The healthcare industry is ecstatic about the opportunity to apply business intelligence (BI) to improve healthcare quality, cost and outcomes. Providers are using BI to address process issues that limit operational efficiencies. BI is “the solution” to successfully overcoming short-comings and creating provider bottom-line benefits, patient time and efficiency benefits and overall social equity. IBM stated that “(f)orward-thinking healthcare organizations realize that data – and, thus, business intelligence – is at the center of informed and precise decision-making that will improve patient and service outcomes in addition to ensuring their organizations’ future.” However, these benefits are only revealed if a BI initiative meets its goal.
To meet a goal, a BI project must be clearly defined. For example, the goal of a BI project is not a dashboard. Instead, the goal is getting the right information about an area of opportunity to the right people. Therefore, the value of healthcare BI projects comes from a thorough analysis of the opportunity. This leads us to the first point: Get different perspectives.
Combining knowledge from throughout an organization allows those involved in the project to identify themes and examine the problem from different perspectives. This is invaluable as the outcome of a BI project must provide the right information to the right people to be successful.
Next, as BI projects are introduced to an organization, each person’s perspective may lead the project down a different path. For example, some perspectives may suggest different data is necessary to provide valuable analytics about an issue. To ensure that a project stays on track, moves forward and remains a manageable size, a project’s scope and goal must be clearly defined. Setting a firm definition will ensure that the initiative meets its goal.
Finally, staying on track and limiting scope can be frustrating, but it provides an opportunity to look forward at how one initiative overlaps with future initiatives. Success on Project A may lend itself to Project B and Project B to Project C – together these projects may paint an invaluable view to members of an organization and allow each employee to address an issue from their perspective. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Divide a project up into manageable pieces.
Acknowledge that each issue has its own set of players and each player has its own solution. Remember that the healthcare sector is biting at the bit for ways to address their operational efficiencies. Organizations expect BI to live up to its promise – and it can, if the projects are approached from multiple perspectives, remain goal-driven and are divided up into manageable pieces.