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Author Bio

Chris Rains

Chris Rains joined Health Catalyst in September 2012 as a Data Architect. Prior to coming to Health Catalyst, he worked at Bank of America as a senior data analyst, lean process coach, and project manager. While there, he used SAS and the Teradata enterprise data warehouse to query, mine, and analyze data to find and recommend opportunities for improvement. Prior to grad school, Chris spent time in various industries working in database analytics and Java web app development. Chris has a degree in Information Systems from BYU and an MBA from Purdue University

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Chris Rains
Michael McCuistion

Why Healthcare Requires an EDW, Analytics Applications, and Visualization Tools for Quality Improvement Initiatives

Business intelligence may not sound like something that belongs in a healthcare setting. After all, what role can it possibly play in medical excellence and compassionate care? But federal mandates that require cost and care improvement and reporting on those improvement metrics, are driving the need for business intelligence tools. For healthcare, this means an enterprise data warehouse with the processing power and architecture to handle the vast volumes of data, analytics applications that will effectively unlock the data, and data visualization tools to easily illustrate areas of opportunity.

Chris Rains
Michael McCuistion
Steve Barlow

BI Tools: 5 Reasons Why They Can’t Replace Your Healthcare Data Warehouse

An EDW is the only viable solution for driving healthcare analytics. This fact has resulted in many BI tools and visualization solutions being marketed as cloud data warehouses, promising quick, user-friendly answers. While they do a great job of visualizing data and exposing it to end users, these tools cannot replace an EDW for 5 reasons in particular:
i. BI tools don’t optimize healthcare data- optimizing data and exposing data-quality issues represents a significant chunk of the initial stages of an EDW project. BI tools just can’t offer this functionality.
ii. BI tools can’t handle large amounts of healthcare data- one patient encounter can general hundreds of rows of data, meaning that reports from BI tools will be slow to generate and inefficient.
iii. BI tools don’t work well with healthcare data at different levels of granularity- Some tools have difficulty displaying the one-to-many and many-to-many data relationships required in healthcare.
iv. BI tools can’t optimize healthcare data for multiple user types- Applying logic against the data so it is understandable at multiple levels for different audiences is something BI tools simply cannot do.
v. BI tools don’t provide for modularity, understandability, and code reuse

Chris Rains
Michael McCuistion

How Healthcare Business Intelligence Drives Smarter Decisions

Business Intelligence is a loosely defined, but commonly used, term that means various things to different people. It seems to have become a catch-all phrase for three classes of technology:
1. Enterprise data warehouse (EDW) systems used to aggregate and standardize data across an organization
2. Reporting tools that visualize data (visualization tools), typically representing a snapshot of information captured at a particular point in time
3. Discovery tools that allow users to proactively drill down and through data sets, asking questions and uncovering information in real time about the performance of their organization

Chris Rains

How to Evaluate a Business Intelligence Tool for Healthcare

I used to think I would eventually find the one Business Intelligence (BI) tool for healthcare that would meet all of my needs for data discovery, analysis, visualization, presentation, and reporting. Now, however, I doubt I will ever find such a “one size fits all” solution. A big obstacle to identifying one single best analytics tool is that analytical needs vary so widely within healthcare—the best tool really depends on the audience that will consume the data, how they will use it, and what the goal is. Having just one tool to use is not as important as having the tool that accomplishes what you need it to do. For this reason, I advocate that you consider licensing more than one tool in the toolset.