The Foundational Approach to Population Health Analytics

The Foundational Approach to Population Health Analytics


The rate of change in the healthcare industry has been staggering. From Electronic Health Records to ICD-10 to Population Health, few industries have undergone such change in such a short amount of time. The silver lining in this change is the treasure trove of digital data, which will enable providers to analyze and compare information across thousands of patients instead of relying on the anecdotal evidence they previously used.

To access this knowledge, organizations are turning to analytics. Unfortunately, many organizations are rushing to implement any type of healthcare analytics program without consideration of the steps that must be taken to build an effective, long-term analytics solution. The tools are getting better and better. The problem is the data collection processes and the needed cultural changes are not. Consequently, organizations are collecting data with little regard for how effective it might be or if it will answer the currently undefined question. With analytics, how the data is collected is just as important as the actual analytics.

The foundational approach to population health analytics is comprised of the 3 change continuums of people, process and technology/data built on a foundation of leadership. Leadership is considered the most critical success factor in any change management situation and specifically called out in Lean Six Sigma and Project Management initiatives. It was also considered to be the leading challenge to implementing healthcare analytics in a study performed in July 2015. Participants in the study chose leadership issues as the biggest challenge to implementing healthcare analytics in their organizations significantly outpacing data management and talent. More surprisingly was the fact that when the respondents were separated by position, those in leadership positions (director and above) identified leadership issues at the same rate as those not in leadership positions. This leads one to believe that those in leadership positions may not fully understand their role in the initiative.

The bottom line is that not building a population health analytics program on a strong foundation of leadership, will result in program ineffectiveness. People, process and technology/data are important building blocks and will be discussed in future posts but can be read about in Competing on Healthcare Analytics: The Foundational Approach to Population Health Analytics.

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