Healthcare organizations are turning to the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) as the foundation of their analytics strategy. But simply implementing an EDW doesn’t guarantee an organization’s success. One obstacle organizations come up against is that their analytics team members don’t have the right skills to maximize the effectiveness of the EDW. The following six skills are essential for analytics team members: structured query language (SQL); the ability to perform export, transform, and load (ETL) processes; data modeling; data analysis; business intelligence (BI) reporting; and the ability to tell a story with data.
Analyst & IT Roles
Data-driven quality improvement is propelling healthcare transformation. The ability to strategically leverage healthcare data is essential, making highly effective data analysts more valuable than ever. So, what attributes differentiate a good data analyst from a great analyst?
Stephen Covey’s well-known book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has long had far-reaching impacts in the business world. These same principles are relevant today and applicable in the world of healthcare analytics. Learn how Covey’s second habit, “Begin With the End in Mind,” drives great healthcare data analysts.
Healthcare information systems are integral to hospital operations and clinical care for patients. In the 1960s healthcare was driven by Medicare and Medicaid and HIT developed shared hospital accounting systems. In the 1970s communication between departments and individual transactional systems became important. DRGs drove healthcare in the 1980s and HIT needed to find ways to pull both clinical and financial data in order for reimbursements. The 1990s saw competition and consolidation drive technology to create IDN-like integration. In the 2000s outcomes-based reimbursement became the drive behind developing real-time clinical decision support. For the future, ACOs and value-based purchasing means that CIOs will need to implement data warehouses and analytics application to provide the insights to drive performance improvement necessary for hospital survival.
There’s a new way to think about healthcare data analysts. Give them the responsibilities of a data detective. If ever there were a Sherlock Holmes of healthcare analytics, it’s the analyst who thinks like a detective. Part scientist, part bloodhound, part magician, the healthcare data detective thrives on discovery, extracting pearls of insight where others have previously returned emptyhanded. This valuable role comprises critical thinkers, story engineers, and sleuths who look at healthcare data in a different way. Three attributes define the data detective:
They are inquisitive and relentless with their questions.
They let the data inform.
They drive to the heart of what matters.
Innovative analytics leaders understand the importance of supporting the data analyst through the data detective career track, and the need to start developing this role right away in the pursuit of outcomes improvement in all healthcare domains.
The state of healthcare information technology and analytics has evolved to the point where a revised executive structure is advisable in the C-suite. This new structure calls for a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to focus on extracting data from systems and on mining value from that data, rather than getting data into systems, which is the responsibility of the CIO.
This article makes the case for the CDO, explains how the need for this emerging role evolved, outlines its responsibilities, advises on how to recruit and budget for this position, and details its domain in eight critical business areas:
Governance and standards
Data architecture and technology
Meeting regulatory demand
Creating business value
Analysts are most effective when they have the right tools. In healthcare, that means providing data analysts with a means of accessing and testing ALL of the available data and using it to discover more insights. To do this, analysts need guidance more than they need a detailed set of instructions. And, equally as important, they need a data warehouse and access to a testing environment and data discovery tools, so they can truly do the work they were hired to do: analyze.
Making the most of a healthcare data analyst’s knowledge is a key component to getting the best ROI from a hospital improvement project. But all too often, analysts serve merely as data validators — they justify the data that leadership wants validated. Because analysts aren’t decision makers, they don’t have the authority to ask the questions that can save a health system millions. Empowering analysts, however, enables them to ask the right questions — and find the right answers — that will lead to significant savings.
The Changing Role of Healthcare Data Analysts—How Our Most Successful Clients Are Embracing Healthcare Transformation (Executive Report)
The healthcare industry is undergoing a sea change, and healthcare data analysts will play a central role in this transformation. This report explores how the evolution to value-based care is changing the role of healthcare data analysts, how data analysts’ skills can best be applied to achieve value-based objectives and, finally, how Health Catalyst’s most successful health system clients are making this cultural transformation happen in the real world.
Healthcare organizations are recognizing the value of healthcare analytics, especially in their Big Data, population health management, or accountable care initiatives. This is good because without analytics it is difficult to impossible to run these programs successfully. That said, analytics are not the magic bullet and proper process must be in place. The three most common mistakes health systems makes with their healthcare analytics are: 1. Analytics Whiplash- when the analytics goes from one project to another without being able to fully understand the data and what it’s saying. 2. Coloring the Truth- When analysts don’t feel like they can be completely forthcoming with information and only give leadership the news they want to hear. 3. Deceitful Visualizations- Manipulating charts, graphs, and the like to reflect what the analyst or leadership wants the data to say, rather than what it actually says.
After working with many healthcare organizations to help them implement the appropriate EDW for 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
I’ve been a CIO in various forms throughout my decades-long healthcare IT career and have always help healthcare IT vendors to high expectations. Now that I’m on the vendor side of healthcare IT, I hold our company and myself to those same high levels of expectations. Here are the ten great behaviors I expect of my vendors:
Help me compete, hire, measure, save, listen, expand, plan and innovate, migrate, prove, and evolve.
I always knew I wanted a healthcare career. I didn’t know I end up going from nursing to health information technology (IT). I loved caring for patients directly and making a difference in the life of an individual. For years, I thrived on the challenge of being a nurse and when I started to look for a new challenge, I found a way to impact patients millions of a time instead of just one-at-a-time in health IT. As I researched the opportunity of working for Health Catalyst, I was impressed by the fact that the company was founded and run by healthcare veterans—people who have actually worked in the halls of hospitals. I feel like I’ve come full circle. Working in health IT, we are making a difference in healthcare—for nurses, for physicians, and for their patients. I look forward to transforming healthcare with Health Catalyst for a long time to come.
The perfect background for a career in healthcare IT may not be what you expect. Mike Doyle shares his story, starting in music and ending up at Health Catalyst. He explains that the most effective people can come from just about any background.
Larry Grandia, Health Catalyst Board Member, received the CHIME Foundation Industry Leader Award at the 2013 Fall Forum. In this blog post, he thanks those who have held the monkey rope along the way.
All of us quietly yearn to be heroes. CIOs are no exception. We want to harness the power of healthcare analytics, using information technology to dramatically improve healthcare quality and costs. Despite their privileged position atop the IT food chain, though, only a handful of healthcare CIOs ever get to realize this dream. Why? Simply put, CIOs never own both the data content and application layers of any meaningful technology, at the business transformation level. Which is why the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) represents a CIO’s last chance to be a transformational hero in healthcare.
Healthcare automation isn’t a new concept … and for that author Larry Grandia, who’s been in the business for more than four decades, is grateful. “The industry has been on a breathtakingly expensive and time consuming sprint for the past decade or so automating essential operational information systems. Capping this technology effort with a foundation-based data strategy — an enterprise data warehouse, robust analytics and a sound data governance plan — holds the promise of a rich harvest from decades of significant IT investment and untold professional effort. My personal thanks to the many IT professionals and healthcare vendors and suppliers that have gotten the industry to this pivotal base camp. I firmly believe the peak is in sight!
When healthsystemCIO.com asked me to write this blog (HealthsystemCIO original post), I was a bit reluctant to write a piece with so many first-person pronouns, but I hope the readers will look past that annoyance. This blog is not about me. It’s a story of the unpredictable combination of fate, luck, planning, and preparation that rolls together and creates a career. I’m sure many of you could tell a similar story. I don’t know anyone who can honestly say they planned and executed each of the steps in their career with 100 percent foresight of the future. Below, you’ll find a description of odd events that acted like a series of switches on a railroad track in my life. If not for those switches, the path of my career would have been much, much different.