Athletes often say that they need to look “within themselves” to focus intently on preparation and performance in order to achieve better results. It’s a strategy that frequently works for sports professionals, but it’s not something I’d recommend for players in the health care and life sciences sectors.
Looking inward – relying on internal operations, resources, and strategies to construct business models – has worked in the past for health care organizations. But successful companies of the future may need to change the formula. Being outward-focused is key to developing a strategy that positions organizations to win in a rapidly evolving health care ecosystem.
That starts with a more effective application of data analytics, the technology, tools, and capabilities available to interpret data and predict business trends. To compete in today’s marketplace, organizations should shed the more conventional, inward-looking ways of mining data and determine how they can effectively interact as part of the larger ecosystem.
Data fragmentation has been a barrier to more efficient collection and analysis of information, leaving many organizations to focus on basic reporting and benchmarking and a more siloed, internalized approach. On the life sciences side, organizations historically haven’t had a lot of detailed data on patients, except for that captured through clinical trials.
But data analytics have to be outward-focused, to guide the transition from volume-based to value-based care models. As Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) continue to evolve, they need to account for other players in the ecosystem to measure progress, effectiveness and the lowering of costs. The fee-for-service (FFS) structure generates higher costs and fees. It’s time to move away from that model.
We’re watching the growing application of data analytics across life sciences and other health care sectors. More than 5,700 hospital and clinics across the United States handled 35.4 million patient admissions in 2013, according to the American Hospital Association. Tens of millions of smartphones and wearable devices are serving as important channels of medical data retrieval and distribution. One recent report from the National Institutes of Health estimated that there are nearly 200,000 clinical studies currently in progress.
That’s an enormous amount of potentially valuable data, but too often it resides in unstructured formats such as images, emails, paper based documents, natural language texts, social web, etc. that need to be analyzed. There must be an alignment to maximize insight.
In fact, I’d say that a significant number of the discussions we have with clients and other stakeholders in healthcare and life sciences revolve around this question: How can we become an inherently insight-driven organization, able to make optimal use of data collected from patient encounters, claims, trials, studies, sales, distribution, and from other channels?
As an example, life sciences organizations can follow an insight-driven organization approach to determine the efficacy rates of drugs in the market and gain insights into improving business, clinical and scientific decisions that will likely benefit the most. Look at Phase 4 clinical trials, usually conducted after introduction into the marketplace. Organizations can identify and track a cohort of patients over a period of time, yielding important medical outcomes and scientific information that can be examined longitudinally.
Making the right technology investments can lift data analytics to the next level for life sciences organizations. They will have to overcome cultural resistance and traditional business approaches in order to incorporate analytics and other technologies into their organizational operations to improve research and care, margins, and cost.
Outward-focused isn’t a should-do in the emerging health care environment. It’s a must-do. Shrinking margins, changing payment models and tighter budgets are putting pressure on organizations to adapt and expand. Data collection and enhanced analytics are key to unlocking true value-based care.