Tag Archives: Healthcare

The Links Between Health Information Exchanges and Data Integration

Health Information ExchangeAccording to Health IT Portal, “Having an integrated health IT infrastructure allows a healthcare organization and its providers to streamline the flow of data from one department to the next. Not all health settings, however, find themselves in this situation. Either through business agreements or vendor selection processes, many a healthcare organization has to spend considerable time and resources getting their disparate health IT systems to talk to each.”

In other words, you can’t leverage Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) without a sound data integration strategy. This is something I’ve ranted about for years. The foundation of any entity-to-entity exchange, health, finance, or other, is that all relevant systems freely communicate, and thus able to consume and produce information that’s required by any information exchange.

The article cites the case of Memorial Healthcare, a community health care system in Owosso, MI. Memorial Healthcare has Meditech on the hospital side and Allscripts in its physician offices. Frank Fear, the CIO of Memorial Healthcare, spent the last few years working on solutions to enable data integration. The resulting solution between the two vendors’ offerings, as well as within the same system, is made up of both an EHR and a practice management solution.

Those in the world of healthcare are moving headlong into these exchanges. Most have no clue as to what must change within internal IT to get ahead of the need for the free flow of information. Moreover, there needs to be a good data governance strategy in place, as well as security, and a focus on compliance issues as well.

The reality is that, for the most part, data integration in the world of healthcare is largely ad-hoc, and tactical in nature. This has led to no standardized method for systems to talk one-to-another, and certainly no standard ways for data to flow out through exchanges. Think of plumbing that was built haphazardly and ad hoc over the years, with whatever was quick and easy. Now, you’ve finally turned on the water and there are many, many leaks.

In terms of data integration, healthcare has been underfunded for far too long. Now clear regulatory changes require better information management and security approaches. Unfortunately, healthcare IT is way behind, in terms of leveraging proper data integration approaches, as well as leveraging the right data integration technology.

As things change in the world of healthcare, including the move to HIEs, I suspect that data integration will finally get a hard look from those who manage IT in healthcare organizations. However, they need to do this with some sound planning, which should include an understanding of what the future holds in terms of information management, and how to create a common infrastructure that supports most of the existing and future use cases. Healthcare, you’re about 10 years behind, so let’s get moving this year.

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INFAgraphic: The Healthcare Organization of the Future will be Data-Driven

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Data is the Key to Value-based Healthcare

The transition to value-based care is well underway. From healthcare delivery organizations to clinicians, payers, and patients, everyone feels the impact.  Each has a role to play. Moving to a value-driven model demands agility from people, processes, and technology. Organizations that succeed in this transformation will be those in which:

  • Collaboration is commonplace
  • Clinicians and business leaders wear new hats
  • Data is recognized as an enterprise asset

The ability to leverage data will differentiate the leaders from the followers. Successful healthcare organizations will:

1)      Establish analytics as a core competency
2)      Rely on data to deliver best practice care
3)      Engage patients and collaborate across the ecosystem to foster strong, actionable relationships

Trustworthy data is required to power the analytics that reveal the right answers, to define best practice guidelines and to identify and understand relationships across the ecosystem. In order to advance, data integration must also be agile. The right answers do not live in a single application. Instead, the right answers are revealed by integrating data from across the entire ecosystem. For example, in order to deliver personalized medicine, you must analyze an integrated view of data from numerous sources. These sources could include multiple EMRs, genomic data, data marts, reference data and billing data.

A recent PWC survey showed that 62% of executives believe data integration will become a competitive advantage.  However, a July 2013 Information Week survey reported that 40% of healthcare executives gave their organization only a grade D or F on preparedness to manage the data deluge.

value-based healthcare

What grade would you give your organization?

You can improve your organization’s grade, but it will require collaboration between business and IT.  If you are in IT, you’ll need to collaborate with business users who understand the data. You must empower them with self-service tools for improving data quality and connecting data.  If you are a business leader, you need to understand and take an active role with the data.

To take the next step, download our new eBook, “Potential Unlocked: Transforming healthcare by putting information to work.”  In it, you’ll learn:

  1. How to put your information to work
  2. New ways to govern your data
  3. What other healthcare organizations are doing
  4. How to overcome common barriers

So go ahead, download it now and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing your questions and comments….oh, and your grade!

