If you're a patient seeking medical advice, take note: there are a few doctors using analytics better than most. If you're a tech provider with a healthcare practice, it's an opportune time to help the majority of practitioners who are struggling to handle and make sense of an onslaught of medical data.
According to survey data from a non-profit US body, the eHealth Initiative, and the US College of Health Information Management Executives, healthcare organisations realize the importance of data and analytics but most have yet to fully commit to it or invest in its use.
While a whopping 96 per cent of clinicians, researchers and administrators asked in a survey claimed they use Big Data and complex algorithmic models to inform critical medical decisions, only a few said such analytics were integrated and coordinated at an institutional level. Just 42 per cent said they had a plan that can scale up and adapt to increasing data demands.
"Organisations pull health data from a variety of sources to inform decisions," said eHO CEO Jennifer Covich Bordenick.
"As demands for information increase from patients and providers, analytic models become more complex, and a host of new challenges have evolved that organisations must navigate."
Where health care-focused IT providers are likely to find the most need is around interoperability, a continuing challenge across health IT and a pervasive issue in health analytics efforts.
Nearly three-quarters of the health organisations polled said they use more than 10 electronic interfaces to collect data. Most found it difficult to access external data from other entities or networks for their analytics.
And 79 per cent said they lack staff with the skills to aid in these collection, processing and analytics efforts.
"CIOs have increasingly significant workloads at a time when their staff is being reduced, their investments are being cut and expectations for the value of health IT solutions are increasing," said Chime CEO Russell P Branzell. "The promise of health IT can only be achieved if we're focused on transformational efforts."
Healthcare IT is already a lucrative opportunity for motivated partners: spending by global healthcare providers for IT services is growing at six per cent annually and is expected to top $31bn (£18.5bn) this year, according to analysts.
Healthcare IT consulting is climbing at nine per cent a year and is the fastest growing sub-segment in the global healthcare provider IT market.
Research by HIMSS Analytics found that 76 per cent of healthcare provider organisations polled outsourced a service rather than hiring directly - and 93 per cent had plans to outsource an area in the next year.
This most recent revelation in the healthcare IT market could generate even more opportunity for partners with specialised skills and a focused proposition that targets the business and patient-care benefits of advanced data management and analysis. It's a healthy prescription for all involved.
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