ACOs Want Advanced Analytics, Data Warehousing, But Are They Ready?

ACOs are gunning to acquire advanced analytics tools and data warehousing capabilities, according to a report in iHealthBeat.  This conclusion comes from a new report from IDC Health Insights, which did a May 2012 survey of 40 hospitals and health insurance companies plus interviews with vendors and industry talking heads.

As part of the survey, IDC asked about ACOs’ top investment priorities, and found 50 percent most want advanced analytics capabilities, while 46 percent cited data warehousing.

The report also noted that ACO-involved entities are picking up analytics capabilities by acquiring infrastructure and software, as well as bringing informatics and data analysis experts on staff.

When asked what kind of information they’d like to review using analytics, they stated the following, according to iHealthBeat:

  • 73% of survey respondents cited clinical structured data
  • 70% cited care management data
  • 57% cited claims data
  • 42% cited data from mobile devices
  • 32% cited data from social media sources
  • 29% cited unstructured clinical data

And when asked what functions they’d put the analytics data to use on, they responded as follows, iHealthBeat said:

  • 66% of survey respondents cited identifying at-risk patients
  • 64% cited tracking clinical outcomes
  • 57% cited clinical decision-making at the point of care

All that being said, it’s not clear that the ACO participants know how to put these visions into action, argues John Moore of Chilmark Research. In a post-HIMSS wrap-up, Moore argues that the market for healthcare analytics tools is “hyped beyond imagination,” and that beyond the hype, many providers are actually clueless as to what they want from analytics.

At HIMSS, he says,  he found a “very immature” buyers’ market in which providers aren’t even sure what they’re asking for in analytics, or why they need these tools in the first place. In fact, Moore notes, he talked to many vendors who have stopped responding to “horrible” RFPs which suggest that institutions aren’t at all ready to pursue an analytics solution.

This wouldn’t be the first time that the hype factor exceeded the industry’s actual understanding of a product or technology.  But buying analytics tools before you have a clue how to use them is a particularly serious financial and strategic mistake, wouldn’t you say?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • So if I understand this correctly, what you are saying is those setting up ACOs are actually going to run them like a business?

    I believe that in order for an ACO to succeed, it must maximize efficiency, and a great way to do that is to maximize the data analysis.

    Data warehousing and data analytics are like peanut butter and chocolate – alone they are nice, but together they are great.

    Whether at the hospital level or ACO level you are going to see advancements in EHR capabilities and user interface. That doesn’t happen at the practice level because everyone is still just trying to tread water.

  • It sounded to me like the point of the article was that ACOs want to run like a data driven business, but may not yet have the skills to properly know what to ask for and structure the effort properly.

    We have seen some of this on a broader scale in terms of wanting and making the initial investments in new applications of various flavors on old IT infrastructures and networks that can’t deliver the experiences everyone is used to getting from the consumer internet companies. The incentives are set up to reward application investments, but those investments cannot be made in a vaccum.

    Disclosure: I work for Juniper Networks where we help solve the network and security part of the equation for a growing number of providers.

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