Customer Experience and Design

Watching the pennies with Business Intelligence

The American College of Healthcare Executives announced the top issues confronting hospitals in 2011. It is clear from this news release that financial challenges topped the list and still remain there. In fact, they are far higher priority than everything else and have been for the last three years.

The article points out the largest financial challenges are coming from Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements along with government funding cuts. Down the list just a little is healthcare reform implementation in the form of reducing operating costs and alignment of provider and payor incentives.

The savvy healthcare organizations are staying on top of this using business intelligence, healthcare analytics, and decision support systems. The savviest are using these tools to identify high costs areas, making changes, and measuring the outcomes of those changes.

Areas for improvement include:

  • Physicians who are ordering more tests than the average
  • Coding errors
  • Expensive/under-served patient populations
  • Denied claims
  • Poor use of assets
  • Wait times
  • And many, many more

Business Intelligence tools give supervisors a way to monitor these trends. Scorecards are comparable to high school report cards only they are updated daily. Someone using a well designed scorecard will know, at a glance, how they are performing on a specific Key Performance Indicator (KPI). They will know if their performance is trending favorably or in the wrong direction. They will know which areas to improve and which areas are doing fine.

Interactive Charts provide a display of performance over time. Charts can include several variables and chart types including line graphs, bar charts, and pie charts. The type can be changed to provide a keener visualization of the information. Analysts can drill-down into multiple dimensions for a given KPI to identify root cause issues. For example, they start by looking at a bar graph showing collections over the past year. There might be a dip in the summer months. What does this mean? Is this because of vacation? Is this because of lower admissions? Using BI tools, they can drill-down to these dimensions to identify patterns and gaps.

Dashboards combine all of this into a use-case based report. Users can build dashboards that enable them to monitor, track, and analyze their business in near real time.

With tools like this available, healthcare professionals can be proactive about managing their issues. They can spot trends and take action before they get out of control. They can identify problem areas and root causes of these problems. They can compare before and after scenarios to verify corrective actions actually work.

BI tools let you watch your pennies. When designed and used properly, Healthcare professionals have much less concern.

About the Author

Mike Jenkins has over 25 years of experience architecting, developing, and implementing solutions for organizations in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Mike is experienced in healthcare, finance, defense, manufacturing, training, and retail industries. Some of Mike’s healthcare projects include: developing a core measures proactive monitoring system; developing an eHealth strategy for a growing community hospital; implementing transparent pricing and outcomes measurement solutions; automating clinical and administrative tasks through forms automation; connecting multiple healthcare systems through a common patient portal; and developing an electronic medical record application. He designed the Physician’s Portal and Secure Messaging Product for one of the top-five vendors in clinical information systems. His application development experience includes Amalga, CPOE, Clinical Portals, Patient Portals, Secure Messaging, HIM, Interoperability, and NEDSS for State level health departments. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Rational Consultant (RMUC), a LEAN Black Belt, and a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). He is fluent in most methodologies and teaches the PMP Certification course in Atlanta.

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