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By Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader at Logicalis Healthcare Solutions

Hospitals are collecting a lot of data these days—prompting healthcare leaders to ask, “What can we glean from all this data in order to make better business and clinical decisions?”

For instance, thanks to the emergence of the “Internet of Things,” hospitals must contend with a flood of newly-connected devices (e.g. IV pumps, specimen refrigerators, biomedical devices, and many others), each of which has the ability to generate useful data. Over time, more devices will be connected to the network to transmit information, creating even more data.

The storage of all of this data leads to extremely large data sets that can be computationally analyzed to provide clinical and financial benefits to healthcare organizations. While there is great promise in big data and analytics, the terms are often misused, overused, and incorrectly interchanged. There is a misconception that there’s a “silver bullet” solution, such as a single software solution, that can be installed to analyze or “mine” data to uncover high-value information on which to base important business and clinical decisions.

“Healthcare analytics” is the access, manipulation, reporting, and examination of data to drive business performance and decision-making. While analytics software solutions exist, it takes a lot more than a software package to harness the power of data.

It also takes a comprehensive approach with important pre-solution steps. The process includes (1) identifying key business issues and drivers that can benefit from data-driven decision-making; (2) identifying what data is available to inform decisions and who in the organization owns it; (2) preparing and modeling the data; (3) evaluating the analytic outputs for their accuracy and value; and (4) using the outputs from this process to improve the way the organization operates and delivers care.

While analytics is more involved than choosing and installing an analytics software solution, the benefits of analytics are completely within reach of most healthcare organizations. In my next blog entry, we will take a look at what healthcare organizations can do to prepare for using analytics to improve business operations and patient care.

To find out more about building a technology foundation to support your big data analytics initiatives, visit the Logicalis website. Then check out this infographic that illustrates how healthcare IT changes are happening faster than you think.