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How To Improve Your Healthcare Organization’s Business Intelligence

By Jim Buckheit, consultant, Freed Associates.

As healthcare organizations pursue improvements in productivity and clinical outcomes, they are also increasingly turning to business intelligence (BI) systems and staff to provide the data and tools needed to achieve and sustain such gains. The problem is, many organizations’ BI teams – tasked with a myriad of urgent and competing internal demands – often lack the experience, bandwidth and/or big-picture strategic and analytical skills needed to adequately respond to their organizations’ heightened needs.

That was the dilemma faced by a health maintenance organization (HMO) that had doubled its membership and found its BI team ill-equipped to respond to its growing technology needs. The HMO’s experience in recognizing and addressing its BI issues provides a template that other organizations can follow when confronted with similarly pressing BI demands.

The Four R’s of Quality BI Performance

The greatest positive emerging from the HMO’s BI issues was a wholesale reassessment of its BI team’s role, responsibilities, responsiveness and resources. You can call these the four fundamental R’s of well-functioning BI team performance:

Role – Rather than being focused on “doing,” a well-functioning BI team should also consider itself to be a vital strategic partner in the health care organization’s business. Attitudinally and functionally, a BI team needs to operate as a key part of the organization’s business team.

The HMO installed a new BI leader who immediately focused on mentoring and developing existing staff, overseeing and assisting with business analysis and reporting functions and defining a strategic path for the team to meet the HMO’s organizational strategy. This leadership change quickly stabilized the BI team’s performance and enhanced its ability to more effectively respond to internal requests. Your BI team’s leadership should be capable of achieving similar performance.

Responsibilities – Instead of simply being “order-takers” and “project fulfillers,” well-functioning BI team members should be high-quality strategic and process partners with internal clients. Creating and having in place service level agreements (SLAs) between a BI team and its business clients is crucial for establishing expectations for timing, deliverables and process improvement measurement.

For the HMO, the BI team’s new SLAs defined responsibilities for each business team member involved in project requests, performance objectives, documentation and sign-off requirements at milestones. The SLAs also provided project quality measurement standards, project success definitions and internal satisfaction reporting. Do your SLAs provide similar levels of accountability and clarity?

Responsiveness – Delays in responsiveness to client requests are not only inappropriate, they detract from a BI team’s professionalism. Established operational guidelines should delineate proper responsiveness for members of your BI team.

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Business Intelligence’s Role in Improving Chronic Disease Management

Guest post by Nora Lissy, RN, BSN, MBA, director of healthcare information, Dimensional Insight.

Nora Lissy RN, BSN, MBA
Nora Lissy

It’s no surprise that chronic diseases are killing the United States both physically and financially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were from chronic diseases, where two of the conditions—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48 percent of all deaths. To add to the problem – effectively treating these conditions comes with an exceedingly high price tag. According to U.S. News & World Report, 86 percent of all healthcare spending is currently going towards the treatment of these chronic diseases, equating to more than $3 trillion annually.

So how can the healthcare industry combat the rise of chronic conditions while keeping escalating treatment costs down?

One of the most effective tools for monitoring chronic disease management while still keeping an eye on care costs is business intelligence. Business intelligence has continued to increase in prevalence within the healthcare industry in recent years. According to a HIMSS Analytics study, 41 percent of hospital respondents reported they currently use clinical and business intelligence tools for their analytics, with that number expected to continue to increase over the next two years. With business intelligence continuing to prove its value within healthcare, physicians are starting to see the true potential of this data-driven tool to positively impact the industry as whole, including with the management and overall cost of chronic diseases.

Below are three ways that business intelligence can help to improve chronic disease management and lower the rising costs of care.

  1. Care plan adherence: Chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension all require consistent adherence to care plans to improve a patient’s health status. A major part of this also includes frequent follow up appointments scheduled by physician offices that allow providers to check in on a patient’s progress.  A business intelligence capability can significantly help with ensuring that these consistent follow ups occur. Through work queues and alerts, physicians can gain insight and visibility into each individual patient within a population cohort, allowing them to use the most accurate and timely information when scheduling follow up appointments. Business intelligence also provides insight into disease trends across a patient population. Through these insights, physicians can also allow for more personalized and cost effective treatment plans to be leveraged.

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Business Intelligence’s Role in Improving Chronic Disease Management

Nora Lissy
Nora Lissy

Guest post by Nora Lissy, RN, BSN, MBA, director of healthcare information, Dimensional Insight.

It’s no surprise that chronic diseases are killing the United States both physically and financially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were from chronic diseases, where two of the conditions—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48 percent of all deaths. To add to the problem – effectively treating these conditions comes with an exceedingly high price tag. According to U.S. News & World Report, 86 percent of all healthcare spending is currently going towards the treatment of these chronic diseases, equating to more than $3 trillion annually.

So how can the healthcare industry combat the rise of chronic conditions while keeping escalating treatment costs down?

One of the most effective tools for monitoring chronic disease management while still keeping an eye on care costs is business intelligence. Business intelligence has continued to increase in prevalence within the healthcare industry in recent years. According to a HIMSS Analytics study, 41 percent of hospital respondents reported they currently use clinical and business intelligence tools for their analytics, with that number expected to continue to increase over the next two years. With business intelligence continuing to prove its value within healthcare, physicians are starting to see the true potential of this data-driven tool to positively impact the industry as whole, including with the management and overall cost of chronic diseases.

Below are three ways that business intelligence can help to improve chronic disease management and lower the rising costs of care.

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TEKsystems: More Than Half of Healthcare Organizations Have Yet to Implement Business Intelligence Systems

TEKsystems, a provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, releases the results of a survey that explored the current state of business intelligence (BI) system deployments among healthcare organizations. The research, released in advance of HIMSS14, explores many of the concepts serving as central themes to the annual event, including clinical analytics and BI, as well as data interoperability.  Despite the acknowledged benefits that healthcare organizations would realize, the study finds that the vast majority have yet to implement a BI system.

The survey, conducted on behalf of TEKsystems’ Healthcare Services division, represents views of more than 250 healthcare professionals, including senior-level health IT executives and medical staff such as CIOs, directors of information systems and clinical informatics, physicians, and chief nursing officers. Respondents represent a wide cross section of healthcare organizations including hospitals, medical clinics, ambulatory care centers and integrated delivery systems.

Key highlights from the survey include:

Business Intelligence System Implementation Lags

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