Lagging BI System Implementations Leave Organizations at a Disadvantage

RyanSkainsBusiness Intelligence System Implementations and Healthcare Organizations

By Ryan Skains, Regional Director of Healthcare Services at TEKsystems
Twitter: @TEKsystems

With the shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance payment models gaining momentum in the United States and as organizations continue to address the mandates set by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), healthcare providers are becoming more and more incentivized to leverage technology to increase organizational efficiency and improve the quality of patient care. A business intelligence (BI) system helps providers fulfill these objectives by enabling them to gain insight from the colossal store of complex data that they are already capturing each day. Yet, despite the fact that the benefits of BI are widely acknowledged across the healthcare industry, a recent TEKsystems survey of more than 250 healthcare professionals found that the majority of organizations have not implemented a BI system. This dichotomy is putting organizations at a significant disadvantage.

Of the 58 percent of organizations that have not implemented a BI system, 36 percent say that they simply do not have one, 15 percent plan to implement one in 12-24 months, and 7 percent already have a BI system, but have not yet deployed it. Unsurprisingly, the top goal cited for BI system implementation is the improvement of data availability and completeness (48 percent). This will be especially important as organizations work to adopt the ICD-10 code set ahead of federal deadlines. Because this new code set is much more specialized than its predecessor, healthcare organizations need to be sure that data is complete and accurate in order to avoid errors in patient management.

Tied directly to the trend toward pay-for-performance payment models, the next most-cited goals of BI system implementation include better connection of patient treatments to medical outcomes (37 percent), optimization of reimbursements (34 percent) and meeting pay-for-performance standards (32 percent). Implementing a BI system better enables organizations to demonstrate that they have met pay-for-performance standards by mining the information they already collect and submitting data on quality measures as specified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The benefits that can be realized with a successful BI system implementation are clear, but a number of obstacles stand in the way for many organizations. According to survey respondents, top challenges include a lack of a standardized data structure (34 percent) and complexity of analysis requirements (24 percent), as well as disparate systems and lack of interoperability (23 percent). These obstacles alone illustrate the work that will be necessary for lagging organizations to catch up with those that have already completed a successful BI system deployment.

Compounding this problem, nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents believe that the biggest threat to BI system implementation is a lack of skills and resources. Of this group, 45 percent believe that the deficiency stems from a lack of internal and external resources and experts, while 25 percent believe that it is due to a commitment of resources to other technology programs. Simply put, the massive amount of work needed to address the HITECH Act and the changing industry landscape has been astounding and competition for talented IT professionals will only increase in the future. Healthcare organizations that do not plan ahead will see their resources spread more thinly as they adopt the new technologies needed to provide the expected levels of care to patients.

Organizations that have already implemented a BI system are better positioned to meet federal pay-for-performance standards, optimize reimbursements and provide the quality of care that patients will come to expect from their healthcare provider. Laggards will continue to fall further behind as competition heightens for external resources and shifting industry priorities drive the need for new IT projects. These organizations should make every effort to build strong, reliable teams that can not only guide the implementation process, but also ensure that their BI system is leveraged to its fullest. With successful BI deployments under their belts, they will be ready to tackle the next critical project needed to keep pace with the industry.

About the Author: As regional director for TEKsystems Healthcare Services, Ryan Skains is responsible for leading regional operations in healthcare services, including sales and delivery, in the West region. Ryan has over 15 years in the information technology services industry. Most recently he has been focused on helping healthcare leaders from some of the largest, most prominent healthcare providers in the U.S. navigate the increasingly complex and demanding healthcare regulatory environment so they can meet their clinical and business initiatives.