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How Health Care Data Analytics Can Help Employees

April 26, 2022
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In her recent Milwaukee Business News BizTimes article, “Population health analytics leads to better care for employees,” Marquette University Health Care Data Analytics Program Director, Aundrea Price, MBA, MHI, examined how health care data analytics, “defines best practices based on desired outcomes that can be applied to entire populations”. Also, healthcare providers and insurance plans are using analytical methods to design “innovative strategies for people at risk for health issues.” This blog is a further examination of related topics based on her insights.

In the hands of experienced health care data analysts, big data can be leveraged as a powerful tool for positive change and to improve health care outcomes for large groups like employees.

While big data can be obtained from practically any conceivable source and there is no shortage of it, health care organizations need skilled analysts who can gather and interpret these data, identifying interesting patterns and trends, in order to:

  • Enhance the health care experience
  • Improve the quality of care
  • Recommend innovative solutions
  • Lower costs
  • Optimize resource allocation

In today’s data-driven world, health care-focused companies, organizations, departments, and agencies are increasingly looking to health care data analysts to help them become more efficient and productive overall—to the benefit of stakeholders, especially patients.

Where do employees fit into this evolving equation? How can they benefit from data-related advances in health care driven by the science of health care data analytics and population health analytics? Additionally, how can companies who know the power of data lean on health care data analytics to help their employees?

Read on to learn how health care data analytics can be used to customize solutions that improve the health of employees.

Health Data, Large Population Groups and Chronic Conditions

Because certain populations share interrelated conditions and factors that influence lifelong health, data analytics can be used to help these populations identify risk factors, solutions, and commonalities.1 Chronic diseases, by their very nature, are of particular interest for population health analytics.

Leveraged correctly, health data can identify and trend high-risk health conditions that affect a large number of people.

The Diabetes Example

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects more patients than cancer, asthma, and heart disease combined. It’s also on the rise. In 2019 alone, 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with the disease which has long-lasting implications, including a tremendous financial burden.2

Diabetes comes with a number of related health issues which pose severe health consequences such as:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Eye/vision impairment and blindness2

Diabetes is a chronic illness that impacts 37.3 million Americans, or about 10% of the population while another one in five don’t know they have it. Additionally, 96 million American adults, or more than 33%, have prediabetes. Eight out of 10 prediabetics are not aware of their condition.2

The CDC estimates diabetes costs the U.S. $327 billion in medical costs and lost work and wages annually.2 Globally, the cost of diabetes is predicted to reach a staggering $2.1 trillion by the year 2030.3 The cost of diabetes to employees, their families, and their organizations often increases when the disease is poorly managed.

A Closer Look at How Health Care Data Analysts Can Help

How can health data analysts help mitigate the devastating impact of chronic, large population diseases, including diabetes? By aggregating the tremendous volume of data from different sources and providing best-course-of-action insights that can improve long term health.1

Data health care analytics can effectively identify people who currently have prediabetes and diabetes and help prevent future cases while providing a roadmap for treatment.

While ensuring privacy of health information, analytical methods are tools for finding, addressing and pivoting the response to chronic conditions affecting millions of people, including employee groups.

There is no shortage of health data; in fact, today’s biggest challenge is understanding the data we do have and using it to help people where it counts.

Data sources for large population conditions can be found in:

  • Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
  • Medical claims
  • Laboratory results
  • Pharmacotherapy information1

Making sure health care data analytics is conducted by people who have the advanced data skills taught in specialized master’s programs is imperative to keep the data and insights relevant and actionable while following established patient data confidentiality guidelines, laws, and regulations.

The Human Factor

Though the computer capabilities that power big data and artificial intelligence are astounding, human beings will always be involved in the process to derive insights and provide context to healthcare data. Often multiple outcomes can be derived from data, all of which impact the real world and real people, including employees.

Computers play a crucial role and turning data into solutions: Advanced data mining techniques allow incredibly powerful AI to see the hidden connections within huge data sets and adaptive computer models can make reliable predictions concerning the impact of certain interventions and treatments versus others.3

However, it is humans, expert health care data scientists with advanced health care data analytics skills—often gained in master’s programs like Marquette’s online M.S. in Health Care Data Analytics program—who will help decide which courses of treatments, interventions and most appropriate for a certain group of patients. Skilled analysts have that capability.

Data experts know how to evaluate and explore computer-generated results, looking for meaningful patterns and trends, making the appropriate assumptions and conclusions. Analysts work with researchers and health care professionals, to focus on problems and solutions and to craft a story with data that can have an important impact on the successful treatment of employees.

The tools and processes of health data analytics benefit employees and other large population groups facing chronic illness. It’s an ideal way to find out exactly where valuable health care dollars and efforts should be concentrated.

Helping Employees: Bold Ideas for the Future

With data optimizing the policies, protocols, and processes surrounding the health and care of employees, the benefits realized could help create happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive and resilient employees.

A few examples of what could be achieved for employees and their health by properly leveraging population health care data include:

  • Allocating the appropriate number of sick and vacations days to ensure employees are well-rested and are spending enough time maintaining their mental and physical well being so they can improve performance
  • Ideal office spaces and equipment including ergonomic office equipment, office location, layout, and spacing that is best for mental and physical health
  • Beneficial health care messaging includes company-wide messaging that reminds employees to maintain their self-care such as check-up reminders, daily health tips via email, in-office health reminders, workroom health posters, etc.
  • Appropriate support services including mental health services, that address the unseen factors that impact overall employee health
  • Optimal wages to meet employees’ needs for healthy food, housing, extracurricular activities, family planning, etc. that boost long-term health
  • Ideal work and meeting schedules that increase productivity, reduce delinquency and improve work-life balance
  • The ideal employee health care coverage plans and plan premiums that provide the needed care at the best price for employees and employer

Gain the Skills to Help Improve Health Care for Everyone

Marquette’s Health Care Data Analytics Master of Science program takes advantage of the strengths and trajectories of mathematics, statistics, computer science and nursing in combination with our Jesuit tradition to make a career in the innovative, exciting field of data analytics a reality.

Marquette’s online Master of Science in Health Care Data Analytics program empowers you with the multifaceted expertise you need to help countless people and make a lasting difference in health care. Reach out to an Admissions Advisor to learn more about our interdisciplinary online curriculum, experienced and committed faculty and admissions process.

Sources
  1. Retrieved on April 6, 2022, from biztimes.com/population-health-analytics-leads-to-better-care-for-employees/
  2. Retrieved on April 6, 2022, from cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/diabetes-facts-stats.html#
  3. Retrieved on April 6, 2022, from diabetesjournals.org/care/article/41/5/963/36522/Global-Economic-Burden-of-Diabetes-in-Adults