Shifting from EMRs to Clinical Data Warehousing and Analytics

Clinical Data WarehousingIn recent years, most health systems have appropriately prioritized the adoption and rollout of EHRs. This effort has consumed massive amounts of energy and time. But as more and more health systems move past their EHR-rollout phase CIOs often ask “what is the next IT wave?”

A new report from Gartner suggests that the next priority for CIOs is developing an effective clinical data warehouse. This report, Top Actions for Healthcare Delivery Organization CIOs, 2014: Avoid 25 Years of Mistakes in Enterprise Data Warehousing, written by Vi Shaffer and Mark A. Bayer, is both a set of recommendations and—perhaps more importantly—a list of five fatal flaws based on numerous past examples of poor health system IT implementations, including specific enterprise data warehouse (EDW) cases.

We gratefully noted that this report validates much of what have seen in our past experience. We are obvious advocates of the foundational benefits of an EDW for all future analytics needs. We eat, breathe, and sleep that model. But when a neutral third-party like Gartner validates that we have reached that tipping point, we pay close attention. We could hardly contain our enthusiasm as we read recommendation after recommendation, our heads collectively nodding in passionate agreement.

A few of the most insightful highlights of the report include:

“Integrating business/financial and clinical data into an effective EDW is the top new IT initiative for HDO CIOs once a Generation 3 EHR system is deployed.”

“Don’t underestimate the significant resistance to accountability, and the surprising amount of data quality issues that will surface – nor the time it will take to resolve them.”

“Do not overestimate the value of a commercial vendor’s data model, avoid underscoping the effort and personnel needs, and never treat an EDW as just another module from the EHR vendor”

“Flaw No. 1:  Believing that ‘If You Build it, They Will Come,’…Historically, the ‘Build it and they will come’ model was used in almost every vertical during the late 1990s and early 2000s. More than 80% of those IT-directed warehouses took three years to fail.”

“Don’t focus on the vendor ’who’ before focusing on the ’what’ and ’why.’ A successful initiative combines relevance and time-to-value considerations with strong architecture.”

These and many other points are more clearly expounded in the report. Even though the market is racing to offer an array of analytics solutions, resulting in often confusing promises for all types of varying solutions, we agree heartily with the importance of remembering the critical step of building the right analytic foundation, the EDW, when trying to scale analytics at a system-wide level.

We believe that any health system that has finished their EMR rollout might find this report timely, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Click here to read the full report “Top Actions for Healthcare Delivery Organization CIOs, 2014: Avoid 25 Years of Mistakes in Enterprise Data Warehousing”

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