Effective Data Management is Helping Keep Advocate Health Care’s Patient Healthy

Kim Scanlon
Kim Scanlon

Guest post by Kim Scanlon, manager, infrastructure and environment, Advocate Health Care.

Advocate Health Care (AHC), based in Illinois, is the Midwest’s largest health system. It includes 13 hospitals, two physician groups, a home care company, a laboratory joint venture and more than 200 sites that provide care. AHC typically serves about 3.4 million patients annually – as you can imagine, that results in a lot of patient data. As such, we recently adopted a single platform approach and standardization of processes for storing and sharing information that enables us to manage patient data in a more timely, cost-effective and streamlined manner.

Patient data is the lifeblood of our IT infrastructure. Given the size of our organization, it’s essential that we have a shared vision on how we manage, access and share information across all sites. Our health system exists to provide a full spectrum of care, so it’s vital that we have a data management system in place that helps ensure patient data meets compliance requirements and is quickly recoverable. Additionally, AHC has the state’s largest physician network of primary care physicians, specialists and sub-specialists, so this organized approach to managing data serves to connect patients with providers and vice-versa, ensuring no relationship is left unmatched.

Advocate Health Care maintains a bank of internal data from payroll, financial and HR applications, as well as clinical apps. As a result, it was producing an extreme amount of information on a daily basis that needed to be stored and managed by our corporate information system. Not all data management companies and solution providers understood our desire to integrate this data into one holistic platform. When it came time to find a new data management partner in 2011, many vendors recommended disparate systems or processes that siloed, rather than integrated, our in-house data management initiative.

On the other hand, CommVault – our current data management partner – helped us understand the importance of centrally managing a common set of data and information policies that spans diverse groups and systems. To further reduce risk, its Simpana software has helped us to ensure that all data sources are accounted for in a single, organization-wide search.

Before joining forces with our current data management partner, all of our data management operations were done manually. We used several strategies, including paper records and tape backup, which were subject to human error. We recently moved to a converged process for backup and archive, which allows us to derive business value without the potential risk of someone making an avoidable and unfortunate mistake.

The Advocate Health Care system was created to provide better quality care. Now that we have a single software platform for data and information management, we’re able to focus on our main priority: getting and keeping our patients healthy.

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