How to get the most out of data analytics — 4 health IT experts weigh in

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Data analytics plays a key role in helping hospitals and health systems provide high-quality patient care and reach financial objectives.

By analyzing clinical data from EHRs, claims and cost information, and other collected data, organizations can gain insight to inform strategic initiatives and identify areas in need of improvement.

But there are various challenges that stand in the way of using data analytics in an efficient and frictionless manner. During the Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference Oct. 10 in Chicago, panelists discussed these challenges and offered advice for generating leadership buy-in to better ensure the success of data analytics and process improvement strategies.

Panelists were:

  • Bradley Brimhall, MD, medical director of integrated healthcare analytics and bioinformatics at University Health Science Center San Antonio
  • Snehal Desai, vice president of automation, analytics and artificial intelligence at Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health
  • Jochen Lennerz, MD, PhD, associate director of the Center for Integrated Diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of pathology with Harvard Medical School in Boston
  • Michael Ries, MD, medical director of adult critical care and eICU at Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care, which merged with Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care in 2018

Four takeaways from the panelists:

1. Dr. Lennerz: One challenge with data analytics is "finding the balance between standardization and flexibility. Everyone wants harmonized data, but no one wants to put in the effort and resources to get there."

2. Dr. Ries: Educate the finance team on the long-term implications of data analytics, not just the immediate savings. Ask question like "'will [data analytics] reduce liability … in the future?' And [the answer] has to be part of the ROI [assessment]."

3. Mr. Desai: "Data is going to be messy. It's like a relationship. The more [straightforward] you can be … the better engagement will be with consumers and creators."

4. Dr. Brimhall: To garner data analytics buy-in among leadership, you need to be an icebreaker "because the bureaucratic ice is everywhere [and] you need somebody to break through that."


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