Analytics in Healthcare

August 31st, 2013
Contributing Editor: Peter Kelly

“Sick and tired” and “More of the same” come to mind when I think about the never-ending promises of healthcare reform. However, a radically new idea has emerged – that data holds THE answer; the answer to:

Restoring Trust. Empowering the subject of healthcare – the client, and ensuring adherence to the professional ethic, that thou shalt do no harm
Management. Reducing costs, improving accountability – by getting it right, from prevention to rehabilitation
Engagement. Personalising healthcare, thereby elevating the relevance of relationships in health “care” and putting technology where it belongs – in the background.

This newsletter assembled by the Alberta Council of Technologies, portrays analytics and the dara scientist as transformative, as aides – not alternatives, to the healthcare provider and as kickstarting the development of “evidence-based” apps for improved decision making in healthcare – quick and easy, safe and secure.
– Perry Kinkaide MSc, PhD, CMC
Chair: Analytics, Big Data, and The Cloud Conferences – 2012 and 2013

Analytics in managing healthcare

The New World of Healthcare Analytics. We live in a data-driven world, where streams of numbers, text, images and voice data are collected through numerous sources – accessible and moved at the speed of light. Analytics can transform this data into meaningful alerts, decision support and process improvements, for dramatically improving the success of a healthcare organization. When analytics are applied effectively, healthcare organizations can better coordinate decisions, extract and present key clinical information and respond to an evolving situation in real time. They can better use their resources, save more lives, contain costs, improve their services and performance levels and even reduce their environmental impact.

Healthcare Analytics Market to Reach 108-Billiion by 2017. Healthcare payers as well as the providers are leading the users of healthcare analytics for a range of functions from suggesting the most accurate diagnoses, cost reduction, fraud prevention, revenue generation, service improvement to real-time view of the business. The major driver for business analytics is the return on Investments (ROI), with a median of five years, from 10.0% to 1,000.0%.

Analytics-Driven Healthcare: Improving Care, Compliance and Cost. In the face of skyrocketing costs, the healthcare industry is addressing inefficiencies by improving data sharing and collaboration across the industry value chain and applying analytics to improve operations and patient outcomes.

Analytics as an investment priority

Advanced analytics is the top investment priority – half of IDC’s surveyed healthcare providers and payers say analytics is their top investment priority..

Analytics as a physician’s aide

The 10 things IBM is Teaching the World – IBM’s Watson has been designed to assist physician’s in diagnosing and treating patients by querying the system. The doctor enters in symptoms and other related factors, Watson then mines the patient data to find relevant facts about family history, current medications and other existing conditions. It combines this information with current findings from tests and instruments and then examines all available data sources to form hypotheses and test them. Watson can incorporate treatment guidelines, electronic medical record data, doctor’s and nurse’s notes, research, clinical studies, journal articles, and patient information into the data available for analysis.

Analytics in preventative care

Number, Numbers, and More Numbers. Insurers have been crunching numbers for years to figure out which patients are most likely to generate high costs. Now other groups are gauging probabilities of relapses, and the likelihood of a patient’s not taking his or her medicine. Using models that draw on massive troves of medical and other data, some are also focusing on seemingly healthy individuals, trying to prevent problems before they occur.

Analytics in personalizing healthcare

How Data Science Is Transforming Healthcare. An exploratiom of how data analysis will help structure the business of healthcare more effectively around outcomes, and how it will transform the practice of medicine by personalizing for each specific patient.”Data Science is not optional in healthcare reform; it is the linchpin of the whole process.”

Scandu Scout – the World’s First Tricorder. In order for people to take a more active role in their health, they need to not only have the data, but know what the data means and how to act on it – a consumer, rather than clinical, pathway to medicine. The Scanadu Scout™ incorporates algorithms, for analyzing measurements’ data and interpreting them. ALSO The Scandu Broke Indigogo’s Crowdfunding Record. $100,000 was raised in less than two hours and doubled it in five. The next phase of Scanadu Scout’s production is to develop the educational component of the device.


Top 10 Game Changers in Hospital IT Healthcare Healthcare is always changing. Information technology is always changing. Put them together in today’s acute care setting, and you have a prescription for change on an extraordinary level. Listed below are the top 10 healthcare IT game changers that affect all stakeholders — patients, clinicians and hospital IT departments. They represent both opportunity and challenges, depending on your point of view. Dealing with these concepts — indeed embracing these concepts — is not just a good idea, it is an absolute necessity.

