Big data use: Providers, payers not on the same page

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Health payers are putting more stock in the effectiveness of big data and analytics tools than their provider counterparts, according to a new report published by Framingham, Mass.-based research and consulting firm IDC Health Insights.

Overall, 80 percent of payer IT decision makers surveyed said that between 1 and 24 percent of their budgets were used on analytics technology; less than half (49 percent) of provider IT decision makers chose a similar path. The big data technology split mirrored the analytics split, with 77 percent of payers saying that they were investing in such tools. Only 47 percent of providers said the same.

What's more, 40 percent of providers said they had no plans to budget any money for big data and analytics tools. By contrast, only 14 percent of responding payers made such a claim.

Roughly 3,500 individuals participated in the survey.

Report author Cynthia Burghard said that much of the hesitation on the part of providers was due to conflicting priorities, primarily, Meaningful Use efforts. "Healthcare providers are not likely to catch up in their investments or in the maturity of big data and analytics until at least 2015," she said.

Research published earlier this year by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. projected that data analytics could help U.S. citizens save as much as $450 billion in healthcare costs. However, according to the report's authors, change is necessary to meeting that goal. Among some of the changes needed, they said, is a continuation of the move away from fee-for-service care, as well as recognition on the part of both providers and patients that data can be an effective tool.

"[A]ll stakeholders must recognize the value of big data and be willing to act on its insights, a fundamental mind-set shift for many and one that may prove difficult to achieve," the analysis said. "Patients will not benefit from research on exercise, for example, if they persist in their sedentary lifestyles. And physicians may not improve patient outcomes if they refuse to follow treatment protocols based on big data, and instead rely solely on their own judgment."

To learn more:
- read the report

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