Study: Clinical Analytics Functionality Improves, but Workflow Integration is an Ongoing Challenge | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: Clinical Analytics Functionality Improves, but Workflow Integration is an Ongoing Challenge

February 5, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

The development of robust data analytics capabilities that can provide comprehensive solutions for population health management is still likely several years away, but analytics vendors are rapidly improving technologies to help healthcare organizations make the transition to value-based care, according to a study by Chilmark Research.

Chilmark Research’s “2016 Clinical Analytics for Population Health Management” market trends report is the result of a study that evaluates current analytics technologies available and as well as healthcare organizations’ market needs. The most important driver of growth in data analytics is the move to value-based reimbursement (VBR) and alternatives to the traditional fee-for-service (FFS) payment mechanism, the report noted. And, these new payment models are driving heightened focus on the part of healthcare organizations (HCOs) big and small to adopt and deploy analytics solutions to improve operational performance to improve outcomes while reducing overall costs of care delivered.

According to the report, there have been rapid advances with analytics functionality in recent years, however, incorporating analytics into existing workflows remains a significant hurdle to adoption and, ultimately, keeps analytics out of the hands of clinicians who could benefit.

“While our findings reflect significant advancements in the industry since the 2014 edition, not a single vendor earned a full ‘A’ rating as no solution is currently meeting the user engagement and clinician workflow needs of the healthcare organizations (HCOs) these products are intended to serve,” Brian Murphy, analyst with Chilmark Research, wrote in a blog post about the report.

Murphy also noted that analytics vendors “are making steady progress with the functional evolution of their analytics solutions but healthcare organizations continue to struggle with the complexity of data, governance in general, and embedding analytical insights into clinical workflows.”

In the report, Chilmark profiled 20 vendors, including IBM Watson Health, independent vendors, technologies from leading electronic health record (EHR) vendors such as Cerner and Epic and payer-developed analytics tools such as Aetna's ActiveHealth Management.

The report points out that providers are currently straddling two payment regimes, fee-for-service and value-based reimbursement. The primary objective of existing analytics applications is to help healthcare organizations maximize revenue in the form of value-based payments (hitting quality targets) and traditional FFS reimbursements (closing care gaps).

“Delivering analytic insights to the point of care remains the most challenging hurdle to overcome and is arguably the weakest link in the solutions reviewed for this report,” the report authors stated.

Chilmark noted that many healthcare organizations are experiencing bottlenecks at the level of data integration and data staging for analytics and this is complicated by lack of data governance frameworks that can align stakeholder data needs across the organization. Many provider organizations struggle with the sheer amount of unstructured data and translating the richness of this data into insights, the report stated.

Murphy wrote in the blog post that another notable finding in the research is the relatively rapid progress made by EHR vendors in the last year alone, particularly noting that Cerner and Epic have expanded their capabilities just in the past year.

“They enjoy a kind of home field advantage over the independents with the large hospital and health system customers that all vendors are targeting,” he wrote.

Independent vendors, such as Arcadia, Caradigm, Geneia, Health Catalyst, HealthEC, Truven and others, are not sitting still and are “delivering highly focused solutions that can often be deployed quickly delivering rapid return on investment,” Chilmark stated in the report. And, payers continue to play a significant role as well with Aetna, Humana (Transcend Insights) and United Health Group (Optum) each taking solutions to market. Clinician Network Management vendors CareEvolution and Orion Health are each leveraging their data access and aggregation core competencies to serve this sector as well, according to the report.

The report also noted that a secondary objective of analytics solutions is to help healthcare organizations reduce medical costs (variability) and unnecessary utilization (readmissions reduction and low-acuity, non-emergent utilization). However, currently no vendor offers functionality that helps identify other forms of overutilization (e.g. imaging or antibiotic overuse, overlong skilled nursing facility (SNF) lengths of stay (LOS). “Without such tools, HCOs only have a way to assess the tip of the overutilization iceberg,” Murphy wrote.

The Chilmark Research study also addresses how advances in data analytics technologies are raising a number of enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and architectural issues that need to be addressed in the data-analytics strategic framework. As value-based care requires expanded capabilities, many organizations are shifting database strategies to more flexible architectures.  “While the cloud is still a matter of concern for many CIOs on the security front, we do expect adoption of cloud computing to accelerate in the coming years and analytics will be one of the drivers of adoption,” the report stated.

Murphy concluded in his blog post that there is still a lot of improvement to be made in the analytics space.

“But the market is clearly pushing vendors in the right direction, and major players are investing heavily in updating their capabilities. This is still early days for clinical analytics, with data collection alone still being figured out, with many other hurdles yet to be conquered,” he wrote.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Study will Leverage Connecticut HIE to Help Prevent Suicides

A new study will aim to leverage CTHealthLink, a physician-led health information exchange (HIE) in Connecticut, to help identify the factors leading to suicide and to ultimately help prevent those deaths.

Duke Health First to Achieve HIMSS Stage 7 Rating in Analytics

North Carolina-based Duke Health has become the first U.S. healthcare institution to be awarded the highest honor for analytic capabilities by HIMSS Analytics.

NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.