SIIM 2015: The narrative and navigation of healthcare analytics

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National Harbor, Md.— Gorkem Sevinc, manager of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center, stood in front of a white board in a room full of radiologists, administrators and medical IT professionals at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM), and asked the question: “What’s the most important thing to remember about analytics?”

One by one the attendees offered their answers—data, trends, outcomes, visualization, etc.—as Sevinc wrote them down on the board. When there were no more suggestions, he let them in on a secret: they were all wrong. “We’re missing the most critical part of analytics,” he told the packed room. “The story.”

What do you want to know? What do you want to accomplish? What kind of data do you have and how can you use it to create and implement new strategies? These are the questions hospitals need to address before they can tap into the power of analytics, according to Sevinc, which has the potential to revolutionize every aspect of the business and practice of medicine. For example:

Operations —Medical facilities can use analytical data to improve operations in myriad ways, including increased productivity, efficient resource management, human resources considerations, capacity planning and quality control.

Clinical —Analytics can be especially helpful in determining trends in readmissions, radiation and contrast dose, adverse outcomes, length of stay, imaging appropriateness, adherence to screening guidelines and general performance errors.

Financial —The business side of medicine is filled with mineable statistics that can be analyzed for patterns and used to make improvements, including revenue figures, cost of bundled services, accounts receivable, cash flow, schedule utilization, legal costs and insurance, and return-on-investment related to medical infrastructure.

Outcomes —The care and treatment of patients account for a huge portion of archived medical information, including data on mortality rates, quality of life, patient satisfaction and patient loyalty, all of which can be used to develop innovative programs and services to improve hospital performance and increase reimbursement.

With so much data and so much to consider, it can quickly become overwhelming for nonexperts, according to Sevinc. “This shows you how complicated analytics can get,” he told attendees. “The question is: How do you tie that in with the story of ‘why’ and use the data effectively?”

As hospitals continues to modernize and adapt to a culture of analytics utilization, the end of the story will ultimately depend on how well those within the healthcare industry answer this question.