The respondents' top goals for analytics were identifying at-risk patients (66%), tracking clinical outcomes (64%), performance measurement and management (64%), and clinical decision making at the point of care (57%).
Although this didn't come across in the IDC report, Burghard said that providers engaged in accountable care are also very interested in business intelligence applications that can help them "quantify risk and identify the financial impact of risk, because all of this accountable care stuff is about moving risk to providers. They kind of enter those contracts with payers on a wing and a prayer, without understanding whether they can afford to do appendectomies for $2,000."
Between 30% and 40% of the respondents also expressed interest in mining data from mobile devices, social networks and unstructured clinical data. Health plan providers focused more on these sources than doctors did.
Tens of thousands of health applications now exist for mobile devices, ranging from diet and exercise apps to apps that allow consumers to use their smartphones with glucometers and blood pressure devices. Yet physicians' use of data generated by those devices has been fairly low so far. So why did such a big percentage of IDC respondents cite it?
"Providers realize there's some good stuff there," Burghard replied. "As an industry, we haven't exactly figured out what that good stuff is and how useful it's going to be. But there's a growing recognition that there's an opportunity there."
Underlining her point, a recent survey by EHR vendor eClinicalWorks found that 93% of physicians believe that mobile health apps can improve a patient's health outcome, and 89% are likely to recommend a mobile health app to a patient.
Most significant, 93% said there was value in connecting mobile apps to their EHRs. Six of 10 doctors said the top benefit of this technology was the ability to provide patients with automatic appointment alerts and care reminders.
As large healthcare providers test the limits, many smaller groups question the value. Also in the new, all-digital Big Data Analytics issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Ask these six questions about natural language processing before you buy. (Free with registration.)