The healthcare system of the future will be one where continuous improvements in patient experience and operational efficiency are informed by data and decisions that are directed by prescriptive analytics. To achieve continuous improvement and drive optimization of healthcare value, we have to shift analytics from monitoring and reporting of what has happened, to using analytics to make decisions.

Gartner found that organizations are today still focused on reporting (37%) and monitoring (37%) with only 27% using analytics to make decisions. In the next 12–24 months however, they expect to see the focus of using analytics to make decisions rise to 69% (“Key Trends in Advanced Analytics,” Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit, 30 March–1 April 2015).

So how can using analytics help us make decisions? Based on analyzing past behaviors, predictive analytics tell us multiple likely outcomes of what might happen in the future. Prescriptive analytics also identify multiple outcomes, but takes it the next step by analyzing the impacts of each of those likely outcomes, then identifies the best possible outcome, thus prescribing the decision.

Using prescriptive analytics for decision making in healthcare

Recently CGI, River Logic and Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada, collaborated on an innovative prescriptive analytics project to identify the best possible options in terms of quality of care, access to care and cost of care. We wanted to understand the impact on the hospital as a whole of decisions made in one area, given interactions and constraints through-out the system.


“We successfully completed an innovative prescriptive analytics project, the first of its kind in healthcare in Canada, to identify the best possible options in terms of quality of care, access to care and cost of care. The CGI Enterprise Optimizer for Healthcare is a powerful decision support tool to model and measure the impacts of a given decision or action on all processes in the hospital or organization.

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., President & CEO, Integrated Health & Social Services, University Network for West-Central Montreal

Now, in a matter of days rather than months, the impact of a change can be evaluated and understood before it is implemented.

While other industries have been doing prescriptive analytics for more than 20 years, it is very new in healthcare and there are many opportunities to harness. Part two of this blog series will discuss example program policies and procedure changes that could be analyzed using prescriptive analytics. Part three will explore the challenges of and opportunities for using prescriptive analytics in healthcare.

About this author

Julie Richards

Julie Richards

Director, Consulting Services

With 30 years of experience in enterprise data and analytics, healthcare informatics and patient care, Julie is a Director of Healthcare Insights/Solutions in the Emerging Technology Practice in the U. S. Commercial and State Government business unit. She is responsible for data and analytics strategies, ...

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