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Healthcare Analytics and Why it Matters

Published 2021-01-18 08:21:28


Healthcare analytics in today’s healthcare landscape is critical to the success of any organisation. As the industry shifts from volume-based business outcomes to value-based outcomes, healthcare systems and processes are simultaneously facing pressures to reduce costs, improve system efficiencies, and effectively allocate resources while improving patient outcomes. At the core of achieving all these targets is analysis and reporting. By leveraging the power of business intelligence tools, organisations can discover critical insights essential to formulating data-driven decisions that lead to sustainable and successful patient care and business practices.

Preventative Care

Preventative healthcare plays a massive role in managing and mitigating the development of illnesses and diseases. One main reason why preventative healthcare is so critical is that it promotes the prolonged wellbeing of an individual. Another reason is that it reduces healthcare spending. According to a research paper commissioned by The Hospital Association of South Africa, the average length of stay (ALOS) in South African public hospitals is 5.3 days equating to an average cost per admission of R8,775[1]. Considering that the General Household Survey found that as many as 45 million South Africans largely depend on public healthcare[2], it is clear to see why our public healthcare facilities are continually under strain. 

With the integration of healthcare analytics, healthcare costs can be reduced while improving patient outcomes using predictive analytics. Predictive analytics uses historical data and patient patterns to make predictions about potential future outcomes based on individual health records and personal habits. Through the use of predictive analytics, healthcare professionals can monitor and isolate high-risk patients to develop tailored preventative patient care plans that reduce hospital visits and hinder the progression of certain conditions.

Predictive analytics has also played a helping hand in understanding the nature of COVID-19. Across the globe, healthcare systems have leveraged Big Data and predictive analytics to build models that have forecasted the diseases spread in certain communities, the potential impact on resources, mortality rate estimations, and much more.

Reduce Human Error

Human error is a significant concern for patient safety as it is a contributing cause to patient deaths. According to a study conducted by John Hopkins patient safety experts, more than 250,000 deaths per year in the US are due to medical errors[3]. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in high-income countries, as many as one in 10 patients are harmed while receiving hospital care. Of these events, 83% were concluded to be preventable.[4]

Human error encompasses a myriad of unintentional mistakes that can be administrative or operative. With healthcare analytics, healthcare errors such as prescribing the wrong medications or paper-based errors can be reduced by leveraging BI (business intelligence). With a BI platform, patient information is processed in an automated system that validates patient data to reduce duplication and other errors. The platforms are also integrated with electronic health records which help make accurate patient information readily available in fast-paced hospital environments that are prone to mistakes.

Improve Resource Allocation

Hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers depend on various elements to operate at optimal levels. The inability to deliver quality care within these facilities is mainly due to improper financial management and the misallocation of resources such as staff, supplies, and other facility equipment. A research study by Humana published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), estimated that 25 per cent of health care spending in the US can be characterised as waste[5]. The study found that administrative complexity was the most significant contributor to waste.

With analytics, healthcare organisations can collect and analyse metrics that improve operational efficiencies. Having access to these reports can help guide decisions that ensure the correct amount of staff are available, budget expenditures are accounted for automatically, and to monitor equipment such as the number of beds and ICU units available.

Value-Based Patient Care

According to a survey by the American Medical Association, for every hour a physician spends with patients, they spend nearly two additional hours on administrative tasks throughout the day[6]. Automated healthcare reporting can help shift the focus away from time-consuming manual reports and other administrative tasks. With BI reports, healthcare providers can access information specific to each patient to administer tailored care based on medical and biometric data.

Increased Facility Performance

As with any other industry, key performance Indicators (KPI’s) in the healthcare sector are essential to monitoring performance, fostering decision making, and cost reductions. Through visual dashboards that display patterns and trends over time, healthcare organisations and professionals can view KPI’s that affect operational performance and patient satisfaction. KPI’s that are monitorable include waiting times, average treatment costs, re-admission rates, average stay per patient, etc.


As the healthcare sector shifts towards value-based outcomes, data-driven reporting is becoming an increasingly important component in delivering quality patient care. The ability to have accurate and reliable available at the right time and right place proves to be an invaluable asset that helps reduce costs, increase operational efficiencies, and improve patient outcomes.


1. Ramjee, Shivani. Comparing the Cost of Delivering Hospital Services across the Public and Private Sectors in South Africa. University of Cape Town, University of Cape Town, 1 Oct. 2013, Accessed 27 July 2020.

2. SA, S. (2017). General Household Survey. [online] StatsSA. Available at: [Accessed 27 Jul. 2020].

3. Daniel, Michael. “Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. - 05/03/2016.” Hopkinsmedicine.Org, 31 Dec. 2015. Accessed 27 July 2020. 

4. WHO. “WHO | 10 Facts on Patient Safety.” WHO, Accessed 27 July 2020.

5. Shrank WH, Rogstad TL, Parekh N. Waste in the US Health Care System: Estimated Costs and Potential for Savings. JAMA. 2019;322(15):1501–1509. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.13978

6. American Medical Association, and American Medical Association. 2019 AMA Prior Authorization (PA) Physician Survey. American Medical Association, 2019, Accessed 27 July 2020.


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