How a Business Intelligence Roadmap Saves Hospital and Health System Executives Time, Money, and Aggravation

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1 How a Business Intelligence Roadmap Saves Hospital and Health System Executives Time, Money, and Aggravation Written by Jyoti Kamal, Ph.D. President Health Care DataWorks

2 How a Business Intelligence Roadmap Saves Hospital and Health System Executives Time, Money, and Aggravation More hospitals and health systems are recognizing that enterprise-wide business intelligence can put them in a stronger position to respond to the challenges presented by today s world of pay-forperformance, Accountable Care Organizations, and Meaningful Use. Business intelligence refers to a hospital or health system s ability to gather, aggregate, and analyze data from across the entire enterprise in a way that makes administrative, financial, clinical, and research information accessible to decision makers when and how they need it. Giving stakeholders this broader view of information empowers them to make more informed decisions, leading to improvements in quality of care, patient satisfaction, and the bottom line. Accordingly, a growing number of healthcare executives are poised to move in this direction, as evidenced by a recent report by research firm KLAS, which found that more than 50 percent of organizations plan to replace or buy business intelligence systems in the next three years. Once a decision is made to invest in business intelligence, efforts should focus on creating a plan to ensure that implementation of the solution is successful and that the organization meets its goals. While a simple plan can provide much-needed guidance and structure for solution implementation, a formal business intelligence roadmap can provide even more benefits. Giving stakeholders this broader view of information empowers them to make more informed decisions, leading to improvements in quality of care, patient satisfaction, and the bottom line. A roadmap defines the analytics strategy for the organization based on its business goals, and serves as the foundational blueprint for aggregating, correlating, integrating, analyzing, and accessing data from across the enterprise. The roadmap ensures that everyone is on the same page in terms of defining how and when business intelligence solutions will be implemented, determining which business intelligence solutions will be most effective, identifying current and future users of the business intelligence solutions, and establishing costs and timetables for implementing the business intelligence strategy. 2

3 Creating a business intelligence roadmap A business intelligence roadmap brings clarity to the implementation process, which helps organizations overcome a tendency to gravitate toward one-off or quick-fix solutions that might address the most pressing data needs of individual departments but not necessarily the wider organization s goal of achieving a broader view through analytics. Because the roadmap is an organization-wide business intelligence blueprint, an outside consultant often can be of value in helping to develop it. That s because a third-party consultant with health industry expertise can take an unbiased view of the organization s goals, data needs, and current situation, as well as bring valuable insights, recommendations, and clarity based on his or her experience with business intelligence best practices in healthcare. Six key questions to ask The process of creating the roadmap starts with the exploration of six overarching questions: 1) What are the organization s strategic goals for both the near and long term? Strategic goals can range from reducing the length of patient stays to increasing Medicare reimbursements. Many examine their strategic goals and align them with the information needed to measure success. Near real-time access to that information can help organizations stay on track with business objectives by enabling more informed decisions that can improve metrics. 2) What does the organization hope to accomplish with its business intelligence solution(s)? Organizations should identify the assortment of functionality needed by individual departments and the organization. For example, there could be a desire for enterprise analytics, predictive analytics, Accountable Care Organization analytics, forecasting, and data modeling. 3) What is the current state of data collection and analysis? It s important to understand all the ways the organization currently stores and reviews data. This includes in-depth discussions with stakeholders to understand their challenges, along with a qualitative assessment of how they currently try to meet their data and reporting needs. Typically, the current state is characterized by disparate source systems, PDFs, spreadsheets, 3

