There is no denying that in today's world healthcare is big business. And, as in any other business, effective delivery of services, billing procedures, client satisfaction, detailed record-keeping and profitability are major concerns, whether the healthcare provider is a single-physician office, a regional clinic, or one of a large group of affiliated hospitals. Particularly in the case of large healthcare organizations, Business Intelligence (BI) is increasingly the strategy that will contribute to industry improvements and cost reduction. Business analytics in the healthcare industry are on the rise and with good reason.

What Does that Mean, Exactly?

Finding the proper mix of human-oriented procedures and electronic records systems is vital in terms of the continued health of the healthcare industry, according to most experts and analysts. Managing, storing, integrating and easily retrieving the huge volume of data that relates to a healthcare facility -- including patient records, treatment protocols, government data and statistical information -- makes the task not only time-consuming, but almost unmanageable without some sort of integration. An electronic data warehouse (EDW) is the way into the future. 

As you assess your organization's strategy for dealing with information, the need for a clinical data warehouse might be obvious, but if you are still asking the question, consider this: Would it be of benefit to have a broad view of the wide spectrum of your operation -- quality as well as cost, patient satisfaction and revenue -- all in one place?

That's what a modern data warehouse can provide.

Measuring the Value

The system is always changing and morphing mostly to keep up with expectations and regulations. That may be the second undeniable fact within the healthcare organization. If you can view the data warehouse as a huge well-organized library, you can most likely visualize, and buy into, the need to have such a system in place as a vital aspect of your business intelligence strategy. A 2012 study by the American College of Healthcare Executives noted that financial stability and performance topped the list of hospital concerns, followed by "patient safety, outcomes and healthcare reform implementation."

Three primary benefits accrue to organizations that implement effective EDW practices:

  1. The reporting process is more efficient and scalable to the needs of the organization. Data from a wide range of input sources can be scanned and organized into components that make interpretation easy.
  2. As the need for more stringent healthcare analytics grows, the data warehouse establishes a trustworthy and comprehensive source of information. In addition, it helps to standardize the reporting.
  3. Finally, as different teams use the information and learn to rely on the validity of the data, improvement across all sectors will be the natural result.

Following the Path to Success

Because the rules, the demands and even the language surrounding healthcare needs and record-keeping are changing at an unprecedented rate, it is incumbent on healthcare service providers and management teams to be on board with the latest information technology and record-keeping initiatives. Business information and healthcare analytics can be obtained in a wide variety of ways and from myriad sources. However, the need to choose and implement solutions that will perform well into the future and adapt to changing situations has never been greater.

There isn't a one-size-fits-all model out there, but there are successes that many organizations have found, as well as failures that provide much insight for all involved.  It is reasons like this that make it crucially important to work together as departments and an organization as a whole to find out specific needs, be willing to follow the path that data leads you down, and then understand that there are always growing pains, especially when it comes to large overhauls and structural changes.

As explained a little above, there are significant and constant changes that are being asked of all healthcare organizations.  The ability to be agile and flexible so as to integrate changes as they come up could be a make-it or break-it moment.  Knowing business analytics allows for the ebbs and flows that will come, makes it possible to understand when required changes could use some internal tweaking and leads processes in the right direction to not only handle the inner workings, but to also improve the care of each patient, which is the ultimate goal of all healthcare workers.

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