Increasingly, healthcare leaders recognize the need to develop robust tools to integrate clinical and business data to enable meaningful analytics, but getting there is a challenge.
This article first appeared in the April 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Information technology provides healthcare organizations with an essential infrastructure. But from an evolutionary perspective, healthcare IT has its roots in finance and administration, with clinical IT applications developing along a separate path. The shift to delivering value-based care challenges IT in two principal ways.
First, as organizations respond to the industry's push toward capitated or at-risk payments, decision-makers depend on analysis that is based on both clinical and financial data, so organizations are challenged to integrate data. Second, as early reimbursement penalties morph into broader-based responsibility for health outcomes, and attribution of patients to providers becomes common, the performance of care partners becomes a concern. Both factors push healthcare IT teams to work with broader sets of data to support a new set of decisions in new ways.
Although the labels may look pretty much the same, there will be a big difference between the way organizations apply analytics now and the analytics applications in the near future. "The analytics work that we will do in the future will require deeper competencies and be at a different level of discovery than today's work," says George T. Hickman, FCHIME, LCHIME, LFHIMSS, CPHIMS, CHCIO, executive vice president and chief information officer of Albany Medical Center, which includes the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, Albany Medical College, and a 425-physician practice.
Michael Zeis is a research analyst for HealthLeaders Media.