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Healthcare Data Literacy: A Must-Have for Becoming a Data-Driven Organization

The journey for healthcare organizations to become data driven is complex but absolutely critical for success in today’s increasingly digitized environment. Data literacy is an essential capability because it empowers team members at every level of the organization—from individual learners to executives—to aggregate, analyze, and utilize data to drive decision making. To optimize data usage and reach high levels of data literacy, health systems can create a data literacy program based on four foundational elements:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Access
  3. Support
  4. Privacy and Security

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Interactive Healthcare Dashboards Are Gaining Momentum

Workers in today’s healthcare systems need dashboards with more power, interactivity, and visual feedback than traditional static reports are able to provide. Users also need to understand how and where to make improvements based on the dashboard’s information. To provide such deep insight to the data, a healthcare dashboard should have the following characteristics: be easily accessible, display reliable data, contain relevant data, be up-to-date for the task at hand, and include trends and/or benchmarks. When the right type of dashboard is combined with a late-binding data warehouse, users will gain access to the knowledge their data holds to drive lasting and effective improvement initiatives.

Healthcare Decision Support Helps CFOs Achieve Their Top Goal: Timely, Accurate, Agile Decision Making

Supporting decision making is a top goal for CFOs today, according to a 2017 Kaufmann Hall CFO survey. Healthcare decision support empowers CFOs and their finance teams to make accurate, agile, and timely decisions, from rolling forecasts of future trends to risk-adjusted scenario modeling. In addition to helping CFOs make good decisions, healthcare decision support helps CFOs lead their teams and organizations improve in four key ways:

  1. Data-driven growth and practice expansion.
  2. Improved ability to negotiate favorable risk-based contracts with payers.
  3. Effectively and fairly address important physician compensation issues.
  4. Improve population health management.
With healthcare decision support, CFOs and their health systems have a distinct competitive advantage (e.g., shortened planning cycles and more accurate cost measurement). They can adjust to unexpected challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

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

It’s no easy task to lead a real-time, outcomes-focused, high-performing health system. That’s why every chief medical officer (CMO) needs a healthcare executive dashboard—a decision support tool that helps these senior physician leaders ensure their organizations continue to achieve the seven key attributes of a high-performing health system:

  1. Efficient provision of services.
  2. Organized system of care.
  3. Quality measurement and improvement activities.
  4. Care coordination.
  5. Use of information technology and evidence-based medicine.
  6. Compensation practices that promote the above-listed objectives.
  7. Accountability.
Healthcare executive dashboards help CMOs integrate information, identify key issues and care gaps, and present information to their teams in a meaningful, data-driven, actionable format. Executive dashboards are an essential component of the CMO leadership toolset.

Beyond Healthcare Dashboards: Deeper Decision Support

As access to healthcare data grows, healthcare leaders are using more data to make decisions. Leaders at every level need a decision-support tool that meets the demands of today’s increasingly data-rich environment. Healthcare dashboards once filled this niche, but no longer keep up with ever-growing data demands. Fortunately, an innovative visual reporting system, Leading Wisely®, picks up where dashboards fall short—enabling faster reporting and customized, self-service capability for comprehensive data-driven support. Leading Wisely’s key next-level features include:

  1. Customization, allowing the individual user to personally tailor measures.
  2. Proactive alerts, prompted by personalized notification settings.
  3. User friendly layout, with easy-to-read highlights that indicate if a measure if moving off course.

Decision Support: Why the Executive Dashboard Is a Healthcare CEO’s Best Advisor

Healthcare CEOs and other C-Suite leaders can’t make quality decisions in today’s rapidly changing, complex environment without decision support. Healthcare CEOs are starting to realize that executive dashboards with personally tailored views of key metrics are no longer a luxury, but an absolute necessity, for three key reasons:

  • Helps leaders analyze and digest large amounts of data relating to care quality, operations, contracting, and major purchasing decisions.
  • Gives leaders a clear understanding of the financial aspects of their systems, such as revenue streams, cost drivers, costs of capital, bundled payments, and payment reforms.
  • Facilitates conflict resolution and helps leaders work collaboratively—using a matrix management approach—with peers, direct reports, and system experts.
Today’s healthcare CEO must be skilled problem solvers, strategic and analytical thinkers, and collaborative leaders who understand both the clinical and financial sides of healthcare—goals made possible with an executive dashboard.

