Analytics, a top investment priority for organizations involved in accountable care program: A new IDC Health Insights report

A recent report by IDC Health Insights, a provider of market research and advisory services, reveals that healthcare setups, recognizing the role of data in accountable care’s success, are concentrating on investing in analytics for population health management.

The new report (Business Strategy: Analytics Leads Accountable Care Investment Priority) was developed on the basis of results of IDC’s 2012 Global Technology and Industry Research Organization IT Survey, and IDC Health Insights’ Accountable Care Survey (2012). It offers healthcare professionals investment yardsticks with regard to trends in accountable care technology investment.

With accountable care developing rapidly, the report says that there exists an uncertainty regarding the industry’s capability in meeting its goals of enhancing patient experience, improving population health, and managing economical growth. Failure in the past to control costs and better quality through capitation and withholds programs can be attributed partly to insufficient retrospective data and a data format not useful for doctors. However, the ability to normalize, move, and analyze data much more robustly than it was 20 years ago, gives a lot of optimism and benefits for 2013 and beyond.

Commenting on the role of data in accountable care, Research Director of Accountable Care IT Strategies, IDC Health Insights, Cynthia Burghard finds access to comprehensive, timely, appropriate, accurate, and understandable information to be the lynchpin for success of accountable care. Cynthia also says that discussion with technology vendors and healthcare leaders, and survey results point analytics to be a top most investment priority for healthcare facilities involved in accountable care.

Although providers, when compared to payors, lag behind in technology investments, the report finds both to have similar priorities in analytics investments for population health management.

As per the new report, the top four capabilities for which analytics is used by healthcare setups are as follows:

  • Identification of patients or people requiring care management. With 66% respondents of IDC Health Insights’ 2012 Accountable Care Survey stating this, it was the most frequently used method of planned analysis.
  • Analyzing clinical outcomes as well as performance measurement and management were the second most common type of planned analysis with each mentioned by 64% of the survey respondents.
  • Clinical decision-making at point of care was the third most frequently used type of planned analysis with 57% of the respondents citing so.

Some of the other key findings, apart from the above mentioned, include:

  • New data sources and advanced analytics are being accepted by healthcare entities. IDC’s 2012 Global Technology and Industry Research Organization IT Survey participants have reported investments in advance analytics (social graph analysis, text mining, and streaming data monitoring and analysis) for the year 2013 as a priority.
  • Data sources cited by the respondents indicate good opportunity for analytics. These include data types such as clinical structured data (73%), care management data (70%), claims (57%), etc, that are required for identifying and managing patients having chronic diseases or via wellness programs.
  • Usage of new sources of information to support accountable care. Although the respondent’s percentage is low, the survey indicates a willingness to invest in novel sources of data like social media (32%), unstructured clinical information (29%), and mobile devices (42%). Also, health plans were found to be interested in new sources of data when compared to hospitals.
  • The IDC Health Insights 2012 Accountable. The 2012 survey included 30 health plans and 40 hospitals and found that 75% of health plans willing to invest in between $1 million to $10 million, while hospitals intended to invest less than $1 million.

According to a 2013 Accenture and eHealth Initiative survey, accountable care organizations (ACOs) are adopting different methods for implementing IT and analytics in order to realize their goals. While only 40% of ACOs notice major advantages of analytics, like identifying high-risk procedures, improving patient safety, and increasing operational efficiency, most of the organizations find that the primary benefit of analytics has been in helping them to realize basic priorities such as decreasing gaps in care (84%), reducing hospital readmission rates (72%), and enhancing clinical outcomes (72%). However, shortage of trained staff and lack of clinical integration was found to be the primary barrier for utilizing analytics followed by inability of the existing infrastructure to support analytical tools. Certain providers also expressed concerns about the accuracy of algorithms and analytics, and the extent to which their institutions would protect their liability should there be a data breach.

With analytics paving the way for organizations to meet the accountable care program’s objectives, the 2012 Accenture report advises ACOs to prioritize their HIT requirements and identify ways in which analytics should be applied to care, population health, management, and administration. Implementation of solutions that are scalable and having robust architecture for providing different services is also suggested for ACOs.

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