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8/30/2011
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BI Tools Prep Clinicians For Accountable Care

Healthcare organizations are turning to business intelligence software to help navigate a new era in the delivery of patient care, says KLAS report.

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Healthcare providers pursuing accountable care organization (ACO) initiatives are increasingly relying on business intelligence (BI) tools to help identify inefficiencies, quality gaps, and cost issues, reports a study from healthcare research firm KLAS.

The report, Business Intelligence: Making Cents of Performance, notes that in an era in which pay for performance will shift the focus from quantity of care to quality of care, many clinicians see BI tools as an essential component monitoring patient care data and focusing on enhancing efficiency. The aim is to adopt new business models to accommodate the changing requirements of 2010's health reform law.

Lorin Bird, KLAS research director and author of the report, told InformationWeek Healthcare he'd spoken with a healthcare provider that had used Humedica's BI system--which connects patient information across varied medical settings and time periods--to generate information that showed a higher quality of care and lower costs when compared to medical peers.

Humedica uses the Anceta Collaborative Data Warehouse, a shared data warehouse created by the American Medical Group Association which tracks population health data and has disease-specific analytic models that give comparative data. In this case, the data related to diabetes care. The data showed that the healthcare provider had improved its quality of care to diabetic patients and demonstrated a decrease in duplication of tests and patient hospital readmissions.

According to Bird, armed with data that reveals improvements in these areas, providers can "use that data to go out and contract in confidence with a third-party insurance provider and others to start forming those partnerships and those relationships needed to become an ACO."

The research revealed that 60% of healthcare organizations planning to become an ACO feel their BI tool will be able to provide the necessary analytics to do so. Furthermore, 64% of providers said they planned to become an ACO in the next three years.

The report also showed that providers were using BI to help them meet Meaningful Use requirements by tracking data trends and patterns that helps them, for example, monitor physician use rates for computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, or look at physician performance measures around diabetes care, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, cancer, and other illnesses.

With BI, Bird said, physicians can "start looking at what are the alerts that [they] are just completely ignoring and can start to change protocols or care pathways based on that data."

With regard to clinicians' approach to implementing a BI tool, the survey showed that providers were almost evenly split on whether they wanted an enterprise BI strategy versus using multiple BI programs. Of the respondents interviewed, 56% indicate they plan to move to a single enterprise BI vendor.

"I was expecting more to say we are moving towards one enterprise solution, but that's not the case. It means there's a lot of greenfield for all the vendors in this space," Bird said.

The report found that although enterprise BI systems are growing in acceptance, industry-agnostic vendors are still making a good showing in healthcare. Dimensional Insight's Diver Solution was first in overall performance with a score of 88.2 out of 100, followed by Information Builders' WebFOCUS. IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence, McKesson and its Horizon Business Insight product, and SAP XI Data Analytics (Business Objects) rounded out the top five vendors receiving positive performance scores.

Bird said he was surprised to find that only 13% of respondents were using their BI systems on a mobile device, and that only 14% of respondents are using predictive analytics or plan to do so in the near term. But said he expects these numbers to increase during the next few years.

With regard to what providers are looking for in a BI system, Bird said healthcare organizations want one that can be implemented quickly, is easy to use, is flexible enough to customize to suit the needs of the organization, and includes the ability to develop dashboards to support an IT staff. Providers also want an analytics system that does not sacrifice the ability to meet the needs of different customers such as pharmacies, health plans, and financial departments, to name a few.

When selecting vendors, Bird also said healthcare delivery organizations look at cost as they examine which vendors have "the best track record around service and support, around meeting timelines, [and] staying within budget during implementation."

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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