Looking at the Big Picture

Do providers have the right information, at the right time, in the right place to make decisions for effective patient care? Most hospitals — 84 percent of Most Wired and 74 percent of all surveyed hospitals — use business intelligence tools in single departments. The use of analytics to improve decision-making across multiple departments drops to 58 percent of Most Wired and 42 percent of all organizations. Just two-thirds of Most Wired organizations and half of all hospitals surveyed can perform a retrospective analysis of clinical and administrative data to identify areas for improvement. Most hospitals and health systems are still busy focusing efforts internally and have not addressed the continuum of care. To make health information more accessible for providers outside of their four walls, UMC Health System in Lubbock, Texas, has built an integrated clinical record across ambulatory, inpatient, outpatient and emergency care settings. "We have combined that data with other financial and administrative datasets within a business analytics tool to begin to gain an understanding of patient flow, referral patterns, and identify cost-saving opportunities," says Bill Eubanks, senior vice president and CIO.

Advice from the field

Bruce Smith, senior vice president and CIO at Advocate Health Care in Illinois, talks about turning data into actionable information.

What role does analytics play value-based contracting?

Business analytics seems to be the new catchphrase that is getting frequent attention. In fact, many organizations have been heavily involved in analyzing available information, particularly in the areas of contracting and clinical integration. The big change is that large amounts of data are now available and tools for integrating and normalizing the data are being developed, deployed and utilized. Health systems are becoming aware of the information available and the power it can provide to educate, change behavior and standardize clinical process.

How does Advocate use analytics for predictive modeling?

Advocate has been using data analytics for the past decade in the clinical improvement and integration process. The data have been instrumental in negotiating contracts and securing incentive payments for performance. Recently, we have deployed a readmission algorithm, in conjunction with Cerner, that predicts readmissions, leading to early intervention. This is just the beginning of our expanded use of data for prediction of outcomes in the clinical arena.

How do you avoid being data rich, but information poor?

It takes new skills and learning to effectively work in this space. There needs to be clear definition of the problems we are trying to resolve or the processes we are trying to improve, with expectations of result. We need to bring in talent that has the skill sets to exploit the data and to translate it into formats that lead to improvements and understanding.