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Healthcare Prominently Featured at Information Builders Summit

Posted on June 6, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

It was a pleasant surprise to see healthcare clients prominently featured at the 2018 Information Builders Summit (#IBSummit) in Orlando FL. Best known for their work in financial services, government and retail, Information Builders has recently carved out healthcare as an industry of focus. That focus was on full display with presentations from: Floyd Healthcare, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the Healthcare Association of New York State.

According to experts at GE Healthcare, the average US hospital generates in excess of 50 Petabytes (PB) of data each year. That’s inclusive of all images, lab results, EHR data, financial information, and every other bit of operational as well as clinical information. To help put that amount of data in perspective:

  • 1GB = 7min of HDTV video [1]
  • 1TB = 1024 GB = 130,000 digital photos
  • 1PB = 1024 TB = 3.4 years worth of HDTV video, or about the size of the movie Avatar
  • 50PB = The entire written works of mankind from the beginning of recorded history in all languages [2]

With this much data, it’s no surprise that many companies are putting energy behind Big Data and Machine Learning (ML) initiatives to help wring value from this growing mountain of information. Companies like IBM Watson, Health Catalyst, Caradigm and Optum all offer advanced data analytics platforms that use various forms of ML to discern patterns within healthcare data. However, most healthcare organizations do not have the technology infrastructure, funds or executive buy-in to adopt these heavy-weight solutions.

Luckily, Information Builders (IB) offers healthcare organizations a way to ease into advanced analytics that does not require the hiring of a data scientist as step one.

According to Grace Auh, Manager of Business Intelligence & Analytics at Markham Stouffville Hospital (located north of Toronto, Ontario), IB provided a smooth on ramp to data analytics. “Instead of trying to go from zero to 100 KPH (MPH for those in the US) in a single step, we adopted IB’s webFOCUS tool to whet the appetite of internal stakeholders” said Auh. “We started with ED pay-for-performance metrics that are tied to reimbursement bonuses here in Ontario. We created a series of reports that executives could drill-down into for deeper analysis. We update the clinical data monthly and the financial data quarterly.”

Auh and the team at Markham Stouffville opted for simple reports/charts rather than fancy data visualization in order to help gain executive buy-in. By keeping things simple, Auh was able to quickly convince executives that the data within the IB reports were indeed accurate (something that had been a challenge with previous data initiatives).

“The goal,” explained Auh. “Is to have a fully integrated and real-time system that is the single source of truth for the hospital. We want to empower program and hospital leaders to self-serve their data needs. It’s our job to build the platform so that they can get the data they want in the format they need it whenever they want. It’s got to be clean, simple, complete and easy to consume. We even want physicians to start using it.”

Floyd Healthcare, an independently-owned community hospital network in Georgia, had a similar goal.

“We have a vision to roll out our dashboards to directors, supervisors and even front-line staff,” said Drew Dempsey, Director of Planning & Business Intelligence at Floyd Medical Center. “We already have a data-driven culture at Floyd because of our lean six-sigma work. The appetite for metrics is high and our level of data maturity grows each day. The data we are able to get through IB is helping us achieve our goals and drive operational efficiencies.”

Using IB’s new Omni-HealthData platform, Dempsey and his team put together a surgical volume dashboard for their CEO. It showed surgeries by speciality, by surgeon and by location. This type of report was a regular part of executive meetings. It used to take days to compile this information by hand and required 120 PowerPoint slides to present it to the level of detail needed for the meeting. The entire report is now automated within Omni and offers executives multiple ways to slice the data.

“We used to spend a lot of time compiling data,” recalled Dempsey. “But now with Information Builders we are able to spend more time analyzing and interpreting the data – a far better use of everyone’s time. We build everything once and it gets used many times.”

The team at Floyd is now working to expand into other reports that provide Service Line and Operational leaders with clinical as well as financial reports that will allow them to make better strategic decisions. From there they plan to tackle revenue cycle reporting, quality metrics, population health indicators and PCMH reporting.

