Download the Wake Forest University School of Business online MSBA brochure!

By providing my information and clicking the "Submit" button, I consent to be contacted via telephone (including a cell phone, if provided), email, and text message.

Big Data In Healthcare Analytics

As the healthcare industry moves towards a more patient-centric system, organizations are committed to updating their methods and providing the highest quality of services. In order to achieve this goal, enterprises are seeking insights on patient health and using data-driven resources to help make more informed decisions regarding provider operations. The rise of big data has occurred in conjunction with this emphasis on patient-based insights, leading to a rapid increase in opportunity in the field of healthcare analytics. Healthcare analytics helps organizations and institutions improve performance and reach higher health standards and quality of care.

What is healthcare analytics? Below we’ll examine the ways in which big data impacts healthcare operations and leads the healthcare industry towards concrete actions, improved market strategies, and new innovations. We’ll also take a look at the common questions surrounding big data and healthcare, and outline a promising path towards a career in healthcare analytics.

Introduction to healthcare analytics and the impact of big data

According to Associate Dean of Analytics Dr. Jeffrey Camm, “Healthcare is generally recognized as one of the hottest areas in analytics, both on the operations side and on the diagnostic side.” This process of gathering information from data and recognizing patterns in order to improve and innovate the healthcare system provides insights on the health of individual patients, patient and physician engagement, revenue, and risk. Integrating data management, real-time data, and historical data to make informed predictions, healthcare analytics helps providers reach success in patient care.

In addition, big data healthcare analytics uses analytics systems and software to examine large amounts of data and find hidden patterns, trends, and connections. “Analytics has a lot to offer in terms of operational efficiency,” Says Dr. Camm, “for example, by being able to better predict appointment no-shows, or to schedule operating rooms and capacity constrained equipment, analysts can dramatically increase the efficiency of operations.” Results help organizations to make business decisions, find new opportunities, and improve customer service. 

Big data healthcare analytics is growing. According to a 2016 report, governmental agencies are promoting the use of big data in the healthcare industry to ensure that patients get the best treatment. In March 2012, the Obama Administration announced the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, intended to explore the technology and application of big data and pave the way for future professionals. This initiative was followed by a strategic plan in May 2016, aiming to provide access to information in a standard format and to support the release and usability of data in healthcare. Unsurprisingly, a different 2016 study on the promise and potential of big data analytics in healthcare concluded that this is a promising field with great potential. 

Benefits of Big Data Healthcare Analytics

Like other forms of analytics, big data healthcare analytics aims to reach a deeper understanding of an industry — in this case, healthcare — and to help individuals within that industry make better decisions. In the case of healthcare analytics, big data is used to aid providers in determining the best treatment options for patients. In addition to providing insight on many different areas within a given healthcare organization, big data healthcare analytics provides the following benefits:

Leads to Concrete Actions

When data are gathered in one centralized system, organizations can begin to analyze that information and take the necessary steps to improve interactions with patients and community. For example, enterprises that have to create a tailored message to remind patients about certain non-mandatory vaccines can use healthcare analytics to know which individuals are most at risk for developing diseases, and to determine the best ways to communicate with them.

Improves Marketing Strategies

Big data healthcare analytics exposes the success or failure of marketing strategies by providing valuable insights and context and explaining why a campaign was successful or why a response rate was low. Based on this information, healthcare providers can modify their marketing strategies. Big data healthcare analytics supports enterprises in their efforts to engage patients, expand outreach, and optimize growth.

Promotes a Thriving Environment

Big data healthcare analytics gives a window into the services and initiatives that are thriving as well as the areas that are not. When a system or structure is not functioning properly, big data healthcare analytics can uncover the specific reasons behind any issues and help organizations make changes that will lead to long-term success.

Common Questions Regarding Big Data Healthcare Analytics

Since big data healthcare analytics is a complex process that integrates different tools and methods, organizations might question whether the service is worth the investment. As the collection and analysis of data also take time, organizations need to have a clear understanding of benefits and challenges. These are some of the most common questions surrounding big data healthcare analytics:

How do you choose a big data healthcare analytics provider?

The first thing to consider when choosing a healthcare analytics provider is the relationship between time and value. Smaller organizations might decide to invest a limited amount of money and conclude the analysis in a shorter period of time, compared to bigger enterprises which may be able to invest more of both. The experience and success record of the healthcare analytics provider should also be evaluated to make sure results can meet expectations. Communication and flexibility are also key in the decision-making process and during their collaboration.

What are the challenges of big data healthcare analytics?

One of the challenges in implementing big data healthcare analytics is making sure that data is clean, appropriate, relevant and ready to be used on multiples systems. Large amounts of data can become difficult to manage, and storing them in one system might become costly. Cloud storage is an option, but it is crucial to choose a system that provides data security. Big data healthcare analytics needs to be user-friendly and transparent in order to be successful. As the healthcare industry evolves, fast real-time data is of the utmost importance and must be constantly updated in order to stay relevant.

How does technology impact big data healthcare analytics?

Big data healthcare analytics evolves as technology improves, allowing enterprises to access increasing amounts of relevant data. These new insights can pave the way towards a better understanding of global healthcare trends and towards new solutions for global issues. New technologies are emerging in the healthcare industry. Telehealth, which allows for increased remote management of and access to health records, features different tools offering virtual services that promote patient care, health education, and public health. Telehealth collects data that can be stored and analyzed using healthcare analytics. Technology supports healthcare analytics by providing a faster path to identifying potential health threats and new treatments.

As big data healthcare analytics becomes more popular, it is essential to find ways to guarantee privacy and security, establish standards, and improve methods. As it often happens when growth is too fast, some details can get lost in the process. Given the importance of healthcare analytics, it is crucial to address the challenges that arise as systems improve.

Becoming a Healthcare Analyst With a Master of Science in Business Analytics

A Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) is a natural fit for anyone wishing to advance in the growing field of healthcare analytics. With an emphasis on the technical skills necessary for high-level analysis, as well as attention to crucial business skills such as leadership, collaboration, and communication, this degree prepares students to make a difference in hospitals and healthcare institutions.

In particular, says Associate Dean Dr. Camm, “courses in prescriptive analytics, forecasting, and simulation and risk prepare students to drive change in operational efficiency.” If your interest lies in diagnosing illnesses through analytic insights, on the other hand, Data Science and Machine Learning will provide the essential coursework. Because the Online MSBA is specifically designed for working professionals, Dr. Camm emphasizes, it presents a unique opportunity for advancement within the healthcare field. “Virtually all of our coursework would prepare a graduate from our program with a background in healthcare to drive data-driven decision making in this industry.”

In order to become a successful analyst, you must cultivate your curiosity about organizational decision making and problem solving. While a bachelor's degree may pave the way to an entry-level career in research analysis, an MSBA will increase your knowledge and credibility. You will learn how to apply analytics to a variety of business issues with direct applications to your area of interest, and will gain the advanced problem-solving skills necessary to stand out and take your career to the next level.