Big data — the vast collection of digital information and insights — is transforming the world as we know it, especially healthcare. A healthcare data analyst can help to analyze the large amounts of data that is collected and generated from various sources. Healthcare data can come, for example, from medical devices and hardware, personal wearables like smartwatches or fitness trackers — even data-driven sensors. Heart-rate devices often rely on a body-placed node that relays critical information about a patient.
It goes well beyond personal health and stats, however. Big data analytics can also inform decision-makers about the operation of a large facility, such as a hospital. Patient wait times, care trends, supplies and a variety of information can help improve overall care and experiences within said facility. It can also mitigate growing costs, such as unnecessary spending for resources.
Through what is often called business intelligence or data analytics, healthcare providers can dive deeper into the kind of information that is vital to normal operations. When processed and extracted, this can return increasingly valuable insights for improving all aspects of a facility or system.
Of course, at the root of all this is the data analyst who spends most of their time poring over raw data and churning it, to develop actionable intelligence. Essentially, they headline the entire data collection, discovery, and extraction process. It brings up an essential question: What are some ways in which a healthcare data analyst can help improve the business?
1. More informed decision processes
The data flowing in from active devices and channels is often in its raw form. It is the easiest way to explain nearly unreadable datasets comprised of numbers and varying types of contents. Truly understanding the information and making it accessible requires organization, collation, and processing, which will return actionable insights like trends, behaviors, statistics and the like.
So basically, look at it like this. Something as simple as a blood sugar monitor will collect information about a patient’s glucose levels. This information comes through digitally, as a series of numbers — as you’d expect — only they’re not organized or readable. It’s not as if the information is in a chronological list on a sheet of paper. To take those digital readings, format them understandably and identify patterns — such as a history of high glucose levels — a data analyst will look at the entire collection of raw data. They will then develop a report, which can get passed on to health professionals or even the patient.
In this way, healthcare data analysts help turn data into useful bits of information, which can help foster more informed decision-making processes in the long run.
2. Make accurate predictions
In addition to more informed decision-making processes in the moment, healthcare professionals can also leverage the information far into the future, which is called predictive analytics. In retail, this is something as simple as gauging whether a business process or decision is going to be successful. But in health care, predictive measures are much more complicated.
Consider, for instance, a hospital or health facility which must constantly be aware of patient demands. They must consistently ensure the right amount of supplies, rooms and staff are available to meet incoming patients. Predictive tools can help analyze when hospitals are at their busiest, or when wait times are outrageous.
Alternatively, the healthcare industry can use the data for more direct medical means like predicting potential health or disease issues based on a patient’s genetics or history. Doctors can make more accurate predictions for possible health ailments or treatments. The healthcare startup Prognos, for example, has access to 13 billion patient records — a huge amount of data on which AI is applied to help predict diseases earlier.
3. Identify new support solutions
Data, especially in great amounts, can create new opportunities and avenues of success. One of the first things you do in any situation that goes wrong is to take a step back and assess what’s amiss and how to fix it. That’s the same idea with this process, only data analysts are using their access to vast troves of information to improve existing processes or even introduce new ones.
Suddenly, it becomes possible to boost efficiency in departments where you never thought it possible. Or, it becomes much easier to solve a problem you’ve had at your facility for years.
A healthcare data analyst is constantly interacting not just with streams of data, but the entire organization, including individual members of a team. They can help pinpoint bottlenecks in processes and really dive into the why of what’s happening and how to fix issues.
4. Bridge the gap between management and the workforce
In the medical and healthcare industry especially, doctors, nurses and health professionals don’t always have time to sit down with management or decision-makers and propose solutions or present common problems they’re having. Instead, they’re busy working, saving lives and pushing through their day. That can often create a disconnect between management and how they approach various decisions.
A healthcare data analyst can help bridge the gap between these two sides to provide the necessary insights and details further sparking action.
5. Get ahead of the data curve
For every new piece of technology or process you implement, you’ll have a new data stream to contend with. That entails knowing where it’s going, how to make use of it and even how that factors into a business in a legal or regulatory sense.
In a data-driven environment, you don’t want to be continually fighting the currents. That is, you need to be ahead of the data curve, constantly using new information to inform processes and make your facilities or processes more efficient. Hire the right data analysts, and they will make this happen. More importantly, they will help ensure the money you’re spending on analytics and data is worth the investment.
Prepare for a Digital Future
When all is said and done, data analysts and the tools they employ will provide any business with the right insights and information to push toward success. It’s no different in the world of healthcare, even if the data gets handled differently or comes in varying formats.
You’re already striving to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve operations considerably. Data, particularly the right data, analyzed by those who understand it, can take you towards your end goals faster and help you take decisions confidently.
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