Where does your team go to get data they trust? In many healthcare organizations, a request for data could yield three different answers from three different sources. At Medical Center Hospital, we consciously decoupled analytics from IT to create a discrete department for data analytics. As a result, our analytics and decision support group offers staff in every department a standardized source of truth, along with the expert guidance to use it effectively. This approach to analytics has strengthened our data governance, improved processes throughout the organization, and built trust in data.

Initially there was resistance to the idea. To achieve buy-in we demonstrated value with a pilot project with McKesson Analytics Explorer™ to identify and reduce risk of readmission. Our nurses and doctors loved the new system, which reduced manual entry and fed a clinician dashboard that showed which patients had high risk scores and needed a transition care plan. What’s more, the system gave us data that we used to find relationships between ICD-9 codes and readmission risk. With experimentation we identified the scores for which transition care really made a difference. And we got the go-ahead to form our analytics and decision support department.

The team is under the CIO, not IT, so people don’t view them as IT. We gave the group a distinct name and populated it with a dream team of IT, performance improvement and decision support professionals. They aren’t there to build and produce reports; they leverage analytics and data to achieve process improvement, strategic alignment and better patient outcomes.

In the past, our data focus was on documenting and billing for patient care. But over the years we have moved to using data analytics and improvement initiatives to support better patient care and to increase our financial and operational performance. Now we’re using data analytics to empower excellence, though, fortuitously, integrated analytics have also allowed us to improve our billing processes, too.

The analytics and decision support department has built data integrity. It’s established official definitions for data elements and set the standards for processes and validation. As a result, rather than spending time questioning our data, people trust the data – and we use it to uncover inconsistent processes, share data with medical staff, and find solutions across Medical Center Health System.

To find out more about Medical Center Health System’s experience with proposing and implementing a discrete analytics department, watch the on-demand webinar.

Gary Barnes

About the author

Gary Barnes is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Medical Center Hospital, an integrated health system that is using analytics and improvement initiatives to deliver better patient care and better financial and operational performance.

Arun Matthews

About the author

Dr. Arun Mathews is the interim Chief Medical Information Officer and interim Chief Medical Officer at Medical Center Hospital. He was a recipient of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems award for excellence in the field of applied clinical informatics, and has spoken in national forums on the use of analytics to power operational, strategic and clinical decision-making