Technology and Digitization are rapidly entering in the Healthcare domain. And now, it’s time for Data Analytics & Informatics in Healthcare. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) defines it as,
“A science that defines how health information is technically captured, transmitted, and utilized.”
There is already a wide range of tools for data analytics and informatics in health care, with operational and clinical applications to help organizations to capture health data for advancing medical care.
However, we all know that there are several challenges in the domain. Health data is collected from a variety of systems and devices, such as electronic medical records, online patient portals, glucometers, diagnostic systems, health tracking devices, and genomics. As a result, from clinical notes to medical images, data exists in different formats, such as CT scans, and at times, the data is unstructured.
Then the question arises that how can healthcare organizations make the most use of this data? So, health informatics tools offer clinicians with key insights to make informed decisions on the delivery of care and create individualized treatment plans, especially in clinical settings. Besides that, Health informatics offers managerial and operational benefits as well, such as helping nursing, resource management in hospitals, and clinical and operational teams improve time management.
Hence, to help address the challenges of working with data and close the gaps often found between technology and processes, there is a growing demand for professionals with knowledge of health informatics. These professionals include directors of clinical operations, nurse informaticists, EMR trainers, clinical data analysts, pharmacy informatics specialists, and health care application analysts.
So, for those who are interested in pursuing a career in health informatics, the advanced education system will help them to get to the path to success. For example, at the University of Illinois, Chicago’s Master of Science in Health Informatics program equips students with the technical knowledge and leadership skills to implement and develop health informatics strategies to use data to advance care.
Why Must Healthcare Professionals Learn Data Analytics?
It may sound intuitive to say that all healthcare professionals need to learn data analytics with the growing popularity of Data Analytics & Informatics in Healthcare.
But, working with administrators and clinicians and in teaching healthcare students, it is obvious that many healthcare professionals consider data analytics to be solely a health informatics professional function or Health Information Management (HIM).
So, let’s learn why HIM professionals need to learn or enhance their data analytic skills.
1. Huge Amount of Data in Healthcare
Ranging from publicly available data to data available internally within electronic health record systems, there is an overabundance of data in healthcare. And, to be successful, organizations need to understand how to analyze and utilize this data.
2. Data is Important to Make Better Decisions
Data such as previous records or current status is the key to making a good clinical decision. Like we can study trends through analyzing data, compare current performance to past performance, and utilize this info to create good business strategies.
3. Organizations Identifying the Significance of Data Analytics
With time, as technologies are entering in Healthcare domain, organizations are prioritizing the importance of data analytics. It means that organizations need professionals trained in data analytics. Hence, enhancing your data analytics skills or learning data analytics skills could lead to an increase in job opportunities possible.
4. Enhance Problem-Solving Skills & Critical Thinking
It could be said that Data analytics is just another tool in the toolbox of skills that we have available for healthcare professionals. Yes, because analyzing data is another method of solving a problem as analyzing the data and critical evaluation is the best possible solution.
5. Data Analytics is Everywhere
Well, analytics is everywhere because data is everywhere. Plus, there is no doubt that Data analytics is a function that is used in all types of organizations within a large variety of industries. And guess what, it’s not going anywhere in the long run. As we continue to advance technologically, Data analytics is only going to increase in importance.
Going Beyond Electronic Health Records
Either by electronic health records (EHR) systems or by paperwork, Health care institutions and hospitals have amassed volumes of data. And, because the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) incentivized the use of EHRs, this is large.
Also, it is mandatory as it became law as part of the larger American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. And, to enhance patient care, the data collected by these systems provide new opportunities.
In turn, health care organizations are trying to find out more sophisticated and efficient means of collecting, analyzing, and managing data and delivering medical information to physicians, nurses, and clinicians.
And, data analytics and health informatics practitioners help drive data-informed health care decisions through the application of technology. Professionals with a background in health informatics can develop analytical roadmaps and help others choose the right health informatics tools.
Tools Useful for Data Analytics & Informatics in Healthcare
1. Machine Learning
Across many industries, data processing and predictive analysis are becoming more commonplace, including health care. This trend is not only helping to reduce the cost of the technology infrastructure but also help in creating opportunities for the application of machine learning in health informatics.
