Ad hoc reporting has risen to prominence over the last few years for its capacity to improve data analysis for any end user. In environments such as healthcare, where tight IT budgets pale in comparison to the expenditures rightly used for patient care, getting the most out of the least expensive investments is crucial. Developing report designers and tools for healthcare professionals, who may not be the most savvy IT users, is a great way to leverage technology to improve patient care and operations management. Here are four advantages of enabling ad hoc reporting in healthcare:

1. Ad hoc reporting is intelligently customizable

The average physician may not know his or her way around the programming that goes into an HTML5 chart, but he or she can benefit substantially from having the ability to generate dynamic, instructive and easily communicated data visualizations and reports at his or her disposal. Built-in attributes in HTML5 forms, such as autocomplete and list, simplify programming efforts on the back end and the ad hoc reporting process at runtime.

2. Ad hoc reporting priorities data analysis

While big data offers clear benefits for healthcare professionals in preventative medicine, return visit reduction and better diagnostic procedures, integrating it into a useful, real-time ad hoc reporting environment can prove difficult. At this point, healthcare reporting tools need to evolve past the point of simple query capabilities, wrote Health Data Management contributor Bruce Kratz. Dynamic reporting tools that will actually provide benefits to healthcare users need to be facilitate complex report generation and drag-and-drop analytics that can be used in a self-service capacity, as well as advanced querying and database capacities.

"Companies with systems that do not have an easy way for business users to perform ad hoc analysis and augment that with data visualization are limiting the potential value of the system," Kratz wrote.

3. Ad hoc reporting helps foster mobile app integration

The use of mobile apps in healthcare represents a huge step in the progress of faster, smarter and more personalized patient care. Building apps that can access databases, medical information, case studies and smart analytical tools places an unprecedented amount of information at medical providers' fingertips. The Telegraph reported that one app, called UpToDate, utilizes patient data to generate diagnostic opinions and treatment suggestions of more than 10,000 common conditions, based on evidence compiled and peer-reviewed by more than 5,000 medical professionals.

"Physicians have many questions that arise while they're seeing patients, and the data suggests that if you can answer all of those questions, you can actually impact patient care and change decisions that physicians are making," Dr. Denise Basow, the vice president and general manager of UpToDate, told the source. "The idea behind UpToDate is to come up with the typical questions that clinicians have when they're seeing patients, summarize the literature that can answer those questions, and put that all together and provide recommendations for clinicians so they can not only answer those questions but can actually apply them to the patient."

Medical app developers can easily program device-diagnostic programs for streamlined interoperability and optimized information sharing. Integrating jQuery Mobile into ASP.NET Web development can facilitate the simple generation of apps that make a difference right in the doctor's office.

4. Ad hoc reporting keeps patient data secure

Protecting sensitive patient information in compliance with guidelines such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, is an important consideration when creating a platform for data-using technologies such as electronic health records. Developers can add encryption capabilities while programming applications to ensure that users don't have to worry about data breaches while they're using these programs. At the same time, it's important to ensure that security concerns don't infringe on functionality. Ad hoc reporting provides the best of both worlds, keeping information safe while allowing end users a full spectrum of options.