It would be fair to say that Floyd and Markham Stouffville are both fairly early in their analytics journey with IB. St. Luke’s University Health Network, however, is highly advanced in their use of IB’s tools for clinical and operational insight. A ten hospital system centered in Bethlehem PA with over 300 sites of care, St. Luke’s is a top performer on the Truven Top 100 (now IBM Watson Top 100) hospital analytics list.

St. Luke’s codeveloped the Omni-HealthData platform in cooperation with the team at IB. Many of the out-of-the-box report objects and visualizations are the refinement of the reports that St. Luke’s created for their internal users. These reports include:

  • Department/Service Line Performance
  • Patient Safety Indicators
  • In-patient Quality Metrics (ALOS, SSIs)
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Value-based Contract Metrics

In total there are over 90 self-service reports (called applications in IB vernacular) available.

“We borrowed proven tactics from the retail industry,” explained Dan Foltz, Managing Director at Parnassus Consulting, who helped St. Luke’s with their IB implementation. “With IB we were able to do targeted patient outreach based on cohorts of interest. Using data from multiple systems we were able to determine which patients might benefit from education and special programs. For example, the hospital wanted to make early stage Parkinsons patients aware of a deep brain stimulation program. We were able to achieve an 80-90% uptake – something unheard of in healthcare. It was amazing.”

The St. Luke’s electronic data warehouse consolidates information from six main (and silo’d) systems:

  1. Find-a-doc
  2. Allscripts
  3. McKesson
  4. EPIC
  5. Enrollment
  6. Credentialling

Over the next few years they plan to consolidate all their source systems into the warehouse and use their IB portal to provide insights. They currently have 40 data sources integrated within IB.

You can read more about the St. Luke’s implementation of IB in this success story.

I came away from IBSummit impressed by the success that Information Builders has helped its healthcare clients achieve. Every healthcare client that I spoke to raved about how the IB team helped them avoid project traps like diving too deeply into data specifics, losing sight of overall strategic goals, and not gaining sufficient executive buy-in.

“We’re sticking to what has made us successful in so many other industries,” said Jake Freivald, Information Builder’s Vice President of Product Marketing (Healthcare). “We are here to help healthcare organizations collect information faster & easier, and providing tools that allow them to present that information in valuable ways. The one thing we see our healthcare clients needing is more help in the data consolidation step. That’s where we are focusing more attention.”

It will be interesting to revisit IB’s early-stage healthcare clients at next year’s Summit to see how much progress they have made.

Easing The Transition To Big Data

Posted on December 16, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Tapping the capabilities of big data has become increasingly important for healthcare organizations in recent years. But as HIT expert Adheet Gogate notes, the transition is not an easy one, forcing these organizations to migrate from legacy data management systems to new systems designed specifically for use with new types of data.

Gogate, who serves as vice president of consulting at Citius Tech, rightly points out that even when hospitals and health systems spend big bucks on new technology, they may not see any concrete benefits. But if they move through the big data rollout process correctly, their efforts are more likely to bear fruit, he suggests. And he offers four steps organizations can take to ease this transition. They include:

  • Have the right mindset:  Historically, many healthcare leaders came up through the business in environments where retrieving patient data was difficult and prone to delays, so their expectations may be low. But if they hope to lead successful big data efforts, they need to embrace the new data-rich environment, understand big data’s potential and ask insightful questions. This will help to create a data-oriented culture in their organization, Gogate writes.
  • Learn from other industries: Bear in mind that other industries have already grappled with big data models, and that many have seen significant successes already. Healthcare leaders should learn from these industries, which include civil aviation, retail and logistics, and consider adopting their approaches. In some cases, they might want to consider bringing an executive from one of these industries on board at a leadership level, Gogate suggests.
  • Employ the skills of data scientists: To tame the floods of data coming into their organization, healthcare leaders should actively recruit data scientists, whose job it is to translate the requirements of the methods, approaches and processes for developing analytics which will answer their business questions.  Once they hire such scientists, leaders should be sure that they have the active support of frontline staffers and operations leaders to make sure the analyses they provide are useful to the team, Gogate recommends.
  • Think like a startup: It helps when leaders adopt an entrepreneurial mindset toward big data rollouts. These efforts should be led by senior leaders comfortable with this space, who let key players act as their own enterprise first and invest in building critical mass in data science. Then, assign a group of core team members and frontline managers to areas where analytics capabilities are most needed. Rotate these teams across the organization to wherever business problems reside, and let them generate valuable improvement insights. Over time, these insights will help the whole organization improve its big data capabilities, Gogash says.

