Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems
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7/24/2012
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Poor Data Management Costs Healthcare Providers

Healthcare organizations collect massive amounts of data but often fail to translate it into actionable insights, Oracle report says.

 Health IT Pros Face Salary Gap
Health IT Pros Face Salary Gap
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Healthcare providers lose on average $70.2 million annually, or 15% of additional revenue per hospital, due to their failure to fully leverage the information they collect, according to a study from Oracle. (Oracle, of course, sells BI tools along with its bread-and-butter database tools.)

From Overload to Impact: An Industry Scorecard on Big Data Business Challenges surveyed 333 C-level executives at enterprises spanning 11 industries, 30 of whom came from healthcare organizations. According to the survey, 100% of healthcare executives say their organization is collecting and managing more business information today than it was two years ago, with an average increase of 85%.

However, the avalanche of information has disrupted data management. The study shows that 47% of healthcare executives say their organization cannot interpret and translate the information into actionable insight, and 40% say their current systems aren't designed to meet the specific needs of the industry. Recognizing that their organization could advance its financial standing if they could harness clinical, financial, and other data to generate efficiencies in their operational workflow, the poll shows that healthcare executives intend to bolster their business intelligence strategy.

To turn their fortunes around, 63% of respondents said their top priorities include improving the ability to translate information into actionable insight, while 50% said they are focused on implementing tools to collect more accurate information, and 47% seek more customized systems/applications to meet their needs.

[ Is it time to re-engineer your clinical decision support system? See 10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs. ]

Many providers also favor developing technology partnerships with other organizations, with 63% of healthcare executives saying their organization is in the process of implementing information systems that will support the delivery of care beyond the walls of their facility.

While generating analytical data to drive efficiency within a health organization is essential, proving to other business partners that the organization is efficient is equally important, according to Neil de Crezcenzo, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Health Sciences Global Business Unit.

"When healthcare executives say their top priority is the ability to translate information into actionable insights, what that means to me is that these executives want to prove as a healthcare institution to the payers that we're better, for example, at treating congestive heart failure," de Crezcenzo said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

Since hospital reimbursements will increasingly be tied to quality metrics and patient outcomes under healthcare reform, it's no surprise that healthcare executives want to use technology to closely monitor their patients. The poll revealed that 73% of healthcare executives cite patient relationship management and 70% quality of care as the areas in which they are most actively gathering and analyzing information to drive efficiency.

Besides patient information, 63% of respondents identified financial management and 57% reported risk management as additional areas in which they are actively gathering and analyzing information.

With regard to the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), 34% of healthcare organizations that participated in the report say they're using EHRs extensively and using the information to improve the delivery of care. However, 43% say that while they have an EHR in place, they are still not capturing enough or the right information; 20% have started to implement an EHR but do not have it in place yet. Only 3% of healthcare organizations note that implementing an EHR is not a priority at this time.

Like other research, Oracle's report highlights the difficulties that are inherent in using EHRs that compile unstructured data on physician notes, discharge summaries, and other information, according to de Crezcenzo.

He also observed that because clinicians need data quickly, healthcare delivery organizations must shift to systems that electronically transmit analytical data to clinicians in real or near-real time.

"Senior healthcare executives are going to have to [incorporate] the algorithms, calculations, and analytical engines that provide those insights on a much faster basis with much larger volumes of data, and the complexity around that data didn't exist before," de Crezcenzo said.

Evidently, it will take some time to implement an effective business intelligence strategy. According to the report, 40% of healthcare executives gave their organizations a grade of D or F on their preparedness to manage the data deluge. Seventy-seven percent of respondents gave their organization a C or below, and no healthcare executive felt their organization deserved an A.

In this InformationWeek Healthcare virtual event, EHRs: Beyond The Basics, experts will discuss how to improve electronic health record systems. It happens July 31.

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