Have you been hearing the term “population health analytics” a lot lately and are wondering about exactly what it means and why it’s become such a hot topic? This article will explain what it is and why it is important.
Today every industry is finding itself more and more influenced by data, and healthcare is no exception. There used to be a variety of different methods to determine how resources should be spent and which markets should be pursued. Both in healthcare and in other industries. Of course in healthcare, there has always been available data, and while people using the data had the ability to view it through scientific lenses, one that uses objective rather than subjective methods, that is not as effective as some of the newer methods which the latest computer technology has made available for analyzing data and providing very concrete evidence of what services are most needed where.
And then there’s the aspect of big data which requires more complex and advanced analytics tools for processing. There is so much potential in big data but healthcare organizations need to be able to harness its uses to their advantages. Population health analytics would benefit so much from the information deduced from big data using big data analysis tools. Population data can be classified as big data and with advanced tools population data can be broken down to different parts and sections that can be analyzed individually for the benefit of the whole.
To be competitive in the healthcare industry today it’s vital that both providers and those with a financial stake use data to its full potential. To fail to do so risks financial loss and the ability to provide care that will lead to the greatest improvement of health possible.
This system of analyzing data is so effective because it allows for the outcomes of individuals’ healthcare to be viewed as an entire group, improving entire human populations while still keeping a close eye on the effects on individuals. By using up-to-date analytics, the health outcomes of individuals are able to be viewed alongside the patterns of determinants, social factors as well as how policies and interventions might affect the outcomes of large populations. This makes it possible to truly see what individual treatments are most effective, as well as what kinds of policy changes could most benefit a population.
In using population health analytics, we are able to not only get big picture data, but we are also able to better rule out extraneous factors that previously we would not be able to definitively determine whether they had a causal relationship or were completely unrelated. We can also get a better sense as to which factors are most relevant.
Despite leading the world in the amount spent on healthcare, the United States is not the leader in providing the best health outcomes. This means that some of our resources are not being used properly to best prolong life and create better health in our population.
You work in healthcare, so you know well, there’s never any such thing as a magic bullet. Population health analytics is a powerful tool that has the potential to allow us to improve the results achieved in the healthcare industry immeasurably, but like any tool, it must be used wisely in order to do its job. This means we must choose the data that will be used throughout the industry at all levels. Additionally, although analytics provides data that is more concrete than anything that was previously available, it is still important that we create a system of standards that is industry-wide, allowing for ease of sharing while maintaining standardization. Finally, we can have all of the data in the world, but if we don’t use it to both set goals that are realistic, or put them into effect when they are more useful, then we will fail at using this tool to truly improve healthcare to the best of our ability. By learning about population health data now, and how it can improve all of our ability to provide the best quality healthcare for everyone, you are doing your part to make this valuable tool as useful as it can be.