healthcare analytics predictionsNow that the New Year is upon us, there is a lot of “looking forward” and prognosticating about what will happen (or not happen) in 2016. In the healthcare industry, 2016 will certainly be a dynamic year that will bring lots of new challenges and opportunities.

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Given continued innovation and increased regulation, providers are constantly adapting to the rapidly evolving environment. What is in store for the healthcare industry in the New Year? Though it is impossible to predict every challenge the industry will face, I can forecast three trends that will take healthcare by storm in 2016, which will all be enabled by analytics.

Prediction #1: Providers Will Focus on Improving Outcomes

One of the primary focuses of healthcare providers in 2016 will be on improving outcomes, with analytics shifting from straight reporting to enabling better outcomes. With the continued push toward quality-based payment, providers must decrease readmissions. According to industry projections, 90% of providers will have access to fully operational EHRs by 2019*. This represents a 3,000% expected increase in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. With all this new found data, the focus on improving outcomes will become increasingly technical.

With access to the EHRs of all patients, it will become easier to use predictive algorithms to identify patients at high risk for readmission before they leave the hospital and to address the risks appropriately. Already, many systems are using the LACE index as a simple means of identifying high-risk patients. As more data becomes available, the algorithms will increase in both complexity and predictive power, becoming an increasingly important part of improving the quality of care.

Prediction #2: Using Electronic Triggers to Reduce Harm

Another trend that is going to garner attention in 2016 is the increase in electronic triggers. Much like the increase in EHR analysis for outcome improvement, patient harm reduction is going to become increasingly automated, and can be done so through the use of analytics. Reactionary harm reduction processes that wait for adverse events to be reported before corrective action is taken are no longer enough. By using the EMR and electronically implementing the triggers provided by the IHI Global Trigger Tools, organizations can more rapidly identify risk of harm before it occurs.

Attendees at the 27th IHI National Forum in Orlando this year got to see firsthand how some healthcare systems were able to pick up on as many as 10 times as many adverse events using electronic triggers than with other “manual” systems used in the past. This increased event reporting allows for a more informed response. By identifying potential harm before a serious adverse event happens, it gives the system an opportunity to mitigate or even prevent future adverse events. When used effectively, triggers can help caregivers avoid problems before the potential for harm would even show up on the radar of traditional reporting solutions. In short, by using the EMR and near real-time data, hospitals will become “smarter” and more proactive rather than reactive. They will also become more efficient in the process.

Prediction #3: Population Management Goes Prime-Time

A third major trend providers will see in 2016 is a shift towards population management. A lot of people have talked about population management in the last couple of years, but in 2016, it will be the real deal.

Providers are moving away from a system of disjointed, one-size-fits-all care and trying to better understand their populations. With the increase in EHR accessibility and analytics use, providers will be able to leverage their data to gain insight into how to best treat specific populations. By understanding trends and variations in treatment and learning from what has been effective or not effective on a population level in the past, providers will be better equipped to risk-stratify their populations and plan courses of action based on evidence. The health system can account for differences in socioeconomic level, geographic location, age, and sex, among other factors. By understanding their patient population as a whole, coupled with the use of the EMR, health systems can improve patient engagement, care management, performance measurement, and reduce costs through prevention and improved outcomes.

A course of treatment that works for one person with a specific condition is not the best solution for everyone with that specific condition, and the healthcare community will be taking an increasingly data-driven approach to solving this problem in the future.

What are your healthcare analytics predictions for 2016?

Of course, there’s a lot more that will shape healthcare technology in the New Year. What do you think will be most important? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

*Data presented at 2015 IHI National Forum by Patricia Dyke and Doug Fridsma

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