Hospitals and health systems are gearing up to move from the preparatory acts of collecting and warehousing various forms of data to the stage where they use data to improve care and reduce unnecessary costs.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is one of the hospitals getting ready to make the jump into meaningful use of data analytics.

Darren Dworkin, chief information officer for Cedars-Sinai, says that it and like-minded organizations so far have mostly focused on implementing transactional systems, like electronic health records, as part of a broader effort to digitize all transactions and workflow. “No question there’s been a tremendous benefit to that. There’s no looking back on that ever in terms of how it’s transformed the delivery of care,” Dworkin says. “But for us to be able to continue on that journey, delivering value-based medicine, we’re going to need to have a better understanding of what’s happening in real time. And, I think that next journey is jumping into analytics.”

Cedars and MemorialCare Health System were customers of, and investors in, a data analytics company called Health Care DataWorks that recently was bought by Health Catalyst, a move that will boost Cedars-Sinai’s analytics efforts, Dworkin says. Health Care DataWorks was hired initially as more of an information technology data warehousing solution. But what Cedars-Sinai is particularly interested in going forward are the analysis tools and functionality that Health Catalyst has built on top of their warehousing technology — “figuring out how to enable health systems to bring that information to the point of care so that great decisions can get made,” Dworkin says.

Cedars-Sinai officials are not alone in looking forward to what’s coming in the near future. “It’s exciting to see what’s happening around analytics and data in health care,” says Jay Bhatt, D.O., chief health officer for the Illinois Hospital Association. According to Bhatt, there are four primary areas in which hospitals typically focus their analytics efforts:

1 | Cutting administrative costs

2 | Clinical decision support

3 | Care coordination

4 | Wellness

Often, hospitals and health systems focus initially on care coordination and on clinical decision support, Bhatt says.