Of course, taking an agile, entrepreneurial approach to big data will only work if it has widespread support, from the C-suite on down. Also, healthcare organizations will face some concrete barriers in building out big data capabilities, such as recruiting the right data scientists and identifying and paying for the right next-gen technology. Other issues include falling reimbursements and the need to personalize care, according to healthcare CIO David Chou.

But assuming these other challenges are met, embracing big data with a willing-to-learn attitude is more likely to work than treating it as just another development project. And the more you learn, the more successful you’ll be in the future.

Is More Data Driving Less Individualized Healthcare?

Posted on September 16, 2015 I Written By

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.

Many would agree that the goal of most healthcare professionals is to promote individualized treatment and care for every person who comes through an organization’s doors. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals and leaders are compulsorily focused on meeting regulatory requirements and capturing tons of data which may lead to less focus on individual patients. Unique personal characteristics can get lost in the big data of healthcare that is focused on producing aggregate trends and scores. 

HIM professionals are getting more and more involved in the collection of data and the use of this data for impacting clinical care decisions. While we are not the providers of clinical care, we still play a big role in the data life-cycle and its affect on population health. The fact that HIM professionals are not involved in direct patient care is beneficial to an organization because we can focus on gathering, measuring, and analyzing raw data that is returned to the clinicians in the form of information. Turning this data into meaningful information allows the clinicians to make positive impacts on individual patient outcomes and control healthcare costs by removing some administrative burdens. 

Key regulatory agencies such as The Joint commission are looking for an individualized plan of care for each patient. Meanwhile, Meaningful Use initiatives are pushing for a more statistical approach to capturing the same data on each patient to drive an aggregate snapshot of a patient population. Objectives for aggregate data and composite scores can overlook some individual nuances and take valuable time away from the patient’s one on one time with a clinician. This can put clinicians in a tough spot balancing between all of the different competing requirements.

HIM professionals are here to help find the balance between these objectives by assisting in the development of documentation templates and automated workflows. Pulling data forward in the EMR and minimizing duplicate entries are ways to successfully achieve this. In a perfect world, clinicians should be able to focus their time on gathering data about each patient’s particular condition and individual socioeconomic factors of health. Required regulatory data fields should be easy to find with prompts and they should make sense for a clinician’s normal workflow. These requirements should not be an excuse for non-individualized healthcare.

The quest for individualized healthcare can be difficult when clinicians are bogged down with checklists and requirements. What I hope to see more of in the future is better utilization of HIM professionals’ skills in support of individualized care and regulatory outcomes measurements. This results in a more streamlined workflow for clinicians, more data and information at their fingertips, and ultimately better outcomes for each individual person.

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts by Erin in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

Are 3 Square Meals the Key to Avoiding Hospitalizations?

Posted on July 16, 2015 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to our ranks. If you’re on social media, you probably know Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung), Co-Host of #hcldr. Colin is also head of Marketing for @PatientPrompt, a product offered by Stericycle Communication Solutions. We look forward to many posts from Colin in the future.

On our weekly #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat, we had two special guests who have done pioneering healthcare work – Leonard Kish (@LeonardKish) and Dave Chase (@chasedave). Together Kish and Chase authored the #95Theses, a wonderful call-to-action for those of us in healthcare that’s written in same style as the seminal Cluertain Manifesto.

The first topic of last night’s #hcldr chat was “What are some creative/effective ways patients can use to avoid hospitalizations?”. There were many interesting and insightful answers, but one tweet from Chase really caught my eye:

The first statement was fascinating – Meals on Wheels as a way to reduce hospital admissions.

This concept is at the heart of the discussion around Social Determinants of Health (#sdoh) – a topic that has gotten a lot of buzz over the past couple of years. There is a really great definition of SDOH on the WHO website. I’d also recommend this blog post from John Lynn on a similar topic from earlier this year.

