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Health Catalyst Editors

A Roadmap for Optimizing Clinical Decision Support

Compared to industries such as aerospace and automotive, healthcare lags behind in decision support innovation. Following the aerospace and automotive arenas, healthcare can learn critical lessons about improving its clinical decision support capabilities to help clinicians make more efficient, data-informed decisions:

Achieve widespread digitization: Healthcare must digitize its assets and operations (patient registration, scheduling, encounters, diagnosis, orders, billings, and claims) for effective CDS similarly to how aerospace digitized the aircraft, air traffic control, baggage handling, ticketing, maintenance, and manufacturing.
Build data volume and scope: Healthcare must collect socioeconomic, genomic, patient-reported outcomes, claims data, and more to truly understand the patient at the center of the human health data ecosystem.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Keys to Improving Hospital Patient Flow with Machine Learning

Health systems alike struggle to effectively manage hospital patient flow. With machine learning and predictive models, health systems can improve patient flow for different departments throughout the system like the emergency department. Health systems should focus on three key areas to foster successful data science that will lead to improved hospital patient flow:
Key 1. Build a data science team.
Key 2. Create a ML pipeline to aggregate all data sources.
Key 3. Form a comprehensive leadership team to govern data.
Improving hospital patient flow through predictive models results in reduced patient wait times, reduced staff overtime, improved patient outcomes, and improved patient and clinician satisfaction.

Health Catalyst Editors

AI in Healthcare: Finding the Right Answers Faster

Health systems rely on data to make informed decisions—but only if that data leads to the right conclusion. Health systems often use common analytic methods to draw the wrong conclusions that lead to wasted resources and worse outcomes for patients. It is crucial for data leaders to lay the right data foundation before applying AI, select the best data visualization tool, and prepare to overcome five common roadblocks with AI in healthcare:

Predictive Analysis Before Diagnostic Analysis Leads to Correlation but Not Causation.
Change Management Isn’t Considered Part of the Process.
The Wrong Terms to Describe the Work.
Trying to Compensate for Low Data Literacy Resulting in Unclear Conclusions.
Lack of Agreement on Definitions Causes Confusion.

As AI provides more efficiency and power in healthcare, organizations still need a collaborative approach, deep understanding of data processes, and strong leadership to effect real change.

Health Catalyst Editors

AI-Assisted Decision Making: Healthcare’s Next Frontier

While many healthcare organizations have implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools at the point of care, few have successfully applied them to high-level decision making. A new frontier is expanding AI from artificial intelligence to augmented intelligence; traditional AI focuses on improving analytics efficiency while augmented intelligence is about improving the decision-making ability of healthcare leaders.
This article addresses the capabilities health systems should embrace and provides two examples of how AI can assist with leaders with their most important decisions. Healthcare leaders’ biggest needs of from AI are the ability to separate signal from noise and make decisions that impact the future.

Health Catalyst Editors

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: A Change Management Problem

The key to successfully leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare rests not wholly in the technical aspects of predictive and prescriptive machines but also in change management within healthcare organizations. Better adoption and results with AI rely on a commitment to the challenge of change, the right tools, and a human-centered perspective.
To succeed in change management and get optimal value from predictive and prescriptive models, clinical and operational leaders must use three perspectives:

Functional: Does the model make sense?
Contextual: Does the model fit into the workflow?
Operational: What benefits and risks are traded?

Health Catalyst Editors

Machine Learning Tools Unlock the Most Critical Insights from Unstructured Health Data

Patient comments such as “I feel dizzy” or “my stomach hurts” can tell clinicians a lot about an individual’s health, as can additional background, including zip code, employment status, access to transportation, and more. This critical information, however, is captured as free text, or unstructured data, making it impossible for traditional analytics to leverage.
Machine learning tools (e.g., NLP and text mining) help health systems better understand the patient and their circumstances by unlocking valuable insights residing unstructured data:

NLP analyzes large amounts of natural language data for human users.
Text mining derives value through the analysis of mass amounts of text (e.g., word frequency, length of words, etc.).

