11 BI Tools To Analyze Healthcare Operations

Although clinical decision support systems remain the rock stars in many large hospitals and group practices, let's not forget the need to analyze operational, financial, and quality control data.




Putting a clinical decision support (CDS) system in place without also installing a more generic business intelligence (BI) program is like building a skyscraper on a sandy lot. And with all the attention CDS gets these days, it's easy to forget that for healthcare providers to survive in a competitive market they need a strong BI foundation to correlate, analyze, and glean insight from financial and operational data.

A recent study by research firm KLAS makes it clear that most healthcare organizations do see the value of these less-glamorous tools. The study found that more than 50% of healthcare organizations plan to replace or buy new BI systems over the next three years.

Of the 147 respondents KLAS surveyed, representing 137 healthcare provider organizations, about one-third said they intend to purchase new BI tools, while 19% said they will replace their BI systems. Another 33% reported that they will continue with their current BI tools, while 14% said they have no plans to change these systems.

In general, many of these BI tools can provide healthcare organizations with various predictive analytics, data modeling, forecasting, and trending for operational, financial data, and clinical data.

Healthcare providers have lots of tools to choose from, including offerings from mainstream software vendors such as Oracle, IBM, and SAP. (SAP's Business Objects product is pictured above.) There are also various BI and clinical analytics offerings from developers of health IT systems such as McKesson and Cerner, and niche products for specific data analysis from vendors such as Omnicell, which offers software specifically for medication and supply inventory analysis.

What are healthcare providers hoping these BI tools can accomplish? Most are looking for an assortment of functionality, including analysis of financial and departmental data, including emergency, surgical, and pharmacy analytics, as well as insight into physician quality, performance improvement, and patient outcomes. The insights gleaned from these tools can also help leaders better understand accountable care organization (ACO) activities, especially as new ACOs and reimbursement change emerge under healthcare reform.

In fact, the KLAS study identified the "wish list" of the top five healthcare-specific functions sought by organizations from their BI products. On that list are 1) enterprise analytics; 2) predictive analytics; 3) ACO analytics; 4) healthcare data integration/data warehousing; and 5) population health. Currently, a third of healthcare organizations have no BI tools, according to the KLAS study, while half are using a single BI vendor or product, and 17% have multiple BI products or vendors. In any case, KLAS expects more healthcare providers to be shopping for BI tools over the next few years. Here are several programs worth checking out now.


Information Builders sells BI software tools to many industries. For healthcare providers, the company's BI tools, which include WebFocus, offer insights that can boost decision support to improve quality of care, increase patient satisfaction, and operate more efficiently.

The company says its "data intelligence, integration, and integrity" tools can also help providers "achieve Meaningful Use, and transform into accountable care organizations by turning financial, clinical, and administrative data into information that clinicians, staff, and administrators need for evidence-based decision-making."

The offering includes tools for integrated health intelligence and performance management that allow organizations to improve labor productivity, asset utilization, and supply-chain costs. The tools can help healthcare leaders view key performance indicators across service lines and departments to improve workflow and coordination of care.

Hospitals and medical practices can also use these tools to improve financial management and reporting, budgeting, and planning, and to enable physician and patient profiling, market share analytics, and clinical informatics.

Recommended Reading:

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10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

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Dimensional Insight's Diver is an enterprise-wide reporting and analytics platform that the vendor provides to a number of different industries, including healthcare.

Diver offers an integrated, Web-based BI suite that features dashboards, scorecards, alerts, and interactive reports so that key performance indicators are delivered to the specific users that need them, whether they're hospitals' chief financial officers or clinical care administrators. The software can assemble and analyze data from multiple internal and external sources with a single view.

Diver's tools include analysis software for operations such as staffing, strategic planning, and utilization; supply chain management; finance, including payroll, budgets, and denials management; and clinical, such as physician score carding, quality, outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

Health IT research firm KLAS has named Diver "Best in KLAS" for business intelligence and reporting for three straight years.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


The Pandora suite of modular intelligence software from Omnicell allows healthcare organizations to analyze medication and supply distribution throughout a hospital. The Pandora analytics tool assists healthcare organizations with drug diversion prevention, regulatory compliance, and inventory optimization.