As we move towards a system that is based on wellness rather than sickness, I wonder if healthcare providers and organizations will look to preventative measures such as providing meals or teaching basic nutrition as a way to keep their communities healthy? Will the day come when this type of service will become necessary for a provider to remain relevant?

I doubt that most providers and healthcare organizations will reach this point by their own volition. However, I do believe that some innovative organization and entrepreneurial companies will emerge that will make this a reality in specific communities.

I would love to see a future where we will have community wellness centers where we used to have hospitals – places where local people can gather to learn about how to stay healthy and get social as well as emotional support from their peers. These centers would be helped by a network of technologies that combine an individual’s personally tracked data with insights gleaned from “Big Data” analytics resulting in a personalized wellness plan. A plan that includes recommendations for 3 square meals each day that would optimize a person’s health and has the facilities to then create those meals and a mechanism to deliver them (especially to elder adults who lack mobility).

I am excited and intrigued by the possibility that something as simple as a meal can be the key ingredient in reducing healthcare costs while improving health.

Know anyone who is doing this already?

The Future of…Healthcare IT

Posted on March 23, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As part of HIMSS 2015, they’re holding a blog carnival where people throughout the healthcare IT community can contribute blog posts covering 5 different topics. Each topic looks at “The Future of…” and then “Connected System, Big Data, Security, Innovation, and Patient Engagement.” I thought the topics were quite interesting, so I created a post for each of the 5 topics. Here’s links to each of them:

I’d love to have you chime in on each of the topics that interest you. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my commentary and prognostication. Even better, feel free to write your own blog post on any or all of these topics. They are important topics that will make up much of what happens in healthcare IT.

Are there any other “Future of…” topics you wish would have been discussed?

Healthcare Big Data and Meaningful Use Challenges with Mandi Bishop

Posted on April 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Last fall I had a chance to sit down with Mandi Bishop, Principal at Adaptive Project Solution, and better known as @mandibpro on Twitter for a Google Plus video hangout. I don’t think I realized at the time how lucky I was to sit down with someone who knew so much about healthcare big data and meaningful use. If you like those topics, then you’ll enjoy this interview with Mandi Bishop.

You can also see more of Mandi’s awesome work in the Eyes Wide Shut series over on EMR and HIPAA. It’s a great insider look at the impact of meaningful use on a healthcare organization.

Be sure to go and subscribe to the Healthcare Scene YouTube channel for other great healthcare IT videos.

Over-hyped and Under-Delivered Tech According to Hospital CIOs

Posted on March 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


This is an interesting list:
#BigData
#EHR
#Cloud
#GoogleGlass
#ACO

When you think about the future of health IT, all of these except for Google Glass are guaranteed to be a major role in health IT. The use of data in healthcare is not going anywhere. EHRs will be the foundation of health IT for a long time to come. The move to cloud computing is happening everywhere in healthcare. ACOs are heading are way and I see nothing that will do anything to stop them. Google glass is the only thing on the list that might fizzle, but what Google glass represents (always on, always connected computing) won’t go anywhere.

Does health IT have a PR image issue?

Can MAJOR Change Come from Just Internal Hospital Data?

Posted on January 31, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

At a conference I attended, I had the chance to sit down with Sheri Stoltenberg from Stoltenberg Consulting. During our visit, Sheri asked a really valuable and important question:

Can MAJOR Change Come from Just Internal Data?

What a fascinating question! We hear so many people out there yelling for major change in healthcare. Costs are too high. Quality is too low. You know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, many in healthcare are pushing against all these changes. However, I believe everyone in healthcare realizes that change is absolutely coming to healthcare. Hospitals are going to have to do more with less. That’s just the reality of the future.

Many people have argued that one of the key ways a hospital is going to be able to deal with these changes is using quality healthcare analytics. Very few people would argue against the value of analytics. When properly implemented and understood, healthcare analytics can provide some real change for good in a healthcare organization.

Now, let’s go back to Sheri’s question. Will a hospital be able to effect the MAJOR change that is needed in their organization with just the data that exists within their 4 walls (or within their health system if you prefer)?

