The Best Organizational Structure for Healthcare Analytics

their needs, we’ve learned how important it is to create cross-functional teams from across the organization. Why? These cross-functional teams will simultaneously improve clinical and financial outcomes and demonstrate ROI. By following this approach, you’ll experience the following advantages:

  • Removal of organizational barriers between team members
  • Prioritization of BI and analytic efforts according to institutional readiness and need
  • Engagement and prioritization from appropriate leadership
  • Buy in from each level of the organization to improvement goals

Here is a basic diagram of the organizational structure we recommend:

Healthcare organizational structure Let me explain in more detail the roles and responsibilities of each of these groups:

  • Content and Analytics Team: The content and analytics team is primarily comprised of data architects and outcome analysts. Initially, this pooled set of resources supports the initial efforts to implement an EDW. Under the direction of senior leadership, this team mines data to identify opportunities for improvement. Members of the content and analytics team are assigned to support work groups as they form.
  • Workgroup: The workgroup is a small, representative sampling of clinical staff responsible for a given clinical work process, such as a C-section, a hip surgery, etc. The group typically consists of a physician lead, an operations lead, and a seasoned RN who understands the patient workflow. Together, this group analyzes the available data surrounding a clinical process to tease out opportunities for improvement, for example, unnecessary antibiotic utilization or variability in a given diagnostic work-up. Experts from Health Catalyst help this team combine quality improvement principles with data to create realistic maps of current and ideal states for a clinical process. The team evaluates and prioritizes each potential improvement opportunity and makes a recommendation to the Clinical Implementation Team on where to start. Members of the workgroup are:
    • Data Architect: Builds a solid architecture to capture and provision data from disparate source systems into an integrated platform.
    • Application Administrator: Ensures source-system applications function to capture needed data elements.
    • Outcomes Analyst: Mines data to identify statistically valid trends/variability that may exist. Interprets and presents information to non-technical peers in a visual format.
    • Knowledge Manager: Acts as a liaison between the technical and clinical teams. Usually staffed by an RN, this critical role helps the technical team understand and interpret clinical data as they seek to build algorithms that mimic clinical workflow.
  • Clinical Implementation Team (CIT): This group consists of practicing clinicians who own a clinical process within an organization. The CIT roughly aligns with clinical practice specialties. The CIT role is crucial to widespread adoption of clinical improvements. The CIT hears findings and recommendations for improvement from the work group. Ultimately, it’s the CIT group that will champion adoption of the improvements by incorporating recommended changes into their daily workflow. This is a key venue for physician-led, improvement initiatives. The CIT will own the rollout of the improvement process to ensure staff understands the downstream effects of changes in workflow.
    • Guidance Team: The guidance team provides governance over all the workgroups and clinical implementation teams under a clinical program. For example, a guidance team for the Women and Children’s clinical program may oversee three separate workgroups focusing on gynecology, pregnancy, or normal newborn. The guidance team takes into account resources, organizational readiness, and political climate to determine which workgroups receive priority. This team reports to senior executive leadership.
    • Senior Executive Leadership: While the senior leadership retains the final word on which efforts are prioritized and executed upon, the existence of self-sufficient guidance teams takes much of the burden of the analytics effort off senior leadership. Senior executives consider the well-informed recommendations of the guidance teams to make decisions about where best to focus resources. The hierarchy of workgroups to executive leadership supports greater transparency and visibility around improvement efforts. An additional benefit of the hierarchy is improved transparency, which minimizes the risk of putting effort into projects at odds with strategic direction.

Structuring Your Healthcare Analytics Workgroups

How do you get started creating this organizational structure? When Health Catalyst works with a client, we start by analyzing a sample data set from the client and sharing our findings with senior leadership to determine the best two or three opportunities for improvement. Then we structure workgroups accordingly. Once these initial workgroups are running successfully and the process begins to mature, senior leadership steps back from the details of the process, forming the guidance teams to govern the workgroups. This delegation of responsibilities creates a sustainable structure for ongoing improvement throughout the organization.

But I’d like to point out: this process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many months to develop mature, data-driven, physician-led clinical programs. Then we introduce the concepts embedded in the Healthcare Analytics Adoption Model (source: Electronic Healthcare 2012), developed by a cross-industry group of healthcare industry veterans. The model builds from the lessons learned from the HIMSS EHR Adoption Model but applied to healthcare analytics. We help each system assess where they are on the Analytics Adoption Model and how to grow and evolve from their current state.

Done right, we consistently find that the culture changes and IT staff and data-dependent departments enjoy healthy, symbiotic growth within their health care organization.

I’m not going to minimize the effort required to implement the organizational structure outlined above. It takes work. Lots of work. But it’s doable. And it works.

Powerpoint Slides

Would you like to use or share these concepts?  Download this Organizational Structure for Healthcare Analytics presentation highlighting the key main points.

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