Nearly every other industry uses analytics to understand cost drivers, return on investment and other data.
It's time to bring health care into the fold, consultant Blake Zenger said Thursday.
Employers, health plans and providers can't make good decisions without analytics, he said at a Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care workshop.
Health care analytics isn't the same as health care reporting, said Zenger, who is president and founder of Zenger Analytics.
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"There is a huge difference" between knowing that costs are going up for musculoskeletal problems and knowing that costs are going up because employees are obese, don't exercise, don't comply with physicians' recommendations and opt for surgical treatment of back pain, he said.
Reporting shows usage; analytics provides information to shape health benefits in a way that can change usage.
Zenger's presentation was part of a series of workshops the coalition is having for members to help them understand value-based benefits design.
Analytics will be one of "the sexy jobs" in the next 10 to 15 years, Zenger predicted, as demand for analyses of data increases.
Most employers get silos of data, he said, and are left on their own to decipher it. And "employers are not all that good at it."
He suggested using self-service Web-based tools and finding someone with the time and skill set to run reports. But even that is only a slice of the big picture, he said.
Something as simple as looking at trends for the percentage of employees who fall into a high-risk category will begin to tell a story, he said, and that information should be available from self-reported health risk assessments or from claims data.
"I really am pretty excited about where analytics is headed in health care," he said.