Leading Wisely in Healthcare: Why the Next Generation Decision-Support System is an Industrywide Imperative

Healthcare leaders are struggling to make effective, data-driven decisions given the industry’s unexpected, complex, and rapidly changing challenges, from advancing healthcare reform to rising consumerism. Fortunately, there’s hope with the next generation decision-support system, which facilitates decision making in several key ways:

  • Aggregates reliable, up-to-date information from all available sources, and makes it readily accessible.
  • Enables leaders to break information down and view it in more user-friendly ways—often in the form of graphs that make important conclusions or trends more recognizable and understandable.
  • Supports a leader’s ability to drill down into the data in search of problems’ root causes.
  • Plays an important communication and collaboration role, helping leaders work with the intellectual assets of the organization to problem solve and align the organization around a common vision and strategy.
Managing change in today’s industry is a difficult endeavor, but an effective decision-support system can help leaders navigate this complexity and make effective, data-driven decisions.

Leading Wisely: Better Decision Support

The next step in the evolution of decision support is here—introducing Leading Wisely. With real-time alerts and customizable reports, healthcare leaders now have access to the actionable insights and meaningful information they need to make strategic decisions. Unlike traditional dashboards or static reports, Leading Wisely helps leaders at all levels avoid being blindsided, giving them complete control over their data.

5 Reasons the Practice of Evidence-Based Medicine Is a Hot Topic

Evidence-based medicine is an important model of care because it offers health systems a way to achieve the goals of the Triple Aim. It also offers health systems an opportunity to thrive in this era of value-based care. In specific, there are five reasons the industry is interested in the practice of evidence-based medicine: (1) With the explosion of scientific knowledge being published, it’s difficult for clinicians to stay current on the latest best practices. (2) Improved technology enables healthcare workers to have better access to data and knowledge. (3) Payers, employers, and patients are driving the need for the industry to show transparency, accountability, and value. (4) There is broad evidence that Americans often do not get the care they need. (5) Evidence-based medicine works. While the practice of evidence-based medicine is growing in popularity, moving an entire organization to a new model of care presents challenges. First, clinicians need to change how they were taught to practice. Second, providers are already busy with increasingly larger and larger workloads. Using a five-step framework, though, enables clinicians to begin to incorporate evidence-based medicine into their practices. The five steps include (1) Asking a clinical question to identify a key problem. (2) Acquiring the best evidence possible. (3) Appraising the evidence and making sure it’s applicable to the population and the question being asked. (4) Applying the evidence to daily clinical practice. (5) Assessing performance.

The Powerhouse Data Analytics and Visualization Tool That Excels

There are many advanced tools that come to mind when considering healthcare data analytics and visualization. Microsoft Excel may not necessarily make the list, but it has distinct advantages, the least of which are that it’s already installed on your system and that you already know how to use it. Healthcare finance folks already know the capabilities of Excel when it comes to quantitative analysis. Excel also deserves a place on the podium when it comes to pulling data from the warehouse and from various source marts. Excel pivot tables are extraordinary for providing ad hoc analysis. And when preceded by dimensional modeling—with the help of Health Catalyst’s data architects—Excel can easily transform large datasets. This article summarizes all of the surprising features that Excel brings to the data analytics and visualization table.

Physician Reporting: The Secret to Useable, Engaging Reports

While working as an internist at an outpatient clinic, I would see physician performance reports that would tell me little more than if I was doing “good” or “bad.” There was no way to know how I compared to others. My colleagues, who also received these reports, and I didn’t trust the numbers either. In short, the reports were useless. Then, I discovered creating reports with a data warehouse. This addresses issues in six ways: 1. There is a cleaner data set and physicians don’t need to worry about fixing the data. 2. It addresses the “but my patients are different” argument. 3. The information is up-to-date. 4. The data is granular and detailed. 5. Physicians take ownership of the data because they are involved in the process. 6. Finally, it saves valuable time. When reports are created this way, physicians can make real change in their behavior and improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare Visualizations: Are You Getting the Entire Story?