Pandora can also customize reports to fit each healthcare provider's unique environments and needs. Confidential or sensitive patient and drug usage data stay in servers within a hospital's data center.

The software can help providers prioritize action items for compliance, lowering costs and addressing operational issues. The tools can also help track costs per patient visit or case. For clinical operations, the software can be used to identify suspicious activity, inform nursing staff about cancelled medication transactions, and track improvements based on actions taken.

Pandora's My Views and My To Do Lists enable pharmacists and nurse managers to filter content to their areas of focus.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


IBM's Cognos software is an integrated business intelligence suite that provides a wide range of analytics capabilities across many industries. Its features and functionality are often used by healthcare organizations to improve decision making related to both patient care and business performance. In fact, healthcare IT research firm KLAS said IBM's BI tools are among the most considered by healthcare providers looking into purchasing BI technology.

IBM says its BI products can aggregate, benchmark, and use health system data to help reach business goals by providing a unified picture, in real time, of the hospital's operations from clinical, administrative, and financial perspectives. For example, organizations can use the software can to gain insights into a variety of areas, from supply chain to chronic disease management. Administrators can discover, track, and assess trends--for example, detecting changes in the average length of time patients are waiting in the emergency room, or changes in hospital bed utilization rates--and then make operational adjustments to address them, says IBM.

IBM Cognos Active Reports allow users to create scorecards to measure hospital performance. Managers can use Cognos Dashboards to browse and explore data. Scorecards can be used to track performance based on key performance indicators and link healthcare business strategy to operational tactics. Similarly, scorecards can also be used to set quantifiable goals for any time period and to monitor progress on specific projects and activities.

In the screenshot above, IBM Cognos Active Reports track care coordination and patient safety in an accountable care organization setting.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


QlikTech's offers its QlikView platform to many industries, including healthcare. For healthcare providers, QlikTech provides a range of tools to help organizations effectively address the challenges brought about by the changing regulatory environment.

The QlikView platform enables users to analyze huge volumes of business data, defining and asking their own stream of questions--on the spot, on the road, and with teams, according to the company. The software provides intuitive user-driven analysis that managers can implemented in days or weeks.

Providers can utilize QlikView to help monitor and improve performance within various functional areas, including clinical operations, care delivery, resource planning, finance and revenue cycle, the executive suite, and supply chain management.

The product enables healthcare providers to answer questions like these:

--"Who are my best-performing physicians and what are the key performance indicators that they deliver?"

--"What are my most costly procedures and why are they so costly?"

--"What are the satisfaction levels for our patients and how are these trending in conjunction with changes in process and procedures?"

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


While Oracle provides BI tools to many industries, Oracle Enterprise Healthcare Analytics is a suite of advanced data warehousing and analytics software geared to the medical community. The software enables providers to gain a detailed, holistic view of the healthcare enterprise to improve financial performance, care quality, and outcomes, according to Oracle.

The Oracle suite can provide a complete view of financial and operational performance by integrating data from electronic medical records, clinical departmental systems, patient accounting, enterprise resource planning, research, and other systems to help providers derive value and insight from clinical and operational data.

There are several key products within the Oracle Enterprise Healthcare Analytics suite, including Oracle Healthcare Data Warehouse Foundation and Oracle Healthcare Analytics Data Integration, as well as offerings for operating room and supply chain analytics.

Oracle says its offerings also provide out-of-the-box integration with third-party analytics applications for cost analytics, safety monitoring, accountable care, registry reporting, and Meaningful Use compliance.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


Lawson, which was acquired last year by Infor, offers Lawson Analytics for Healthcare to help healthcare organizations extract data from Lawson applications as well as third-party systems. The Lawson software connects staffing, clinical, supply chain, and financial information to assist in better decision making.