TBR’s SourceIT Healthcare Report – provides business insight into the IT investments healthcare organizations are planning for meeting government requirements and improving operational efficiency. Healthcare IT in North America is at a crossroads as mandates, business pressure, new technologies, big data and consumerization buffets payers and provider alike. The Report helps IT vendors understand how these forces are shaping $34.5 billion in IT spend, where those dollars are going and who authorizes the budgets.”


“Disruption” – Silicon Valley’s Worst Buzzword. Sometimes buzzwords become so pervasive they’re almost inaudible, which is when we need to start listening to them. “Disruptive” is like that. It floats in the ether at ideas festivals and TED talks; it vanishes into the jargon cluttering the pages of Forbes and Harvard Business Review. There’s a quarterly called Disruptive Science and Technology; a Disruptive Health Technology Institute opened this summer. Disruptive doesn’t mean what it used to, of course. It’s no longer the adjective you hope not to hear in parent-teacher conferences. It’s what you want investors to say about your new social-media app. If it’s disruptive, it’s also innovative and transformational.1 We can’t often name the person who released a cliché into the linguistic ecosystem, but in this case we can, and we also know why he did it. He’s Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, and he wanted to explain why upstart enterprises drive better-established companies out of business. In his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen launched the phrase that has transmogrified the English language: “disruptive innovation.”

John Sculley on the Consumer Revolution in Healthcare. When Steve Jobs recruited John Sculley to join Apple 30 years ago, he became the first big brand consumer marketer to head a Silicon Valley company. Jobs knew that the PC would eventually become a consumer product and would need the same marketing prowess as other household brands. Thirty years later, and healthcare has missed both the PC revolution and the Internet revolution. But John Sculley won’t let healthcare miss the new era of consumer-centric wellness and health. He believes that disruptive innovation in this space will be about connecting the dots between high tech, healthcare, and consumer branding.


Vincent Granville’s blog – How to eliminate a trillion dollars in healthcare costs. Over a five year period, based on better analytics, and where everybody wins – except current suppliers.


“The Leading Edge of Healthcare & Robotics” is the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology (CCAT) first networking event of Fall 2013 by Nathan Armstrong – Design Engineer & Leader of Multiple Industry Groups. Examining the latest innovations in robotics and how they might affect personal healthcare in the near future. Will the future of healthcare look similar to today, or will robots drastically change the face of the medical industry? Exploring the trends and upcoming technologies – an in-depth look at what the future might hold. Learn more about healthcare tech trends and network with local business and tech professionals.Wednesday September 11, 2013. Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) – 3608 – 33 St NW, Calgary Register: or contact or phone 403-282-4759


Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA®) Individuals who earn the CHDA designation will achieve recognition of their expertise in health data analysis and validation of their mastery of this domain. This prestigious certification provides practitioners with the knowledge to acquire, manage, analyze, interpret, and transform data into accurate, consistent, and timely information, while balancing the “big picture” strategic vision with day-to-day details. CHDA-credentialed professionals exhibit broad organizational knowledge and the ability to communicate with individuals and groups at multiple levels, both internal and external.

Teenage Cancer Innovators. Some teenagers spend their free time playing video games. Others dedicate their after-school hours to a job, scooping ice cream or taking movie tickets. Still others play a sport, or are star members of a debate team. And still others spend their free time in a lab, working on ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.


Troy Media has assembled Alberta’s Analytics Industry magazine for ABCtech with a dozen original articles citing the broad impact of analytics including a directory of over 100 Made-in-Alberta analytics companies. Please contact for sponsor opportunities.

Visit for an exclusive viewing of several analytics and healthcare related presentations videos at ABCtech’s Analytics, Big Data, and The Cloud Conferences held in Edmonton in 2012 and conducted simultaneously in both Edmonton and Calgary this past May 2013.

