A recent article in the WSJ displayed how improving the health of patients is tied to being able to see the big picture. It just so happens that to improve the health of an organization, there is also a need to see the big picture, which requires having access to data. Research has shown that to remedy today’s healthcare problems, organizations must have a centralized home for data and up-to-date systems. According to the 2001 Institute of Medicines report, the healthcare system must evolve from a “highly decentralized, cottage industry, to one that is capable of providing primary and preventative care, caring for the chronically ill, and coping with acute and catastrophic services”. This requires a substantial investment in a myriad of advanced HIT systems that can provide risk stratifications, patient registries, education resources, alert services, prescription reminders, employee staffing, financial-outcome reports and overall decision support.
The problem here is that simply using EMRs will not do the trick. The real solution is to merge the data from EMRs with other data to paint the whole picture and avoid being “data rich but information poor”. It results in a business that can use data to drive business and clinical decisions. Is it really worth the investment in an enterprise data warehouse, decision support and business intelligence? Simply stated, yes, because merging data allows organizations to develop solutions to overcome organization-wide issues, operational bottlenecks and provides a way to evaluate financial positions from an operations view.
Efficiency is a key point in every organization. Alchian claimed that firms must have a positive profit to survive. While we don’t argue that point, it is important to note that firms strive to be profit maximizers, which requires educated business decisions that lead to specific outcomes. Those outcomes cannot be attained by taking a business-as-usual approach. Instead, it requires business intelligence systems to support defined and desired outcomes that promote profits and efficiency.
Healthcare providers who have a faint heart for efficiency and
investing in solutions to increase efficiency will be pressed to remain competitive in today’s landscape. Efficiency and effectiveness are the key to the future. They may come at a cost today, but without these solutions, organizations will struggle to provide quality services at affordable prices. Is there really a choice anymore?