The Business Intelligence Challenge
The importance of business intelligence (BI) has grown exponentially as healthcare providers respond to a wide range of internal and external demands.
While advances in health information technology may be improving clinical operations and increasing bedside data capture, exploiting this wealth of new data with legacy decision support systems remains a formidable challenge. In addition, decision makers and knowledge workers are demanding more from both the scope of data available and the maturity of tools for analyzing that data.
- Healthcare organizations face increased pressure to invest in technologies that help them achieve strategic goals such as competing based on value and quality.
- The collection of clinical data is growing exponentially as more providers adopt clinical information systems and use ambulatory electronic medical records. However, translating this data into actionable intelligence is challenging when using traditional, financially focused decision support systems.
- Fiscal pressures continue to intensify as Medicare, state regulators and commercial insurers implement value-based purchasing, price transparency and pay-for-performance programs. Business intelligence solutions are required to meet the information demands of these programs.
- The appetite for “self-service” decision support is growing. Healthcare professionals want tools that include dashboards, scorecards, data visualization, and real-time business activity monitoring.
- Personal productivity tools like Access and Excel have created an explosion of uncontrolled and misapplied data management and analysis efforts. BI solutions are needed to rationalize the flow of data throughout the workforce.
- Clinical and translational research is in the midst of an industry-wide revolution driven by the NIH Roadmap and the Clinical Translation Science Awards. Health systems must address the entire data management environment and the touch points among the basic science, clinical research and patient care arenas.
- The emphasis on performance management initiatives such as the Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma and Lean are expanding. These programs require efficient ways to gather and interpret data.
- Legacy cost accounting, budgeting and revenue modeling systems are becoming obsolete. Healthcare organizations that need to upgrade/replace outdated systems are evaluating how to improve their overall BI capabilities beyond the financial.
- Pure-play BI vendors have increasingly been acquired by mega-vendors (e.g., SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects, Oracle’s acquisition of Siebel and Hyperion, and IBM’s acquisition of Cognos).
- There has been additional consolidation within the vertical healthcare space with the acquisition of Enterprise Performance Systems Inc. (EPSi) by Eclipsys. This follows Eclipsys’s acquisition of TSI and brings fresh foundation technology and functionality to the legacy Eclipsys decision support solutions portfolio.
- The consolidation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and BI vendors is significant to healthcare organizations interested in expanding their ERP investments into planning, budgeting, cost accounting and management financial reporting, and deploying BI capabilities in a single, ostensibly integrated environment with one vendor.
- The market for next-generation clinical and financial business intelligence systems is in its early stages, and companies will be jockeying for leadership status over the next several years. The core Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors such as Cerner, Eclipsys, Epic, Siemens and McKesson to various degrees are positioned to provide add-on BI solutions to exploit the data generated in their operational information system solutions.
Faced with these dynamic demand and supply trends, the business intelligence challenge for healthcare organizations is to devise and pursue a strategy toward equilibrium. Equilibrium will seek to match the insatiable demand for actionable insight with the supply of data, tools and services, all at the right price for the organization. First, it must be recognized that there is no such thing as a perfect, optimal, off-the-shelf strategy and solution portfolio to “best” enable the BI needs of an individual healthcare organization. A three-step strategy framework is recommended to help an organization devise and deploy a carefully considered BI strategy that best achieves equilibrium.
- Where are we now? Organize the strategy effort, create and educate the core participants, and assess the existing BI environment. The goal of the assessment is to identify high-level requirements of decision makers in regard to access to information, identify strengths and weaknesses of the current capabilities, and evaluate existing data resources, tools, and services.
- Where do we want to be? Determine future-state requirements and determine the gaps from the evaluated current state. Evaluate alternative approaches to satisfying the gaps, and create the strategic BI road map that will guide the organization from the current to the future state.
- How do we get there? Create and pursue the tactical implementation plan that could include BI technology selection, process improvement, support services reorganization and the iterative cycle of designing, building and deploying incremental BI solutions for the organization.