Can Analytics and Optimisation be ‘Just what the Doctor ordered’ for struggling Australian Hospitals and Health Services?
In Australia consumers have more access to information than ever before and are demanding increasing accountability from their doctors, nurses health plans and, better health care quality. The Hospital and Health Services (HHS) industry despite struggling under the weight of an ageing population, a shortage in doctors and nurses, increased regulation, accountability, governance and budgetary oversight, are continually required to provide more with less.
The healthcare industry requires smarter, more informed decisions to enable improved efficiency, better service delivery and enhanced patient outcomes.
Research in 2012 by IBM into the Healthcare Industry in the US confirmed mounting evidence of entrenched inefficiencies and sub-optimal clinical outcomes. The report highlighted how building an analytics focus can help these Health organisations harness “big data” to create actionable insights, set their future vision, improve outcomes and reduce time to value.
The authors note that the abundance of data that bombards healthcare professionals both facilitates and complicates the ability of healthcare providers to achieve and influence desirable outcomes. It appears clear that entrenched systemic inefficiencies in the health systems are at least in part attributed to the ineffective gathering, sharing and use of information
The glut of information makes it hard to differentiate data which can be used to generate powerful insights, from clutter. In fact, the dilemma presented by too much data and too little insight – is cited in the research as an increasingly daunting obstacle standing in the way of better service delivery and improved patient outcomes.
The daunting challenges facing the healthcare industry today make for compelling arguments to expand the role of analytics
The study confirmed that analytics can provide the mechanism to sort through this mountain of complexity and data, and help healthcare organizations deliver on efficiency improvements and better patient outcomes. In Australia the introduction of Activity Based Funding (ABF) has promoted the use of data as the essential input informing critical decisions by Managers, Administrators and Clinicians. Not surprisingly HHS are increasingly looking to move from data processing to data analysis and applying insights to financial outcomes. Australian HHS are just starting to recognise how the power of mathematics through analytics and optimisation can be utilised to consume, unlock and apply new insights from information.
Analytics can provide the mechanism to sort through this mountain of complexity and data
Despite the availability of new methods of analytics that can be used to drive clinical and operational improvements, Australian HHS continue to function with a traditional baseline of transaction monitoring using basic reporting tools, spreadsheets and application reporting. As in the US Health system Australian HHS must face-up to the challenge to move from the traditional model to one that incorporates predictive analytics and enables organizations to “see the future,” and create more personalised healthcare and predict patient behavior.
Advanced analytics and optimisation approaches can take full advantage of the ‘Data deluge’ to generate powerful insights which deliver better outcomes
Today, most HHS use some form of descriptive analytics. They are typically using reporting tools and applications descriptively to understand what has happened in the past and to classify and categorize historical data. However, as their analytics expectations mature, HHS are looking more toward predictive analytics techniques, which take an understanding of the past to predict future activities and model scenarios using simulation and forecasting. The report notes that Enterprise analytics, evidence-based medicine and clinical outcome analytics can all be supported by these more advanced capabilities. For example, analytics can enable the compilation of information about trends, patterns, deviations, anomalies and relationships and reveal key insights.
Some Hospital and Health Services are taking a proactive approach
Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) is one example of an Australian HHS organisation leading the way by embracing predictive analytics to improve demand for better service delivery and enhanced patient outcomes. Most recently Biarri Optimisation worked with GCUH to enhance their understanding of expected future demand and to develop insight into opportunities to better allocate resources. Through the application of customised predictive analytics and optimisation GCUH improved their knowledge of forecasted demands for the next Financial Year, allowing improved capacity planning requirements for physical resources and staffing resources equating to better workforce optimisation.
Biarri and GCUH demonstrated the value of quantitative analysis in forecasting patient admissions and QWAUs and used this to provide more efficient capacity and resource planning.
For most organisations today, data visualisation, historic trend analysis and forecasting, and standardized reporting are the analytics elements that provide the most value. However, that is likely to change. The research showed that while data visualisation will always be a critical element, increased emphasis will be placed on simulations and scenario development and analytics that are applied within various business processes.
Sam Rowse: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +61 458 004 220