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Turning Data Challenges into Data Strategy

By RelayHealth  
   April 03, 2017

The path from data to knowledge in a value-based care world presents challenges but will also create success. Tina Foster, Vice President of Advisory Services at RelayHealth, sits down to answer questions on navigating this new frontier.

Q. On navigating value-based care, what would you say some of the top challenges a customer faces from the get go?

The first challenge is contract management. It poses a problem for customers searching for ways to address how they look at data across different areas, make sense of it, and make informed decisions when profitable. A second challenge is connectivity of critical touch points among hospital providers already participating in clinically integrated networks. This introduces a new level of complexity with the data they’re both required to share and what data needs to be shared for ideal networking and coordination. And third, nearly 80% of ACO’s see access to external data as their number one challenge.

Q. Why is having good data important for success in this new world?

Having good data is important because better data leads to better decisions. In a value-based care world, these new payment models and better consumer stickiness relies on better outcomes for patients. Success will come to those customers who can quickly align their clinical, financial, and operational health systems, and who also know how to store and enhance it in a way to repurpose it freely.  Today, to use the same data for new insights, organizations struggle with the end-to-end heavy lift each time.  That level of high-touch, high-cost redundancy represents a critical failure point for healthcare today.

Q. What is data strategy, and how does a healthcare organization transition to building one?

Data strategy is a plan designed to improve ways an organization selects, stores, analyzes and uses data to make better decisions that lead to better outcomes. It’s an organization recognizing data is one of the most strategic assets they own. You must wrap it with resources, executive sponsors, accountability triggers, triage and stewardship processes, and integrated action plans that filter through all organizational strategic objectives. It’s more than a “governance committee.”

The first step is a cultural shift in the organization. For decades, we have been automating the healthcare process which has made technology the focal point and data as a messy, untrusted byproduct of that process. So, shifting to see data as an asset and organizationally embrace the data value chain gets stakeholders from click to confidence. This ultimately results in a data-driven culture whereby value is the byproduct because decisions made at the point of care can drive optimal outcomes.  

The next steps:  apply valuable resources to strategy and make sure competent people are in place. For example, analysts need to be report writers with data science competencies. They need to understand and consult with clinicians to best leverage data and drive clinical excellence. They should also be ambassadors between systems on how to solve data problems.

Finally, understanding the entire spectrum, the data value chain is needed. What’s the most important, truthful source of data? How do they select and acquire data, and store it to be easily accessed and repurposed? How will they tell a meaningful story with data, so clinicians and providers buy-in to drive change? That's data strategy. 

Q. What does it mean to treat data as an asset and use it to drive success?

Most organizations see data as a byproduct of their IT systems like EMR’s or clinical documentation systems. Data is one of the largest assets an organization has today. The sooner organizations embrace this they can dedicate resources to their long-term data strategy.

Our business advisors work side-by-side with our customers. They’ve walked in our customers’ shoes. They are trained in data science, the data value chain, and work with them and go through our FuseTM ASSET model. They help them understand how to align, select, store, enrich, and tell a story with their data. When customers treat data as an asset, they not only draw real insights and drive transformation but drive the competencies to move forward successfully.

Foster concludes, “In VBC it’s important to map your journey down to a solutions roadmap that includes IT capabilities, as well as structure and process outcomes that are mapped to strategic objectives and accountability owners so that rapid speed-to-value is achievable. You’ll want to make sure you’re out of the gate strong, focused on real insights that get to the heart of the matter and drive change.”

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