The Renaissance Revisited

By: Perry Kinkaide, Founder & Past President – Alberta Council of Technologies

Analytics just keeps getting better. Two years ago our theme “Off-loading Intelligence – When Machines Decide!” was punctuated with repeated declarations of: “It’s sooner than you think!” And then in 2012, encouraged by IBM’s Watson winning Jeopardy, and popularized by Hollywood’s film ‘Moneyball,’ we tweaked the theme and organized our Conference to reflect the popularity of “Analytics, Big Data, and The Cloud”. The associated Conference for 2013 reconvenes in BOTH Calgary and Edmonton May 13-15th – visit (ABCtech subscribers receive a 10% discount when Registering On-line using the Subscriber discount CODE ABCtech4U ) Featured panels portray a wide-array of Alberta applications and commercialization issues across industry, research and government. Key features are broadcast via WebTV between sites and globally. The ICT data-storage/processing industry continues to morph into a service. And, apps that are programmed to actually learn are imminent. It’s just a matter of time, and indeed – ‘sooner than you think’.

The market for analytics continues to attract broad interest as an aide to decision making from varied industries and professions; just see the the range of perspectives shared in this newsletter. This Renaissance Revisited features the governments of the US and Canada declaring policies of Open Data and managers being challenged to surface and secure answers from reservoirs of formerly ignored data. To secure a strong advantage and keep up with NOW, the leaders of today MUST:

  • Anticipate. Employ predictive analytics for securing improved customer service, program/product evaluation and design, and as a means to increase market share
  • Get Nimble. Remove cultural barriers, archaic policies and hierarchical structures impeding responsiveness
  • Learn. Seek out anomalies, the source of innovation
  • Collaborate. Improve ease of access to data and integrate siloed data sources
  • Decide. Increase productivity employing data as an aide to decision making
  • Automate. Investigate algorithms for possibly automating labour intensive/error prone management processes
  • Compete. Treat data as an asset and employ analytics for a competitive edge
  • Discover. Employ huge data sets and analytics tools to better understand intricate topics such as: the universe and our origins, the earth’s climate and weather, the brain and behavior, and what’s relevant to you.

No implication is any more significant than the opportunity to feed the voracious appetite of people to be informed anytime, anywhere. For democracy, borders become irrelevant. For markets, data is a huge competitive asset for customizing service. For the professions, analytics may signal “the beginning of the end” of the professionally dominated, knowledge economy. The professional-client relationship features: waiting lists, high public and private costs and rising, and weak client engagement. Today’s clients are impatient with increasingly consumer-like expectations, to the chagrin of busy professionals. The “personalization” of professional markets has enormous implications for customizing service, speeding up responses and redefining the role of knowledge-intensive, expensive professionals – such as coaches, where relationship skills are in demand. By the way, and this may be peculiar to Alberta, “busy” has become a new by-word – an impersonal response to anyone asking “How are you!”

Where knowledge-based decisions are error-prone, and yield to data, sensors monitor remote assets with system controls. Witness the promise of remote personal health monitors, unmanned vehicle transportation, customized entertainment, speed matchmaking, reprogrammable robotics in manufacturing. A new beginning. The time is now!

Google And Social Media Analytics

Social media started as an animal of its own. Companies were used to analyzing website statistics such as page views, total views, and bounce rate; however, with social media booming companies have found it harder and harder to truly analyze the effectiveness of their social media campaigns.

Now enters Google’s new social analytics feature. Google recently rolled out this feature on is standard Google Analytics dashboard. It is located under the tab standard reporting tab and provides a look at social media interactions with your page. Google’s new social analytics feature will give companies a glimpse at whether their social media efforts are working like never before.

Google has created a tool that makes it easy to see how many visitors are coming from social media outlets as well as conversion rates of interactions. “This is really good for people who don’t know how social media is impacting their sites,” said Jonathon Allen, director of Search Engine Watch. “You can track conversions and attribute them to social media.” This is something that many companies have been struggling with. Google’s new social media analytics tool may be the answer to some of the questions regarding how to truly determine if your social media efforts are paying off.

In addition, Google introduced a new service, Social Data Hub, which enables marketers to see which URLs were shared across social networks, as well as comments and conversations connected to those URLs, matching users to sharing events. This will allow companies to have a clearer picture of their social media presence. They can determine a little easier what outlets are working and which aren’t.

This platform will allow companies to allocate more time to what is working and less to what isn’t. They can also see what isn’t working and determine if a new strategy needs to be discussed. Google is still working out some major issues. For example, the current analytics tool does not take into account views from vendors such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck. This can leave out a significant reach of customers. Therefore, like with anything, this insight should be viewed along with other data.

