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Providers' Underuse of Analytics Could Be Costing Health Care Consumers Billions of Dollars

​​​​​The health care analytics market is soaring, exceeding $14 billion spent in 2019 and anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 23.5% to $40 billion by 2024. With the recent explosion of various analytics applications and models implemented, 95% of hospitals and physician group leaders have access to supportive decision-making tools, sharply up from 63% in 2016.

Yet according to a recent industry survey, utilization of advanced analytics for key decision-making and strategic planning is self-reported as "negligible" by eight in 10 surveyed health care managers. 

“Besides occasional dashboard viewing, postimplementation analytics and business intelligence software and services go greatly underutilized, particularly observed in the survey responses from financially under-performing hospitals in 2019,” says Doug Brown, president of Black Book.

Eighty-four percent of respondent C-suite officers and board members polled only use analytics "to a limited or minimal extent to generate commercial or outcome insights,” according to the Black Book Research survey of 748 providers organizations.

In total, 3,190 implemented users of descriptive, predictive, cognitive, and prescriptive analytics responded to the poll including financial, operational, informational, and clinical users from health systems, hospitals, medical groups, ambulatory settings, and ancillaries.

“The accessibility of integrated data and the surge of new technologies, which empower providers to analyze data more comprehensively, allow every health care manager to make strategic decisions and costs implications and measure goal progress analytics,” Brown says.

Sixty-five percent of hospital system managers surveyed that have analytics applications available to them state they dismissed using advanced analytics in the past 12 months due to a lack of strategic direction, absence of internal data scientists, financial resources, and/or a lack of reinforced training.

But among health systems CFOs with implemented analytics and decision support programs, only 15% report any meaningful utilization in financial forecasting and strategic planning, and 6% claim the health system overbought BI tools in retrospect without budgeting related consultant advisories, training, and/or analyst staff to accomplish more.

Conversely, 93% of hospital and physician financial executives believe exploring new ways to use data analytics is critical to meeting the demands of value-based reimbursement and health care consumerism.

Black Book surmises that 67% of all payer data and 90% of all data within a provider enterprise goes unused for advanced analytics, despite the fact that more vendors in the industry are promoting products and services offering immediate ROI of big data and using technologies to capture even more data from external sources.

Seventy-eight percent of staff-level respondents report that their leaders are merely using superficial analyses to retroactively justify decisions they have already made. Less than 4% of analysts surveyed state that data gathered on forecasting and strategic planning is used by hospital C suites proactively.

Profitable provider organizations appear to understand the power of analytics better than hospitals with negative margins. Black Book identified 66 hospitals that employ chief innovation executives in Q4 2019 where analytics programming and executive education have been prioritized. Eighty-nine percent of the 66 health systems with innovation officers confirm that big data is actively being used in informed decision-making, up from just 13% in 2015. Ninety-seven percent of health systems with chief innovation officers also operated with positive operating margins in 2019. Only two in 66 of the health systems with chief innovation officers underperformed in the last fiscal year, but both of those systems improved financially from the previous year.

“What does that say about all the rest of the nation’s C-suites that have no innovation leader and are not making strategic decisions that rely on advanced analytics?” Brown asks.

Most health care managers confirm its difficult to fully embrace complex analytics when they are not sure how they can benefit the organization or community. “The learning curve of chief information officers to clearly communicate the value of business analytics and assure comprehensive, managerial training is still falling short in most hospital systems,” Brown says. Only 2% of all C-suite respondents reported they are budgeting and recruiting data scientists with health care expertise in 2020.

“Because analytics need to be customized for each hospital or medical group business problem, analytics are often seen as complicated and time-consuming,” Brown says. ‘Besides formal training, online tutorials, and advanced one-on-one training, provider organization managers often need ongoing support such as an analyst forum or community of interest that they can turn to with questions about tool functionality and techniques when they have no internal support from their internal IT leadership.”

CIOs also confirmed that unskilled analytics program users can also get quickly over their heads when sourcing complicated operational data with integrated information sources, obscure column names, unclear business rules and table dependencies, costing IT department bottlenecks with time- and skill-intensive work requests. Ninety-two percent of surveyed executives state their casual use contributed to the fact they forget how to use self-service analytics tools and 71% said they are too busy to learn.

Other Findings
Seventy-seven percent of health systems lack a clear, integrated analytics strategy from their CIO or other accountable data office.

Ninety-six percent of departmental clinical managers with access to implemented analytics programs reported limited to no daily utilization, as opposed to 50% of financial managers.

Eighty-nine percent of hospital C-suite and board respondents confirm the intended financial investment of more analytics software and services in 2020.

Seventy-six percent of positive margin health systems will be seeking the advisement of consultant firms to create or update a comprehensive strategy to direct their teams on the application of value-based care, population health, and revenue cycle processes into an effective analytics governance model in 2020, as opposed to 14% of negative margin hospital respondents.

"In this unstable environment of data-driven disruption, boards and senior leadership teams must address two immediate priorities. First, they need to distinguish high-risk/high-reward models to execute on value-based care opportunities. Then they have to establish and continue their focus on including analytics into core business-making decision processes from the departmental manager level up through the CEO," Brown says.

— Source: Black Book