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Study: Data analytics for population health management still in infancy

The hot field of using data analytics to divine medical trends as part of population health management, while seeing strong growth, is still in its formative stages, according to a new report from Chilmark Research.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts firm — which specializes in market analysis of advanced healthcare IT systems — reports that healthcare organizations using analytics are still struggling with reimbursement models.

Meanwhile, the report notes that major EHR vendors are moving into the data analytics space previously occupied mainly by best-of-breed companies.

“Vendors can be roughly divided into two categories: best-of-breed and platform-play vendors depending on their particular products and marketing strategies,” the report’s author, Cora Sharma, said in a release accompanying the report. “It is currently a best-of-breed market, with providers adapting vendor solutions to meet a particular need created by a specific payment contract. Vendors aspiring to be become enterprise-wide platforms find ‘enterprise-thinking’ HCOs [healthcare organizations] in short supply.”

For the report, Chilmark surveyed 19 vendors, including EHRs like Epic Systems Corp. and Cerner Corp., as well as non-EHRs such as Verisk Health Inc. and Optum, UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s platform.

The 133-page report came up with 11 general market and industry findings for the data analytics space.

  1. The trend toward value-based reimbursement is less “shaky,” but the market remains mostly concerned with quality measure compliance and penalties from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
  2. There is an influx of data across clinical and claims-based worlds. “Future, external stores of data — user-generated data, home monitoring data, unstructured data, data still in paper form — remain untapped and underutilized,” Sharma writes.
  3. Data aggregation problems persist.
  4. The market more and more is putting data warehousing and analytics into the power user category. In the future, analyzing patient data and predicting risk will have to become more sophisticated.
  5. Workflow, engagement and action remain unconquered frontiers. Data-driven workflow, care management and patient engagement are wide open for innovation.
  6. Population health management vendors now number nearly 100. The market is crowded.
  7. Best-of-breed companies still dominate the market.
  8. A push into services is going on, with software as a service pervasive.
  9. There has been an increase in investment in provider-focused care management tools, as opposed to older payer-centric care management tools. In other words, there is more reliance on underlying data platforms.
  10. Clinical and claims-based vendors continue to come together.
  11. While it is popular for vendors to claim to be the only company to allow providers to make data “actionable,” or triggering specific actions such as automated patient outreach, “no vendor has so far succeeded in truly redefining data-driven workflow and patient engagement on a large scale.”

Download the full report here.

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