Health Catalyst Editors

A New Era of Personalized Medicine: The Power of Analytics and AI

Healthcare is looking towards an era of personalized medicine in which providers customize treatments for the individual patient. Realizing this tailored level of care s a new level of data volume and analytics and AI capabilities that, while novel to healthcare, other industries are thriving in. Choosing the right role models as healthcare works towards the analytics- and AI-driven territory of personalized medicine will guide informed strategies and establish best practices.
With experience and expertise in these key areas, the military, aerospace, and automotive industries can serve as healthcare’s best examples:

The human cognitive processes of complex decision making.
The digitization of their industries, with the “health” of their assets as key drivers.
Operating in a “big data” ecosystem.

Health Catalyst Editors

How Artificial Intelligence Can Overcome Healthcare Data Security Challenges and Improve Patient Trust

As healthcare organizations today face more security threats than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) combined with human judgment is emerging as the perfect pair to improve healthcare data security. Together, they power a highly accurate privacy analytics model that allows organizations to review access points to patient data and detect when a system’s EHR is potentially exposed to a privacy violation, attack, or breach. With specific techniques, including supervised and unsupervised machine learning and transparent AI methods, health systems can advance toward more predictive, analytics-based, collaborative privacy analytics infrastructures that safeguard patient privacy.

Sean Whitaker

Healthcare Data Management: Three Principles of Using Data to Its Full Potential

Author Douglas Laney is now tackling the topic of Infonomics: the practice of information economics. In his 2017 book, Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information as an asset for competitive advantage, Laney provides detailed rationale as well as a thoughtful framework for treating information as a modern-day organization’s most valuable asset.
This article walks through how healthcare organizations can leverage data to its full potential using this framework and the three principles of infonomics:

Measure – How much data does the organization have? What is it worth?
Manage – What data does the organization have? Where is it stored?
Monetize – How does the organization use data?

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare NLP: The Secret to Unstructured Data’s Full Potential

While healthcare data is an ever-growing resource, thanks to broader EHR adoption and new sources (e.g., patient-generated data), many health systems aren’t currently leveraging this information cache to its full potential. Analysts can’t extract and analyze a significant portion of healthcare data (e.g., follow-up appointments, vitals, charges, orders, encounters, and symptoms) because it’s in an unstructured, or text, form, which is bigger and more complex than structured data.
Natural language processing (NLP) taps into the potential of unstructured data by using artificial intelligence (AI) to extract and analyze meaningful insights from the estimated 80 percent of health data that exists in text form. Though still an evolving capability, NLP is showing promise in helping organizations get more from their data.

Health Catalyst Editors

Customer Journey Analytics: Cracking the Patient Engagement Challenge for Payers

Customer journey analytics uses machine learning and big data to track and analyze when and through what channels customers interact with an organization, with an aim to influence behavior (e.g., buying behaviors among retail customers). Similarly, healthcare organizations want to influence health-related behaviors, such a taking medication as prescribed and not smoking, to improve outcomes and lower the cost of care. In a partnership with an analytics services provider, a payer organization is leveraging customer journey analytics among healthcare consumers to identify the best opportunities and channels for patient outreach. With this analytics-driven engagement strategy, the payer has found an opportunity to significantly improve patient engagement—a predicted overall increase from 18 percent to 31 percent.

Health Catalyst Editors

Reducing Hospital Readmissions: A Case for Integrated Analytics

Health systems continue to prioritize reducing hospital readmissions as part of their value-based payment and population health strategies. But organizations that aren’t fully integrating analytics into their readmission reduction workflows struggle to meet improvement goals. By embedding predictive models across the continuum of care, versus isolated them in episodes of care, health systems can leverage analytics for meaningful improvement.
Organizations that integrate predictive models into readmissions reduction workflows have achieved as much as a 40 percent reduction in risk-adjusted readmissions indexes. Effective analytics integration strategies use a multidisciplinary development approach to meet the needs of a patient’s entire care team and deliver common tools for all involved in the patient’s healthcare journey.

