The evolving role of analytics in healthcare: 4 insights from Loopback Analytics CEO Neil Smiley

As EHRs continually amass seemingly endless amounts of data, the next leap forward will be finding actionable insights into this data and using it to improve some of the industry's biggest challenges. Analytics is key to this aim, and many in healthcare are already leveraging this strategy. But, healthcare analytics is in a relatively early stage.

Neil Smiley, founder and CEO of Loopback Analytics, shares his thoughts on how analytics will evolve and continue to become an integral part of healthcare strategy.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

Question: How has analytics played a role in hospital and health system strategy this year?

Neil Smiley: Until recently, hospitals and health systems' work in analytics has leveraged data derived primarily from their own internal systems to assess and optimize activities within care settings. This past year, however, health systems have expanded their efforts with network partners to acquire new data and develop analytics that track health outcomes and cost of care across care settings. New analytics are informing strategies for the selection and management of provider networks in response to value-based reimbursement models, such as the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model bundled payment mandate.

Q: How do you think this role will evolve in 2016?

NS: Hospitals and health systems will take a much more active role in using analytics to guide patients to the appropriate care settings, care level and network provider. Use of skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities may be used more judiciously, as bundled payment models reward efficient use of resources. Analytics will also play a big role in determining how remote monitoring technology can enhance and expand care delivered in the home.

Q: What are the biggest challenges when it comes to leveraging analytics in healthcare?

NS: Data interoperability and legal frameworks for data sharing are the biggest challenges to analytics in healthcare. Governmental and market forces will continue to apply pressure on health IT vendors to facilitate cross-platform interoperability. Nevertheless, there is a lot of inertia with incumbents who are not yet convinced that interoperability and data sharing serves their business interests.

Q: What do you think are the biggest opportunities for improving the power of analytics in healthcare?

NS: Pay-for-value and bundled payment models are refocusing analytics from optimization of individual care settings to optimization of populations and episodes of care across provider networks. Analytics with longitudinal perspective that leverages data from across care networks will provide new insights that help improve outcomes and reduce costs.

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