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Data Governance Required For Healthcare Data Warehouse

Before implementing its ambitious data warehouse, OhioHealth focused on data governance to ensure data is accurate, clean, and usable.

data warehouse's value to the hospital's various departments, he said.

"The problem is, it is such a culture shift. People recognize the value. They just don't see how they fit into it," Shah says. "They feel, 'Do I lose power?' You have to make it mandatory." A data warehouse would be a prerequisite for developing an accountable care organization, he pointed out. ACOs sponsored by Medicare or private insurers are designed to reward organizations for lowering costs and delivering on quality metrics, which can only be accomplished with strong analytics.

Although IT shouldn't lead the steering committee, IT professionals must temper corporate expectations of fast delivery while trying to reduce the time it takes to roll out a data warehouse, Shah warns. Eager to use the promised results, departmental and executive management may push deadlines -- but designing and implementing a data warehouse designed to meet current and future needs is not an overnight project, he says.

One way to speed delivery? Buy a vendor's product instead of building a system in-house, Shah said.

"People had expectations of how quickly we could deliver. I was interested in delivering value very quickly. One thing we didn't have to do was build an [enterprise data warehouse] ourselves."

That's because OhioHealth chose to work with Health Care DataWorks, a local company, and its KnowledgeEdge Enterprise Data Warehouse product.

"One of the things [its co-founder] said we absolutely had to do first and had to do well was build a data governance model for our organization, something we hadn't done before at our organization."

In addition to forming committees and building consensus surrounding how OhioHealth would develop a data warehouse and business intelligence platform, the organization needed to decide on data definitions and a deployment plan, says Shah.

"There was a thought at one time that if you throw all the ingredients into the soup, you've got soup. And you'll pull out of the soup bowl whatever comes out and you've got what you need. A lot of health systems have tried that: They put all the data in first and then figure out what you want to do with it later. It doesn't really work."

By putting data governance before its data-warehouse implementation, OhioHealth employees became much more efficient, effective, and engaged, Shah said.

"With intelligence comes power, comes the opportunity to impact care. The data becomes information, which becomes knowledge, which becomes wisdom."

Now that OhioHealth employees can access data and information, OhioHealth can measure how knowledge and wisdom benefit patients and the organization.

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.