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Data, BI Key to Cutting Healthcare Costs

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2011

Charles E. Hart, MD, president and CEO of Regional Health, Inc., in Rapid City, SD, agreed it's a problem. "I just wish I knew for sure the cost to provide a service. Revenue is a little bit easier. That's dollars in the bank," he said.

"Business intelligence is defined differently by different people, but to me it's being able to put together three or four source data systems in our institutions where data from all the platforms can be seen together in a succinct format," Limbocker said. "About 10 years ago, I was very proud of creating a senior-level dashboard and departmental dashboard for all leaders across the institution, where before they were getting a stack of paper several inches thick. Well, it was still too much data for most."

The key is to determine what kind of data is really actionable, said Paul Kronenberg, MD, CEO of Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, NY. "People say information technology will give you accuracy, but it won't necessarily because something has to be entered by a person. So just because it's electronic doesn't mean it's accurate," he added.

There are some "excellent" business intelligence systems available to the healthcare industry now, said Barry Waiter, vice president of OptumInsight in Pittsburgh, PA, which sponsored the Intelligence Report. These systems enable exception reporting that allow users to start with high-level metrics and then drill down to a granular level to understand the drivers of variances. "Hopefully managers and executives will get more comfortable with business intelligence systems over time," he said.  

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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