Data Matters – Part 2

The Potential of Big Data

Fostering Innovation
Based on a Best Practices for Innovation report by APQC, IBM had conducted a study of more than 2,000 CEOs globally to figure out their ideation process. The results came back to show that ideas for the most part come from employees, business partners and clients, and then R&D and academia. Consequently, IBM looked to their employees, business partners, and clients and enabled them through specific set of tools and processes to produce innovative ideas.

There are several methodologies and frameworks for idea generation or ideation based on divergent and convergent thinking, which is not what we mean by fostering innovation. Innovation must be ingrained in the culture and measured for success. Organizations shouldn’t stop at ideation process but proactively invest in developing a strategy for innovation. Mayo Clinic is a great business case for Innovation, the inception of the Center for Innovation (CFI) at Mayo’s headquarter ensured alignment between innovation and corporate strategic objectives, while making use of existing resources and talent. SPARC design studio part of CFI is the unit that served for idea and prototype generation.

Healthcare Informatics provides new grounds for innovation and opportunity. Providers, payors, and pharmaceutical companies must create and maintain a sustainable environment to foster collaboration across all verticals and departments. At this point it’s well understood that the first out with an innovative solution is to reap the benefit. In fact, we’re already witnessing a number of innovative applications and analytical tools (by incumbents and new entrants) targeted towards different kinds of healthcare stakeholders.

Strategic Planning
Due to shifting profits and pursuit for cost synergies, Healthcare organizations are pressed to develop analytical capabilities ranging from hypotheses-driven predictive models, to scaling and data normalizing simulation, to data mining. These capabilities manipulate different sizes and sets of data to provide predictability in patient care as well as financial accountability.

New opportunities and risks are to be assessed and managed based on Healthcare informatics and data-driven decisions. Big Data will be able to help develop operational strategic objectives such as lean/continuous improvement, risk mitigation and management, activity level process mapping, alignment of functional and process strategies, as well as establishing high-level measures to evaluate strategic initiatives.

Knowledge management
Big Data means dealing with massive amounts of data coming from many different sources. There will be a need for a robust and forward-thinking knowledge Management strategy to gather, consolidate, standardize, store, analyze, synthesize, and share this data. Standardization of data and securing its storage and communication is essential to ensure collaboration and keeping inline with HIPAA regulation. Old systems, albeit functional, have limitations to handling Big Data accordingly. Organizations must assess their own Knowledge Management capabilities and identify the gaps to handle Big Data. Because of complexity and diversity of data, there needs to be a governance model, a central KM core group, well-defined roles and accountability in RACI matrix, clear funding models, IT needs assessment, as well as training and communication plans.

The four types of Data that affect patient health as well as financial accountability are:

  • Financial Data: All healthcare stakeholders to provide data in standard format to be consolidated and to determine cost synergies.
  • Diagnostics Data: Providers to share EMRs and other medical information needed for proper diagnosis
  • Treatment Data: Providers and pharmaceutical to provide historical and statistical view for best treatment
  • Behavioral Data: Patient behavior related to health from exercise to nutrition to other

IT Strategy
Technology continues to make significant improvements in terms of security in storing and communicating data across different systems and networks, especially in regards to HIPAA regulated information. There are many software solutions available and currently being built to address different aspects of Healthcare from electronic medical records to managing population health to predicting and managing financial health. On the other hand, Healthcare organizations underinvested in IT systems in the past. This means that the existing IT infrastructure have functional, scalable, security, as well as integration limitations that must be addressed.

Healthcare Informatics must be integrated in IT strategy. Leadership must establish an IT portfolio for healthcare informatics, evaluate its value for the organization, research Healthcare Informatics technologies to innovate services and solutions, transition viable technologies, and provision resources in accordance with strategic priorities. IT systems must be able to provide clinical integration, risk management, predictive modeling, financial management, capacity management, and productivity measurement.

Healthcare Informatics must undergo the same continuous improvement process performed in other areas of Healthcare organizations. Informatics must also be measured for success. What’s measured can be evaluated, and what’s evaluated can be improved. Organizations must first conduct performance assessments to establish benchmarks and gap analysis in different streams of the supply chain. This provides understanding of the current needs and degree for change. Organizations will need to develop benchmarking capabilities around the different Strategic Outlook components to benchmark a pre-defined list of processes, assess and measure performance against competition. More iterations in benchmarking will tighten the screws resulting in more efficient, streamlined and targeted Big Data operation. Organizations that will address Big Data strategically will surely enjoy a real and measured competitive advantage.

Key Takeaway
Fresh data accumulates across the healthcare system on a daily basis; Healthcare leaders with strong commitment to enabling, measuring, evaluating, and leveraging Big Data throughout the organization will ensure data-driven excellence clinically, financially, and operationally. Thus, taking a strategic approach could certainly turn overwhelming healthcare informatics into a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

About the Author: Rob Zahri has 11 years of experience in several fortune-500 organizations providing influential business and IT strategic recommendations. His international MBA in business strategy and Master’s in Computer Science provided him with a unique point of view and framework to develop and align business and IT strategic objectives in Healthcare industry. Follow him on Twitter @twaregg. This article was originally published on OceanLab Consulting.