Big Data Needs the Big Three to Succeed — HIMSS Future Care Blog
By J. Bryan Bennett
Big Data is a topic that is widely discussed (even by me). Unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is that Big Data is only part of what is needed for a successful transition to become a data-enabled healthcare organization (DEHO). This is very similar to the early days of customer relationship management (CRM) when everyone was being told to “Buy my software and you’ll have CRM”. As we learned or should have learned from all the failed CRM implementations that littered the business landscape, a successful CRM implementation requires more than just installing new software. In the CRM implementation vision I co-developed back then, we identified three continuums that must equally be changed for a successful transition. This vision was selected by Gartner as one of the top three in the industry and has become the foundation for most successful CRM implementations still today.
We are facing a similar situation in healthcare. All the focus on Big Data may be clouding what is really necessary and organizations are neglecting key components that will significantly improve their chances for success and improved effectiveness. A successful transition to a DEHO requires more than Big Data; it requires the Big 3 and I’m not talking about Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat basketball team I’m talking about data/technology, processes/workflows and organization/people.
First, let’s discuss the concept of a DEHO. When implementing a CRM solution, we wanted it to be data-driven, meaning that we want the data to drive how we treated and managed customers with as much automation as possible. In healthcare, we don’t want to rely solely on automated decisions except for some alerts and such. In a DEHO environment, physicians are provided real-time information to make the final decisions and diagnoses based on hundreds or thousands of patients with similar symptoms. A DEHO will also be able to better manage their “patient portfolio” to provide more consistency and an improved overall quality of care.
To become a DEHO, not only will an organization need to travel along all three continuums, but they will need to change all three at a similar pace. One continuum cannot get too far ahead of the others or your implementation will be like a 3-legged stool and fall over. Let’s examine each of these continuums a little closer.
Data / Technology
This is the continuum most might consider the easiest to implement, but it is fraught with roadblocks and potholes. The continuum includes the clinical data, claims data and any other sources the organization would like to integrate. It also includes the analysis and modeling of this data to provide real time decision support. Many organizations are implementing EHR solutions for the first time right now. Integrating new data sources is going to be another big challenge, not to mention the lack of user-friendly analytical tools currently available.
Processes / Workflows
The processes/workflow continuum involves how and when the data is captured, secured and integrated. It includes the workflow changes that need to take place to record the data at the point of encounter, whether it is at the individual entity or network-wide system level. After the data is captured, it has to be integrated and manipulated for use by various entities and people.
Organization / People
This is usually the forgotten continuum. Many organizations implement a new solution and can’t figure out why it was not successful. The difference usually comes down to whether or not personnel embrace the solution and are willing to make the change. Success requires not just changing processes, but also changing mindsets. This is accomplished through training and finding key people to champion the cause. The more the change is embraced throughout the organization, the better chance the organization has for success. As we’ve seen in many healthcare organizations, resistance to change has been strong by large pockets of the provider population.
We are undergoing an industry-wide transition, which is quite different from most technology transitions that usually only impact an individual organization. As each DEHO contributes to the data pool, the decision support becomes more effective than when the data is based on information from one or only a few organizations. An additional complication is the various stages different organizations are at in their DEHO transition. The sooner everyone gets to a similar point, the more beneficial the information will be.
If implemented properly, the DEHO won’t have to worry about one of the players not showing up for a quarter or even the entire game. In fact, if properly implemented, it can lead to many champion or quality patient encounters.