D’WuhBeeAye – Data Warehouses in Healthcare!

How Data Warehouses Can Benefit Healthcare!

So we’ve learned about data warehouses and business intelligence, here’s how it can connect with healthcare!

Healthcare has been rapidly evolving ever since HITECH was pushed into the open. But with meaningful use driving healthcare and the transition into the utilization of more and more technology, data warehousing was something that was bound to come. People are starting to realize how valuable data analytics can be such an essential tool. As more and more electronic data is being collected, there has been a rise in connected health and mobile health as well as healthcare CRM (customer relationship management) analytics. However, with all this different and fragmented data, there had to be a way to collect them and integrate them into something actually useful. As the healthcare reform continues to push for more efficient and transparent technologies, data warehouses can help bring about the efficiency while providing accountability as well.

  • With the switch from volume-based to value-based purchasing, it is even more complex to generate management reports. Having to include metrics from various areas such as finance, quality, performance, human resources etc, can make the task difficult. Even with a data warehouse, it can be difficult but a properly designed and configured data warehouse for the organization can help create efficient and consistent reports as needed.
  • Streamlines and scales process of gathering data from different areas, integrates disparate data from a wide variety of sources.

By analyzing patient data and making it accessible through a data warehouse, providers and administration are able to use the information to make better clinical and operational decisions. However they’re used though, is dependent on the means of course. As a result, it can be used to find inefficiencies in the workflow as well. On the bright side though! Data warehouses and their techniques can be useful in helping to identify patient trends and reoccurring issues to try and reduce the number of repeat visits, or to even determine the most efficient time to open and close the office as well as the necessary staffing levels are different times of the day! By usiing a CRM (customer relationship management) to an enterprise data warehouse (without the data mart front-end capability), it can consolidate the data making information easier to search and lead to more qualified and informed decisions. Common Buzzword in healthcare, increase patient health outcomes while reducing time and costs! How great! Once again though, it can be annoying to the providers because it requires the use of carefully documented records in order to have the most accurate and usable data. As an aspiring physician, I realize that using EHRs can be very disruptive of the workflow, which is also why I want to look into creating a more work flow intuitive and provider-first application that not only helps the providers not pull out all of their hair but also to help with consistent and interoperable data exchange in the back-end. However, many institutions and organizations still do not have a data warehouse, so let’s take a few minutes to think it through and whether or not data warehouses should be “necessary”.

Data Warehouse Necessary? Source

In an article released by Health Catalyst (one of my favorite Health IT/Data Warehousing companies and sites) — they discussed about: “Do I really need a data warehouse?”. For most organizations, ever since the push for meaningful use, many of them have already implemented another tool or infrastructure in place that does some form of data integration. However, like most of the products released and advertised during that boom, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best, most efficient, and intuitive tool out there, in any case the reason they’re used was for the MU stimulus received and these organizations are probably bound to a contract preventing them from switching to the second generation and on of MUCH BETTER tools.

Data Warehouses Facepalm

Fortunately, these providers and administration are starting to realize just how useful and powerful DATA can be. They can be used for performance metrics and indicators that allow how an organization and its employees are performing as well as provide insight on chances to make, overall, it’s to help these organizations be more agile and flexible with changing patient needs. However, although the practice has been known and spread around, most organizations, as I’ve mentioned before already have a data infrastructure set up and thus beg the answer to this question, “Why Do I Need This?”

Round One! *ding*

As most of the infrastructures are actually silos, meaning that they are isolated and separated between departments and hospitals… just think about how annoying that could be. But as the technological age FINALLY came to healthcare, investments were shifted towards data governance (management) and enterprise data warehouses to cleanse and safely store data. It’s important to know that data warehouses have come and gone so far and the first wave kind of faded away. With the first wave of data warehouses led to ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) remember those? However, organizations tried but since the concept was still relatively new, they weren’t managed properly and they just couldn’t live up to their expectations and deliver the results that were being seen in other industries. Although there was a need to build a data warehouse, there also wasn’t a ROI viewed because of the time that it took to build and implement a new infrastructure like that.

Round Two! *dingitty ding ding*

Data Warehouses!

This time around, the infrastructure has already partially been set and determined. There is an infrastructure just a lack of analytic and front-end tools that can really make a use out of the data that is being gathered. Analytics-tool adoption was coming, and with it a new round for healthcare data warehouses. With the development of business intelligence tools, it can be used to actually combine the various data from within the data warehouse. With these tools, many things were implemented, primarily in reporting and technical requirements.

Report Requirements

  1. Able to generate reports and summaries as needed.
  2. Able to review information that combines clinical and financial performance, cost, quality, and patient satisfaction. Many different metrics for both the providers and administration.
  3. Extract critical data locked in EMRs, claims and billings systems in order to make data acquisition more easy and without the obstacles set by vendors.
  4. Allows the automation of data integration, increase the time analyzing instead of acquiring.

Technical Requirements

  1. Allow migration to different relational database platforms, since the data warehouse is an aggregate, all it takes is some normalization to transition the data into its normalized relational database schema.
  2. Allows flexibility and capability for the data model, transformation, and even the data itself.
  3. From the enterprise data warehouse, it is easier to migrate some data, business rules, and semantic information to relational databases, that are lower on the stack.
  4. It provides an easily read and generated report to the C-Men. Often times, it is difficult to provide information that is not too pedantic in medical terminology or tech-heavy from the IT division, as well as other areas, but by being able to easily integrate and generate reports speaks a common language. $$$. Although the technological and medical details are important, the reasons decisions are driven in any industry, is money, either the loss or gain of it.

“You need a solution that gives you near real-time answers to your questions. You need a solution that gives you flexible access to data so it can be sliced and diced in numerous ways. You need a solution that allows you to maintain your data’s integrity and use it wherever, whenever and however your organization. You need a late-binding data warehouse and analytics applications that empower you to make informed decisions.”

Article by Sir. Lappleton III

I'm a happy-go-lucky recent graduate that started a blog as a way to not only document my education and my experiences, but also to share it with whoever stumbles upon my site! Hopefully I can keep you guys entertained as well as learn about a few things from IT as well as from my time and experiences as I plunge deeper and deeper into healthcare! A couple of my areas of focus is data management, system security (cyber security), as well as information technology policy.