The term analytics is a multi-faceted word, especially in today’s data-driven environment. According to Merriam-Webster, analytics is ‘the method of logical analysis’, which seems incomplete. A more modern definition throws in some buzzwords, such as insight and business intelligence. We like to include additional components when we talk about analytics, because the work we do with our healthcare-based customers quickly becomes complex. It’s not just about getting insightful value from information through logical analysis, though that’s certainly part of it. Analytics is a component of functioning in an information age; it’s a balance of tools, people, and feedback loops to make sure that insight is clear so you get the most value for your time and money. It’s also a vehicle for presenting the right information to the right users to help them take action to make improvements (also known as prescriptive analytics).
Our take on analytics reads something more like this:
- Transforming raw data into information
- Presenting information in a functional way to help consumers know what to do next
- Improving efficient access to useful information
- Supporting decision-making through information accuracy and accessibility
Successful analytics starts with the right tools. With a plethora of analytics tools on the market, and with many organizations having multiple tools at their disposal, knowing which tool is most appropriate for the analysis at hand can be daunting. Our first step in understanding the maturity of analytics at an organization is understanding the tools and data available. We ask questions like: How do you store, transform and display data today? Are processes and tools consistent across the organization? What is effective? Where are there gaps? Using this information, we work with them to develop a guide to their analytics toolbox.
Tools are not the only factor impacting success of analytics at your organization. An engaged leadership team holding both developers and consumers accountable is critical. It should come as no surprise that in order to have a successful analytics team, you need leadership behind it.
Leadership needs to establish the use of analytics as a priority, invest time and resources in teams and tools to support it, and educate consumers on what is available to them.
However, supporting access to the data is only the first step. Holding end-users accountable for acting on the data is when analytics has the potential to bring real change to patient care. With powerful analytics tools, opportunities for improvement become readily apparent. With a few clicks, you can see specific groups, even down to the provider, which consistently perform above or below average. You have a reliable way to track, report on and tie performance to compensation and incentives. Users are empowered to measure against benchmarks and interact with on-demand reporting capabilities.
The concept of analytics is as varied as it is important in this day and age. Gone are the printed “reports” on someone’s desk, outdated before the paper cooled. We’re looking at a goldmine of information that, when harnessed, can truly impact the health and lives of people all over the world.
Next up in the Buzzwords 101 series:
- Population Health: Take a deeper dive into tangible outcomes that can come from analytical insight
- Data Governance: Get a broader view of the balance between vision and a process-oriented approach