I believe the answer to this question is no. Some change will happen because of internal data analytics, but the largest change is likely going to need data that exists in external systems. In some cases, it may even need data housed in your “competitor’s” systems. However, there are plenty of other external data sources as well. Not the least of which is the growth of consumer health sensors. We’re really just getting started with consumer health sensors.

The problem I see is that healthcare is ill prepared to work with all this external data. Goodness, they can barely figure out (probably because they’re too busy working on MU, ICD-10, and other government regulations) what they need to do with their internal data. Most can’t even fathom the idea of working with external data. However, the future world of healthcare might just require them to do so. How is your hospital going to get there?

Can Big Data Do What Vendors Claim?

Posted on December 6, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

There’s no doubt about it — the air is ringing with the sounds of vendors promising big things from big data, from population health to clinical support to management of bundled payments. But can they really offer these blessings?  According to enterprise health IT architect Michael Planchart (known to many as @theEHRGuy), there’s a lot of snake oil sales going on.

In his experience, many of the experts on what he calls Big Bad Data either weren’t in healthcare or have never touched healthcare IT until the big data trend hit the industry. And they’re pitching the big data concept to providers that aren’t ready, he says:

  • Most healthcare providers haven’t been collecting data in a consistent way with a sound data governance model.
  • Most hospitals have paper charts that collect data in unstructured and disorganized ways.
  • Most hospitals — he asserts — have spent millions or even billions of dollars on EMRs but have been unable to implement them properly. (And those that have succeeded have done so in “partial and mediocre ways,” he says.)

Given these obstacles,  where is big data going to come from today? Probably not the right place, he writes:

Well, some geniuses from major software vendors thought they could get this data from the HL7 transactions that had been moving back and forth between systems.  Yes, indeed.  They used some sort of “aggregation” software to extract this data out of HL7 v2.x messages.  What a disaster!  Who in their sane mind would think that transactional near real time data could be used as the source for aggregated data?

As Planchart sees it, institutions need quality, pertinent, relevant and accurate data, not coarsely aggregated data from any of the sources hospitals and providers have. Instead of rushing into big data deals, he suggests that CIOs start collecting discrete, relevant and pertinent data within their EMRs, a move which will pay off over the next several years.

In the mean time, my colleague John Lynn suggests, it’s probably best to focus on “skinny data” — a big challenge in itself given how hard it can be to filter out data “noise” — rather than aggregate a bunch of high volume data from all directions.

Healthcare Big Data vs Skinny Data

Posted on April 2, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I have heard a number of people talk about healthcare big data was all the buzz in the healthcare IT world. There’s little doubt that there’s a lot of conversation happening around big data and analytics in healthcare. While I think there’s tremendous value to be found in healthcare big data, I’ve been more intrigued by what Encore Health Resources calls skinny data.

You can read more about the Encore Health Resources CoreANALYTICS announcement, but the approach is what I find really interesting. Instead of trying to create a huge enterprise data warehouse that can be all healthcare data for everything, they instead decided to focus on created a smaller solution that just focused on one major problem: meaningful use.

Encore Health Resources was open about the reason why they chose to go with a skinny data model as opposed to a full enterprise data warehouse model, time and budget constraints. They basically were asked to produce a result with a limited budget and so there wasn’t time or money to do anything but achieve the desired results. One of the architects of the system said, “If you can give me the extra data for free, then give it to me. If it costs [time or money] more to get that data, then don’t do it. Although, if you don’t give me these other data elements, then I’m going to have issues.”

It seems like a pretty simple concept to me that makes me wonder why I haven’t seen more of it in healthcare. Encore has taken these concepts and started to expand beyond meaningful use and into other areas like at-risk populations, clinical analytics for care coordination, and financial analytics.

I asked them if CoreANALYTICS would eventually grow into what essentially becomes an enterprise data warehouse. They suggested that it wouldn’t likely ever get that large, but I can see a path to that type of result.

What I do love about skinny data is that it’s user the information a hospital has available and creating actual results. It’s one thing to have the data, but it’s what you do with that data that really matters.