Healthcare Consolidation: What to Watch For in 2018

Healthcare Consolidation: What to Watch For in 2018Healthcare consolidation is on a tear, with several massive deals at the end of 2017, including CVS-Aetna and UnitedHealth Group buying one of the largest U.S. physician groups. Hospitals are merging in ever-larger deals, creating multi-state powerhouses. The number of U.S. hospitals that are part of a system rose nearly 20% between 2006 and 2016, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

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Healthcare companies also are forging creative alliances, with some of the industry’s biggest investments now happening outside the traditional hospital setting. Here are three trends to watch in 2018 and what they might mean for healthcare analytics.

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Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

top 5 blog posts of 2017 It’s been a busy year here at Dimensional Insight, and it’s hard to believe that 2017 is quickly wrapping to a close. 2018 promises to be just as busy, and I’m looking forward to all that we have planned!

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Here on the blog, we spent 2017 writing about issues such as data governance, value-based care, and dashboard design. Which topics most interested our readers? Here’s a list of the Top 5 blog posts of 2017. (more…)

The Future of Data and Analytics in Healthcare

Physician working with data2017 was quite an eventful year in the healthcare industry. There was a lot of discussion about technological innovation, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, and the impact this technology could have on healthcare. In addition, this year was marked by attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as discussion around and implementation of new forms of payment in healthcare such as value-based care models.

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What will 2018 bring in healthcare? Will providers be able to take advantage of predictive analytics? How will data and analytics impact healthcare’s ability to measure population health? How will providers gain more trust in their data? Here are some of my thoughts on the future role of data and analytics in healthcare. (more…)

Four Lessons from Florence Nightingale, the Mother of HC Analytics

Florence Nightingale - mother of modern healthcare analyticsHealthcare analytics. Data visualization. Population health. Buzz continues to build around these terms as we look ahead to 2018. But looking back, we find a surprising figure at the root of all three: Florence Nightingale.

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Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, was also arguably the mother of healthcare analytics. She was a trailblazer in using statistics to identify preventable conditions that affect mortality and a master of data visualization. Her story has powerful lessons for today’s analysts. Here are four. (more…)

How Will Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Impact Healthcare?

2017 has been a year filled with technological innovation, especially with the emergence of blockchain technology and bitcoin. Additionally, there’s been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning. Although these technologies are described as impactful as the Internet, there are fears about their full integration into society.

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For those in healthcare, it’s worth evaluating and strategizing the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning into facilities to drive patient outcomes, improve productivity and efficiency, and reduce costs. Here are some things to consider. (more…)

Holiday Wish List for the Beverage Alcohol Industry

wish list2017 was a busy and tumultuous year for the beverage alcohol industry, especially those who were affected by the wildfires in California. This year also brought many company mergers and consolidations, continuing an ongoing trend in the industry.

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What’s clear as we head into 2018 is that technology and analytics are becoming even more important than ever, and it’s important for the beverage alcohol industry to adopt tools that will lead to improved efficiency, increased productivity, and more revenue. With that in mind (and since the holidays are on our minds), I created a holiday wish list for better business intelligence and analytics in the beverage alcohol industry. (more…)

How to Harness the Power of Pictures in Analytics

As an analyst, you can perform the most sophisticated analysis and draw the most compelling conclusions, but without a way to share these with others, your hard work stays with you. So how to best communicate when it comes to quantitative data? In a nutshell: words and pictures.

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In this blog, we offer practical suggestions on how to tell compelling stories through data visualization. (more…)

Highlights from the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Frankfurt

Highlights from the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in FrankfurtDimensional Insight recently sponsored the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. The two-day event provided dozens of educational sessions from Gartner analysts and attracted 750 business intelligence and analytics leaders from around the world.

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What did these thought leaders say about BI today and where analytics is headed? Here are a few big takeaways. (more…)

How Analytics and Technology Can Reduce Physician Burnout

Did you know that doctors spend nearly six hours a day on EHR-related tasks – 4.5 hours in the office and about two additional hours outside the office? (Source: Healthcare DIVE) This growing burden along with increased workflow results in clinician burnout and, in some cases, ultimately physician suicides.