4 multiple vendors, and a variety of software. Analysis of this current state helps to identify the disconnects: for example, some departments might not even be aware that certain information exists because they do not have access; identical software licenses may have been purchased by different groups; or numerous source systems are in place with a lack of enterprise-wide integration. Implementing a business intelligence roadmap is a process of education as much as it is a specific plan to harness the power of data analytics for better decision making. 4) Which options are available to resolve current issues and achieve future goals? Organizations should examine all of the technology offerings that provide solutions to address both current issues and achieve future goals. This leads to specific recommendations, such as an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), as well as potential costs and timelines. 5) Who should be part of the implementation team, and who should play the lead role? Implementing a business intelligence roadmap is a process of education as much as it is a specific plan to harness the power of data analytics for better decision making. Organizations should form an implementation team who will manage the process and work to secure internal buy-in from all stakeholders, an effort that is crucial to achieving success. It is equally important to establish who will own and drive the implementation. 6) What data governance structures need to be in place? Organizations may not realize they have issues with data quality until they review their data collection and analysis practices. Creating a roadmap provides an opportunity to uncover issues and inconsistencies related to data definitions, data quality, and data stewardship, and to develop data governance structures that address those issues. Creating a data governance structure helps ensure consistent data definitions and more accurate measurement of data across the entire organization. Costs of not having a business intelligence roadmap Failure to develop a roadmap can exacerbate current issues; chief among them is usually a lack of cohesive policies, procedures, and technology solutions that benefit and empower the entire enterprise through analytics. When no roadmap is in place, data gathering and analysis resembles 4

5 a free-for-all: individual departments seek to address their own challenges by buying their own information technology solutions or creating their own systems of data collection. This approach leads to missteps, including the following: An inability to tie the disparate technology solutions data together. When individual departments implement software or technology solutions on their own to address their specific data needs, the clinical department s data sources ultimately might not integrate with the financial department s, and so on. The organization then suffers from critical gaps in data analysis because it cannot obtain a broader view of information across all departments. A more costly organizational technology solution bill. Buying and maintaining software licenses on an enterprise-wide basis is less expensive than buying and maintaining those same software licenses on an individual departmental basis. That s because software suppliers build a cost benefit into enterprise licenses with multiple users. Hospitals and health systems without a roadmap, however, often fail to take advantage of that benefit; instead, each department makes separate purchases to manage their individual challenges, and the organization ends up paying more than what it really needs to spend on software licenses that have application across a variety of departments throughout the enterprise. An overtaxed workforce that drags down organizational productivity. When individual departments are left to fend for themselves, those who do not have resources to secure technology solutions fall back on time-consuming manual methods: they assign people to create reports, build spreadsheets, search for and tabulate data, analyze information, and generally spend valuable time on tasks that do not move the organization forward, but serve to solidify the status quo. The good news is none of this has to occur. With a good roadmap and the right business intelligence solutions and services, organizations can get the data they need while ensuring organizational efficiency, saving operating dollars, and maximizing capital investment. An EDW often is the best solution for aggregating and organizing data for efficient analysis across all areas of the health system. But whatever is chosen, success depends upon having defined business goals and the right plan in place for implementation, support, and buy-in. The value of a business intelligence roadmap cannot be underestimated. 5

6 About the author Jyoti Kamal, PH.D., is President and Chief Data Scientist of Health Care DataWorks, Inc., where she is one of the key visionaries behind the technology that became the foundation for Health Care DataWorks (HCD) KnowledgeEdge. Leveraging her deep business intelligence expertise, she helps guide the strategic product direction at HCD and she assists clients in developing strategic healthcare business intelligence roadmaps leading to greater value and return on investment. Kamal is one of the company's founders. A foremost expert in healthcare analytics and speaker on all aspects of an Enterprise Data Warehouse, Kamal has more than 15 years experience as a healthcare IT executive. About Health Care DataWorks Health Care DataWorks, Inc., a leading provider of business intelligence solutions, empowers healthcare organizations to improve their quality of care and reduce costs. Through its pioneering KnowledgeEdge product suite, including its enterprise data model, analytic dashboards, applications, and reports, Health Care DataWorks delivers an Enterprise Data Warehouse necessary for hospitals and health systems to effectively and efficiently gain deeper insights into their operations. For more information, visit 6

7 Contacting Health Care DataWorks Phone Address Web HCDW (4239) 4215 Worth Avenue, Suite 320 Columbus, OH

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