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March 26, 2013

IDC: Analytics Tagged as ‘Lynchpin’ in Accountable Care Success

By Marie Lingblom

A new report from IDC finds health care organizations, while still behind the curve, are recognizing the pivotal role data plays in the success of accountable care.

Survey results, along with plenty of new accountable care initiatives by respected health care organizations, say IDC, point to a focus on IT investments in tools for analytics to better manage health and health care.

“Access to timely, complete, accurate, contextual, and digestible data is the lynchpin for accountable care success,” said Cynthia Burghard, research director for Accountable Care IT Strategies, IDC Health Insights, in releasing the report.

The Affordable Care Act encourages accountable care and the formation of accountable care organizations (ACOs). The cost-saving idea is that by organizing health care teams, technology and knowledge around patient needs, accountable care can help the system realize its full potential.

Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is one of the latest health care organizations to launch its shift to a new accountable care organization. In January, Beth Israel President Dr. Kevin Tabb told The Boston Globe a total of $12 million per year over the next five years would be invested in care management and infrastructure improvements meant to promote seamless coordination among doctors and hospitals.

There are detractors, however, who liken ACOs to updated versions of HMOs and say they are based on flawed assumptions about the ability to change doctor and patient behavior. That argument is laid out in a February article in the Wall Street Journal, written jointly by Clayton Christensen, Jeffrey Flier and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan.

At the same time, these authors also acknowledge that making fuller use of technology would help “enable more scalable and customized ways to manage patient populations.”

IDC’s Burghard notes that all indications, from survey results and discussions with health care thought leaders and technology suppliers, are that analytics technology is the top investment priority for health care organizations engaging in accountable care.

In its report, IDC suggests previous attempts to improve quality and control costs through other programs were not successful partly due to inadequate data that was retrospective and not in a format useful to doctors. Advantages and reasons for optimism in 2013 and beyond, says IDC, are about the ability to move, normalize and analyze data in a far more robust fashion than 20 years ago.

In the IDC report, “Business Strategy: Analytics Leads Accountable Care Investment Priority,” the top four reported capabilities for which healthcare organizations intend to use analytics are:

• The ability to identify patients/members in need of care management was the most frequent type of planned analysis (cited by 66 percent of respondents in IDC Health Insights’ 2012 Accountable Care Survey).

• Clinical outcomes were identified by 64 percent of respondents as the second most frequent type of planned analysis.

• Performance measurement and management was also identified by 64 percent of respondents as the second most frequent type of planned analysis.

• Clinical decision-making at the point of care was identified by 57 percent of health care respondents as the third most frequent type of planned analysis.

Additional key findings include:

Healthcare organizations are beginning to embrace advanced analytics and new data sources. Respondents to IDC’s Global Technology and Industry Research Organization IT Survey, 2012, indicated 2013 investments in advanced analytics such as streaming data monitoring and analysis, text mining and social graph analysis were also a priority.

Sources of their data identified by respondents include the types of data (e.g., claims [57 percent], clinical structured data [73 percent], and care management data [70 percent]) that are needed to identify and manage patients with chronic illness or through wellness programs. These data sources indicate strong opportunities for analytics.

New data sources such as from mobile devices (42 percent of respondents), social media (32 percent of respondents) and unstructured clinical data (29 percent of respondents) are being used to support accountable care. Though the percent of respondents is not large, the survey data does reveal a willingness to invest in these new data sources. Health plan respondents had significantly greater interest than hospitals.

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