The world of healthcare technology can be not only confusing, but also completely exhausting. Hospitals are facing immense pressures as they are grappling with issues such as reform, cost control and improving patient care. And they need to do it all now! Hospitals are trying their best to implement new technology to improve processes and comply with the overwhelming number of regulations. But getting IT staff and operational staff on the same page can seem downright impossible.
This is where Nora Lissy, our director of healthcare information, comes into the picture. Before joining Dimensional Insight, Nora had an extensive healthcare career as a clinician, nursing director and decision support director in finance, patient safety and information technology. She now works with our healthcare customers to help them more clearly articulate their goals and understand how they can reach those goals with The Diver Solution™ (Diver).
I sat down with Nora to talk about her experience and her critical role with our customers.
Nora, what do you do in your role at Dimensional Insight?
I am a subject matter expert for healthcare and operations. As such, I meet our customers at several different places along their implementation. In many cases, I talk to customers before they even are customers in the pre-sales phase. I’ll speak to them about my experience with Diver in a hospital setting, and help them see the role Diver can play in their organizations. During the implementation phase, I’ll sit down with operations and our consulting team to help translate what the customer is asking for and how our consultants can accomplish that from a technological standpoint. I will also work with customers post-implementation to guide them in the best ways to use Diver.
You’ve had an interesting career evolution. How did you come to your present role at Dimensional Insight?
An interesting career evolution is a bit of an understatement! I was a practicing nurse for 16 years, working in several different departments before finding my niche in the ER. That was an incredibly valuable experience that boosted my critical thinking abilities. In the ER, it’s all about quickly analyzing what’s in front of you and determining the big picture.
In 1995, I was hired by the COO of a for-profit 147-bed hospital as a clinical financial manager. In that role, I managed staffing and productivity of our nursing units. Within a year, that role expanded to full hospital operations and I worked with the CFO to develop a budget and monitored productivity for every department in the hospital.
Then in 2001, I went to a an 827-bed hospital where I was on the decision support team as a management consultant for nursing. I eventually became the director of financial decision support. That’s where I really started to learn about business intelligence. The hospital was a non-profit and had very high expenses, so we needed a productivity tool. We were doing everything in Excel and it was very time-intensive. I was introduced to Diver and I immediately saw the benefits of it. In fact, my CEO at that job had the mantra, “If you’re not looking at Diver, you’re not doing your job.”
My career in business intelligence evolved from there. In 2007, I moved to a two-hospital system as director of clinical analysis. The hospital was building a data warehouse and was struggling to make sense of its data. That’s when I convinced my team to bring in Diver to help out. During this experience, I discovered Diver’s power in digging into the clinical side of data by working with our EMR. As a result, we were better able to service our Medicare patients and reduce readmissions. For example, we were able to determine which patients were at increased risk of readmission by analyzing historical data combined with current medications and the hourly census. We were also able to make process improvements by diving deeper into statistics on issues such as supply usage and OR room utilization. I found that Diver didn’t always give us the answers we wanted, but it did give us the right answers – allowing us to change our processes.
The next organization I went to was a six-hospital system which was a longtime user of Diver. There I was hired as a subject matter expert and manager of clinical decision support in the IT department. The organization had a lot of experience using Diver for strategic and financial planning, but it wanted to expand the clinical aspect. Within my 2.5 year tenure there, we created more than 250 models and provided integrated data from the lab, pharmacy, radiology, risk, ED and OR. Because of its use of Diver, one of the committees on congestive heart failure was awarded the “Kaizen Award,” an internal award given for initiatives that improve processes, for its work on standardizing and coordinating care in all six hospitals. This would not have been possible without Diver.
Now, I am at Dimensional Insight doing what I love and using my experience to help hospitals understand what is possible with Diver technology.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your career as it relates to business intelligence?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that BI is not an IT issue, but rather a corporate-wide issue. In order for it to work, there must be coordinated involvement. Departments must be on the same page for them to understand what to make of the data.
I’ve also learned that just because you have a BI tool does not mean you’ve been successful. Does it really answer your questions? BI must provide actionable data. Otherwise, it’s just another expense.
How does your experience as a nurse help Dimensional Insight customers?
First of all, I think that in 1995, part of me felt as though I was abandoning my nursing career. But when I look back now, I realize what an amazing opportunity I had to move into finance, operations and IT. Having both the nursing skill set and the financial/operations skill set… hospitals are struggling for that today. Because of my unique experience, I can be a liaison and voice between the financial world, the clinical world, and the technical world. I learned that in order to see the big picture and create real change, you need to understand the other side’s point of view and work with them to accomplish your goals instead of fighting them. I am the person who can facilitate that understanding for our customers.
What are the top-of-mind issues for hospitals today?
It all boils down to cost, quality and regulations. How can hospitals keep costs relatively low, while maintaining high quality (and therefore, satisfied patients), and comply with the many regulations that they are subjected to? It’s a really hard thing for hospitals to get a handle on all that.
Nora also talked to me specifically about issues such as meaningful use, data governance and big data. She will provide a new voice on our blog, discussing these issues and others that she sees healthcare providers struggling with. Stay tuned for Nora’s posts!