The public cloud has made IT infrastructure increasingly accessible, influencing some healthcare CIOs and CTOs to try to build an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) in-house versus purchasing a commercial solution. However, a spring 2020 survey indicates that the vast majority of healthcare data platform users purchase their EDWs, citing superior quality, functionality, and security. Meanwhile, homegrown EDW users report high satisfaction with their systems despite common roadblocks including insufficient IT personnel. A deeper dive into survey findings shows which type of organization may be best suited to building or buying an EDW.
As comprehensive data and analytics have become a healthcare imperative, health systems have progressed from debating whether to adopt an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to whether to build a platform in-house or purchase one from an analytics vendor. Commercial solutions tend to offer more advanced capabilities and security as well as expert services but also require a significant ongoing financial investment.
Organizations that choose homegrown alternatives tend to do so for the lower cost. And as the public cloud has made IT infrastructure (e.g., Azure, Google, Amazon Web Services) increasingly accessible, some healthcare IT leaders have gained interest in homegrown solutions.
A spring 2020 Health Catalyst survey, however, suggests that health systems aren’t favoring proprietary platforms over vendor solutions. Of almost 400 healthcare and pharmaceutical industry respondents, 71 percent of organizations that use an EDW purchased their system from an outside company. A closer look at survey results indicates the while commercial solutions dominate, homegrown EDW users are generally satisfied with their systems, suggesting the industry may continue to divide itself between commercial and proprietary solutions.
Even with growing access to IT infrastructure, health systems still favor commercial EDWs. Health Catalyst found that the vast majority (84 percent) of survey respondents worked at companies that currently have an EDW. Among those, 71 percent purchased their platform from an outside company. The trend towards commercial platforms will likely continue, as the 65 percent of organizations in the market for an EDW report leaning towards purchasing rather than building an EDW (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Most health systems purchase their EDW from an outside company.
When purchasing an EDW, organizations look for the following qualities:
Health systems commonly report choosing a commercial EDW due to the reputability, trustworthiness, quality, data security, and integration functionalities of vendor solutions. Those with homegrown EDWs say they kept their solutions in house because they have the necessary internal experience, a preference for building internally and preferred the lower entry price.
Most healthcare EDW users tend to like their systems, whether they purchased or built them. Organizations that constructed their system reported a 76-percent satisfaction rate, and those who purchased an EDW reported 64-percent satisfaction.
While EDW service satisfaction is high across all revenue levels, organizations with revenue of less than $200 million per year reported the highest level of satisfaction at 73 percent. The next revenue group ($200 million to just under $300 million) had a satisfaction rate of 64 percent. Satisfaction appears to diminish slightly higher up the leadership ladder, with three-quarters of managers and directors satisfied and just under half of C-suite or executives satisfied (Figure 2).
Despite a reported 76-percent satisfaction rate for healthcare users with homegrown EDWs, organizations encounter common roadblocks when they build their systems. These challenges include time constraints and lack of sufficient IT personnel, with respondents more often citing IT staff as a “large” challenge. And while barriers to homegrown solutions aren’t common, few organizations report no difficulties in the home-built process.
While the majority of healthcare EDW users prefer commercial solutions, the high satisfaction rate among homegrown users suggests that the “build” camp has a dedicated following. Yet, health systems that opt for an in-house EDW report roadblock, particularly around IT personnel. Is there an opportunity for a middle-of-the-road solution in which an IT vendor offers professional services to support homegrown data solutions according to the health system’s needs? A flexible data infrastructure (such as one provided by the Health Catalyst® Data Operating System [DOS™]) can enable both homegrown analytics as well as out-of-the-box solutions. Such a middle ground might bridge the gap between buy-versus-build approaches, helping organizations that opt for homegrown solutions realize more of the data access and management capabilities of a more digitized healthcare system.
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