Mike Dow

Healthcare NLP: Four Essentials to Make the Most of Unstructured Data

Many health systems are eager to embrace the capability of natural language processing (NLP) to access the vast patient insights recorded as unstructured text in clinical notes and records. Many healthcare data and analytics teams, however, aren’t experienced in or prepared for the unique challenges of working with text and, specifically, don’t have the knowledge to transform unstructured text into a usable format for NLP.
Data engineers can follow four need-to-know principles to meet and overcome the challenges of making unstructured text available for advanced NLP analysis:

Text is bigger and more complex.
Text comes from different data sources.
Text is stored in multiple areas.
Text user documentation patterns matter.

Valere Lemon, MBA, RN
Alejo Jumat

Meaningful Machine Learning Visualizations for Clinical Users: A Framework

Health systems can leverage the predictive potential of machine learning to improve outcomes, lower costs, and save lives. Machine learning, however, doesn’t inherently produce insights that are actionable in the clinical setting, and frontline clinicians need information that’s accessible and meaningful at the point of care. Thoughtfully designed visualizations of machine learning insights are a powerful way to give clinical users the information they need, when and how they need it, to support informed decision making.
A design framework for machine learning visualizations addresses three key questions about who will use the decision-support insights and how:

People: who are the targeted users?
Context: in what context or environment do they work?
Activities: what activities do they perform?

Taylor Larsen
Michael Barton
Jennifer Van Pelt

Three Ways Evidence-Based Medicine Improves Machine Learning

As health systems continue to adopt machine learning to impact significant outcomes (e.g., reducing readmissions, preventing hospital-acquired infections, and reducing length of stay), they must also leverage evidence-based medicine. Evidence adds critical insight to machine learning models, ensuring that models incorporate all necessary variables in their risk prediction, and builds credibility among clinicians.
Evidence-based medicine brings three essential elements to healthcare machine learning:

Boosts machine learning model credibility.
Engages data experts around healthcare projects.
Saves time and money and increases ROI.

Jared Crapo
Linda Simovic

Cloud-Based Open-Platform Data Solutions: The Best Way to Meet Today’s Growing Health Data Demands

Smartphone applications, home monitoring equipment, genomic sequencing, and social determinants of health are adding significantly to the scope of healthcare data, creating new challenges for health systems in data management and storage. Traditional on-premises data warehouses, however, don’t have the capacity or capabilities to support this new era of bigger healthcare data.
Organizations must add more secure, scalable, elastic, and analytically agile cloud-based, open-platform data solutions that leverage analytics as a service (AaaS). Moving toward cloud hosting will help health systems avoid the five common challenges of on-premises data warehouses:

Predicting future demand is difficult.
Infrastructure scaling is lumpy and inelastic.
Security risk mitigation is a major investment.
Data architectures limit flexibility and are resource intensive.
Analytics expertise is misallocated.

Eric Just
Levi Thatcher
Tom Lawry

Machine Learning in Healthcare: What C-Suite Executives Must Know to Use it Effectively in Their Organizations

Machine learning (ML) is gaining in popularity throughout healthcare. ML’s far-reaching benefits, from automating routine clinical tasks to providing visibility into which appointments are likely to no-show, make it a must-have in an industry that’s hyper focused on improving patient and operational outcomes.
This executive report—co-written by Microsoft Worldwide Health and Health Catalyst—is a basic guide to training machine learning algorithms and applying machine learning models to clinical and operational use case. This report shares practical, proven techniques healthcare organizations can use to improve their performance on a range of issues.

Mike Dow
Levi Thatcher

How Healthcare Text Analytics and Machine Learning Work Together to Improve Patient Outcomes

Healthcare organizations that leverage both text analytics and machine learning are better positioned to improve patient outcomes.
Used in tandem, text analytics and machine learning can significantly improve the accuracy of risk scores, used widely in healthcare to help clinicians identify patients at high risk for certain conditions and, therefore, intervene.
Health systems can run machine learning models with input from text analytics to provide tailored risk predictions on both unstructured and structured data. The result? More accurate risk scores and the ability to identify every patient’s level of risk in time to inform decisions about their care.

Taylor Larsen

Why Health Systems Must Use Data Science to Improve Outcomes

In today’s improvement-driven healthcare environment, organizations must ensure that improvement measures help them reach desired outcomes and focus on the opportunities with optimal ROI. With data science-based analysis, health systems leverage machine learning to determine if improvement measures align with specific outcomes and avoid the risk and cost of carrying out interventions that are unlikely to support their goals.
There are four essential reasons that insights from data science help health systems implement and sustain improvement:

Measures aligned with desired outcomes drive improvement.
Improvement teams focus on processes they can impact.
Outcome-specific interventions might impact other outcomes.
Identifies opportunities with optimal ROI.