This is a huge step though or the social media world and I look forward to seeing how the statistics hold up over time.

Storage Moving To The Cloud

More and more companies are slowly moving all or part of their storage systems from traditional SAN or NAS storage to cloud based storage options. Companies are becoming more receptive to the idea of cloud based storage and companies are enthusiastically jumping on board.

The main concern that many companies have is over security. We always feel that something close to use is safer. In fact,  InformationWeek, recently published a research paper, Research: State of Storage 2012, that touches on many of the concerns surrounding both SAN and cloud-based storage solutions. The author, Kurt Marko, states that 79% of 313 survey respondents still have major concerns about security with cloud based storage services, while 52% (down slightly from 55% for 2011) have reliability and availability concerns.

However, this is only a tiny bit of the story. Companies are getting very used to the idea of using cloud storage for archive purposes, effectively building a hybrid approach, which values SAN for high-speed tier 1 access and cloud storage for everything else. As companies switch their archived documents and tier 2  documents to the cloud, they will start feeling more and more secure with the process. If the cloud works efficiently for them in these areas they will be much more likely to switch their tier 1 documents to the cloud as well.

So where does this leave the SAN and NAS storage companies? The Networking computing site brings up some great points in this area, most purveyors of cloud technologies, storage included, rely on SAN technology in their own data centers, simply shifting the SAN market from the enterprise to the service provider. However, the days of onsite SANs may still be numbered, caused by the migration of other technologies and services into the cloud. The real question here for IT pros and SAN vendors should actually be, how deep will businesses dive into the cloud?

These are legitimate questions for those involved in the cloud or SAN/NAS fields. What does the future hold for data storage?

Netflix Needs Analytics?

We live in a society of instant gratification. Netflix feeds the fire by offering instant movies streaming to your computer or television. No need to wait for movies in the mail. Another feature that is often talked about is the viewer recommendation system.

Netflix monitors data on viewing habits and is able to create a list of movies, that according to data analysis, shows you will like. Netflix has said it needs to make its recommendation system better. As Netflix’s computer analytics software learns more about each subscriber, the suggestions aim for even narrower targets and better recommendations as a whole.

Netflix executives said they are building on the system. Currently they have approximately 13 years of data to run through to help determine what movies are best suited to certain types of people. The better the recommendation system, the happier the customer. Netflix claims that 2/3rds of the instant views by subscribers is based off of recommendations. This makes it all the more important to ensure the analytics used in determining what viewers might like are accurate.

The goal now is to learn individual viewing preferences so well that every recommendation is a hit with that subscriber, says Ciancutti, Netflix’s vice president of product engineering. The idea behind the recommendation system is to keep viewers inundated with “new” unseen movies so they are not forced to search out videos of their choosing.

Netflix has a limited offering of streamable movies, so the key is to keep customers from looking for specific movies. Instead keep them happy with what is available. “The signals we are getting about what people are watching, when they are watching and how much they are watching are much richer than ever before,” says Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer. Even if customers do not want to take the time to rate a movie, Netflix can help determine if they liked the movie or not. Did they watch multiple episodes of a television series, did they stop half-way through and never finish it. If they watched multiple episodes this most likely means they like the show, if they stop halfway through and never watch it again, they probably didn’t care for the movie or show.

Using analytics, Netflix hopes to better be able to understand consumer viewing habits and truly offer a recommendation system like none other available. Imagine being able to rely on the recommendations and never have to search out reviews for movies again. Netflix’s use of analytics could be a movie lover’s dream come true.

Putting The Climate On Our Side With Analytics

IBM has taken a natural resource that is known for its erratic behavior and turned it into a reliable source of energy. IBM has teamed up with Vestas, the world’s largets wind energy company, and has made it possible to pinpoint the optimal locations for wind turbines to maximize energy production and reduce energy costs.

When dealing with wind energy determining the best place to place the wind turbines is key. If you put a wind turbine in an improper place it can be an expensive waste without much payout. However, a properly placed wind turbine can be a reliable and renewable energy source.

