The entire spectrum of healthcare has embraced the concept of healthcare data analytics and business intelligence. Reports and surveys have been published in large volume indicating that this nascent capability within healthcare is increasingly more important to providers and payers alike; not to mention all of the intermediaries that are focused on quality or cost of care. The new prevailing question is, “When we are able to transform data into information, what do we do with it all?”
We must remind ourselves that business intelligence is two-dimensional unless the user is empowered to act upon it. The third dimension becomes taking the information and using it to affect positive change. In other words, we must evolve from measuring the needle to moving the needle in a desired direction. Once we have accomplished this action-taking, the effects of our action can be measured and refined. Through this initiative we are able to attain business knowledge. If we are fortunate enough to then seek replication and further improvement; a fourth dimension is introduced. That final factor goes by the name of “wisdom.”
So let us presume that wisdom is the ultimate goal of any healthcare organization. The first step in the journey, like any good recovery program, is to admit that there is a problem. We must rid ourselves of the thought that intelligence is the end; instead embracing intelligence as the origination. The catalyst in this process is the ability to take action.
Before we can embark on the journey to intelligence, we must first complete our navigation of the ocean called analytics. The foundation for our trek revolves around data. It must be acquired from multiple sources; it must be evaluated and validated, cleansed, and normalized. This is without a doubt the least glamorous part of our transformation. By nature, healthcare data is dirty and incomplete. It takes a skilled eye to find the data and determine how its quality will affect the outcomes reported within analytics. This step is essential prior to generating and sharing intelligence.
Once we have managed to corral all of the data and make some sense of it; it must be placed within a data model that is scalable, extensible, and flexible. Quality can be addressed from clinical data and cost can be tackled from administrative data. However, the true power of analytics is unleashed when clinical, claims, financial, and operational data are all placed into a single data model. This 360-degree view of the healthcare business forms the building blocks for creation of insights which then lead to outcomes-driven intelligence.
Once you are able to see the direct relationship between gaps in care on the clinical side and excess cost on the claims side; a platform is established for action. It is in moving to an aggressive position from the passive norm that intelligence takes on life. Decisions can be made and measured. The results lead to non-stop refinement of interventions and an evolving decision support system. In other words, we attain knowledge. Once we can replicate the results of our knowledge; we reach a state of wisdom.
All journeys begin with a single step and they never commence at the destination. Yes, keep your eye on business intelligence; but realize that harnessing the data must come first. A journey also seems to take less time and be more enjoyable with a companion. Do not fear the thought of a technology partner as your traveling partner. Enjoy the journey, learn from your experiences, and realize that the goal is well worth the effort. In doing so, wisdom will be your reward.