Oracle Voice 03/03/2014
By: John Foley
As the healthcare industry goes digital, all of those doctor visits and other health-related transactions are creating terabytes of highly valuable data. In too many places, however, that data isn’t shared as widely as it could be. Outdated systems and processes limit availability to the department that generated the data.
It’s the data management equivalent of myopia—the medical term for having a clear view of what’s right in front of you, but limited visibility of your broader surroundings. Now, a growing number of healthcare providers are looking to change that by integrating and analyzing data across their operations, giving them “the big picture” on finances, patients, research, and other vital areas.
They’re doing that by implementing enterprise-wide data warehouses and analytics capabilities that provide a comprehensive view of healthcare operations—patient visits, diagnoses, test results, prescriptions, referrals, and more—making it possible to arrive at insights that can lead to improved patient care and outcomes.
This move from silos of health data to enterprise-wide intelligence was a major theme at HIMSS14, the big healthcare industry event that just wrapped up in Orlando.
“By reducing the silos and bringing information together, you can start doing care coordination, best clinical practices, and personalized medicine. That’s really the promise of where we’re going,” says Marc Perlman, Global Vice President of Healthcare and Life Sciences with Oracle. “And all of that boils down to how you integrate the data.”
Healthcare providers know that the vast amounts of data generated by electronic healthcare represents a rich source of information with great potential for improving patient care and outcomes, lowering costs, and otherwise shining a light on this national and global priority. For years, they invested in analytics software and systems for use in pockets of their organizations where those capabilities were most needed. The goal now is to move beyond those point solutions to enterprise-wide systems and visibility.
What’s prompting healthcare providers to seek a more comprehensive view of their overall operations? For one thing, broad adoption of electronic health records has set the stage for IT strategies that advance and capitalize on digital healthcare in other ways.
And the concept of value-based healthcare—with its emphasis on outcomes rather than the costs of individual services—has become another driver because the value-based approach requires integrated medical practices and the tracking of patient services and results over time.
Organizations need the modern systems, information technology infrastructure, and business intelligence capabilities to make that happen. “Moving towards a more data-driven, evidence-based approach towards healthcare management can significantly reduce the inefficiencies present in traditional health systems,” writes The Economist Intelligence Unit in a report on value-based health.
To accomplish this, healthcare IT teams must come up with a plan to collect and integrate data from various systems and to “normalize” that data—in other words, put it into common formats to enable analysis and sharing across the enterprise and, where appropriate, with partners.[/entity]
That requires technologies and processes designed for the job. In one recent development, HIMSS Analytics, a unit of the Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), introduced a seven-stage Continuity of Care Maturity Model that is intended to facilitate data integration and sharing among healthcare providers, government health agencies, and others.
Some leading healthcare providers are using Oracle Enterprise Healthcare Analytics for enterprise data management and analysis. The system employs Oracle’s Healthcare Data Model to bring much-needed structure to the complex task of integrating disparate data coming in from clinical, financial, administrative, research, and other source systems.
“The hard problem we’re after is bringing heterogeneous data together, using data management discipline, so we have highly reliable data,” says Dave Watson, Global Vice President with Oracle Health Sciences.
Oracle Enterprise Healthcare Analytics combines Oracle Database, Oracle Healthcare Data Warehouse Foundation, and data modeling, integration, and analytics capabilities in an integrated stack that runs on Oracle’s highly engineered Exadata Database Machine.
The result is a scalable, high-performance data warehouse that serves as a central repository for health data analysis, which can be done using the built-in tools that come with the system, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, or other analytics applications that are available to run on it.
For organizations lacking operational clarity, it’s like putting on a new pair of glasses.
As healthcare providers look to establish enterprise data warehouses, they should begin with a specific project that hinges on this kind of data-driven approach, says Perlman. Once done, enterprise data warehouses become “the gift that keeps on giving,” because they can be used to spread actionable insights to other parts of the organization, as well.
The business benefits alone will justify a healthcare data warehouse in most organizations, but, let’s face it, the prospect of improvements in the patient experience—more effective treatments, fewer doctor’s visits, lower costs, and longer and healthier lives—are really the ultimate pay off.
Says Perlman, “We can truly build a healthcare delivery system without walls now.”
Healthcare executives will get together to discuss these and other issues at Oracle Industry Connect, an event that will take place on March 25 and 26 at Marriott Copley Place in Boston. The agenda includes keynote sessions on big data informatics and healthcare analytics, with speakers from Mayo Clinic, Pfizer, UPMC, Walgreens, and other industry leaders. Visit the Oracle Industry Connect website for information on how to register.