First of all, what is analytics? Simply put, it is transforming data into information and knowledge, and making those insights actionable. Healthcare analytics is applying statistical tools and techniques to healthcare data to study past situations, such as clinical outcomes or operational performance, in order to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical and business processes and performance.
With the transition from paper to electronic medical records, and ever growing internal and external regulatory pressures to the healthcare system, there is increasing need for analytics for organizations to improve efficiency, provide high quality care while cutting costs.
A LinkedIn subscriber and Chief Data Scientist provides a good explanation of data analytics as well as simple guidelines in working with data. He goes on to say, “For all its science components, Data Science is primarily an art.”
Many feel creativity is the opposite of analytics, that creativity is exploratory, inspiration or intuition based, free thinking and even visionary. While analytics, on the other hand, is rote, tedious, rigorous and methodical. This is hardly the case! Yes, there is a certain methodical aspect to investigating a business or clinical problem and collecting the necessary data…this is critical. However, it is during the analyze phase where a great deal of creativity is required. It is during analysis that you begin to connect the dots, fill the gaps, gain insights, question other possible connections by being open to what the data can tell you.
Thomas Davenport and Jinho Kim in Keeping Up With The Quants, believe creativity and analytics are in fact closely related, and that the most successful uses of analytics are highly creative.
As an artist (painter) and former critical care nurse working in clinical analytics and performance and quality improvement, here’s a simple equation explaining creativity in analytics-> creativity=curiosity. Curiosity, in my opinion, is at the root of analytics. You have to have a great deal of curiosity to work in analytics in order to go beyond basic assumptions, to tease out patterns, to connect the dots, and discover possible solutions. It is the discovery of insights that is highly creative and the most fun.
So, what is the answer to the question “Is Healthcare Analytics an Art?” I’ll answer it with a quote: