"We put them through a fairly intensive, six-hour-a-week course, with homework, set around analytics and analytics principles," he says. "We've had very strong and powerful results with a lot of our clinical folks that didn't really have a lot of exposure to the idea of using data to drive decision-making really effectively. They were good at receiving reports, but they didn't really understand how you get insight from reports and how you can actually look at data differently, so our clinical folks that go into the program do very well and learn a lot of different skills."
UPMC's next challenge has been to get these newly trained clinicians to spread this data-centric view across the rest of the organization, Reddy says.
"Our firm belief is, this is just a fundamental change in the way people think about their day jobs," he says. Even registration clerks need to understand how what they are doing on a day-to-day basis ties into UPMC's analytics program, he says.
"What we're doing by taking some of our up-and-comers and making them go through this is allowing them to then take that message and help our day-to-day operations start to embrace the idea that if we're going to become a data-driven organization, we really have to look at data integrity and data quality and really be concerned about these things and not just say, 'Oh well, sometimes it's not right' and I just move on to the next problem, or I call someone else to get a new report if I don't like the data that I see," Reddy says.
In the latest cohort of analytics trainees, UPMC is giving its program participants a series of business problems to tackle. "It's a much more practical, hands-on approach," he says. "We'll see how that goes."
At many organizations, analytics resources exist in scattered pockets. This is true for the University of Missouri Health Care, which employs 6,000 physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals and operates 50 outpatient clinics in central Missouri that receive outpatient visits exceeding 500,000 annually.
Now, UM Health Care is in the process of consolidating such resources under its newly hired chief financial officer. "We're partnering on the academic side with our HIM department and with our master of health administration program to formulate a certificate in healthcare analytics, as well as a degree program," says Bryan Bliven, UM Health Care's chief information officer. To lead this team, UM Health Care wants to hire a registered nurse to act as its director of clinical analytics, he says.
Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.