Besides that, the basic use of machine learning in imaging and diagnostics applications helps physicians to determine treatments for patients and also to enhance patient outcomes. Moreover, machine learning is helping health systems to find patterns in data to improve care pathways. And, that’s not it because machine learning and AI Healthcare is one of the healthcare tech trends we will look up in the coming years.
2. Database Management
As we all know, before the use of EHRs in healthcare, doctors’ offices were filled with rows of filing cabinets and boxes with files concerning patients’ previous records. But, the data is often not integrated across databases, even as these files have become digitized, and makes the process of drawing insights a difficult challenge to overcome. According to the Brookings Institute report,
“Health care data is split among different entities and have different formats such that building an insightful, granular database is next to impossible.
Hence we can say there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration and innovation in database management. For example, an application programming interface (API) that facilitates connections between databases, open-source options such as Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), can also be used to process complex health data across platforms.
And, so, the Healthcare information managers are trained to create and handle such and other database solutions. To ensure data is accurate and available to physicians, they can also support information governance and data governance.
3. Cloud Computing
However, it is very important to be aware that building or creating a reliable IT infrastructure to store gathered data and enable accurately as well as fast processing can come at a huge cost.
Now, IT databases even offer value and control and that too efficiently; still, health care organizations are now frequently looking for alternatives to more efficiently manage their resources. So, by eliminating the costs of on-premise deployments, Cloud computing offers health care organizations with savings opportunities. And, as one best feature of it, cloud computing takes up less space because it is virtual.
Moreover, you don’t even need to invest in resources in physical assets as Cloud computing enables health care organizations to keep their technology updated. Hence, cloud computing healthcare offers several benefits, including scalability, allowing health care organizations to upgrade their systems to support expanded data analytics capabilities and many more.
4. Predictive Analytics
To lower health care costs and improve the quality of care, Predictive analytics can surely strengthen current efforts. Yes, a technology that allows predictive analytics typically has data-retrieval capabilities that means it can easily extract data from sources such as EHRs, wearable technologies, and medical equipment and devices. Plus, this type of technology also often facilitates risk calculation and data cleaning.
There are some key steps for implementing predictive analytics for informatics in health care comprise the validation and development of predictive models. A research article published in Health Affairs states,
“The use of predictive modeling for real-time clinical decision making is increasingly recognized as a way to achieve the Triple Aim of improving outcomes, enhancing patients’ experiences, and reducing health care costs.”
Planning and collaboration from health care executives, nurses, physicians, clinicians, policymakers, and patients are required for the successful implementation of predictive analytics into clinical practice. With knowledge of informatics in health care, professionals can offer leadership in efforts to leverage predictive analytics.
5. Data Visualization
Visual tools such as infographics, graphs, and charts can help transform data into stories. And data visualization will increasingly become more relevant in data analytics and informatics in health care as data continues to grow in volume as well as complexity.
Well, in healthcare, Data visualization is gaining widespread adoption. As one great example of it, the National Center for Health Statistics presents data on a wide range of health-related subjects- from leading causes of death to teen birth rates- through dashboards.
And, the other great example is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Michigan Center for Health Communications Research as it shares health care risk information through data visualizations. Moreover, this tool also helps in revealing patterns hidden in large volumes of raw data.
Drive Data-Informed Decisions in Health Care
As we have already mentioned, Data analytics and informatics in health care are helping to provide advanced care to patients and also seeking improved patient outcomes. An increased focus on technology platforms and best practices that collect, process, and analyze data are critical to today’s healthcare industry, generating new opportunities for leaders with knowledge in health informatics and data analytics.
Moreover, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand to increase the health information technicians by 13% between 2016 and 2026; however, based on the reports, the projected average growth for all occupations is only 7%.
So, we have known why Healthcare Professionals must learn Data Analytics and Informatics and what are the essential tools to learn regarding Data Analytics & Informatics in Healthcare.
But don’t forget it all starts by picking the right organization that understands the importance of analyzing data for better results, especially in the healthcare domain. Additionally, one needs proper education and training about how analytics skills can be used within the organization. So, start learning such tools now and reach the heights.