Healthcare DataThe retail sector has long been using data to improve its services — from tracking customers’ habits to finding new solutions to age-old problems. In this guest post, Asha Saxena, president and CEO of a data management firm, gives hospital executives a rundown of how they can capitalize on big data. 


Half of U.S. retail marketing executives claim being driven by data helps them maintain a competitive advantage. And, according to research by McKinsey & Co., the U.S. healthcare sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year by harnessing big data and using it to drive creativity and efficiency.

Here’s how you can make the retail model work for you:

  1. Make data part of your routine. The first step is to recognize that data represents an opportunity to serve patients more effectively. While many retailers have had the flexibility to incorporate data tracking and analysis into their infrastructures, many healthcare organizations have focused on adapting to meet new demands placed on them by the government and other organizations. The sooner data becomes a routine part of the decision-making process, the sooner it will pay off — both in improving services and helping meet demands.
  2. Add data to infrastructure. To incorporate data into your infrastructure so you can properly house and analyze it through data visualization tools, set up your environment so you’re monitoring patient feedback and employee performance. Make a list of the metrics you need to prioritize, get a regular feedback cycle going from patients using surveys, and actively call on this information to guide everyday decisions.
  3. Track consumer behavior. Tracking technology has advanced rapidly in the retail space. Amazon has always led the way on this trend, but now, many smaller retailers and software engineers are forging ahead by innovating specific tracking solutions for their markets and products. One example is Shopperception, a product made with motion-detection technology that can monitor customers’ movements and interactions with products.
    Consumer tracking can be adapted to the healthcare space to monitor how patients respond to individual staff members, how their habits change between hospital visits, etc.
  4. Reach out to customers before the need arises. Just as the retail sector uses its customer behavior data to offer customers products before they even know what they want, the healthcare industry can use data to offer preventive care. By better understanding how patients behave and react through advanced electronic medical records (EMRs), hospitals can better predict the future course of an illness and respond before new symptoms become a problem patients.
  5. Track quality and customer service. This is an important one for retailers because looking after quality and service creates loyalty and boosts the bottom line. It can do the same for hospitals. Tracking the performance of staff can illuminate how patients experience your facility. As a result, it can reduce readmission rates due to hospital error, identify an accurate nurse-to-patient ratio and measure patient satisfaction.
  6. Create new revenue streams. Retailers are now using the data they’ve collected to go beyond customer service and innovate new revenue sources. Retail innovators like Nest that have designed technology for a specific function (such as controlling home heating systems) now find that they can innovate further and that the same technology has the scope to tackle a whole community’s carbon footprint.
    Similarly, hospitals could use data they gain through EMRs to conduct studies and uncover trends based on patients’ behavior and history. This information could become crucial to other health organizations — creating an opportunity for increased revenue as well as valuable advancements for patient care.

There are endless opportunities for healthcare to capitalize on the growth of data as an organizational and creative tool. Investing in the data infrastructure of your organization will help you make more intelligent and efficient decisions. You’ll be able to cut out historical analysis and go straight to real-time information to innovate where it really matters — saving patients’ lives.