Hospitals: Big data use is a 'significant challenge'

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While most hospitals and healthcare organization representatives responding to a recent survey from the eHealth Initiative and the College of Health Information Management Executives see big data as important to their strategic plans, far fewer believe their facilities are implementing it appropriately.

Of 102 respondents, close to 80 percent said that use of big data and predictive analytics was important; 84 percent, however, called the actual application of such tools "a significant challenge." What's more, only 45 percent called their organization's big data strategy "flexible and scalable."

The results are similar to those of a survey conducted in June by healthsystemCIO.com in which 52 percent of responding hospital CIOs said that while they were using big data tools for some analytics projects, they weren't doing so at a "sophisticated level." Sixty-six percent cited lack of manpower or skills as primary reasons for not taking advantage of big data analytical tools at a higher level.

Ninety percent of respondents to the eHI-CHIME survey said that their primary reason for using data analytics was quality improvement, while roughly the same amount said that their facilities were using data analytics tools for revenue cycle management purposes. Sixty-six percent, meanwhile, said they were using data analytics in their fraud and abuse prevention efforts.  

The National Institutes of Health last month announced that it will commit $96 million to fund big data research centers, aimed at improving the ability of the research community to use and make sense of large and complex datasets.

Over a four-year span, $24 million annually will be set aside to establish six to eight Big Data Knowledge Centers of Excellence. The money will be used for the "development and distribution of innovative approaches, methods, software, and tools for data sharing, integration, analysis and management," according to NIH.

Big data could help U.S. citizens save as much as $450 billion in healthcare costs, but fundamental change is necessary to meeting such goals, according to an analysis published in April by consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

To learn more:
- check out the survey results (.pdf)

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