The emergence of powerful and user-friendly healthcare data visualization programs has transformed analytical reporting. The amount of information conveyed by all types of graphs, symbols, sizes, and colors is staggering. The ability to “drill down” in real-time with increasing levels of granularity enables all manner of analyses. The downside of this data hunger is the creation of simplified, context-free visualizations which may inadvertently lead to misinterpretations, most often in the form of a false positive (believing a change has occurred that really hasn’t). This often leads to knee-jerk reactions to correct the “change” and unnecessary actions being taken that waste time, effort, and money. Avoiding the most common pitfalls will ensure your organization has the most complete picture to drive meaningful change.

Healthcare Dashboards: 3 Keys for Creating Effective and Insightful Executive Dashboards

As the use of data-driven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) increases, healthcare organizations are adopting Executive Dashboards to track organizational performance. While dashboards deliver insight and identify areas for improvement, they fail to make the data actionable and the value is often offset by the unproductive fire drills and churn they create. There are three keys to create and deploy insightful and effective dashboards successfully:

  1. Aggregation of underlying dashboards to create the executive dashboard
  2. Establishment of clear ownership and accountability
  3. Sustainable process

5 Principles of Adaptive Leadership and Why It’s a Critical Skill for Healthcare Leaders

Adaptive leadership is a leadership language and conceptual framework developed by Ronald Heifetz, MD, as a way to help hardworking leaders bring about change at their organizations. By applying adaptive leadership principles, leaders can enhance their ability to work with others by seeing human behavior differently and making sense of the behaviors triggered by rapid, high-volume change. The following five principles form the framework for adaptive leadership: (1) There are two types of challenges: technical and adaptive. (2) People need a certain amount of tension to do their best work, but the amount of tension needs to be productive. (3) There is a difference between the role of authority and the exercise of leadership. (4) Work avoidance (resistance) means that people are outside the productive range of tension. (5) Reflect in action by spending time on the balcony and the dance floor.

Healthcare Reporting: Centralized vs. Decentralized

The purpose of analytics in a healthcare organization is to gain insights to improve a process to address an issue such as, improving clinical quality and patient safety or improving the health of a particular patient population. Analysts are responsible for gathering disparate data from different functional areas and develop a narrative so those driving change can take the information and make it actionable. Organizations generally build one of two analytic reporting structures. One is a centralized model, where the analytics group is its own entity, independent of any particular group. The second is a decentralized model where the analysts work directly for the different groups or departments. In this way, the group does not have to compete for the attention of the analysts and the analysts’ sole focus is to serve those “customers” well. There is a third way, as well, that optimizes the strengths of both centralized and decentralized.

The Three Systems Critical to Healthcare Analytics Success

Health systems looking to improve the lives of patients through analytics often face problems that prevent them from making the improvements they desire. But by using the three systems: Analytics, Best Practice, and Adoption, organizations can be successful. The analytics system ensures that data is aggregated, easy-to-access, and distributed efficiently by implementing a data warehouse. The best practice system provides the framework for best practices and baselines, which provide context and actionable insight to metrics provided by the analytics system. Finally, the adoption system consists of a permanent, multidisciplinary team to enact those actionable insights from the best practice system. All three systems together form the base for organizations to make the journey to data-driven improvement successful.

Self-Service Hospital Reporting Possibilities: Enabling Clinicians to Make Faster and More Informed Decisions

Self-service capabilities are growing in our society and it’s starting to make its way into hospital reporting. Traditionally, analytics and reports have fallen under the purview of the IT department. However, this approach takes more time and is ineffective when trying to make care improvements. With self-service analytics tools, clinicians and other users can access and analyze data on their own, leaving IT to do the more complex analytical tasks and function at the top of their education.