Notes from the Field: 7 Questions with Rhiannon L. Harms, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at UnityPoint Health

Posted in Feature Articles

“Notes from the Field” is a special newsroom feature highlighting industry professionals working to transform healthcare. In this edition, we spoke with Rhiannon L. Harms, Chief Data and Analytics Officer of UnityPoint Health.

  1. Tell us about your role and responsibilities. 

    As the Chief Data and Analytics Officer at UnityPoint Health, I am focused on leading our journey to being a data-informed organization. We want to have the right data in front of the right decision-makers at the right time to allow them to make better and faster decisions. My goal is to advance the capabilities of our analytics function to create better deliverables while simultaneously increasing the data fluency of the entire organization. My hope for improving data fluency at UnityPoint Health is to use data as part of our daily language. So, for example, before we take on a new project or review an opportunity, we’re all asking what the data shows us first. And when we huddle each morning as individual teams, we’re talking about our performance on team-specific measures that ultimately are connected to improving outcomes for the patients and communities we serve.

  2. What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?  

    My parents inspired my healthcare career, as my dad was a disabled Veteran, and my mom worked at the local critical access hospital. Seeing the major role healthcare played in both of their lives made a deep impression on me and inspired me to spend my professional career trying to improve healthcare in the rural Midwest.

  3. What do you see as the biggest opportunity to improve healthcare?  

    I’m excited about the opportunities ahead to continue using data and technology to provide our patients a more convenient and personal care experience. Providing the right analytics can help us improve quality outcomes and health equity, reduce costs, and improve access for our organization and those we serve.

  4. What is the greatest challenge facing healthcare? 

    Burnout continues to be a major concern across the healthcare industry. We need to take care of our amazing healthcare team so they can, in turn, take care of the patients and communities we serve. Data and analytics should play a key role in creating efficiencies and improving quality outcomes, which can help improve burnout amongst our healthcare team.

  5. How do you envision technology playing a role in addressing this challenge in healthcare?  

    While there are important clinical use cases for the use of analytics and data science, I’m particularly excited about the potential of reducing undue administrative burdens for our providers and team members. Valuable use cases can be found in nearly every workflow and should be targeted at tasks that allow our providers to focus on their most important work: delivering high-quality, expert health care to the communities we serve.

  6. How are you leveraging new technologies, such as augmented intelligence, to enhance productivity/efficiency and quality outcomes?

    One area we’ve recently deployed augmented intelligence is through our Key Indicator Tracking and Goal-Setting program. We’re using advanced analytics techniques to interpret important changes in performance, as well as help us set transparent and realistic goals to drive future improvement.

  7. What trends or issues concerning healthcare technology, data, and analytics are you watching and why?

    I’m excited about the potential of generative AI and hope we can expeditiously move from the hype into generating value. We’ll need to enhance our AI governance strategies to ensure we’re keeping data secure. The potential to expedite the analytics development cycle is an especially interesting use case. It would make it easier for analytics professionals to develop content but also for analytics consumers to find the right information at the right time.
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