Texas Children's Unlocks Data Power (Healthcare IT News)

Top-ranked hospital enlists ‘cool company’ to tap into data clinical care teams need to boost quality

[Written by Bernie Monegain. View original Healthcare IT News article here]

Charles Macias, MD, always believed in the power of data to make a difference in delivering high quality care to patients, but at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he is an attending physician and serves as director of the Center for Clinical Effectiveness and the Evidence-Based Outcomes Center, he knew the hospital could do better. He just didn’t realize how much better it could do.

Until recently, with the introduction of new technology from Health Catalyst, Macias said, it would take six months to pull enough of the right data from the hospital’s Epic electronic health record system to see if a specific medical intervention was making a difference. He and his team wanted to track outcomes to determine what worked best for the patient, but it had always been laborious and slow — often as long as six months for his team to get information the clinicians could use.

Once Health Catalyst was up and running that “six-months of waiting was reduced to 23 hours and 59 minutes – no longer than one day,” Macias said in a recent interview. “It’s amazingly powerful.”

“Imagine the vast amount of efficiency when I don’t have to wait three to six months for that data, to understand what are the next steps for the teams.”

Macias’ story is one of several told by healthcare providers across the country, hailing the power of Health Catalyst’s data warehouse platform. The company, founded by entrepreneurs with roots at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, has attracted big investors and grown its customer list rapidly.

[See also: Data demand fuels Health Catalyst growth.]

Health Catalyst has also captured analysts imagination. Gartner analyst Vi Schaeffer listed the company as one of five “cool vendors for 2013” in a recent report.

“Healthcare senior executives, medical leadership, CIOs and chief medical information officers should consider Health Catalyst and Phytel for analytics and process changes that enable a learning organization and clinical integration,” Schaeffer writes. She adds that treating information as a strategic asset and investing in a data warehouse that is tightly linked to change management strategies are critical actions for health delivery organizations in the era of accountability.

Schaeffer notes that Health Catalyst describes its differentiator as a late-binding approach to data and business rules that enables a more adaptive, iterative and agile platform.”While such claims are commonplace,” she writes, “the Health Catalyst approach reflects the lessons its principal executives learned at Intermountain Healthcare.”

“While we agree that our late-binding data warehouse and data discovery apps are indeed ‘cool,’ nothing confirms that for us more than watching physician skepticism turn to conviction after utilizing our applications for the first time,” said Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst, in a news release.

Macias is among the convinced.

It was at presentation at Intermountain that Macias learned about Health Catalyst.

“It was incredibly timely because we had been struggling to understand how we could mobilize Epic – get the kind of data that we needed; how we could create dashboards; and we needed a way to provide transparencies to our providers and our users so our clinical initiative, our quality improvement initiatives would have some bite to them, he said.. “So, that sort of helped all the holes in the Swiss cheese align.”

Today Texas Children’s care process teams are focused on asthma, appendectomy, scoliosis, pneumonia and diabetes, to name a few areas of care.

The teams are building registries for Texas Children’s 38 guidelines of care.

“We’re going to use a standardized clinical score across the system, and we’re going to build this into Epic, and we can get our clinical data dashboard to understand how that care is being impacted, where those scores are, where patients are ending up. None of that was possible without the automation, it all had to be done by hand,” Macias said.

“I know that our data warehouse will at least host those 38 guidelines by the end of this calendar year,” he added. “Now I can’t imagine going back to how we were before,” Macias said. “To think that we would have to wait so long to get outcomes is just unconscionable.”

[See also: Providence Health & Services expands data platform deployment.]