The Healthcare Data Warehouse E-Book: Why an EDW is Critical For Success


Learn why a data warehouse will be essential for success in healthcare transformation.

Download It All Starts With A Data Warehouse

“If you’re going to achieve high performance analytics, the EMR alone won’t cut it. You need an enterprise data warehouse. In fact, there is no viable alternative to an enterprise data warehouse if you want to successfully use analytics to improve the cost and quality of care.”

— Dale Sanders, Sr. Vice President, Health Catalyst

In this FREE e-boook

  • Why an enterprise data warehouse can be vital to a healthcare organization’s future success
  • Alternatives to an enterprise data warehouse for healthcare and how they stack up
  • What “late-binding” means to the healthcare industry and whether it’s necessary for your organization
  • Whether your organization should buy a data warehouse or build one internally
  • Reasons why data warehouses can fail – and how to avoid these traps
  • How to select the right partner company for your organization’s data warehousing project
  • Examples of how organizations are achieving improvement and ROI goals with enterprise data warehouses

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It All Starts with A Data Warehouse E-Book Introduction

One day in 1928, Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist, neglected to clean his workstation before going on vacation. When he returned, Fleming noticed a strange fungus on some of his cultures. Curiously, bacteria seemed not to thrive near those cultures. The rest of the story is history, and thus, quite by accident, did penicillin become the first — and still one of the most widely used — antibiotics.

Accidents happen in technology, too. And we’re glad they do. Back in the 1980s, a Wal-Mart computer operator one day grew tired of retrieving archival tapes for historical sales data. So he secretly “borrowed” excess storage space on a company server, where he downloaded and stored data from the most requested tapes. This giant data stash couldn’t stay secret for long, and it didn’t. When Wal-Mart managers found it, they quickly realized the enormous value of timely and widespread access to data. Thus was born the Wal-Mart data warehouse (although the roots of data warehousing date to the 1960s). Soon, every transaction in 6,000 Wal-Mart stores was available for analysis in the data warehouse within seven minutes. This treasure trove of data supported Wal-Mart’s strategic planning and astonishing growth.

Wal-Mart’s story shows that good things do indeed happen by accident. The company’s story also underscores the power of analytic technology coupled with a data-driven culture.

While Wal-Mart, other retailers, and companies in most verticals have adopted data warehouse solutions, healthcare organizations have failed to do so broadly or comprehensively. This is surprising, considering the volume and variety of data that reside in the systems of hospitals and group practices. And it’s unfortunate, considering how very much is at stake: the health of Americans, the cost and quality of care delivery, and the productivity of our country.

Letting go of old beliefs and making way for new ones is never easy. I can’t help but go back to my days studying physics and philosophy and recall the evolution of the way we perceive the universe. For centuries, Western man accepted Ptolemy’s claim that the earth was the center of the universe. Then, 1,500 years later, Copernicus came along and said, “You know what? My observations indicate that the sun is actually the center.” Accepting this paradigm shift was difficult for most, but it proved to be right.

The same kind of revolution needs to happen in the healthcare industry. In the very near future, we must shift away from the very patient-specific, billing-centric electronic medical record (EMR) as the center of the universe to an analytic- centric environment based on an enterprise data warehouse (EDW).

Once, all things data-related revolved around the EMR, and it held prime position at the center of a healthcare organization’s universe. Today, organizations must understand that the EMR is simply one source of collected data supporting a particular workload. The EMR generally has basic integration within a local area network and may be connected to the external environment through a health information exchange. But this is insufficient for the sophisticated data analytics the industry needs today.

If you’re going to achieve high performance analytics, the EMR alone won’t cut
it. You need an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). In fact, there is no viable alternative to an EDW if you want to successfully use analytics to improve the cost and quality of care. By incorporating the EMR’s and other systems’ data into an EDW, you create an infrastructure that enables health systems, accountable care organizations (ACOs), physician groups and others to predict and manage patient care and improve cost and quality.

Our goal in this e-book is to provide the business and clinical leaders of healthcare organizations with all they need to know to leverage healthcare enterprise data warehouse solutions to dramatically improve their own clinical and operational performance, as well as U.S. healthcare generally.

We, the authors of this e-book, are members of the leadership team of Health Catalyst, a healthcare information technology company that brings decades
of experience at leading health systems including Intermountain Healthcare, Northwestern, and PeaceHealth. Health Catalyst has applied the principles learned at these health systems into a commercial-grade, stress-tested data platform that scales vertically and horizontally to meet the needs of everyone from small, rural hospitals to large, multi-state health systems with dozens of hospitals. It performs effectively in academic medical centers and in specialty hospitals and supports inpatient, ambulatory, and population management initiatives.

Healthcare in the United States is undergoing dramatic, unprecedented change – shifting from fee-for-service to fee-for-value without the historical investment in analytics technology so common in other industries and so essential to success. Hospitals and medical practices need enterprise data warehouse, or EDW, technology to help answer mission-critical questions and repeatedly and reliably deliver insights about clinical and operational performance.