With the empowered healthcare consumer demanding more and more out of their providers, quality care alone is not enough.

Doctors need to adapt to the changing landscape and discover new ways for the industry to embrace its new service-oriented role.

Healthcare is a trillion dollar industry, yet it has struggled to keep pace with commercial industries in terms of implementing new attitudes and technologies including ways to incorporate data-driven healthcare.

Big data enables companies in all sectors of the economy to gain new insights into their operations and their clients’ behavior. The success of value-based care, evidence-based care and outcomes-based care—three of the foremost trends in healthcare—depends entirely on the adoption of digital data. Hospitals that have implemented analytics report improvements in HCAHPS scores, personalization of care, as well as data quality and consistency.

Forrester Research’s new report The Dawn of Data Driven Healthcare outlines key advancements in the field and where work remains to be done. Here are the top four takeaways from this Intel-commissioned survey of healthcare decision makers in the US and China:

1. In current form, most providers lack the tools necessary to apply raw data

Having electronic health records (EHRs) is one thing. Having the capacity to analyze them is another thing entirely. Forrester analysts point out that providers face some serious barriers that prevent them from properly utilizing the data they have documented.

  • The size and scope of the data is overwhelming, with lots of irrelevant data to sift through.
  • Making the move to implement this data is costly, and many hospitals have paltry budgets for such measures.
  • Doctors do not possess sufficient tools to analyze unstructured data.
  • Inadequate infrastructure cannot accommodate heavy burden of processing, ingesting, storing, analyzing data.

Although 90% of hospitals now have EHRs—up from 10% just a decade ago—much work remains to be done to ensure the practicability of data driven healthcare. The good news is that hospitals are intent on pursuing an analytics overhaul. Over three-in-four healthcare executives (78%) deem operational/financial analytics a “high or critical priority.” Similar support exists for patient and consumer analytics. In order for the predictive models that have been made possible by EHRs to be accurate, providers will have to invest in this paradigm-shifting practice.

2. Consumers want the same digital engagement in healthcare as they get with every other industry

As pioneering as the healthcare industry is in so many facets, there is no excuse for its failure to provide basic conveniences. Patients are looking to check three boxes during a medical visit:

  • Effectiveness: Patients expect to receive care commensurate with the sometimes hefty price they paid for it. Without this bare minimum standard, a physician practice or hospital system will unceremoniously fail.
  • Ease: An easily coordinated visit to see a doctor benefits all involved. That is why providers’ websites ought to clearly display how to make an appointment. Likewise, patients should be able to go onto their payer’s website and figure out how the costs are being split between parties. Providers and payers also need to examine the way they present information. The average customer has an 8th grade reading level, so medical jargon can be confusing. Patients should not be deterred from seeking out care by overly complex information being presented to them.
  • Emotion: If a patient cannot easily navigate the process of obtaining care, they are potentially less likely to seek out care the might be urgent in the future. Providers may suffer from low patient satisfaction scores if they cannot facilitate visits online.

The reality of the state of these affairs does not meet consumers’ expectations. Establishing a customer-friendly digital platform takes the burden away from the patient and makes it more likely that their experience will be stress free.

View the webcast: Forrester Research analyst Kate McCarthy and Andy Bartley from Intel discuss insights from an Intel-commissioned survey of healthcare decision makers in the US and China.

3. Insight into customer engagement will build loyalty

Providers need to reimagine the way they reach out to their patients as the industry changes. Since a great customer experience is at the core of what will make a patient want to return to a particular place, providers need to examine their current methods more thoroughly. What are some areas where providers should direct their attention?

  • Identifying the tools patients are using to manage chronic illness or general wellness habits.
  • Introducing mobile or app-based experiences into the provision of healthcare.
  • Shifting from a B2B to a B2C modality to account for the significance of self-pay’s contribution to the ecosystem.
  • Taking a 360° view of the consumer, tracking all aspects of their care—hospital visit, pharmaceuticals, self-care at home—to diagnose where the breakdowns in the system are happening.
  • Excelling with customer-oriented marketing, discerning which interactions are the best drivers of engagement.

Understanding who your patients are on a deeply personal level will yield higher engagement rates, and will enable providers to orchestrate a better overall experience. 72% of healthcare executives feel that there is a pressing need to invest in patient engagement technologies. Substantial portions of the industry at-large that have adopted these technologies report benefits to communication (62%), patient access (56%), population health management (52%) as well as reduced costs (48%). Given the success of patient engagement analytics to this point, the day when these insights are widespread may be just around the corner.

4. Seamless integration into the workflow is crucial

After making a sizable investment in analytics, too many providers see their new assets go to waste because of a rigid workflow. Clarifying how data fits into the daily routine should be the principal focus of all workplace leaders. The cost-effectiveness of data analytics is dependent on tight coordination between all branches of a hospital or practice and an open and healthy line of communication. For an industry that can sometimes be close-minded, providers would be wise to populate their workforce with adaptable and perceptive employees who can detect a shortcoming in the system. Key figures in the deployment process should be surrounded by people who can help shorten the learning curve and keep them up to date on the latest practices. If an entire team can function as a cohesive unit, the utility of the analytics will be maximized.