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This is one of the many unique challenges in healthcare today, as the current rate of physician burnout has been and continues to be an issue. According to the AMA, emergency medicine physicians have the highest rates of burnout at 60% in 2017, followed by OB/GYN and family medicine. And it is only getting worse, unless those in the healthcare industry intervene. I spoke with Nora Lissy, Dimensional Insight’s director of healthcare information, and Julie Lamoureux, senior healthcare consultant about this issue. They share their insights on the physician burnout challenge and how technology and analytics can work to reduce it. (more…)

How to Separate Noise from Meaning in Big Data

How to Separate Noise from Meaning in Big Data When we rely on data to make decisions, how do we tell what is a meaningful signal and what is merely noise? Data is neither, in and of itself, as Stephen Few reminds us in his latest book: “Signal: Understanding What Matters in a World of Noise.”

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Few has written a series of books about harnessing visualization to aid in analysis. In “Signal,” he takes a broader look at analysis, focusing on the idea of “sensemaking” – that is, deriving meaning from data that can be used to empower decision makers. This is especially relevant for data sets that are large and unfamiliar. Here’s how you can apply some of these techniques to help you understand a set of data and what it might be telling you.

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How Program Management Can Help Capture More Revenue

program-management-revenue-wine-bottles

What is one of the biggest challenges in the beverage alcohol industry? Program management – especially without the use of program tracking capabilities. Before technology, beverage alcohol organizations used spreadsheets as their tool-of-choice to manage programs. However, as programs increased in number and complexity, organizations spent more resources on program tracking and devoted less time to generating revenue. However, as technology has developed, program tracking can be done much easier and more efficiently than before.

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Now, it’s OND (October-November-December), a busy time of year for those in the beverage alcohol business. How can beverage alcohol organizations boost productivity, efficiency, and revenue? Here are 5 ways program management can help.

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In Baseball and in Business: “Adapt or Die”

November 1, 2017, may someday be remembered as the date that analytics irrevocably took over baseball. That’s when the Houston Astros won the World Series. Theirs is the latest championship clinched by a team relying on modern analytics in a sport filled with revered old traditions.

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Baseball has changed significantly in the past 15 years, with analytics upending 150 years of conventional wisdom. So far in this Practical Analysis series, we have focused on statistical tools and concepts.  Baseball provides a compelling example of how these can be applied, sometimes with astounding results. The rise of analytics in baseball also offers a cautionary tale about embracing – or ignoring – empirical analysis. In the words of one baseball insider, organizations must “adapt or die.” (more…)

Back to Basics: 5 Things to Think about When You Create a Dashboard


Your organization has invested a lot of time and money collecting data and wants to get some useful information out of what you’ve collected. In the early days of BI, usually only a few people in the company could make sense of the data. But today, with dashboards, more and more employees are able to access the data and use it to make better decisions.

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What does this mean to you, the dashboard designer? It means you are probably creating dashboards for more than just one or two individuals. And because you have so many end users, creating dashboards that are used or not can severely impact what the company experiences in terms of ROI in the dashboards themselves. The bottom line: you want your dashboards to be understood by every end user. How can you do it? Get back to basics and follow these 5 concepts.

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5 Reasons to Meet with Us at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit

Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Frankfurt, Germany Later this month, Dimensional Insight is attending the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. We are very much looking forward to attending the educational sessions with Gartner analysts, learning from our peers all across Europe (and the globe!), and of course, meeting with attendees.

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Are you attending the summit? If so, here are 5 reasons to swing by our booth and meet with us.

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3 Lessons in Implementing Healthcare Data Governance

Do you ever procrastinate or delay doing something you know is good for you? Of course, you do. We all do. It appears healthcare organizations do, too, when it comes to instituting data governance. A recent survey finds many hospitals are struggling to implement such systems.

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But just as a nudge from a friend can help us conquer personal procrastination, organizations that are stalled can learn from peers. Today we look at lessons from Covenant Healthcare, a healthcare system that recently set up its data governance. (more…)

Practical Analysis: Our Statistical Toolbox

practical analysis, graphs on iPadIn Part I of my Practical Analysis series on analysis and statistics, I talked about statistical concepts. Understanding the concepts is essential, but we also need to know the tools to put them to work. Here we discuss tools for applying statistical concepts and the importance of using the right tool at the right time.

