Population HealthToday, HIMSS Analytics and Dimensional Insight released some surprising new survey results about the state of clinical analytics at healthcare organizations. While most organizations say they are using analytics in clinical areas, reality shows that purely clinical projects are not a top focus area for most hospitals and health systems.

In fact, the survey revealed that only 1 in 5 healthcare organizations (21.6%) is using analytics for population health. What else did the survey reveal? Let’s take a look.

Purely clinical projects not a top focus area

For the survey, HIMSS Analytics surveyed 110 senior healthcare leaders about their use of analytics. 90% of respondents reported using analytics in clinical areas. However, the top analytical projects were not of a clinical nature.

As you can see in the graphic below, the top analytical projects are financial measures (58.1%) and care quality measures (56.8%). Those are followed by patient safety (32.4%), patient throughput (31.1%), and effectiveness of care (28.4%).

While many of these initiatives use clinical data in some way, they are generally more focused on improving processes that have financial implications as opposed to directly improving patient care.

More clinically focused projects including population health (21.6%) and chronic care management (10.8%) are not being widely used.

Population Health

Furthermore, among healthcare organizations that have not yet deployed analytics but plan to do so, only 31.8% say population health will be a top focus area. 60.9% say effectiveness of care will be a top focus area.

Clinicians less empowered to make decisions

In addition, the survey examined how different hospital staff are able to drive decisions through their use of analytics. The survey revealed clinical staff (physicians and nurses) were the least empowered group in the organization.

On a scale of 1 to 7 (1=extremely low, 7=extremely high), the average score of stakeholders to drive decisions through analytics was a 5.17. On the same scale, healthcare leaders rated clinical staff a 4.39 (15.1% lower than the average).

Population Health

What does this mean?

The survey seems to indicate that while hospitals and health systems have the best of intentions in using analytics for clinical purposes, financial and operational projects are probably easier to execute. That’s why business staff and leaders feel better able to drive decisions through analytics than clinical staff do.

The truly clinical projects – those which impact patient outcomes at the point of care – need to be driven by physician and nursing leaders. It’s hard to execute those projects when they are not built into the clinician workflow.

Population health, for all the talk about it, is still hard for healthcare organizations to wrap their arms around and truly make headway with.

Learn more

Our survey has more interesting details on the state of clinical analytics. Learn more by downloading our survey here.

HIMSS Analytics Survey Population Health

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Kathy Sucich

Kathy is director of healthcare marketing at Dimensional Insight. She graduated from Dartmouth College and is currently pursuing her MBA in health sector management at Boston University. Kathy is also communications chair for the Massachusetts chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).
Kathy Sucich
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