Few Healthcare Organizations Make Best Use Of Analytics Capabilities

According to a survey published in November, cybersecurity, telehealth and the potential for competition from big tech companies were the biggest concerns occupying the minds of health leaders, with 87% of respondents stating that they expected to boost cybersecurity spending this year.

Given these concerns, I suppose the results of a new survey looking at the use of analytics in healthcare organizations shouldn’t surprise me. The survey, which was conducted by HIMSS Analytics and sponsored by Dimensional Insight, suggests that health leaders are far less focused on analytics than one might think.

To get a sense of where health organizations’ tech strategies are focused at present, HIMSS Analytics spoke with 110 senior healthcare leaders about their analytics activities, strategies and plans.

The survey found that analytics were being used most often in clinical areas (90%), followed by finance (85.5%) and operations (77.3%).  Responding organizations said are using an average of just under four analytics tools, with one in six having 10 or more analytics solutions in use across their system.

That being said, other data suggests that health leaders haven’t fully embraced the use of these tools yet.

For example, one key finding called out by HIMSS was that many healthcare entities are just getting rolling with their analytics efforts. Nearly all (92.7%) of organizations reported having an analytics strategy, but less than one-third had been executing on that strategy for an extended length of time.

The survey also found dashboards aren’t being used often by many health leaders. Researchers found that while about two-thirds of healthcare organizations have an executive dashboard in place to support strategic decision-making, just one-third of those organizations use the dashboard every day — or in other words, less than 1 in 4 healthcare execs. Almost 19% of respondents use dashboards once a week, 13.5% once a month and 2.7% once a quarter.

Meanwhile, only 24.3% of healthcare organizations reported being able to leverage analytics throughout an entire multi-hospital system. The majority of organizations (58.6%) use analytics made available through their executive dashboard to support decisions made regarding departments or single hospitals within a system.

Taken as a whole, these statistics raise important questions about healthcare organizations’ ability to plan for the future. While running defense on cybersecurity issues, looking at telemedicine opportunities and keeping an on big tech firms makes sense for healthcare organizations, I’d argue that it’s the smart use of analytics tools will prove even more important over time. There will come a time (if it hasn’t already) when using analytics tools will be a make-or-break part of healthcare operations, and if your organization isn’t running a smart analytics program it’s already overdue.

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.