Notes from the Field: 7 Questions with Lisa Olenski, Vice President, Continuous Improvement & Data Analytics, Integris Health

“Notes from the Field” is a special newsroom feature highlighting industry professionals working to transform healthcare. In this edition, we spoke with Lisa Olenski, Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Data Analytics at INTEGRIS Health.

1.Tell us about your role.

As Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Data Analytics at INTEGRIS Health, I work with all levels of the organization to develop and promote a continuous improvement culture, make data-driven decisions, and plan and execute strategically aligned initiatives to provide affordable care to Oklahomans.

For me, utilizing data-driven decision making involves first confirming the problem through data before implementing any solutions. It also requires exploring various solutions and interventions to enhance the desired outcome. Essentially, we begin by defining our goals and then use data to guide our actions, identifying areas of concern and focusing on improving outcomes. This approach helps us avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant information.

We begin by determining our destination and then analyzing the data to identify the root cause of any issues preventing us from reaching that goal. We then develop interventions to address the underlying problem rather than surface-level issues.

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

I was recruited into healthcare to apply improvement methodologies and training techniques, which made it very appealing to me to move from a nonprofit, mission-driven career. We are all patients, and we all deserve better.

3.What is one thing you’ve learned in the past year?

When it comes to data, its potential as a tool for addressing healthcare challenges is immense. The power of data is undeniable in identifying issues and implementing solutions.

Yet, I have also learned that it can be wielded as a weapon by influential vendors, payors, and stakeholders. The ethical use of this power raises concerns for me. Those who control the data hold the keys to power, whether individuals or groups.

This realization has recently struck me – while data can be utilized to solve problems, it must not be manipulated for personal gain or used to dominate a particular domain.

4.What do you consider the biggest opportunity in healthcare?

The key to enhancing healthcare lies in shifting away from prioritizing individual interests such as those of payors, providers, and regulatory bodies and instead focusing on the well-being of patients, their families, and communities. By fostering a culture that values collective welfare over self-interest, we can create a healthcare system that truly benefits all. Ultimately, we are all patients.

5.What do you consider the biggest challenge in healthcare?

Currently, the greatest challenge facing healthcare is having enough resources to meet demands. Reducing demand, responding differently, and removing access barriers will require different approaches.

The key challenge is helping individuals understand that transitioning from dispensable to indispensable is crucial. When someone can develop a team, process, or system to deliver, they actually become indispensable because they can be used to repeat this in other areas, in essence developing self-sustaining teams, processes, and systems.

This concept, previously known as mass customization, enables us to leverage our collective knowledge while still tailoring it to the recipient. By creating a replicable system that can disseminate this personalized approach widely, we can detach ourselves from being the sole or exclusive provider of solutions or services.

6.How do you envision technology playing a role in addressing these challenges and opportunities?

Technology has already demonstrated that it can be used to achieve successful interventions, but when payors won’t reimburse, or providers push back without the ability to cover, our patients lose.

One approach to addressing the resource supply-demand gap is by reevaluating the traditional model of healthcare delivery, which relies heavily on specialized individuals with specific certifications. This shift towards what our organization terms “humology” involves finding a balance between human intervention, technology, and automation. By exploring alternative methods that do not necessarily require a person with specific skills, we can better cater to people’s diverse needs, including those related to end-of-life care.

Technology can take on repeatable, predictable tasks that can be standardized. However, the challenge in the healthcare industry lies in the current lack of standardization. This makes automation difficult when things are not consistent. Nonetheless, technology will contribute significantly to guiding our decision making and the dissemination of solutions.

7.What best practices have your team employed in the past year that resulted in measurable improvements or outcomes?

We have a very robust strategy deployment process at INTEGRIS Health that our senior executives lead by identifying the right strategies needed to achieve excellence in core competencies and position us for the future.

The process cascades key performance indicators (KPIs) in all pillars through a Truth North statement and targets, as well as strategic and operational initiatives to close the gaps. The Continuous Improvement Analytics team provides scorecards and strategic KPI analytics to inform and direct the work.

Our data submission form is the most effective tool we have deployed. It has improved alignment for metric definitions and helped highlight data integrity opportunities, and, more importantly, identified when we need better systems and structures.

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