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Business Intelligence ("BI") - Without True Business Intelligence, How Much Intelligence Can an Organization Have?

December 26, 2008
by rtemple
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With all the technology investments health care organizations are contemplating, I believe none can be more important than establishing a robust, far-reaching business intelligence platform, and ensuring that all stakeholders actually USE the platform. BI provides actionable information about all facets of an organization’s operation – from the clinical, the financial, and the truly operational perspective. Organizations that lack an ability to really understand the strengths and weaknesses of different components of their product/service offering are not going to be able to enforce appropriate accountability and target investment in a way that maximizes the potential for positive returns. Everything we do has to have a BI component (you can’t manage what you can’t measure!).
And, yes, in my current role, it is refreshing that I have both a CEO and a CFO who “get it”. My current company, AristaCare Health Services, is going through a major RFP process for all manner of different “state of the art” clinical and financial systems. As the price tags start rolling in, we will all be mindful of not only the richness of functionality and ease of staff use of the proposed solutions, but also of how the systems being proposed will give us the kind of window into all facets of our operation that we need to properly manage and lead. Back when I was the CIO at Saint Clare’s Health System in Denville, NJ, we implemented via “big bang” the Cerner Millennium clinical information system. As part of the package, we purchased - and became very early adopters of - Cerner’s PowerInsight tool (which is basically either ‘Business Objects on Steroids” or “Business Objects in Cerner-ese”, depending on your perspective). As a huge believer in the criticality of getting more than just an EMR or a giant data warehouse-ful of clinical data, I fought hard for this BI concept and got it included in the solution we purchased. However, early on, although our IT department put together some very nice packages of real-time reports that we were asked to do presentations about in both national and regional conferences, it was a surprisingly large challenge to actually get both our mid-level managers and senior leadership to inculcate these reports into their day-to-day lives. What was the lesson from this experience? Bi has to be both so easy to access that dashboards customizable to the user pop open virtually automatically upon log-in and the metrics furnished have to provide critical data regarding a specific strategic or business initiative that someone is carefully monitoring. I tracked who was looking at what and I reported those stats to senior management, since I believed utilization of key intelligence was a bellwether of the effectiveness of a manager. An organization’s BI program will only add real value if people are actually looking at the data and using it to make enlightened clinical and business decisions. BI must be more than a robust software package; it must be part of an organizational cultural transformation that mandates the use of live business data for all key decisions. All roads should lead through the BI package, so to speak. Two significant projects led to our PowerInsight endeavor really taking off. The VP in charge of the Emergency Department made extensive use of our tools to track the success of the “30 Minute Door-to-Doc” program we had in place for our primary ED (

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rtemple

Rich Temple is the Chief Information and Business Intelligence Officer for AristaCare Health...