Yesterday I wrote about the proliferation of rich clinical data being captured by electronic health records and how unlocking the potential in this data will be the fuel of healthcare innovation. We’re seeing a true blossoming of the market for analytics and predictive modeling in healthcare, and no amount of delay or potentially backtracking on The Accountable Care Act is going to un-ring this bell. This focus on analytics is a natural consequence of simply having the data available to gain insight into business and clinical processes and outcomes, much as analytics was a natural follow-on in the years after the implementation of SAP and other new ERP applications motivated by the Y2K programming flaw. And the groundswell is only just beginning as organizations stick their collective toes in the water of analytics and find that sharks, and alligators, and other predators are not nearly so common as they thought. I spend a significant amount of my time meeting with senior leaders in large healthcare organizations looking to get started in a big way with business intelligence, or analytics, or enterprise data management. By any name, there’s a common perception dating back a decade or more that an enterprise data warehouse was something that cost millions of dollars, took years to implement, ultimately failed to meet business expectations, and often resulted in the CIO having the opportunity to apply their skills in a new organization. The good news is that the patterns and behaviors that can lead to failure in an enterprise data warehousing initiative are pretty well understood having been learned through hard knocks in industries that have figured out how to do enterprise data warehouses – retail, manufacturing, and financial services to name a few.
Equally inspiring that healthcare will be successful with enterprise data warehousing efforts is that our historical reluctance as an industry to looking outside healthcare to other industries for best practices seems to be taking a backseat to the practical reality that there’s a lot to be learned from folks who have already been successful in data warehousing – even if it’s not specifically in healthcare. This only makes sense, since the architecture and discipline of what it takes to make data useful at enterprise scale is a real talent, and an art form, and folks who have done it successfully are a rare breed. Would it be nice if they had specific healthcare expertise? Sure. But the reality is that a modern, successful enterprise information management strategy hinges on the ability of the business, clinical experts, and IT to collaborate in a highly dynamic, iterative fashion to really derive value from data. So with this team approach, the fact that the IT folks may be just data and process experts is very much mitigated by the other team members who are business and clinical experts.
Tomorrow we will jump on the hype wagon of “Big Data” and see what that has to offer the healthcare industry.