C-suite executives know that data and analytics are no longer nice-to-haves, they are now essential to daily business functions and decision-making. But having the right data is not enough. Organizations need to be able to interpret it accurately to be successful, as the pandemic so clearly demonstrated. Businesses depend on these figures to make the right decisions, and health officials to preserve lives and livelihoods.
With COVID-19 steadily trending down, some optimism and stability have returned to America’s healthcare sector, even as the industry manages through staff burnout, attrition and shortages. But even with COVID-19 numbers down, public health officials, healthcare providers and insurers all know that risks remain—and will require ongoing monitoring. Applying data and analytics will be critical to managing those risks.
Early insights, ongoing vigilance
One of the biggest challenges of COVID-19 was its early classification by the CDC in late 2019 as a “novel” virus—something never seen before, and thus with no baseline data to work from.
In record time, though, scientists were able to assemble and test growing amounts of data that became increasingly more reliable thanks to ongoing analytics feedback loops and expanding sources and volumes—from data on hundreds to thousands to millions of people. That data-driven process drove vaccine development, testing, rollouts and updates; it continues to track variants and their related infection, hospitalization and death rates—and at detailed demographic levels; and it also guides public policy on things like mask recommendations and other precautions.
Data and analytics will also play a leading role in the major go-forward question about the COVID-19 virus: Will it become endemic and less threatening, similar to the seasonal flu and other viruses that the world has learned to cohabitate with on a predictable basis? Or it will it continue to mutate, causing more unpredictable flare-ups in different regions and at different times of the year? Scientists will rely on data to monitor and ultimately answer that question.