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Enabling Holistic Patient Care with Data and Analytics: Bharti Rai

Bharti Rai, Chief US Commercial Operations, Insights, Analytics, Data Officer at Novartis, shares her views about how healthcare companies should harness the power of data to provide more holistic patient care

Data-driven technologies are transforming the entire healthcare sector, from enabling innovative new approaches to medicine development to improving patient care and even preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

In this week’s Business of Data podcast, Bharti Rai, Chief US Commercial Operations, Insights, Analytics and Data Officer at pharmaceutical firm Novartis, argues that, for best results, healthcare companies should align their analytics programs around forming a holistic view of their patients.

“When the health sector started its digital data journey, it was all about the EMRs (Emergency Medical Responders),” she says. “Then, it became more business process centric. Now, the goal is to use analytics to drive patient care and care delivery to add whatever value the patient needs, even outside healthcare.

“I’d say all the industries within this ecosystem should work together to get a holistic view of the patient. We should be asking ourselves how we can use the power of analytics to make patient care better.”

Key Challenges for Healthcare Data Leaders

Digital transformations are a huge undertaking. Although the stakes are undoubtedly higher in sectors where people’s lives and wellbeing are at stake, many of the healthcare analytics challenges Rai highlights will be familiar to all data-focused executives.

“You’ve got to have your basics around data platforms and modernization in order,” Rai says. “It’s not as easy as just putting everything in the cloud, because this is not only for analytics. Your operations almost run on the data and the platforms. So, I think starting that modernization journey is step one. But we also know that that modernization journey takes a long time. So, how do you provide value?”

To ensure healthcare sector digital transformation projects deliver value, Rai recommends that data-focused executives take steps to ensure they work in close alignment with the business units they serve.

“You should constantly be having conversations to define what success looks like at every stage of the journey,” Rai recommends. “Take stock of where you are, where you've come from, what challenges still remain and what you need from the organization to make more progress. This isn’t a ‘one and done’ process. It's constant learning.”

She continues: “Analytics teams have to go through a lot of pain to drive value, working in an imperfect ecosystem. But it’s essential to earn business’ trust and build credibility. Try to bring the teams closer to the business, so you don’t have to ask business what the next use case is, you can anticipate it.”

“Another big thing is, how do you blend talent from outside the industry with talent that actually understands the industry?” she adds. “Having only one or the other isn’t ideal. You could have the best data scientists in the world, but if they don't understand the data and the context of the business you're in, they won’t be successful.”

Key Takeaways

  • Holistic patient care is the future. The goal of digital transformation in healthcare is to add value for patients. Technology leaders in health should be asking how analytics can add that value
  • Organizational silos remain a challenge. Take proactive steps to align data and business teams, so the data team can anticipate and meet the business’ needs
  • Course correct regularly. Take stock of the organization’s priorities and reprioritize upcoming analytics projects to preserve data and business strategy alignment over time