as possible, as early in their life as possible"
Of course, while analytics can be a valuable tool for improving a healthcare company's bottom line, the real excitement comes from the ways that innovation can improve quality of life and prevent sickness. The secret to this? Collecting data about a patient and using it to make better decisions. Here's how Forbes breaks the methodology down:
"With the world's population increasing and everyone living longer, models of treatment delivery are rapidly changing, and many of the decisions behind those changes are being driven by data. The drive now is to understand as much about a patient as possible, as early in their life as possible - hopefully picking up warning signs of serious illness at an early enough stage that treatment is far more simple (and less expensive) than if it had not been spotted until later."
So, we know that analytics can benefit patients and the businesses that serve them, but just how are these new methods presenting themselves within the medical system? Here are four examples:
1. Providing more patient-centric care
The concept of patient-centric care delivery has been around for a while now, but analytics has made it possible to use information that takes things even further. Dr. Linda Harpole, Chief Medical Officer at SAS, explained to the Huffington Post that this data can come from all sorts of different places, stating that:
"Wearable devices like fitness trackers, for example, have become the norm, recording one's activity and biometric information like heart rate. Remote patient monitoring and telehealth have become more prevalent, giving rise to much more patient-generated data. Less conventional data sources include narrative descriptions of symptoms patients might share via social media."
By gathering data about a patient's physical health, it's possible to better diagnose medical conditions or illnesses. Just think of all the biometric information that a device like a Fitbit records, and how valuable that can be when it comes to providing treatment that puts an individual at the centre of the process.
2. Identifying problems before they arise
The healthcare industry is also turning to predictive analytics, making it possible to identify the spread of a disease and act preemptively. For a great example of how this has worked in action, look no further than the significant Ebola outbreak of 2014.
Analytics was used to map the disease's spread through populations, as well as movement patterns and reports of outbreaks. All of this data made it possible to identify the areas at most risk, and to coordinate response forces and containment measures. While still a devastating outbreak, it was the deployment of analytics that played a vital role in preventing the disease from spreading further than it did.
Analytics makes it possible to analyse large volume of historic information and identify any patterns or anomalies.
3. Preventing fraud and waste
Aside from the delivery of care to patients, analytics can also be used to improve operations in healthcare organisations - both financially and in terms of productivity. Two great examples of this are in preventing fraud and eliminating waste.
With fraud or waste, analytics makes it possible to analyse large volumes of historic information and identify any patterns or anomalies to quickly resolve the underlying problems. The results of this are more productivity, and often a better bottom line, allowing for more money to be reinvested into other aspects of patient care such as better equipment or more staff.
4. Ensuring equipment consistency
Predictive analytics is a great tool for preempting the spread of a disease, but it can also be used as part of a predictive maintenance approach within a hospital or other medical facility. Keeping equipment in operating condition is vital in healthcare, and sudden or unexpected breakdowns can result in significant delays - even potentially endangering patients who don't have access to the diagnostics or treatment they need.
These four benefits of analytics to healthcare businesses are just the tip of the iceberg. With new innovations happening every day, the industry remains a pioneer in analytics and a shining light of what can be achieved by embracing new technologies. For more information on how SAS can improve your business and the service you offer to customers, get in touch today.