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Helping Patients Make Better Decisions Using Data Analytics


World-renowned medical technology expert Atul Butte—and current leader of the University of California San Francisco Institute for Computational Health Sciences—believes that “Hiding within those mounds of data is knowledge that could change the life of a patient, or change the world.”

"Healthcare consumers bring unique motivations, attitudes and beliefs to their individual experiences."

While Dr. Butte focuses on turning big data into big-picture insights about diseases and how best to treat them, hospitals can also engage and activate patients through the power of data analytics. The question is, “Where do you start?”


Five “Rights” to Consider in Leveraging Data Analytics

The shift from fee-for-service to value- and quality-based care increases the pressure for hospitals and healthcare systems to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. A 2013 McKinsey & Company report suggested that hospitals focus on five key concepts:

1. Right Value

Value, of course, is a major consideration. Using data analytics, hospitals can identify inefficiencies caused by variations in care and reduce waste.

2. Right Provider

By analyzing skill sets and abilities rather than job titles, says McKinsey & Company, healthcare providers can make better use of nurses and physicians’ assistants to achieve the desired outcomes at better value.

3. Right Care

Data analytics can provide critical insights into the most efficient and effective care protocols—used in combination with greater collaboration across the entire continuum of care—to improve patient outcomes.

4. Right Living

Healthcare consumers need to make informed decisions about their own health and wellness—before and after they become patients. But healthcare consumers bring unique motivations, attitudes and beliefs to their individual experiences, so patient activation and engagement demands data-driven insights into these individuals.

5. Right Innovation

Precision medicine initiatives, like the Cancer Moonshot program championed by Vice President Joe Biden, are gaining momentum as the amount of health data continues to grow. 

Even without the backing of the National Institute of Health or the National Cancer Institute, hospitals can develop innovative approaches to patient engagement, population health management and more. Let’s take a closer look at one aspect—helping patients make better decisions—through data analytics. 


Getting the Answers You Need to Engage High-Risk Patients

When it comes to realizing the benefits of engagement, tackling high-risk, high-cost patients should be a top priority. After all, according to Kaiser Family Foundation calculations, 5 percent of U.S. healthcare consumers account for 49.5 percent of healthcare spending.

Unfortunately, the patients who would benefit most from patient engagement are often the most difficult to engage for a number of reasons. For example, interoperability challenges mean that even when hospitals can easily identify high-risk patients within the EHR, they have an incomplete view of clinical data captured outside of the hospital setting due to interoperability challenges or simple lack of data sharing.

And it’s not just information related to care that hospitals need. As we mentioned above, patients bring with them preconceived notions about health and wellness that influence where they seek out healthcare information, how they prefer to communicate with healthcare providers and what it takes to activate and engage them over time.

"5 percent of U.S. healthcare consumers account for 49.5 percent of healthcare spending."

Using an interactive analytics dashboard that incorporates healthcare consumer market research data and psychographic segmentation, for example, hospitals can home in on relevant data among more than 50 million data points to answer questions such as:


  • What type of relationship do different segments want with healthcare providers? This can help hospitals tailor their communications to more effectively activate and engage high-risk patients.

  • What websites do healthcare consumers with chronic cardiovascular conditions and a specific type of insurance rely on for information? This can help you identify where you want to reach out for earlier engagement with these healthcare consumers.


The opportunities for data-driven insights that fuel patient engagement are endless when you tap into the right data sources. Rome wasn’t built in a day—and your data analytics initiatives won’t happen overnight either. But by focusing on how you can activate patients and keep them engaged over time with more relevant, targeted communications, you’ll be better positioned to achieve value and quality goals while improving outcomes.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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