Charting a Roadmap for BI Success in Healthcare

by | Oct 24, 2014 | Healthcare

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BI success in healthcare

The evolving healthcare landscape has created a national conversation around the increasing importance of data and analytics. Health systems have become increasingly focused on leveraging their clinical, financial and operational information to balance goals for quality care and patient engagement with those of cost containment and financial outcomes.

Business intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities are important aspects of this conversation. They represent technical capabilities that can help in achieving these objectives. However, the technology by itself is not a magic bullet. Failed BI and data warehousing initiatives – which, historically have been all too common – lead to wasted resources, time and user communities and leadership teams distrustful of further efforts.

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So how do you ensure the success of your BI initiatives – particularly the all-important initial projects? Our experience suggests that the answer lies in a balanced approach that considers people, process and technology.

In this blog series, we’ll highlight a set of best practices for successful BI deployment, with a specific focus on achieving quick wins and a demonstrable ROI within the first year of implementation. Our hope is that these practices will provide a means for organizations that have already invested in BI tools and technology to examine their own deployment processes and identify areas for improvement. We’ll use the successful experience of one of Dimensional Insight’s customers, Valencia, Calif.-based Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, to illustrate these best practices.

7 steps to BI success in healthcare

Henry Mayo set out to create a more ideal, patient-centered environment. An essential aspect of this multi-year journey involved “going digital.”

The process started with Henry Mayo’s decision to replace its existing mainframe-based computer system with a more modern and sophisticated electronic health records system (EHR) from MEDITECH. The EHR was to be implemented in two phases:

  • Phase 1 would replace admissions, order entry, pharmacy, lab and patient billing functionality
  • Phase 2 would add advanced clinical functionality, including emergency department management

During the project, Henry Mayo identified a serious information access and reporting gap that needed to be addressed quickly to gain insight from the newly available information. It chose to implement a BI environment to begin the process of closing this gap. At the same time it recognized that tools and technology alone would not be sufficient. Success would also depend on getting the right people involved and the right processes. It would also require strong organization-wide focus and support. From this experience, Henry Mayo identified 7 steps to BI success that can serve as a roadmap for other organizations.

  1. Create a dedicated department
  2. Staff it with the best data experts
  3. Align with the hospital’s strategic plan
  4. Select the most appropriate BI platform
  5. Choose projects that yield “quick wins”
  6. Measure and monitor results
  7. “Rinse & repeat”

We will examine each of the 7 steps in more detail throughout this blog series. Right now, let’s take a look at the first 4 steps, which happen even before you start your BI implementation.

Create a dedicated department

An important first step is to recognize the need for a department completely dedicated to supporting the information needs of the entire organization. Dedicating this department solely to the challenges of addressing information needs, and developing experience on how to do it well, will establish a foundation for achieving future success with increasingly sophisticated initiatives.

Find the best data experts

This new organization should be staffed with “data experts”. Ideally this staff will combine a strong analytics foundation with an in-depth understanding of health information and how it is used within business and clinical processes. This background will provide a data-driven perspective for identifying improvement opportunities throughout the hospital.

Align with strategic plan

Make sure you understand the priorities set out in your hospital’s strategic plan and use them to align the department’s charter with the overall goals of the organization. According to Cindy Peterson, Henry Mayo’s VP/CIO, “It’s a good strategy to make sure you are working on things that will ultimately drive value for the organization and produce results.”

Choose your BI platform

One of the first jobs for the newly created team is to select and deploy a BI platform. This platform should be capable of providing a unified view and convenient access across dozens of disparate applications and systems. It should also help to quickly derive value from the investment. After all, if it’s only adding to the complexity of your organization, there’s not much point in implementing it, right? Look for a platform that can help to deliver quick wins.

We’ll delve more into the concept of gaining quick wins in the next several blog posts in this series. Our final blog post will examine “iteration”: how to learn from the lessons of your initial BI deployments and apply those insights to subsequent projects. Stay tuned.


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