How BI Saves Lives and Money

ART03x - edited feature imageBusiness intelligence has two main applications: gathering information and discovering patterns. When applied to healthcare, it allows providers to collect and analyze data on patient health, medical staff performance, and administrative issues. This way, hospital administration acquires a better understanding of their internal processes and identifies ways to improve them.

There are hundreds of issues to take into consideration within a medical organization. For producing better results, healthcare providers should understand what constitutes real value for them and which areas they should focus on. Hence, the concept of KPI (key performance indicator) moves to the forefront.

Some of the typical KPIs for a hospital are the patient satisfaction rate, average waiting time, and readmission rates. When building healthcare BI software, medical organizations usually align it with their KPIs. They do so because a KPI-focused BI solution helps hospitals stay tuned for the matters of high priority and adjust processes based on analytical insights.

Below we will explore three real cases of BI transforming healthcare and see how it helped healthcare providers improve supply chain management, reduce readmission rates, and personalize care for patients with cancer.

BI and Medical Supply Chain Management

Every day healthcare institutions use thousands of medical syringes, gloves, and needles globally. Their delivery and utilization require rather complicated supply chain processes with multiple requirements and regulations. As a result, supply chain management in healthcare comes with challenges. For example:

  • Departments may acquire items that are more expensive than their alternatives with the same characteristics.
  • Because of a considerable number of manual processes in supply chain management, there are many mistakes caused by human error.
  • Medical organizations often lack IT support for gathering and analyzing supply chain data. This may lead to significant losses in budget and time.

A BI solution can become a remedy that helps hospitals tackle these problems. Consider the example of WellStar Health System, Georgia-based medical network that includes 11 hospitals.

WellStar surgeons frequently used expensive equipment. The hospitals’ managers created Excel sheets where they tracked supply utilization for each surgeon. As there were thousands of such Excel reports annually, IT specialists of WellStar Health System empowered the hospitals’ EHR (electronic health record) system with an interactive dashboard, allowing surgeons to track their results. Analyzing the sheets, doctors could compare their spending with that of their peers. This measure helped surgeons to start reducing supply chain cost as they were incentivized to spend less than their colleagues did.

According to Mark Charlson, the VP of Surgery, the managers witnessed a significant decline in supply cost, from 14% to 24%. Thanks to BI software implementation, WellStar Health System managed to reduce unnecessary costs in supply chain management significantly and eliminate human error in the process of medical equipment procurements.

BI and Readmission Rates

It’s no surprise that all healthcare organizations try hard to reduce readmission rates; returning to the hospital lowers patients’ satisfaction and costs a lot. Though the readmission rates across the U.S. are gradually increasing, the problem still stays rather acute.

There are some major reasons for high readmission rates:

  • Patients’ health status plays a huge role in returning as far as some congestive diseases are among the top reasons for readmissions.
  • Patients’ insurance type may also make a difference. For example, across the USA, Medicare patients return to hospitals more often than those with private insurance do.
  • Poor communication between a doctor and a patient is another reason for readmissions. The reason for low patient engagement may lay in the language barrier or in psychological factors.

To solve these challenges, UnityPoint Health, a network of hospitals delivering medical services in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, decided to turn to BI and data analytics. The organization wanted to acquire a holistic understanding of readmission risk and use the acquired knowledge to reduce readmission rates. UnityPoint analytics team decided to count the possible risk not only for the 30-days period as a whole but also for every single day of this post-discharge period.

Analyzing the past and present readmission cases, the team found out that some groups of patients were more likely to return at the beginning of the 30-days period, while others tended to reenter a hospital room much later. Based on these findings, the analysts created a risk heat map. This predictive analytics tool allowed physicians to get clear insights into every patient’s risk and identify the most dangerous time for each of them.

The map allowed UnityPoint Health’s employees to analyze the patterns more thoughtfully and, as a result, make more well-weighted decisions on patient care and prescriptions, which optimized readmission rates. Indeed, this BI tool allowed UnityPoint to reduce readmissions by 40% within 18 months.

BI and Personalized Care

Having a life of a human as a priority, healthcare facilities do their best to make the medicine of today more personalized and patient-oriented. To reveal hidden patterns in treatment processes, doctors conduct hundreds of studies that may then be transformed into valuable information.

Transforming a significant amount of data into valuable insights is what H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute did. They created the Total Cancer Care program that used a data warehouse with clinical records on almost 120,000 patients.

Thanks to the BI solution implementation, the institute managed to better analyze data on surveyed patients’ diagnoses, genetic markers, lab data, treatment regimens, and lifestyle. While observing the patients’ data, the institute’s employees revealed some cancer status patterns that may be valuable in the future diagnostics and treatment of cancer.

What Constitutes Real Progress

There are even more stories of BI success in healthcare. As nobody doubts that technology brings improvement to healthcare, hundreds of clinics globally actively employ it. However, BI implementation requires thorough preparation and a bunch of technological skills.

According to healthcare software developers from Itransition, a BI application should be seamlessly integrated with other corporate systems, including EHR and CRM. After a reliable connection between all healthcare data sources is established, a proper visualization and automatically generated insights will bring the desired results.

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Darya Nehaychik

Darya Nehaychik

Darya Nehaychik is Technology Observer at Itransition, a custom software development company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. She has worked in business development for more than 10 years, helping companies to find the best IT solutions.

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