The cure for analysis paralysis

A whole week devoted to health IT and how it’s transforming the world? Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Las Vegas is home to this year’s HIMSS conference. (Shout out to our crew in Booth 6425 — stop by for a coffee if you’re in town! Our folks would love to talk shop with you.) This annual celebration of the impact data and analytics are making in health care keeps growing year over year — a pretty good reflection of the rising influence technology plays for parties across the health system.

This week, I’ve been asked several times what this era of big data means for health care. It’s true — every sector collects more data than it knows what to do with. 30 percent of the world’s stored data are health care-related: that is a massive amount of information!

The fact that it exists isn’t enough, though. Think about a shipwrecked sailor stranded on a deserted island. There’s no shortage of sea water, but what good does that do him? He has to figure out a way to distill it into something useful. We have to do the same thing with big data in health care, and we have to go one step further. Not only do we have to make the data useful — we have to be laser-focused on the challenges we want to solve with it. That’s where health care intelligence comes in.

Health care intelligence helps you avoid the trap of analysis paralysis and focus on your strategic business objectives. There is so much information available that it’s easy to spend time and energy investigating nearly any question your organization is curious to answer … but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a return on that investment. Apply health care intelligence to your business objectives, and you’ll identify the analytics you need — which in turn determine the data and technology you’ll need to have available to you. Then the race is on to find the insights within the data and take pragmatic steps toward achieving your goals.

At Optum, because we partner with clients across the health system, we’ve learned how to connect disparate data to reveal the meaning within. Our experience shapes and builds upon our health care intelligence ― what we call OptumIQ.

OptumIQ informs our products and services so that they maximize results for patients, providers and health plans alike. Solutions with OptumIQ make a difference every day by enlightening possibilities, simplifying workflows and empowering our partners to take action.

This health intelligence foundation uses a three-pronged approach: 

  1. Curated data

Data ― from electronic medical records (EMRs), claims, consumer records and dozens of other sources ― are collected and stored in different ways. Some sources, such as physicians’ notes, are difficult to catalog through traditional methods. Some information is rarely captured by a caregiver, like socioeconomic status, education level or other social determinants of health. Standardizing and linking data is the first step toward usability.

  1. Leading analytics

To gain value out of the curated data, the next step is analytics. Optum solutions use tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and a host of other innovative metrics to seek patterns in quality and outcomes, consumer behavior, cost, risk, utilization and operational performance.

  1. Applied expertise

The human touch is critical. Optum harnesses the wisdom of more than 26,000 technologists, data experts, clinicians, actuaries and public health professionals to explore insights and potential solutions from the analytic findings.

You don’t have to get stranded in the sea of unstructured data. You can connect it, make sense of it and do something useful with it — as long as you have the right tools for the job. Solutions with OptumIQ do exactly that. Avoid analysis paralysis and get your organization on track to support better outcomes, simplified operations and greater patient and client satisfaction. If you’re at HIMSS this year, stop by booth #6425 to learn more about OptumIQ, and if not, visit our website at

About the Author:

Steve Griffiths Photo

Steve Griffiths, SVP and Chief Operating Officer, Optum Enterprise Analytics, Optum

Steve Griffiths has more than 20 years’ experience in health analytics management, and currently heads up the Optum Enterprise Analytics organization. His main focus is to drive growth and innovation through Optum products and services. Steve has a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Washington, and a PhD in health services research, policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.

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