Why CMOs Need Healthcare Executive Dashboards to Lead High-Performing Systems

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Indulal Rughani, MD, has served as the chief medical officer (CMO) of Pennington Health—a nine-hospital health system in the Midwest—for the past five years. He understands his position represents one of the most challenging and most important leadership roles in healthcare.

As the senior physician leader in the health system, he is accountable for the performance of an increasingly diverse group of medical staffs and clinics scattered over two states during a time of unprecedented change and growing uncertainty. He is quite literally at the center of the health system’s quest to be a high-performing organization, striving to provide the highest quality care to every patient, every time, at the lowest possible cost.

To effectively fulfill his role, Dr. Rughani knows he must spend his time skillfully guiding clinicians across the health system. He needs to help them be the best they can be. He cannot afford to have his time consumed by unexpected challenges. He must be able to lead proactively and wisely.

The Healthcare Executive Dashboard: An Indispensable Decision Support Tool for CMOs

Today, Dr. Rughani notices two alert flags as he scans his personalized, self-configured healthcare executive dashboard. The first flag calls his attention to an intensive care unit at one of the system’s largest hospitals, at which best practice protocols are not being appropriately applied to patients at high risk of developing central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI).

Using machine learning, he had worked with a team to develop a CLABSI risk prediction model that can predict which patients with a central line will develop a CLABSI—with almost 90 percent accuracy. However, the model is only useful if appropriate preventive measures are taken for each patient identified to be at high risk of developing CLABSI. A call to the appropriate hospital director reveals the issue is related to recent high nursing turnover in the unit. An effective in-service training program quickly remedies the problem.

The second alert points to a deterioration in the appropriate use of blood products at another hospital. Two years ago, Dr. Rughani had helped a pathologist implement a systemwide, evidence-based blood product conservation strategy. The program greatly improved care and saved millions in costs. Because his healthcare dashboard allows him to drill down into the data, he can quickly see that most of the deterioration in blood utilization performance is related to one surgeon. Once again, a call to the hospital Chief Quality Officer reveals the surgeon recently completed her training and just joined the medical staff. The surgeon is simply unaware of the system’s evidence-based best practice protocol for the use of blood products. A little education quickly remedies the issue.

These examples illustrate to Dr. Rughani the indispensability of his executive dashboard—a true next generation executive decision support system. He understands he could not effectively lead a real-time, outcomes-focused, high-performing health system without it. He—and the entire health system—needs this sophisticated decision support tool to be successful.

The Seven Attributes of High-Performing Health Systems

The American Medical Group Association (AMGA) suggests that high-performing health systems possess attributes covering seven different operational and patient care areas:

  1. Efficient provision of services—The system successfully manages the per capita cost of healthcare, and improves the overall patient care experience and health of its respective populations.
  2. Organized system of care—The system includes a multispecialty medical group or other organized system of care that provides a continuum of care, integrates multiple care sites, includes physicians as principle leaders of clinical programs and medical care, and assumes accountability for coordination across care transitions.
  3. Quality measurement and improvement activities—The system conducts quality measurement and improvement activities, including:
    • Preventive care and chronic disease management for targeted groups of patients across sites of care and between patient visits to improve the health and outcomes of populations.
    • Patient outreach programs supported by registries to improve the health of populations.
    • Participation in continuous learning.
    • Use of research, such as applied data analytics, to determine effectiveness.
    • Transparent reporting on clinical outcomes, variability, and performance improvements.
    • Production of publicly available patient experience surveys.
  4. Care coordination—The system uses a team-based approach that supports collaboration and communication between the patient, physician, and licensed or certified medical professionals working at the top of their field across medical specialties and healthcare settings to improve the patient’s wellbeing (single care plan, shared decision making, patient empowerment, etc.).
  5. Use of information technology and evidence-based medicine—The system meaningfully uses interoperable information technology, scientific evidence, and comparative analytics to aid clinical decision making, improve patient safety, help monitor patients and track preventive services, and aid the prescribing of prescription drugs.
  6. Compensation practices that promote the above-listed objectives—The system uses compensation structures that provide incentives to physicians and licensed and certified medical professionals to improve the health and outcomes of populations. These compensation practices may include, but aren’t limited to, incentives affiliated with patient experience or quality metrics, such as chronic disease measures and prevention compliance within a physician’s managed population.
  7. Accountability—The system assumes shared financial and regulatory responsibility and accountability for successfully managing the per capita cost of healthcare, improving the overall patient experience, and improving the health of its respective populations.

Unquestionably, this list of activities is formidable. However, it will become even more critical to accomplish as healthcare continues to transform and health systems are increasingly challenged to provide higher quality healthcare at ever lower costs over the next few years.

CMOs Must Rely on Healthcare Executive Dashboards to Effectively Lead Their Systems

In this challenging world, those charged with overseeing quality—most notably, healthcare CMOs—rely on healthcare executive dashboards to help them filter through thousands of available measures to easily find, track, follow-up, and share those which have the greatest impact on the performance of the teams they lead. These effective healthcare decision support tools integrate all necessary information, identify key issues and gaps in care, and present the information in a meaningful, actionable format. Such tools allow health system leaders, including CMOs, to effectively lead in real-time, outcomes-focused, high-performing health systems.

Additional Reading

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Here are some articles we suggest:

  1. Decision Support: Why the Executive Dashboard Is a Healthcare CEO’s Best Advisor
  2. Leading Wisely: Better Executive Decision Support
  3. Healthcare Decision Support: An Industrywide Imperative
  4. Automating the Executive Healthcare Dashboard: Spend Less Time Collecting and Validating KPI Data
  5. Healthcare Dashboards: 3 Keys for Creating Effective and Insightful Executive Dashboards
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