“Wind energy is one of today’s most important renewable energy sources,” says Lars Christian Christensen, vice president, Vestas Wind Systems A/S. “Fossil fuels will eventually run out. Wind is renewable, predictable, clean and commercially viable. By 2020 as much as 10
percent of the world’s electricity consumption will be satisfied by wind energy and we believe that wind power is an industry that will be on par with oil and gas.” Therefore, the partnering of IBM with Vestas just makes good sense. Analytics are used to determine turbines are placed in optimal locations for the most energy output possible. This ensures that the turbines are being used effectively.

People typically think it is not rocket science, just put a turbine in the windiest place possible. This is not the case though. The windiest location may not generate the best output and revenue for energy companies. Turbulence is a significant factor as it strains turbine components, making them more likely to fail. Avoiding pockets of turbulence can extend the service life of turbines and lower operating costs, which reduces the cost per kilowatt hour of energy produced. Analytics programs are able to predict turbulence and wind production and determine the best places for turbines with a good consistent wind flow with little turbulence.

Aside from determining good locations for wind turbines, analytics can also be used to help determine which type of turbine would do best in a variety of settings. Knowing which places to put turbines combined with the knowledge of the product to be used, companies like Vestas can see a greater return which is incredibly important for those companies and individuals investing in these wind energy projects. Wind energy may very well be a great energy source for the future with analytics on their side.

Fighting Crime with Analytics

Analytics is being used in a number of different industries; however, there may be none more important than the analytic work being performed by the Memphis Police Department. With the help of IBM software, the police department is using analytics to reduce and control crime in Memphis.

With traditional policing practices unable to thwart a rising rate of criminal activity and budgets tight, the Memphis PD pioneered a way to focus their patrol resources more intelligently. By recognizing crime trends as they are happening, MPD’s predictive enforcement tool gives precinct commanders the ability to change their tactics and redirect their patrol resources in a way that both thwarts crimes before they happen and catches more criminals in the act.

Director Larry Godwin realized that the MPD’s existing practices weren’t working to stem a steady rise in Memphis’s crime rate, he realized that there were no “silver bullet” solutions. His willingness to experiment and break cultural barriers opened the door to solving the problem. “You can have all the technology in the world, but if you don’t have the leadership and the guts to make some changes, you probably won’t succeed.”

It may be hard to believe but the analytics system deployed by the MPD is truly working. In fact the crime reduction statistics are remarkable.

  • 30% reduction in serious crime overalll
  • 36.8% reduction in crime in one targeted area
  • 15% reduction in violent crime
  • 4x increase in the share of cases solved in the MPD’s Felony Assault Unit (FAU), from 16 percent to nearly 70 percent
  • Overall improvement in the ability to allocate police resource in a budget-constrained fiscal environment.

As you can see, the results of the analytics data and predictive modeling are astonishing. Imagine if police departments nation or world-wide deployed these systems. The ability to analyze data does not have to end with marketing research, there truly is no end to the good that analytics could do for communities as a whole when put into the proper businesses and communities hands.

Future Proofing Your Business With Analytics

No matter what business industry you are in, you are always trying to model the future. Who wouldn’t want to future proof their business? This is exactly what organizations such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are providing to their customers.

Most companies do not have skilled, professional statisticians on their team. Many companies have a plethora of data, but no one to analyze it and turn it into a plan of action. This is where outside consulting companies such as TCS come into play.

According to Abid Ali Neemuchwala, a global head at TCS, “Decision makers do not rely on intuition and past knowledge alone. In order to not only understand trends but predict customer and market behavior in the future with certainty, analytics married with expertise and skills to help decision making is critical.” Intuition and using knowledge from the past are important, but a company can sometimes predict commonly unforeseen events by using analytics.

Analytic modeling can be used across the board in the business setting. From determining the number of new hires to increasing production efficiency, there really is no area of business that can not be analyzed from a statistical standpoint. This modeling is what can make or break an organization in the long run. With predictive modeling a company is able to see changes in the market before the trained human eye can. This allows the company to adjust to these changes and possibly reap the benefits from it.

In the future I think we will see more and more companies focusing on long-term big data monitoring and companies will focus on a proactive (instead of reactive) approach to business. They will be able to model by looking at certain trends when the best times are to ramp up production or scale back.

I believe having leaders in the analytics field whether they are in-house or outsourced, will become a necessity to remain competitive in the markets of the future. What ways do you utilize analytics to stay ahead of the game?

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