The Institute of Medicine recently urged healthcare leaders to take a page out of corporate playbooks and embrace the kind of technology which removes waste from hospital operations.

An example of this is business intelligence, the process by which companies make sense out of huge piles of data points. Those companies then use the refined information to improve production techniques, track patterns and forecast future trends.

While healthcare organizations collect tons of data, it’s seldom tapped on an enterprise level for the benefit of the overall organization.  This is mainly because of the silo structure which exists in most hospitals. Silos block the free flow of information. Any effort to introduce anything other than treatment technology is very often seen as an intrusion into patient care.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is a surprising exception. It recently launched a project to upgrade IT for better program management, strategy planning, cyber-security, operations and maintenance, among other things.

Such an undertaking, given the size and scale of the VA, likely will require massive revamping of workflow processes, implementation of standard nomenclature and seamless information systems integration across an enterprise. Yet the VA obviously is confident the investment will pay off.

Hospitals which have implemented automated capacity management systems already know there is a payoff. Much of the physical workflow involving patient movement is already linked and great strides are being made to link clinical and operational systems, which will deliver huge benefits not only in efficiency, but in improved care quality. These two goals are becoming increasingly important as healthcare moves away from fee-for-service reimbursement toward value-based delivery measurements.

The data yield across these two platforms is tremendous and getting larger all the time.  On the operational side, when combined with a strong business intelligence engine, it has been the foundation for perpetual performance improvement at virtually all touch points in the patient flow process, with increasingly large gains in savings and revenue.

But the benefits go beyond day to day operations. For example, the University of Utah Healthcare is using custom reporting data for predictive modeling of transport department staffing needs, and expects to realize over $5 million annually through other changes made with the help of custom reports.

And that’s just what the purpose of business intelligence technology is– to make large quantities of data understandable and useful so that leaders can gain the kind of insights that move their businesses forward. Healthcare is no exception.

Do you have an example of how business intelligence has helped your healthcare organization?


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