Four top trends in healthcare data analysis
By JY Pook April 21, 2015
- Hospitals need to properly understand and interpret their data
- Effective use of data analytics tools means empowering caregivers
HOSPITALS and healthcare service providers worldwide are focusing on using data to improve efficiency and provide better medical care to patients.
Innovations such as centralised record-keeping systems allow clinics and hospital networks to access and share treatment records such as diagnoses, treatment plans, scans and test results, so that doctors can better assess each case.
Data is also utilised in hospital administration to schedule equipment maintenance and upkeep, plan staff schedules, etc.
Hospitals also tap on patient satisfaction survey data to improve quality of service and track the progress of current initiatives.
The amount of data being gathered and shared within a hospital can be massive. Hospitals need to properly understand and interpret their data in order to make effective decisions that can improve quality of care and best manage resources.
Here is how you can leverage on the four top trends in healthcare data analysis today:
1) Implement dashboards on hospital floors
Hospitals want to provide patients with a positive experience, and offering efficient and effective care is crucial. One way to improve patient experience is minimising waiting time, and making effective use of time during the patient’s stay or visit to a hospital.
Hospitals can optimise the flow of patients through their hospital systems by providing select staff – doctors, nurses, administrators and shift coordinators – with secure access to dashboards.
These dashboards can offer the staff with access to real-time data, number of patients coming in through A&E (accidents and emergencies), waiting time at triage, bed availability in the wards, and the queue at the pharmacy.
These dashboards can also be assigned based on user profiles so that assignment or role-based views can be set. This helps to provide useful information to the right staff and manage appropriate access to private health information.
All this real-time information allows hospital staff to determine bottlenecks and assign resources accordingly to reduce waiting times.
These dashboards can also give doctors or nurses secure access to a patient’s information, allowing them to quickly assess the patient and make better informed decisions, and make treatment plans based on the patient’s medical history.
2) Finding a ‘single source of truth’
Data collected across the hospital can come from multiple sources. For example, a hospital’s financial data may be on sitting in one platform while its medical inventory data on another.
This means that hospital staff will need to access different platforms in order to access the information.
It would be much more effective if hospitals are to adopt a single business intelligence and data analytics solution that allows users to blend the data coming from different sources.
This way, they can merge the data and conclude at a ‘single source of truth.’ This approach allows all key decision-makers to base their decisions on a centralised platform where all crucial information is available.
The standardisation also means that staff need only be trained on the use of business intelligence tool.
Additionally, it is important for hospitals to choose a platform that is easy to learn and use, as staff will have varying skill level and technological competency.
3) Centre on the patient
Taking a patient-centered view can help doctors and medical care professionals to better coordinate care. This leads to reduced costs, improved quality of care and better outcomes.
One way to do this is to provide staff with a visual dashboard that can offer fast insights into a patient’s previous treatment records and medical history. Data analytics tools can also be used to provide medical staff with information on similar cases, treatment plans and outcomes, or any other information that can help them determine the best course of action.
Such a system would require a business intelligence solution that can access disparate data, often from varying sources, without writing back to the original source.
Medical data can be complex and varied. Imagine accessing data like CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, prescription medicine, blood test results, surgery outcomes, etc. all from a single system.
It is important to select an analytics tool that can quickly absorb high-level information, while also providing the option of accessing more detailed data.
4) Embrace healthcare’s social side
Social medicine is the new frontier in healthcare. Today, patients are increasingly expecting to interact with their care providers on their social platform of choice.
For healthcare service providers, social media is another channel where they need to pay attention to if they want to enhance patient experience. It is also a cost-effective way to help improve patients’ experience and their impression of the hospital.
Social media is especially useful for behavioural health applications, such as encouraging people to lead an active lifestyle and keep to healthy diet habits.
For example, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and other hospitals in Singapore have been actively encouraging people to lead a healthy lifestyle, promoting healthcare forums that they are organising, etc. on their Facebook pages.
Interactions over social media can offer healthcare service providers with valuable data that helps them gain insights into patients and the public’s health concerns and challenges.
Healthcare service providers can tap on social media to conduct surveys, get feedback, and better understand their target audience. They can then use this information to schedule relevant posts or tweets to address specific issues or queries.
Healthcare service providers can select an analytics solution that can link to social media data with transactional data already stored in the system to identify the most influential channels. The solution should be able to aggregate and extract data when it makes sense for more efficient analysis.
A flexible tool with a robust roadmap and strong commitment to improvement is also important as social media landscape is probably one of the fastest changing one, and a popular platform today may be abandoned by users in a matter of months.
The right analytics tool also means one that can adapt to change fast.
The use of data analytics will become even more prevalent in the healthcare industry as service providers continue to drive towards efficient operations, patient satisfaction and quality care.
It is important for hospitals to select suitable data analytic platforms that can best suit their requirements.
Effective use of data analytics tools means empowering caregivers. It also means taking a data-backed, fact based approach to medical and patient care.
JY Pook is Asia Pacific vice president at Tableau Software.
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