David Crockett

The Real Opportunity of Precision Medicine and How to Not Miss Out

Precision medicine, defined as a new model of patient-powered research that will give clinicians the ability to select the best treatment for an individual patient, holds the key that will allow health IT to merge advances in genomics research with new methods for managing and analyzing large data sets. This will accelerate research and biomedical discoveries. However, clinical improvements are often designed to reduce variation. So, how do systems balance tailoring medicine to each patient with standardizing care? The answer is precise registries. For example, using registries that can account for the most accurate, specific patients and disease, clinicians can use gene variant knowledge bases to provide personalized care.

Levi Thatcher

The Dangers of Commoditized Machine Learning in Healthcare: 5 Key Differentiators that Lead to Success

Many vendors deliver machine learning models with different applications in healthcare. But they don’t all deliver accurate models that are easy to implement, targeted to a specific use case, connected to actionable interventions, and surrounded by a machine learning community and support team with extensive, exclusive healthcare experience.
These machine learning qualities are possible only through a machine learning model delivered by a vendor with a unique set of capabilities. There are five differentiators behind effective machine learning models and vendors:

Vendor’s expertise and exclusive focus on healthcare.
Machine learning model’s access to extensive data sources.
Machine learning model’s ease of implementation.
Machine learning model’s interpretability and buy-in.
Machine learning model’s conformance with privacy standards.

These five factors separate the high-value vendors and models from the crowd, so healthcare systems can quickly implement machine learning and start seeing improvement results.

Aaron Neiderhiser
Dorian DiNardo

Introducing Touchstone: The Next-Generation Healthcare Benchmarking and Opportunity Prioritization Tool

To do healthcare benchmarking effectively and efficiently, healthcare organizations need to know where they’re underperforming, where they’re performing well, and how to focus and prioritize their improvement efforts. They also need a new approach to benchmarking that isn’t limited to the inpatient setting.
The Health Catalyst® Touchstone™ product is the next-generation healthcare benchmarking and prioritization tool that delivers what antiquated benchmarking technologies cannot:

Risk-adjusted benchmarking across the full continuum of care.
Artificial intelligence-powered recommendations.
Ranked lists of improvement opportunities.
Detailed analytics and an intuitive user interface that enable the easy exploration of factors driving performance issues.
Democratized benchmarking that’s available to as many people as the organization wants.

Touchstone was designed with many users and use cases in mind, from population health analysts looking to improve ACO performance to C-suite leaders who need a data-driven approach to prioritizing improvement opportunities.

Michael Levy

Data Science for Healthcare: What Today's Leaders Must Know

Healthcare leaders who understand data science can embrace the significant improvement potential of the industry’s vast data stores, including an estimated $300 billion in annual costs savings. Executives must know the value of data science to understand the urgency in investing and supporting the technology and data scientists to fully leverage data’s capabilities. Today’s data science-savvy executives will lead the healthcare transformation by enabling faster, more accurate diagnoses and more effective, lower-risk treatments.

Daniel Orenstein, JD
Carolyn Wong Simpkins, MD, PhD

The Impact of FDA Digital Health Guidance on CDS, Medical Software, and Machine Learning

The FDA recently released guidance documents on the use of clinical decision support (CDS) and medical software that may be of concern to forward-thinking healthcare innovators who rely on these technologies to deliver exceptional care and improve outcomes. What will be the impact of this guidance on machine learning and predictive analytics efforts? How will the guidance affect timelines, costs, and effectiveness of ongoing machine learning implementation?
As healthcare delivery increasingly relies on digital innovation and support, more questions emerge about the governance of the accompanying tools and technology.
This article provides a summary of the FDA guidance on CDS, how CDS is defined, whether or not CDS is exempt from regulation, and how the FDA intends to enforce compliance. It also summarizes the FDA guidance on medical software, what software is exempt from regulation, and helps to answer some of the questions surrounding the digital health space.