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INFAgraphic: Transforming Healthcare by Putting Information to Work

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Improving CMS Star Ratings… The Secret Sauce

Many of our customers are Medicare health plans and one thing that keeps coming up in conversation is how they can transform business processes to improve star ratings. For plans covering health services, the overall score for quality of those services covers 36 different topics in 5 categories:

1. Staying healthy: screenings, tests, and vaccines

2. Managing chronic (long-term) conditions

3. Member experience with the health plan

4. Member complaints, problems getting services, and improvement in the health plan’s performance

5. Health plan customer service

Based on member feedback and activity in each of these areas, the health plans receive a rating (1-5 stars) which is published and made available to consumers. These ratings play a critical role in plan selection each Fall. The rating holds obvious value as consumers are increasingly “yelp minded,” meaning they look to online reviews from peer groups to make buying decisions. Even with this realization though, improving ratings is a challenge. There are the typical complexities of any survey: capturing a representative respondent pool, members may be negatively influenced by a single event and there are commonly emotional biases. There are also less obvious challenges associated with the data.

For example, a member with CHF may visit north of 8 providers in a month and they may or may not follow through on prescribed preventative care measures. How does CMS successfully capture the clinical and administrative data on each of these visits when patient information may be captured differently at each location? How does the health plan ensure that the CMS interpretation matches their interpretation of the visit data? In many cases, our customers have implemented an enterprise data warehouse and are doing some type of claims analysis but this analysis requires capturing new data and analyzing data in new ways.

We hear that those responsible for member ratings, retention and acquisition routinely wait >6 months to have a source or data added to a reporting database. The cycle time is too great to make a quick and meaningful impact on the ratings.

Let’s continue this discussion next week during your morning commute.

Join me as I talk with Frank Norman a Healthcare Partners at Knowledgent.

During this “drive time” webinar series, health plans will learn how to discover insights to improve CMS Star ratings.

Part 1 of the webinar series: Top 5 Reasons Why Improving CMS Star Ratings is a Challenge

Part 2 of the webinar series: Using Your Data to Improve CMS Star Ratings

Part 3 of the webinar series: Automating Insights into CMS Star Ratings

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Posted in Application Retirement, Big Data, CIO, Customers, Data Warehousing, Enterprise Data Management, Healthcare | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

ROI via Application Retirement

ROI = every executive’s favorite acronym and one that is often challenging to demonstrate.

In our interactions with provider clients and prospects we are hearing that they’ve migrated to new EMRs but aren’t receiving the ROI they had budgeted or anticipated. In many cases, they are using the new EMR for documentation but still paying to maintain the legacy EMR for access to historical data for billing and care delivery. If health systems can retire these applications and still maintain operational access to the data, they will be able to realize the expected ROI and serve patients proactively.

My colleague Julie, Lockner wrote a blog post about how Informatica Application Retirement for Healthcare is helping healthcare organizations to retire legacy applications and realize ROI.

Read her blog post here or listen to a quick overview here.

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Are You Getting an EPIC ROI? Retire Legacy Healthcare Applications!

Healthcare organizations are currently engaged in major transformative initiatives. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided the healthcare industry incentives for the adoption and modernization of point-of-care computing solutions including electronic medical and health records (EMRs/EHRs).   Funds have been allocated, and these projects are well on their way.  In fact, the majority of hospitals in the US are engaged in implementing EPIC, a software platform that is essentially the ERP for healthcare.

These Cadillac systems are being deployed from scratch with very little data being ported from the old systems into the new.  The result is a dearth of legacy applications running in aging hospital data centers, consuming every last penny of HIS budgets.  Because the data still resides on those systems, hospital staff continues to use them making it difficult to shut down or retire.

Most of these legacy systems are not running on modern technology platforms – they run on systems such as HP Turbo Image, Intercache Mumps, and embedded proprietary databases.  Finding people who know how to manage and maintain these systems is costly and risky – risky in that if data residing in those applications is subject to data retention requirements (patient records, etc.) and the data becomes inaccessible.

A different challenge for CFOs of these hospitals is the ROI on these EPIC implementations.  Because these projects are multi-phased, multi-year, boards of directors are asking about the value realized from these investments.  Many are coming up short because they are maintaining both applications in parallel.  Relief will come when systems can be retired – but getting hospital staff and regulators to approve a retirement project requires evidence that they can still access data while adhering to compliance needs.

