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Author Bio

Tom Burton

Mr. Burton is a co-founder and President of Professional Services at Health Catalyst. His leadership and decades of experience in business intelligence, analytics, and process improvement have helped many care delivery systems significantly improve clinical, operational, and financial outcomes. Mr. Burton was a member of the team that led Intermountain Healthcare's nationally recognized improvements in quality of care delivery and reductions in cost. He has taught courses on the Toyota Production System, Agile Software Development, value-based care, and data system design at various institutes including Intermountain Healthcare’s Institute for Health Care Delivery Research and Stanford's Clinical Effectiveness Leadership Training. He has also given presentations at the Healthcare Analytics Summit and HIMSS. Mr. Burton holds an MBA and a BS in Computer Science from BYU.

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David Grauer, MBA, MHSA
Tom Burton

Outcomes Improvement Governance: A Handbook for Success and Achieving More with Less

For healthcare organizations looking to achieve outcomes improvement goals, effective governance is the most essential must-have. This leadership culture ensures success by enabling health systems to invest in outcomes improvement and allocate resources appropriately toward these goals.
This executive report is an outcomes improvement governance handbook centered on four guiding principles (and associated helpful steps) health systems can follow to achieve effective governance and start achieving more with less:

Stakeholder engagement
Shared understanding

With these four principles, organizations can build a foundation of engagement and focus around the work, where they maximize strengths, and discover and address weaknesses. They establish an improvement methodology, define their goals, and sustain and standardize improvement work.

Tom Burton

Data for Improving Healthcare vs. Data for Exasperating Healthcare Workers

For better or worse, hospitals are obligated to collect and report data for regulatory purposes. Or they feel compelled to meet some reputational metric. The problem is, an inordinate amount of time can be spent on what is considered data for accountability or punishment, when the real focus should be on data for learning and improvement. When time, effort, and resources are dedicated to the latter, it leads to real outcomes improvement.
Deming has three views of focusing on a process and this article applies them to healthcare:

Sub-optimization, over-emphasizing a single part at the expense of the whole.
Extreme over-emphasis, also called gaming the system.
The right amount of focus, the only path to improvement.

With data for learning as the primary goal, improving clinical, operational, and financial processes becomes an internal strategy that lifts the entire healthcare system.

Tom Burton

Why Process Measures Are Often More Important Than Outcome Measures in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is currently obsessed with outcome measures — and for good reason. But tracking outcome measures alone is insufficient to reach the goals of better quality and reduced costs. Instead, health systems must get more granular with their data by tracking process measures. Process measures make it possible to identify the root cause of a health system’s failures. They’re the checklists of systematically guaranteeing that the right care will be delivered to every patient, every time. By using these checklists, organizations will be able to improve quality and cost by reducing the amount of variation in care delivery.

Tom Burton
Dave Overfelt

Motivating Employees Toward Wellness: There’s an App—and a Program—That Really Works

Insurance premiums increase for employers and productivity decreases for employees when the workforce is unhealthy. Absenteeism increases, morale decreases, but research proves that a healthy workforce positively impacts each of these measures. An employee wellness program is a proven method for improving employee health, but the challenge is in elevating wellness program participation. Well, there’s an app for that. It’s called Get Fit Stay Fit and it was developed by Health Catalyst to motivate their employees toward healthier lifestyles. It’s actually much more than an app and the results have been so impressive, we are looking for other organizations to step up to the challenge.

Tom Burton

Successfully Rolling Out Healthcare Improvement Initiatives with Key Influencers

Rolling out a healthcare improvement initiative and getting buy-in from clinicians can be tricky. Paul Revere’s midnight ride shows how finding and using key influencers can help prompt action. This knowledge can be used to drive success of hospital data-driven improvement initiatives too. Achieving buy-in of new best practices and process across an organization is not easy, but it is imperative to success. Picking the right people for these teams means picking the innovators and early adopters in the organization, as the Paul Revere example illustrates. Once these people are identified, putting them into three key teams (the Guidance team, the Workgroup, and the Clinical Implementation team) will get the organization the right deployment system to drive successful improvement initiative on a system-wide basis.

Tom Burton

A Guide to Successful Outcomes Using Population Health Analytics

There seem to be a lot of definitions for population health management and population health analytics. But all these definitions share one thing: outcomes. The goal is to provide quality care outcomes with good patient experience outcomes at a low cost outcome. So, how can organizations systematically improve their outcomes? The answer lies in three key questions: What should be done to provide optimal care? How well are those best practices being followed? And how do those best practices move into everyday care for patients? Using a systematic approach to answering these three questions will lead organizations toward becoming an outcomes improvement machine.

Tom Burton

The Best Approach to Healthcare Analytics

Healthcare has remained entrenched in its cottage industry-style of operation, even within huge medical centers and significant medical innovation. The result, as documented by Dr. John Wennberg’s Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care project , is unwarranted variation in the practice of medicine and in the use of medical resources including underuse of effective care, misuse of care, and overuse of care provided to specific patient populations. The root of the problem, Wennberg concludes, is that there is no healthcare “system.” At Health Catalyst, we agree. Healthcare needs to be systematized and standardized in three key areas:1) healthcare analytics or measurement, 2) adoption or how teams and work are organized, and 3) best practice or how evidence/knowledge is gathered, evaluated, and disseminated for adoption.