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Business leaders hopeful that analytics can improve health care

Richard Jones Archive

Many business leaders are hopeful that by delving deeper into big data, they can find ways to reach more consumers and generate more profits. Analytics can help for-profit companies better understand their target demographics and add to their ever-expanding rosters of companies.

In healthcare, however, the visionaries who work with data have a more altruistic motive. Their goal is to improve their strategies for patient care, enabling them to add years to people's lives.

A group of healthcare investors and business leaders recently met for a panel discussion in Boston, according to TechTarget, and their objective was to channel big data into solutions to all of the industry's problems today.

One such leader was Charlie Baker, an investor in healthcare companies for General Catalyst Partners, who's currently running for governor of Massachusetts. Baker told the audience that today's healthcare delivery system is fragmented and driven by a series of separate procedures, and more needs to be done to streamline processes. Data can help with that.

"One of the big challenges facing the healthcare industry - and it's a whopper - is how do you take a model that is built on the notion of acute care delivery and transactions and rethink it and reorganize it to live in a world where the biggest opportunity to do something around cost and quality is to be nimble and quick and proactive in managing your most complex populations?" Baker said, according to TechTarget.

What can health firms do?
Healthcare firms can take several measures to improve the landscape for patients, both short-term and long.

The most obvious step they can take is to improve the quality of care today. By gathering information about patients' medical histories and their current conditions, they can use predictive analytics to map out their prognoses and provide reliable treatments for their ailments. But luckily, the possibilities don't end there.

Data-driven technologies can also help health providers communicate with patients better. By engaging in mobile or social media-based communication, for example, patients can connect with their health providers and give updates on their status, recommend courses of action and provide feedback for their physicians and nurses.

They can also contribute to future research endeavors. If healthcare firms can collect large volumes of patient information and ensure data quality as well, they can use that knowledge to study health trends and improve the quality of their care down the road.