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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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Texas Children’s Hospital Uses Healthcare Data Warehouse as an Alternative to EHR Reports

One of my clients, Texas Children’s Hospital, recently made tremendous strides in this data-driven journey. Getting data from their EHR in a timely fashion was difficult, time consuming and resource intensive. Now, with the proper tools in place, namely a healthcare enterprise data warehouse, a suite of healthcare analytics applications and a process for information deployment, they have shifted the cost curve to drastically increase the availability and usability of information.T CH used their healthcare enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to meet demands for EHR
data and reports, and slashed their reporting costs by 67%.

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Healthcare Decision Support: A Modern Tool for Today’s Chief Nursing Officer

Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs), essential members of health system C-Suite teams, need healthcare decision support to align nursing resources with systemwide goals. Although nursing’s purpose hasn’t changed, the tools and skills needed to achieve it have. In today’s data-driven, increasingly complex care environment, nursing leaders rely on skills that extend beyond their initial training as nurses; they need expertise in finance, IT, and analytics, among other areas. CNOs, like Faye of Pennington Health, depend on healthcare decision support systems for easy access to data that helps them identify and prioritize the best opportunities, address challenges, and improve outcomes. CNOs who embrace the fact that advanced analytical tools are critical to improving care quality and reducing care costs are poised to effectively lead their systems toward achieving financial, strategic, clinical, and operational objectives.

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Why Healthcare Decision Support Is No Longer Optional for Chief Operating Officers

Without daily access to healthcare decision support, health system COOs struggle to make rapid, meaningful decisions. Healthcare decision support systems are no longer optional for these highly visible leaders, who play critical roles in their organizations’ success, for many reasons:

  • Aggregates reliable, up-to-date information from all available sources.
  • Presents information in user-friendly, user-configurable ways.
  • Makes trends and important conclusions more recognizable and understandable.
  • Enhances C-Suite’s ability to drill down into data in search of a problem’s root cause.
  • Improves C-Suite communication and collaboration.
  • Unites C-suites around a common vision and strategy.
Healthcare COOs (and other C-Suites) need healthcare decision support to be data-driven problem solvers and collaborative leaders who achieve clinical, financial, and operational success for their systems. Given the industry’s increasing complexity, healthcare decision support is now an industrywide imperative.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Beyond Healthcare Dashboards: Deeper Decision Support

As access to healthcare data grows, healthcare leaders are using more data to make decisions. Executives and front-line clinicians 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.

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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.

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Leading Wisely in Healthcare: Why the Next Generation Executive 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 executive 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 executive decision support system can help leaders navigate this complexity and make effective, data-driven decisions.

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Leading Wisely: Better Executive Decision Support

The next step in the evolution of executive 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 executives avoid being blindsided, giving them complete control over their data.

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Healthcare Dashboards vs. Scorecards: Use Both to Improve Outcomes

Healthcare IT leaders tend to debate over which tool is best for measuring and sustaining outcomes improvement goals: healthcare dashboards or scorecards. But using both tools is the most effective approach. “Scoreboards” take advantage of the high-level, strategic capacity of scorecards and the real-time, operational functionality of dashboards. But using both effectively requires a thorough understanding of the who, what, when, and how of each tool.

  • Who: Scorecards are for leaders; dashboards are for the frontline.
  • What: Scorecards are strategic; dashboards are operational.
  • When: Scorecards are daily, weekly, or monthly reports; dashboards are real-time or near real-time.
  • How: Scorecards enforce accountability and provide actionable data; dashboards provide drill-down capability and inform root cause.
Despite the different but equally important aspects of each tool, they best support outcomes improvement when used together.

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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.

Read More
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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.

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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.

Read More
My Folder

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

Read More
My Folder

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.

Read More
My Folder

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.

Read More
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How Healthcare Visualizations Can Improve Organizational Buy-In

Healthcare visualizations can be used as a spark to help the leaders of health systems move from a passive understanding of the data to active support of data-driven quality improvement recommendations. But simply showing the visualizations won’t be enough. Instead, those who are using the healthcare visualizations need to be taught, shown, and involved to fully understand their value and drive organizational change. We use a three-tiered approach to help health systems gain better buy-in for their data-driven quality improvement recommendations:  1) we form teams and teach how to overcome organizational barriers, 2)  we show healthcare visualizations to better understand the data, and 3) we involve the teams and answer their questions. It works like this...

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Meaningful Use and ACO Reporting: Why an EMR Is Only a Partial Solution

Meaningful Use and ACO reports are just two of a plethora of ever-increasing external healthcare reporting requirements. An EMR is only a partial solution due to limitations in data turnaround time, data and logic multi-purposing, and being relegated to single-vendor, homogenous environments. Learn about a solution that helps you streamline your Meaningful Use and reporting requirements and can be leveraged for clinical quality improvement, population health and predictive analytics.

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How an EDW Enables the Best Healthcare Visualizations

Healthcare Business Intelligence tools provide value by running powerful visualizations. But the three best types of visualizations can only be run when using a healthcare enterprise data warehouse. These include: i. Statistical Process Control Charts, ii. Scenario Analysis Visualizations, and iii. Visualizations placed into the hands of clinicians and frontline staff.

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Hospital Data Warehouse: The Best Reporting Tool for Efficient, Consistent Hospital Reports

Hospital reporting can be a stressful and time-consuming process with finance, quality, human resources and clinical departments scrambling to complete data for reports - often times with maddeningly inconsistent data. Too familiar with this hospital report anxiety? Bobbi Brown explains how a data warehouse can help by enabling efficient and scalable reporting, and enabling consistent reporting that everyone can trust.

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Texas Children’s Hospital Uses Healthcare Data Warehouse as an Alternative to EHR Reports

One of my clients, Texas Children’s Hospital, recently made tremendous strides in this data-driven journey. Getting data from their EHR in a timely fashion was difficult, time consuming and resource intensive. Now, with the proper tools in place, namely a healthcare enterprise data warehouse, a suite of healthcare analytics applications and a process for information deployment, they have shifted the cost curve to drastically increase the availability and usability of information.T CH used their healthcare enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to meet demands for EHR data and reports, and slashed their reporting costs by 67%.

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How to Evaluate a Business Intelligence Tool for Healthcare

I used to think I would eventually find the one Business Intelligence (BI) tool for healthcare that would meet all of my needs for data discovery, analysis, visualization, presentation, and reporting. Now, however, I doubt I will ever find such a “one size fits all” solution. A big obstacle to identifying one single best analytics tool is that analytical needs vary so widely within healthcare—the best tool really depends on the audience that will consume the data, how they will use it, and what the goal is. Having just one tool to use is not as important as having the tool that accomplishes what you need it to do. For this reason, I advocate that you consider licensing more than one tool in the toolset.

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