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Data, BI Key to Cutting Healthcare Costs

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2011

Only 16% said they "have robust clinical and financial data integrated with solid business intelligence and analytical tools" to guide them. Another 67% said they have "some reliable clinical and financial data" that they use to achieve results. And 17% said they currently lack clinical and financial data for improvement.

In a roundtable discussion, healthcare executives talked about how organizations can use data to get results. Jeffrey Limbocker, chief financial officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA, said such data can be used to measure the impact of cost containment.

"Much of the data, even on the clinical side, that we rely on is often charge-based data, and so a charge entry has to take place and then someone will pull data and rely on it, which creates obvious problems," Limbocker said. "The clinical data that many of us also use consists of chart reviews. Chart reviews are still a fairly standard way to review data as opposed to having a clinical data field in a clinical information system. What you want to do is be able to compare high-quality outcomes with financial outcomes so you can see whether the things you're doing to improve clinical quality or reduce cost are having a positive or negative impact on the other."

And yet, noted roundtable moderator Philip Betbeze, senior leadership editor for HealthLeaders Media, it is difficult to determine the true cost of providing a service and the testing, labor costs, and other costs because there are so many variables involved. "How do you begin to make sense of it?" he asked.  

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3 comments on "Data, BI Key to Cutting Healthcare Costs"


Marco de Vries (12/13/2011 at 9:56 PM)
Healthcare has come a long way to automate and better manage basic medical-surgical consumables... but implantables remains a key barrier because of the manual, ad-hoc nature of how these products are bought, tracked, usage captured, billed for, etc. The challenges span the spectrum of people, process and technology.... But technology can play a critical role. Fundamentally, more data needs to be captured, integrated and managed in the clinical/OR setting than is widely available today. Then it must be linked back to supply chain systems and processes. Once data is captured and integrated, hospitals and manufacturers alike can expect meaningful business intelligence solutions. Developing a commonly acceptable foundation for industry is a challenge[INVALID]how to avoid supporting different technologies and processes for each manufacturer, or for each product type. Peer benchmarking is key... which cannot be attained if every hospital does things differently. Industry ought to look to lessons learned and apply technologies from existing integration and collaboration platforms as a starting point.

brucco (12/5/2011 at 4:12 PM)
Charge based data is a good reference point (think, reverse charge to cost ratios) for locating incremental costs at the granular level within a hospital stay. It's also a good way to track variances from care pathway routines. But productive use of BI requires a system user with a knowledge of both clinical and financial functions to make BI artful and show correlations not otherwise considered.

Jack Duffy (11/29/2011 at 5:22 PM)
With the rapidly expanding interest in "spend Management" low cost SaaS technology will become a persistent new tool. BI has the potential to eliminate legacy system silos and support full cycle analytical support for the C suite. When coupled with revenue management tools, real time ROI analysis is now possible