Reducing Variation and Costs by $7M with a Scalable Improvement Framework and Analytics Platform

Article Summary

Healthcare organizations face increasing pressure to improve care while reducing costs—and unwarranted clinical variation remains a top improvement opportunity. Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center (New Hanover) lacked high-value data and analytics and a systematic approach to identifying improvement opportunities. The organization had invested years in developing a homegrown data warehouse but needed a scalable solution to help identify actionable insights required for improvement. New Hanover decided to adopt a modern data and analytics platform to systematically enhance its processes and improve organizational performance, patient outcomes, and financial performance.


decreasing care variation
Featured Outcomes
  • $7M in cost reductions, including $5.4M through reducing care variation and $1.4M associated with efficiencies gained by adopting the Health Catalyst analytics platform.


In the current healthcare industry, organizations are constantly facing pressure to improve the quality of care while reducing costs, despite increasing complexity across health systems. Unwarranted clinical variation remains a top improvement opportunity. It is estimated that most provider organizations have $20M-$30M (per $1B in revenue) in actionable savings opportunities.1


New Hanover had developed multiple high-performing clinical programs, but it did not have high-value data and analytics and a systematic approach to identify opportunities and drive outcomes. Lacking high-value data and analytics, and standard processes for implementing evidence-based practices, opportunity prioritization, governance, and change management resulted in pockets of excellence and fragmented resources intended to align teams and engage providers.

The organization had analyzed care variation, taking months to pull encounter data from the EHR to identify opportunities for improvement. While it recognized it had the opportunity to improve, the organization did not have the high-value data and analytics required to prioritize and drive improvement. At the same time, its homegrown data warehouse was not scalable or sustainable, and could not be further developed to provide the value-based care analytics required to support population health and payer strategies.

The organization needed a new solution that would enable it to become a data-informed organization, supporting efforts to identify and reduce care variation, improve outcomes for its patients, and enhance value-based care success.


New Hanover elected to adopt the Health Catalyst® data platform and a robust suite of analytics applications, enabling the organization to create a scalable data ecosystem that can adapt to changing organizational needs. The organization developed a new analytics strategy, including data governance and the enhancement of analytics to:

  • Improve clinical and operational performance improvement.
  • Enhance payer strategies and accountable care performance.
  • Decrease care variation.

The analytics organization strategy is aligned with the clinical, operational, and service-line strategies. The analytics team can use the analytics platform to provide its clinical and operational leaders with the high-value data and insights necessary to improve performance.

New Hanover established a performance excellence improvement governance structure. Performance excellence teams, led by a physician and program director, partner with the performance excellence council comprised of clinical, operational and physician leaders, as well as senior executives, to decrease clinical variation and improve outcomes. The performance excellence council leverages high-value data and analytics from the analytics platform to identify opportunities for improvement, drive systemwide prioritization, endorse improvement initiatives, ensure accountability for achieving outcomes, and evaluate the costs and benefits of the analytics platform and improvement efforts. The performance excellence council spreads the mission to improve the value of care provided to patients across the organization. Clinical and operational teams are empowered to accelerate and sustain improvements in clinical outcomes.

New Hanover’s improvement methodology is based on science, adaptive leadership, data and analytics, in addition to the application of best practices from the Health Catalyst® analytics and improvement program. The organization invests in data literacy professional development to understand performance, identify improvement opportunities, evaluate the effectiveness of changes on the outcome measures of interest, and improve performance.

New Hanover developed and implemented evidence-based care standards, standardizing the administration of blood products, clinical criteria for placement of patients with sepsis in intensive care units, criteria for elective induction, improved management of high-cost medications, activities to decrease the length of stay, and actions to prevent unnecessary utilization—providing the right care in the right setting, and more. The organization optimizes EHR content to ensure alignment with each of the care standards.

New Hanover promotes interoperability by integrating health data and information systems into the analytics platform. The organization advances analytics maturity by ensuring analytics applications provide the right information at the right time. New Hanover uses augmented intelligence and prescriptive tools and technologies to support population health and risk-based contracting.


New Hanover’s scalable, data-informed improvement methodology is producing the desired results. In just 2.5 years, the organization achieved a $7M cost reduction, including:

  • $5.4M reduction by reducing unwarranted clinical variation. The organization standardized spine care, blood utilization, high-cost medication use, and treatment of sepsis in the emergency department. It also optimized care for patients with COVID-19 and improved transitions of care.
  • $1.4M reduction through improved analytics efficiency. Adopting the Health Catalyst analytics platform reduced the labor costs associated with reporting and analyses.

“Our systematic performance improvement approach, combined with high-value data and analytics from the Health Catalyst data platform, enables us to transform our organization. Clinicians and operational leaders use data to proactively identify and drive improvements.”

Claire Corbett, MBA, Director, Performance Excellence, Novant Health


New Hanover plans to keep its patients at the forefront of improvement efforts and will continue to expand the adoption of its improvement framework and analytics platform, further improving organizational performance and quality while reducing costs.


  1. LaPointe, J. (2018). Care variation reduction key to improving care quality, costs. RevCycleIntelligence. Retrieved from


Standardization Decreases Surgical Supply Costs by 69 Percent

This website stores data such as cookies to enable essential site functionality, as well as marketing, personalization, and analytics. By remaining on this website you indicate your consent. For more information please visit our Privacy Policy.