Posted: November 8, 2017

“Big data" has become a technology catch phrase, even in healthcare, where providers, insurers, and policymakers strive to optimize a healthcare delivery system that balances costs, outcomes, and patient privacy. Leveraging that information for administrative and clinical decisions and to protect patient records from prying eyes could be the ideal solution to many challenges you’re facing today.

But while we hear a lot about "big data" and want to understand what that means for healthcare, we believe the bigger and more valuable challenge is figuring out how to integrate all of the data sources necessary.

Plus, the amount of data being produced today is growing rapidly. Consider these facts:

  • “Every two days we create as much data as we did from the beginning of time until 2003," writes Bernard Marr, in his recently published book, Data Strategy.
  • A recent report from the Stanford University School of Medicine concludes that data is the greatest force influencing healthcare trends today. “Whether it is health wearables or on-demand testing, better hospital software or algorithms capable of catching disease more effectively, rapid change is taking place because of increased access to big data and advanced data analytics," says Lloyd B. Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine.
  • The Stanford report, Harnessing the Power of Data in Health, notes that data is permeating the entire healthcare ecosystem, from medical research and remote diagnostics to patient experiences and quality of care.

So, how do you wrestle the bear that is healthcare consumer data and organize it in a way that actually helps drive business growth?

Solving for Integration is Solution Number 1
For healthcare marketers, integrated technology, including machine learning, facilitates the use of data for everything from delivering targeted content to patients and prospective patients to measuring and analyzing ROI.

Moreover, one of the key trends evolving in 2017 is greater integration of analytics with other enterprise solutions — on platforms that are “data- and source-agnostic." Integrating data and analytics in this way allows you to better understand your prospective and existing patient populations’ current and future needs through more advanced predictive analytics. This gives you the ability to target and personalize your outreach to them and help drive population health initiatives in a 1:1 way.

In order to leverage information for content development and outreach, healthcare marketers need the ability to both access and analyze that data. Looking ahead, organizations will have to “carefully consider business outcomes before investing in personnel, data, and infrastructure. This will foster a stronger partnership between the business and IT."

This is particularly true for the healthcare sector, in which there is a growing demand for analytical tools that seamlessly connect to cloud-hosted data sources. “Such tools enable businesses to explore and visualize any type of data, stored anywhere."

Next, Organize Your Data Efficiently
Once your multiple data sources are integrated, it’s time to think about how best to make use of this wealth of information. Analytics capabilities are an essential part of any technology solution related to marketing and content delivery, but they need to be structured in a way that helps you organize your data by use case. Whether you’re using data to help segment markets and deliver personalized messages across multiple online channels, run predictive models around specific diagnoses propensities, or learn what paths lead to more loyalty and better outcomes, you’ll need tools to divide and conquer all that data.

As healthcare marketers focus on delivering more personalized and relevant online content, they need to improve their data capabilities in order to optimize consumer experiences online, and to maximize engagement. In a recent eConsultancy survey, 96% of executives, across multiple industry sectors, said they believe that improving their data analysis capabilities is fundamental to delivering a great customer experience. If this is one of your healthcare organization’s major initiatives, you’ll want a CRM set up to help you organize your data for these use cases.

Don’t Forget Data Security and Privacy Protection
Managing large amounts of data has the healthcare industry grappling with the need to leverage the benefits of data sharing with the responsibility to maintain patient privacy and trust. “Data ownership and privacy considerations must be a key priority for companies working with data, especially if its personal data," says Marr. “Your data strategy should also take account of data security considerations, and the need to prevent data loss and breaches."

Despite the integration and security challenges associated with big data, the technology to leverage vast amounts of information is poised to transform the healthcare industry, influencing everything from content marketing to quality of care.

"Like the rest of the world, healthcare is becoming increasingly connected, but also increasingly complex," says Minor. “We at Stanford Medicine believe in a vision of healthcare … that is more preventive, predictive, personalized, and precise."

Without a healthcare CRM that easily and securely lets you manage your growing stream of data, flowing in with proper encryption and out with proper privacy compliance, you won’t be able to truly leverage all that information. So you need a solution that is as open to integration as it is closed for privacy and security concerns.

Want to learn more about how data integration can improve healthcare? Read our posts about enterprise data hubs and being set up to manage technology change in healthcare.