Many providers have overcome these hurdles by successfully implementing an application retirement strategy based on the Informatica Data Archive platform.  Several of the largest pediatrics’ children’s hospitals in the US are either already saving or expecting to save $2 Million or more annually from retiring legacy applications.  The savings come from:

  • Eliminating software maintenance and license costs
  • Eliminate hardware dependencies and costs
  • Reduced storage requirements by 95% (data archived is stored in a highly compressed, accessible format)
  • Improved efficiencies in IT by eliminating specialized processes or skills associated with legacy systems
  • Freed IT resources – teams can spend more of their time working on innovations and new projects

Informatica Application Retirement Solutions for Healthcare provide hospitals with the ability to completely retire legacy applications, retire and maintain access to archive data for hospital staff.  And with built in security and retention management, records managers and legal teams are satisfying compliance requirements.   Contact your Informatica Healthcare team for more information on how you can get that EPIC ROI the board of directors is asking for.

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Why an EMR is Not Enough Part II

A lesson learned from other industries, like retail and financial services, is that while analytics and data warehouses are critical components to delivering big results from data — neither is easy. Gartner reported that 80% of data warehousing initiatives fail to meet expectations, often running over budget and failing to deliver a ROI.

  • Executives are often frustrated because responses to their requests for new reports and edited reports take too long
  • Misunderstood requirements and costly rework are the result of a lack of collaboration between stakeholders and IT
  • BI consumers lose confidence in data; they don’t trust it because they lack transparency into its lineage and don’t understand why it appears differently after being aggregated with data from other applications

 

Expecting value from data without making a commiserate investment in data results in unmet expectations. Accessing data is hard, each request requires new effort, establishing enterprise standards for data quality are an enormous effort and transforming data to fit into a heterogeneous intelligence environment is complicated and time consuming.

 

Introducing multiple sources of data across organizational boundaries creates a need for an environment that supports effective collaboration between stakeholders and the information technology team implementing solutions to manage data. To be genuinely useful, data must be verifiable and trustworthy since only then will stakeholders have the confidence to make data-driven decisions.  To realize the value of data, from Epic and beyond, IT leaders must implement business intelligence and data warehousing best practices that:

  • bring data together across applications including clinical and financial data
  • foster collaboration between clinicians, IT and business stakeholders
  • establish trust and confidence in business intelligence and decision making.
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An EMR isn’t enough, Part I

EMR vendors have long encouraged that their EMR and business intelligence capabilities negate the need to have a plan to integrate data or implement a separate data warehousing and business intelligence. This philosophy begs the question – how can one transactional clinical application support the intelligence needs of an enterprise? Consider customer relationship management data for feeding customer driven marketing initiatives, time tracking data full of valuable employee utilization stats, payer claims data and newly acquired practices running an EMR independent of Epic… just to name a few. 

With the recognition that an EMR accounts for only a fraction of the data needed for reliable and comprehensive business intelligence comes requirements to reconcile terminology and data quality standards across an increasingly large set of trading partners and stakeholders, to access data from other sources (like payroll, CRM and claims) and to migrate clinical data from legacy applications.

In fact, business intelligence and analytics are dependent on data from across the enterprise. Most clinical and financial decisions are dependent on data; great potential lies within data – making it a valuable asset. This is not a new idea. What is a newer concept is what it means to really elevate data to the status of an asset. Unlocking the potential of data as an asset requires that healthcare organizations begin to think about and invest in data in new ways; making investments beyond traditional infrastructure like databases and data storage. Healthcare organizations must make investments in the ongoing management and improvement of the data itself as they do with any other asset, like talent, buildings or their EMR – for example understanding its quality and allocating people and systems to managing it. Moving faster in this competitive climate and delivering differentiated results requires it.

Check back next week for Part II which explores treating data as an asset further.

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Ochsner Health System Realizes the Potential of Data

Last week, we hosted a webinar Realizing the Potential of Your Data with Ochsner Health System. Jonathan Stevenson, Director of Analytics, joined me for a dialogue on what they’ve learned in their early steps toward becoming an Accountable Care Organization.

We had a an interactive audience asking questions. A few of which, with their answers, are included below: (more…)

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