Healthcare organizations understand the need for business intelligence and healthcare analytics. However, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty around exactly what kind of demonstrable value can be realized from BI solutions.
That was one of the biggest takeaways from the ACHE Congress on Healthcare Leadership. The event, which took place in Chicago, featured more than 150 educational sessions for the 4,000 healthcare executives in attendance. Here are some of my other takeaways from the event.
High reliability systems/LEAN
High-reliability and performance improvement systems, such as LEAN and Six Sigma, were very prominent topics throughout the Congress. Much of the opportunity to improve both operational efficiency and health quality lies in reducing “waste” as in overutilization, duplication, defects, and other inefficiencies. The organizations who presented have become very proficient at applying techniques from manufacturers to their healthcare organizations. Many other organizations are working to put LEAN-based systems and cultures in place, but are just getting started. There is a lot of opportunity here for analytics to help organizations access the necessary data to do this effectively.
Everyone at the conference – from the keynote addresses to the separate sessions – acknowledged that patient safety is a priority and can always be improved upon. The consensus was that the only way to address patients dying unnecessarily is through very disciplined, high reliability systems. To make patient care safer and more effective requires having better information and analytics. One presenter commented that if hospitals begin to treat their patients as well as Toyota treats its Prius cars during the manufacturing process, patient care would be much safer and more effective.
One of the essential elements that presenters consistently brought up in terms of achieving the strategies healthcare systems are trying to implement is having physicians fully engaged. When physicians are involved in identifying and solving problems and they are appropriately motivated to improve outcomes, the prospects of meeting goals across the health system are consistently better. Physicians respond to data once they trust and have visibility into that data. Comparisons to peer performance have proven to be particularly effective.
Everyone seems to agree that no one has figured out the business model for population health yet. But organizations are making progress. University of North Carolina Healthcare presented about the experience of acquiring hospitals in order to build a clinically integrated network that will support population health. UNC’s presenter said, “If you can figure out how to reduce costs and improve quality through clinical integration and population health, you’ll be successful regardless of shifts in health policy and industry payment structure.”
In addition, there were sessions on governance, quality and performance measurement, as well as analytics and data. Within all categories there was a feeling that healthcare organizations have come a long way in their acceptance of the need for better business intelligence, as well as the integration of the analytics solutions from what they had before. But most importantly, everyone acknowledges that there is room for improvement and that we must all work to figure out what is best – both for the health of patients and for healthcare organizations.
Next year’s ACHE Congress is already in the books – it will be held March 26-29, 2018 in Chicago.
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