July 21, 2016

Reflections from Healthcare Analytics 2016

Sheila Talton

Healthcare Analytics Slide includes Gray Matter Analytics

As a co-sponsor, we were privileged to participate in this year’s Healthcare Analytics 2016 conference, held in Chicago.

As old friends and some new return home, with the Windy City’s temperate quickly rising, we thought it would be worthwhile to share a few thoughts from the event.

If we had to sum up this year’s message, two words jump out; communication and optimism. Here’s why:


Northwestern University’s J Bryan Bennett and Esther Choy kicked off the event with an interesting spin on leadership models integrated with “storytelling”.

They presented evidence on how healthcare leaders can amplify their message/communication by tapping the power of storytelling.

Healthcare Analytics 2016 conferenceGiven the attention to branding, content marketing, ‘every company is a media company’, storytelling with data, etc… it’s not surprising the idea of storytelling is now working it’s way into healthcare. It’s just the first time we’ve seen it, especially in an analytics setting.

Our take: The benefits to analytics and it’s visualization are well documented. Through ‘storytelling’, we can now share our message more potently by integrating quantitative and qualitative support and adding context in the form of a story. All coming back to better communication.

During the ‘Implementing An Enterprise Analytics Organization at Mayo Clinic’ session, Joseph Dudas, Division Chair — Mayo Clinic caught our attention by sharing some blunt advice: “Infrastructure doesn’t sell to leadership. Value must be proven with use cases”.

This jumps out to us because in many ways, it’s what we’re experiencing when talking with our clients and prospective clients. Everyone gets the technology. Everyone appreciates what analytics can do for them. We’re now far beyond pitching infrastructure and IT. To really sell an idea, management teams need proof positive evidence in the form of rock solid use case examples. Which can be shared best through storytelling and better communication.

The idea of ‘storytelling’ did pop up in several other sessions.


The migration of folks from the finance industry to healthcare also caught our attention. In speaking with several participants, we noticed on more than a few occasions folks telling us their backgrounds came from finance.

Purely anecdotal in nature, but it seemed folks expressed more optimism or opportunity by making the shift to the healthcare industry.

June job numbers showed hiring momentum clearly favors healthcare.

Further optimism around analytics and healthcare was seen in the general tone of content. We noticed event content overwhelming centered around opportunities available with big data and analytics, very little emphasis was given to ‘solving challenges’, such has using analytics to save cost, manage risk or handle regulatory burdens.

Surely participants are using data analytics to solve challenges, but we noticed an up beat tone surrounding tapping the potential available in big data.