There are two sides to what we do with these tools. As analysts, we can think of ourselves as members of a team competing to prove the truth. We’ll call this “the game.” The defensive side is working to defend our claims, using our tools and data. On offense, we work to refute the opposing team’s claims – at least when they differ from ours. The theories of Statistics provide the rules and boundaries of the game.

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Using Deborah Rumsey’s books “Statistics for Dummies I & II” for background, let’s look at a few particularly useful tools in an analyst’s toolbox.

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3 Ways Measure Factory Will Enable Data-Driven Decision Making

This week, we announced the availability of Measure Factory, our new automation engine that is an add-on to Diver Platform. Our goal with Measure Factory is to help organizations make better data-driven decisions that ultimately benefit their finances, operations, patient care (in the case of hospitals), and more.

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Want to learn more about Measure Factory and how it can benefit your organization? Here are 3 things Measure Factory is designed to accomplish.

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How to Increase Sales and Drive Revenue for OND

increase sales ond, woman in a wine storeDid you know that 60% of wine/spirits sales take place in OND (October-November-December)? For most of us, this time of year is all about upcoming holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the holiday season. However, for those in the beverage alcohol industry, this time of year is extremely busy and important for driving revenue.

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Your organization will need all the right strategies and tools to capitalize on opportunities in Q4. Here are some tips on how to increase sales and drive revenue for OND.

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Practical Analysis: How Statistics Help Us See the “Gray”

Practicals analysis-statisticsWhere do statistics fit into the world of analysis? Well, analysis allows us to make objective arguments to discover the truth based on actual observations – that would be data – as opposed to subjective claims based purely on intuition or potentially biased points of view.

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But observed data still comes with an inherent degree of uncertainty. Where math tends to be “black and white” precise, statistics deals in the realm of “gray.” Statistics allow us to factor in uncertainty so we can draw meaningful conclusions with confidence. In this blog post, we will take a look at statistics’ fundamental concepts and tools. (more…)

How to Use DI-Production Extensions

di-productionDI-Production is a visual tool for developing production scripts. Production scripts help you automate processes. The scripts can automate and schedule simple to very complex processes such as extract, transform, and load (ETL) related tasks like loading data, moving files, and building data models.

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But what if you have a task to automate that isn’t part of the standard set of process and control functions? What if you want to ensure that everyone on your development team uses the same solution for a given challenge? That’s the perfect time to create and use DI-Production extensions for standardized, reusable solutions. (more…)

A Cool Tool for Experimenting with Dashboard and Portal Color Schemes

Year after year, our web site visitors have shown a great deal of interest in an article I wrote about a tool that can be used to explore color combinations online – Adobe Color. Since I have never gone into detail about how to use the tool, I thought people might benefit from a short tutorial. So I am updating my original blog post for this month’s dashboard design article.

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For DivePort users who want to create a beautiful user interface that is both highly functional and visually appealing, color choice is an important factor. If selecting colors is not your forte and you need something other than what is available on your company’s color palette, you can use Adobe Color. Let’s take a look at how to use Adobe Color Creative Suite to find colors for your dashboards. (more…)

National Health IT Week: A Salute to Healthcare IT

Salute to Healthcare ITSince this is National Health IT Week, we’d like to celebrate the role of health IT in healthcare delivery and recognize all who work in the field, whether at the institutional or vendor level. Health IT has played a major role in the transformation of healthcare delivery, from the introduction of the electronic medical record (EMR) under the Obama administration, to today, when it allows organizations to view data and generate actionable reports to improve outcomes and efficiency.

 

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Practical Analysis: Making Analysis Accessible to Everyone

man juggling objects, practical analysisIn the first post of the “Practical Analysis” blog series, I suggested that numeracy will become an increasingly essential skill set in the 21st century, and that everyone, in one way or another, will become an analyst. But what does it actually mean to be analyst? There is no one answer. The possibilities range from someone who uses a working knowledge of analysis in their day-to-day work to hotshot data scientists at companies like Amazon and Google.

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Survey Says: Hospitals Struggle with Data Governance

survey hospitals data governanceData integrity. It – or a lack thereof – can make or break a business intelligence implementation. How can analysts make better decisions when there’s no consistency between data definitions across different departments and data sources?

