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Q: Now that hospitals are well down the path of meaningful use, what are the next big trends and career opportunities within healthcare IT?
A: (by Stefan M. Werdegar, Vice President and Healthcare IT and Technology Practice Leader) After organizations implement large IT systems (e.g, by Epic, Cerner and Siemens) to achieve meaningful use, critical needs arise for extracting and better applying all data available. The demands for “big data,” and making business decisions from it, will be vital for healthcare as it shifts from volume-based care to value-based care.
Among the biggest trends for using these data relates to managing population health. In this way, we may understand more about a group of people and manage their health outcomes preventively. The growing demands to understand these populations are important as hospitals implement patient-centered Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), improve outcomes and report their core measures. In addition, healthcare executives are asking increasingly complex questions to better understand various aspects of their organizations. These include profitability, pay for performance, quality, efficiency, denial and reimbursement rates, and managed care relationships. Finding data with answers to these areas has skyrocketed the demand for analytics within healthcare organizations, ACOs and other large physician enterprises.
The role of analytics in healthcare is changing dramatically. Today’s analytics leader is an integral member of the IT and quality- planning committees. Undoubtedly, the role of analytics professionals will shift toward enterprise IT systems (electronic health record) and require working with various “bolt-on” packages to manage stored information. To obtain and apply data, analytics professionals should expect to interact with the C-suite, as well as a broad range of colleagues who specialize in:
- Quality and patient satisfaction
- Nursing, home health and long-term care
- Medicine (physician executives), including Chief Medical Information Officers
Several IT vendors are expanding their product offerings to include decision support tools that integrate with popular platforms. Some even have developed analytics packages as enhancements to their standard software. Many key positions due to develop as a result of these changes include:
- Director: Data Analytics; Quality Improvement; Clinical IT; and Revenue Cycle Analytics
- Manager of Decision Support
More career opportunities exist within software vendors and consultancies for senior-level analytics specialists willing to serve as guides. Not only do these professionals help clients manage data and develop advanced reporting, they also teach clients how to leverage this information to make better healthcare decisions.