Data Warehousing: Three things healthcare CIOs should know about data warehouses (Health Management Technology)

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Data Warehousing: Three things healthcare CIOs should know about data warehouses

By Larry Grandia

For the past decade or so, healthcare technology has taken off on a breathtaking sprint to integrate electronic health records and automate essential operational information systems. Today, the goal for most health system CIOs is to produce an analytics capability that will ensure survival in the new healthcare reform environment, including value-based purchasing.

In the race of IT initiatives, it’s easy to lose sight of priorities. Building an enterprise-wide analytics platform should be one of these priorities. It will be a challenge for healthcare CIOs, but it’s a challenge organizations can meet with the aid of a data warehouse.

Here are three things CIOs should know about data warehouses and the imperative that technology brings:

  1. BI/data analytics will be one of, if not the most, compelling IT initiatives in healthcare during the coming decade. Getting started now on a foundational platform will be critical to getting out and staying out in front of this emerging, critical business imperative.
  2. There are critically important reasons why your organization needs an enterprise-wide solution to its analytics needs (as opposed to numerous, single-point solutions). Simplicity in architecture, coupled with lessened resource consumption amid constantly expanding analytics demands, dictates that CIOs implement an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). An EDW minimizes redundancy and isolates reporting to a single source of truth.
  3. Achieving early ROI necessitates a late-binding (highly flexible) data warehousing environment, coupled with a “cleanse your data as you go” operating philosophy. Early ROI will ensure on-going organizational support for the EDW and will facilitate organizational compliance to an enterprise-centric solution.

While CIO at Intermountain Healthcare for more than two decades, I witnessed the automation of a remarkable number of systems and processes. I also realized the need for a flexible EDW fed by operational systems and coupled with advanced analytical tools. This analytics approach yielded insights and allowed us to harvest improvement knowledge. Sharing this knowledge system-wide with clinicians and management, and imbedding this knowledge back into operational systems, took us down a path of real and documented cost, quality and access improvement.

While healthcare technology and the analytics imperatives of healthcare reform advance into the future, CIOs with the foresight to start their data warehouse initiatives sooner, rather than later, will position their healthcare organizations for a successful, efficient transition to value-based care.

Larry Grandia led IT functions for Intermountain Healthcare, Inc. for more than two decades and was Chief Technology Officer of Premier, Inc. before his retirement in 2011. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Health Catalyst.

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