The health care sector is increasingly becoming data-driven. The growing prominence of electronic health records and other technologies is making it possible for organizations in this industry to collect more raw information than ever before. To make use of these resources effectively, however, these care providers need to embrace advanced analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools. Without these capabilities, the data in their possession cannot yield effective insight.

It is therefore not surprising that health care providers around the world are now making analytics initiatives a priority, significantly increasing the demand for analytics experts in the health care sector.

Analytics Value
The accelerating and expanding need for analytics and business intelligence capabilities in the health care industry can be seen in a recent survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics and sponsored by Qlik. As ITWeb reported, this study surveyed 400 industry professionals, including C-suite Executives, Vice Presidents and Directors.

The study revealed that analytics and BI are having a significant, positive impact on health care providers. Notably, 56 percent of those firms that were early adopters of BI platforms experienced a variety of benefits as a result, including improved overall patient care, the creation of new opportunities to better population health and reduced costs. Additionally, 48 percent of these respondents said they can make better, faster decisions as a result of their use of these tools, according to the news source.

“56% of firms that were early adopters of BI platforms experienced a range of benefits.”

“Utilizing a modern and contemporary BI and analytics platform provides real-time data that is simple for self-service use, as it removes the guess work by the end-user and increases adoption,” said John Hoyt, Executive Vice President of HIMSS Analytics, ITWeb reported.

Analytics Obstacles
At the same time, though, the HIMSS Analytics study revealed a number of major obstacles that are preventing hospitals and other care providers from fully leveraging the potential of analytics and BI tools.

Most notably, 42 percent indicated that end-user adoption is a challenge, while 41 percent pointed to a lack of high-quality data, ITWeb reported. Other issues undermining health care analytics efforts included clinical workflow integration problems, limited dashboard and reporting capabilities and difficulties aggregating data sources.

Yet these obstacles are not enough to deter health care organizations from pursuing analytics and BI initiatives. The HIMSS Analytics report found that more than one-third of respondents consider the integration of analytics solutions with their current systems and applications to be a top investment priority for the next 1-2 years. A further 18 percent described end-user training for analytics resources to be a priority.

Expertise Needed
In light of these findings, it’s easy to see why the demand for professionals with analytics skills are in such high demand in the health IT sector.

Recently, Black Book released the results of its latest executive survey, which included nearly 800 respondents from the health care sector and more than 700 professionals from external recruitment agencies. The survey found that technological and data/systems management was the most in-demand skill set in 2015, followed by advanced analytics.

Analytics skills are in high demand.
Analytics skills are in high demand.

“The power of data and analytics is profoundly changing the healthcare business and clinical landscape, and once again hospitals need more top-management tech muscle,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book. “It’s evident that without added C-suite horsepower at this crossroads of value-based payment reform, population health and accountable care opportunities, that stoking the forces of advanced technologies and data analytics will be very difficult for most hospitals.”

And while the Black Book survey focused on the most desirable experience and skills for the C-suite, this trend is not limited to executives. As the HIMSS Analytics study made clear, hospitals and other care providers are grappling with a wide range of analytics challenges across the board. CIOs and other C-level executives with analytics experience will undoubtedly have a positive impact in these areas, but it is also essential for organizations to hire analytics experts as managers, directors and other positions throughout the IT department and beyond.

As the number of hospitals hoping to leverage data analytics and business intelligence tools continues to grow in the coming years, analytics experience and skill sets will become increasingly important and in-demand, creating even better opportunities for these professionals throughout the health care sector.