Use of predictive analytics is helping reduce costs at payers, providers: survey

The use of predictive analytics at healthcare payer and provider organizations is growing at a steady pace, with almost two-thirds of executives (60%) saying they are using the technology within their organizations, according to a new survey from the Society of Actuaries.

The use of predictive analytics grew 13% from 2018, the survey of 200 provider and payer executives found. An additional 29% of executives who say their organizations don’t currently use predictive analytics plan to do so in the next one to five years.

Most executives are using predictive analytics to reduce costs and improve patient satisfaction, and the survey found that these organizations are seeing results that align with the outcomes they’re targeting. Forty-two percent of executives cited reduced cost and 39% cited improved patient satisfaction as actual results from implementing predictive analytics.

One-third of executives also cited increased profitability as a beneficial result. While 42% of executives said improving clinical outcomes was a desired outcome, it was not one of the top three cited results from using the technology. This could indicate that organizations are not seeing as much success using predictive analytics to improve health outcomes.

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Executives also plan to ramp up investment in predictive analytics with 60% of surveyed executives saying they expect to dedicate 15% or more of spending to predictive analytics in 2019.

At the same time, they’re expecting the investment to pay off. Nearly two-thirds of executives (61%) forecast that predictive analytics will save their organization 15% or more over the next five years.

The majority of payer and provider executives (92%) agree that predictive analytics tools are important to the future of their business, and that has increased from 82% of provider executives from last year, according to the survey.

According to the survey, healthcare executives have their eye on using predictive analytics capabilities to further reduce cost. Payer and provider executives believe the future of predictive analytics lies in data visualization (23%) and machine learning (16%)—capabilities that have the potential increase efficiencies.

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“It’s imperative to present datasets in a way that is actionable, visual and tells a clear story. That’s why so many executives cite data visualization as the future of the field—without visuals, they’re just looking at a pile of data that is difficult to understand,” said Sarah Osborne, a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, in a statement. “By enhancing data visualization capabilities, we can present clear analysis with actionable insight to solve a pressing industry challenge.”

Other anticipated improvements include refining data collection methods to increase security (18%), implementing machine-learning techniques (16%), process automation (12%) and mHealth wearables as a form of data collection (10%).

Despite the proven results, executives are still facing barriers to implementing predictive analytics tools. Provider executives cited “too much data” as the top barrier to deploying the technology, while payers see “lack of skilled workers” as the greatest hurdle.

Regulatory issues, such as HIPAA privacy and security laws, incomplete data and lack of sufficient technology also were identified as barriers, according to the survey.