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Four ways EHR vendors are utilizing advanced analytics in healthcare

EHR vendors are turning to advanced healthcare analytics to provide hospitals and physicians with a data hub for population health management and identify at-risk populations.

Physicians are recognizing that there are several ways to take advantage of the clinical data within their healthcare systems. However, some systems are limited in the type of analysis they can perform on health data. For that reason, several EHR vendors are expanding their functionality and introducing advanced and real-time analytics to deliver quick and powerful insights on patients.

This shift in reporting capabilities comes as a result of the abundance of patient health data that is available electronically, as well as improvements to advanced analytics in healthcare that deliver better insights into the patient's conditions and outcomes. But are EHR vendors prepared to deliver these real-time analysis and artificial intelligence functionalities within their EHR? Or are hospitals and SaaS-based EHR vendors the only ones capable of delivering and affording these functionalities within their systems?

For physicians who adopted a new EHR in the last eight to 10 years, their platform has likely undergone several updates and upgrades by now. These are the natural cycles of any product that involves ongoing maintenance, new enhancements releases and bug fixing. However, the core functionalities have remained somewhat the same for many EHR systems. ICD-10 and a few of the new certification requirements have driven some of the EHR improvements in recent years as well, but nothing major has forced vendors to make significant changes. Until recently, the push toward a shared savings payment model and focus on population health has been forcing a change in the way these EHR systems report on data. There is a stronger emphasis on capturing data from different data sources -- including patients -- and being able to deliver meaningful summaries of patients based on the multiple sources of data to the provider in real time.

Capabilities such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and access to patient registries to compare a patient's symptoms and labs to others are not something that an EHR can perform out of the box. Several of the EHR products hosted within the hospital or physician's environment may not be able to meet the demand of advanced clinical analytics services. As a result, some vendors use third-party analytics platforms, or deliver the functionality as a service to meet the demand of hospitals and physicians around advanced analytics in healthcare.

There are four major reasons why many EHR vendors are ditching old reporting platforms and connecting their platforms to advanced healthcare analytics engines.

Data access from multiple sources

An EHR would need to connect to multiple data sources to support the reporting and analysis needs for population health and patient outcomes. Community, public or private health information exchanges offer data in different formats that require different integrations. Advanced healthcare analytics centralizes that function so multiple health groups can leverage a common platform that extracts data from different entities.

Real-time analysis

For those looking to go beyond the basic reports most EHR products offer out of the box, the need for meaningful insights based on data collected from multiple sources is extremely valuable. This is especially true when the analysis is used in real time or during the care episode where a provider is able to take advantage of the analysis.

A data hub for population health management

Another aspect of what a robust data repository and analysis engine can support is population health management. By needing to access, manage and manipulate larger sets of population data and performing advanced analysis on it, a local or on-premises system would be too much of a financial burden for anyone to take on in order to accomplish the analysis task. EHR vendors are likely to recommend a hosted model to support these requirements.

Advanced reporting capabilities

The ability to access and leverage the data within an EHR and billing system is becoming more relevant for health organizations. The data offers support in several areas, such as the measurement and performance for patient outcomes. It also helps identify populations with specific risk factors, reduces penalties associated with hospital readmissions and analyzes utilization. These are all areas in which it becomes important for an EHR vendor to deliver adequate and powerful reporting capabilities.

Today the conversation is no longer around the availability of the hardware platform that can support the reporting platform or whether there is adequate storage for all the data needed. The conversation is about having access to advanced analytics in healthcare and intelligence services that can support the advanced analysis physicians and patients need. 

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