Lawson Analytics for Healthcare provides insight into the factors affecting margins and productivity in three key areas: labor productivity, supply chain, and financial management. Prebuilt analytic content allows healthcare organizations to answer questions like, "What is the actual average wage rate compared to budget?" and "How are suppliers performing against the Perfect Order standards?"

Organizations can use this information to quickly implement changes that reduce nursing agency and overtime expenses, capitalize on supply chain savings opportunities, and free up clinicians to spend more time on patient care.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


Differentiating itself from some of the big-name BI players who offer their products to many industries or who also sell other kinds of non BI-related enterprise software, Humedica focuses exclusively on business intelligence and analytics software for the healthcare industry. That includes hospitals and health systems as well as ambulatory care providers and life sciences companies.

Humedica's MinedShare products--which are offered via a software-as-a-service model--include a population health dashboard and predictive health analytics for chronic health failure patients.

The company says its longitudinal clinical data analysis provides insights into the sequence of care for defined patient groups, such as those with specific diseases or chronic conditions. Through its analytics, the MinedShare products also help users address topics such as identifying patients at high risk for preventable complications and helping organizations reduce hospital re-admissions.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


SAP is well known in manufacturing and other circles for its financial software, enterprise resource planning, and business intelligence tools. The company's products are also often favored by healthcare organizations.

In its recent report about BI tools in healthcare, research firm KLAS said SAP is most often considered by providers that use Epic clinical information systems, such as e-health records. In healthcare settings, KLAS said SAP is often "seen as a tool set instead of a solution; typically considered by larger organizations with sophisticated IT staffs." It's worth noting that BI software from Epic, Cerner, and Siemens all partially use software from SAP, said KLAS.

Pictured above is SAP BusinessObjects used to dig through a healthcare organization's financial data for expense and revenue analysis.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


Life Care Centers of America (LCCA), which operates skilled nursing centers across the United States, taps into PerformancePoint Services and Excel Services in Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2010. The organization combines this tool with SQL Server Reporting Services to dig into financial and other data.

Shown here are two BI dashboards used by LCCA.

Microsoft says its SQL Server, SharePoint, and Office Suite provide an enterprise-wide BI offering that can scale down to department-level needs and scale up to a system-wide approach to BI and advanced analytics.

Texas Children's Hospital has also implemented Microsoft BI tools to help identify and decrease bottlenecks associated with patient flow, while other healthcare providers utilize the software for service-line analysis and reporting in areas like orthopedics, cancer, and diabetes, and to help improve the quality and efficiency of medical service delivery, align with organizational goals, reduce costs, and improve margins. Microsoft delivers business intelligence through three layers: Performance Management, Reporting and Analysis, and Data Warehouse.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?


McKesson, a big-box provider of EHRs and other clinical systems software, also offers BI tools to help healthcare organizations dig into clinical, financial, and operations data.

According to KLAS, McKesson's BI tools are used frequently by healthcare providers, especially those already using McKesson software--even though the company's tools are also capable of working in other environments.

KLAS writes, "McKesson appears to be ahead in creating [various] analytical packages and offers surgery and pharmacy analytics."

McKesson says its approach is "to combine the reliability of a healthcare data model with the flexibility of interactive business intelligence to help stakeholders predict, model, and measure performance."

Among the company's most recent BI offerings is McKesson Performance Analytics Explore, an in-memory BI solution that provides guided, dynamic analytics, predictive modeling, and a robust statistical package.

Recommended Reading:

Healthcare Providers Have Big BI Plans

CRM Platform Can Churn Out Customized Health Apps

ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management

EHR Vendors Ask For Meaningful Use Reporting Changes

How Mobile, Cloud, Are Transforming Healthcare

Clinicians Need Unconventional IT Tools For Toughest Cases

10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs

KLAS Report Identifies Keys To Clinical Decision Support

Despite Flaws, Personal Health Records Are Smart Medicine

Is Your Clinical Decision Support Built On Quicksand?

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