Healthcare leaders today face unprecedented pressures to improve performance across a broader set of dimensions.*

Reflecting this challenge, the set of initiatives underway in most organizations has increased, but questions persist:

  • Have we selected the right initiatives?
  • How are we addressing risks and barriers to success?
  • What results are we achieving?
  • Are the results ambitious enough for effective enterprise-wide performance improvement now and going forward?

Better analytics can provide answers to these questions, but have been lacking to date in many organizations.

Today’s healthcare environment requires a new means to get the right comparative information to the right person at the right time. This approach must enable executives, managers, and performance improvement teams to identify critical improvement initiatives, track progress toward their goals, address barriers, and enhance organizational performance.

The challenge starts with getting the right data.

Healthcare executives do not unanimously accept or like the comparative benchmarks commonly in use today. In fact, at numerous levels of the organization, the word benchmark raises objections about the comparability of both internal and external data.

A new survey-based report confirms that more than half of senior executives in healthcare organizations either do not use financial benchmarks (15 percent), or are not satisfied with how their benchmarks inform decision making enterprise-wide (43 percent). As a chief impediment, executives cite “lack of clean and trusted data that provide insight into where improvement opportunities exist.”

Concerns notwithstanding, it is not enough to measure key performance indicators over time without a basis of comparison for those indicators. What is required is a data platform with four key attributes.

1. One Trusted Source - A single-source data platform for comparative analytics aggregates and integrates external and internal data across the spectrum of financial data and benchmark sources used by hospitals for planning, cost and decision support, management analytics, and clinical transformation. Because of the attributes described next, C-suite leaders, operational/department managers, and performance improvement teams can trust this information.

2. Structured and Clean - Hospitals receive data from multiple internal and external sources and systems. To ensure both credibility and comparability, the data must be accurately classified and standardized. Through application of a common taxonomy, a comparative analytics platform can pull in monthly data from internal and external sources. Such sources may include hundreds of thousands of job codes and accounts, millions of charge description master (CDM) codes, Medicare claims data, and claims from multiple states.

These data require being “scrubbed” for regulatory compliance, and professionally normalized and classified using advanced statistical techniques and machine learning. Data definitions, measure definitions, and peer group definitions should be applied across expense, labor, revenue, volume, clinical, and other items. The result is structured and clean data for  apples-to-apples comparisons.

3. Appropriate and Accessible - Depending on an individual’s role in the organization, analytics needs can range from broad and general to narrow and specific:

  • Members of the C-suite require a broad view across the industry and organization, and the ability to discern quickly the general performance trends in key strategic dimensions.

  • The CFO and finance staff need analytics on overall hospital performance compared with specific peer groups along multiple dimensions.

  • Department managers require analytics on specific metrics and indicators driving budget performance and progress with initiatives in their area of responsibility.

Individuals at all levels of the organization must be able to easily obtain the data and drill down into their reports for information related to specific targets or goals, and whether goals are being met. The inclusion of financial, payroll, utilization, and clinical metrics across units, departments, and entities enables broad and deep reporting capabilities, depending upon needs.

4. Timely - Executives and managers often struggle with enterprise-level data that are numerous months to two years out of date. Even more problematic, the data may come from various sources with different time-measurement periods. Individuals must have access to robust, consistent data drawn from internal and external sources on a real-time basis each month, coinciding with reported results.

Real-time data change the way in which executives and managers use the information. Such data support real-time diagnosis and decision making as individuals monitor the progress and impact of ongoing initiatives and performance.