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Many hospitals are turning to data governance processes to help them manage their assets and ensure consistency between data. However, as a recent Dimensional Insight survey found, healthcare organizations are struggling to implement data governance. What are their most pressing concerns and challenges? Following are a few highlights from the survey. (more…)

How Wineries Can Invest their IT Dollars for Better Analytics and Job Creation

man working on laptop and a glass of wine on the tableWhen it comes to investing in technology in the wine industry, there’s a huge discrepancy in terms of money spent. A recent WBM Technology Survey by Wine Business Monthly magazine shows that while 90% of small wineries spend less than $50,000 per year on IT, more than half (54%) of large wineries spend more than $1 million.

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This obviously makes sense – wineries do what they can with the resources they have. What was striking, though, is that the majority of medium and large wineries had the same top IT issue, which is “providing better data to our trade sales team.” Better data can indeed produce a myriad of positive results – providing insight into areas such as finance and sales, and spurring company growth. In this blog post, we’ll look at how business intelligence solutions can help wineries – no matter what their revenue or the size of their IT budget – make better use of their data and gain the insights they need.

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Honoring Women in the Wine & Spirits Industry

Wine and spirits wholesalers in the U.S. account for 74,000 jobs and $6.5 billion in wages. While it is a male-dominated industry, women are increasingly making their mark.

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To promote and connect women in the industry, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association (WSWA) created the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) last year. This year, Dimensional Insight was proud to sponsor the group’s conference in Washington, DC. I attended on behalf of the company. Here are a few observations from the event.

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Numeracy: Analytical Skills for the 21st Century

woman with laptop on numeracy data backgroundIf you’re involved in any way with analyzing information, you undoubtedly are acquainted with the term “big data” by now.  There is certainly a proliferation of electronic data becoming available in increasing abundance. But just because there’s more of it, is it really that much different from the data we’ve had right along? I’d argue that the basics are still very much the same but with the addition of both rich possibilities for finding meaning and daunting challenges for filtering out the noise.

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In this blog series, which I’m calling Practical Analysis, I’ll explore the emerging role of the analyst in helping to answer some questions that I’ll discuss below and in building a body of knowledge to take advantage of the data deluge. Hopefully by the end, you’ll be completely jazzed about your future as an analyst!

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Learn about Chart Portlet and the Future of Dimensional Insight Visualizations

chartlet portal on desktopDo you need to compare periodic sales data across different regions or different products to inform and support your sales team? You have the data, but you need to quickly turn it into easily consumable, visual presentations. Enter DivePort’s powerful chart portlet where you can produce and edit a multitude of visualizations without context switching as you customize your dashboard.

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The chart portlet is one of DivePort’s newest features. It was designed to be the main visualization tool for Spectre data in DivePort 7. However, you don’t need Spectre data to take advantage of the new chart portlet. Most of the features are compatible with models and marker files, too.

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Meet Dimensional Insight’s Top Dashboard Designer, Zhenggang Hu

Dimensional Insight’s Top Dashboard Designer, Zhenggang HuMany of our customers have commented recently on how beautiful our new application interface designs look. But do they know who is responsible for these visually stunning displays? It is Zhenggang Hu, our user interface (UI) designer. Zhenggang has been the designer of many of Dimensional Insight’s software; he currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts and works out of the Dimensional Insight Burlington office.

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I sat down with Zhenggang recently to get an idea of how he works and thought our readers might also be interested in learning more about him. Read on to learn more about Zhenggang’s role at Dimensional Insight, his creative process, and the project he’s most proud of. (more…)

What to Consider as You’re Starting to Measure Population Health

Take any population – any group of people. Let’s say you have a group of healthcare professionals in one room. They have in common their area of work. But if you were to ask that group of people what “population” they belong to, you might get a variety of different answers. Red Sox fans, for instance – or Cubs fans. Or something else entirely, such as gender, age, residency, political leanings, etc.

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That’s the thing with populations. There are myriad ways to define them. Sometimes they are easy to define, but most times they are not. There is a lot of overlap in populations, especially when it comes to the healthcare environment. In this blog post, we’ll talk about some of the biggest challenges when it comes to dealing with populations within the healthcare environment – what’s known as population health management. We’ll also look at some examples of how you can use population health information and apply it to solve real-life problems. (more…)