Healthcare Analytics

A Healthcare Analytics Culture Is Essential

Massive transformational changes in the healthcare industry are prompting many hospitals and networks to adopt a healthcare analytics approach to ensure their survival and growth. Investment in information technology and business intelligence tools is an important first step in this process. However, cultivating the true value of healthcare's massive data assets requires a change in perspective, behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, organizational culture. To succeed, organizations need to create a healthcare analytics culture that merges information technology, information management, and information behaviors at every level across the enterprise.

The shift to a healthcare analytics culture:

  • Reduces data silos and data ownership "turf wars"
  • Creates an atmosphere of curiosity and collaboration
  • Allows organizations to see beyond what has already happened and begin to forecast what might happen next

Creating a Healthcare Analytics Culture

Creating an analytics culture is an evolutionary process. It doesn't just start when a piece of technology is switched on. Key changes need to take root within the organization to impact how analytics are used. For many organizations, it tends to be a three-step process:


  • Search and gather data elements
  • Actively cultivate some data sources


  • Actively manage data
  • Hold individuals accountable for data's validity
  • Define analytics objectives
  • Engage executive support
  • Address initial data quality, policies, and processes


  • Achieve clear accountability for data quality at the enterprise level
  • Align analytics use with business objectives
  • Become passionate as an organization about using data for competitive purposes
A model for developing a healthcare analytics culture.
Source: "Competing on Analytics", Tom Davenport

Data Analysis and Governance Is NOT an IT Project

One of the most striking features of a healthcare analytics culture is that data management isn't an IT responsibility, but rather an enterprise-wide one. While IT may play a pivotal role, it can't drive the initiative by itself.

Chilmark Research estimates that 70% of analytics projects fail[ 1]. Managing analytics like an IT project with a start, middle, and end can play a significant role in these failures. This approach focuses on technology without understanding its application and can result in:

  • Inadequate engagement of end users
  • Unrealistic project expectations
  • Insufficient approaches to quantify costs and benefits
  • Management techniques that are ill-suited to an analytics culture

An analytics culture doesn't have a finite ending. It continues to change to keep focus on:

  • Enterprise-level governance with C-level sponsorship and oversight
  • Defined outcomes achievement
  • Solution adoption versus software go-live
  • Transformation planning
  • Customer advocacy

Additionally, even the most highly skilled of IT resources may lack the context and nuance needed to validate and steward clinical data. For this reason, clinicians, quality experts, and finance professionals need to have a voice in defining data standards.

In a healthcare analytics culture, responsibly for validating clinical and financial data is assigned to the stakeholder(s) with the skillsets and expertise needed to ensure the organization uses the right information in the right context. Involving key leaders and staff members in your analytics journey creates accountability and drives the cultural change needed to unite your enterprise.

Building a Healthcare Analytics Culture Takes Time

The shift to a healthcare analytics culture does not come naturally to most organizations or to the people inside them. Expert guides are critical to help you create the transformation needed, operationalize the change, and ensure ongoing success. As the magnitude and complexity of the change increases, the time and level of effort required follow suit.

A graph that shows how to create a healthcare analytics culture.
Keys to Accelerating Performance Improvement in Hospitals; Adler, Riley. Lee Packard Foundation and the Institute of Knowledge Management

To increase the likelihood of success throughout the analytics journey, an organization must continually:

  • Identify, prioritize, and actively communicate strategic goals
  • Maintain focus by defining value milestones and monitoring success
  • Set SMART objectives to measure progress
    • They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely

McKesson's Business Advisors have the necessary experience and insight to help your organization nurture a healthcare analytics culture. Learn more about our healthcare consulting services.

1Chilmark Insights Report 9/2013: Building an Infrastructure to Drive Healthcare Analytics

Next: Getting Started with Healthcare Data Analytics

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