Book Review: Health Analytics, Gaining the Insights to Transform Health Care

Overview of Health Analytics

Well-written, non-technical, and thorough discussion of relevant aspects of health analytics. Mr. Burke nails it for the mid-to-senior level administrator who is not sure how analytics fit into their healthcare delivery business.  Target readers are executives, decision-makers, and individuals wanting a jargon free introduction to analytics in health care.

 

Hardcover: 272 pages
Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN-13: 978-1118383049
Publish Date: 1st ed: July 10, 2013
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1118383044

Review

I was sure I was going to hate this book.  The last few high-level health analytics books and papers I read prior to this one were full of big ideas and expectations,  but the concepts lacked credibility (either logically deduced or actually demonstrated) that they would work in the health care environment. Equally off-putting and unfortunate, is that many of these authors do not have the modest caution refined by experiencing numbers of successful and unsuccessful health IT/analytics projects. In other words, these books say “big data” a lot and claim  analytic methods that made lots of money in other industries will revolutionize, transform, and otherwise “make awesome” health care and overall health.

That’s what I was expecting from Burke’s book Health Analytics.  It didn’t help my preconceived ‘talk a lot, but say little’ stereotype that in his Preface, Burke muses that he could have decided to write about health finances, health care policy, even medical tourism rather than health analytics. Really? Is this guy a master-of-all-trades Ben Franklin reincarnated, or something?

Perhaps he is.

While writing a book about Health Analytics, Burke also did something very rarely found in the health IT/analytics genre: he produced quality writing that readers will enjoy.  No, Im not kidding.  Burke has linked analytics with humanity herself by weaving in stories of the Library of Alexandria, geography, and countless personal experiences. He has transformed what could otherwise have been a dry reference manual into a page turner dripping with characters and context. I was hooked by page 20 and even stayed up late to finish it.

At the moment, Health Analytics by Jason Burke has to be one of the best books in it’s class.

It is organized into 14 chapters and each chapter is an easily digestible concept  enriched with stories and contextual details.  You cant read the chapters or view the inside cover on Amazon, so I will list the chapters here:

  1. A Changing Bushiness for A Changing Science
  2. Convergence and the Capability Map
  3. The Four Enterprise Disciplines of Health Analytics
  4. Dealing With Data
  5. BEST Care, First Time, Every Time
  6. Financial Performance and Reimbursement
  7. Health Outcome Analysis
  8. Health Value and Cost
  9. The New Behavioral Health
  10. Customer Insights
  11. Risk Management
  12. Quality and Safety
  13. The New Research and Development
  14. Conclusions

I read a lot of technical and scientific papers, and I have become used to seeing more citations and attributions in quality writing compared to the smattering that Burke cites at the end of some chapters. From that perspective, in this book he definitely draws more from his experience and critical thinking rather than building a scholarly case from the conclusions of other works. Even still, he adds credibility by using insightful detailed examples that someone without Burke’s experience could not fake.  For example, in Chapter 10 “Customer Insights” he describes the predominant reasons why patients do not always take their medications as prescribed. The information he presents is not back up with citations, yet is consistent with the research I am familiar with.  Moreover, he approaches the challenge with optimistic realism, rather that predicting all will eventually be solved with big data and advanced analytics. I appreciate that.

Burke adds more clinical credibility by inviting  Dr. Graham Hughes to guest author  Chapter 5, “BEST Care, First Time, Every Time”.  He also uses plenty of visuals to help communicate his ideas. I counted at least 40 charts, tables and other visuals. Some of these are lengthy reference tables, while other visuals, such as the art-science continuum found in chapter 5, are intended to communicate a very concise idea.

I’m not saying you wont find any cliches or bold statements about the future of health care because of advanced analytics in this book. But they are few and far between (and might possibly be accurate). And for some of you already intimately familiar with health analytics, you might skip a short section here and there that is fairly introductory. That’s OK too, because the book is so well organized with section/topic headings you can easily skip down to the good stuff.

 Conclusion

Great read for almost anyone interested in health analytics. Even if you think you know it all already, Burke has created a story behind his major topic that keeps it intriguing.

The book is very reasonably priced compared to others in the same genre.

Right now You can get the Kindle eBook of Health Analyticsfor only around $35. If you dont have a kindle, you can get a free kindle reader from Amazon here.

And the regular hard copy

jon.

Dr. Jonathan P. DeShazo is an expert on health information technology, clinical data, and consumer informatics. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Adminstration and serves as Scientific Director of the Biomedical Informatics Core at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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