Successful health care data acquisition requires careful planning to make sure processes meet desired results.

Build Value as Your Health Care Organization Moves Along the Data Chain

To survive in our challenging times, physician practices need to become more data-driven to align clinical operations with practice goals. To enable data-driven practice management, timely, trusted, and transparent data is required. This type of data-driven improvement requires a journey along the data value chain, the process of transforming raw data into a powerful asset. After planning, data acquisition is the first technical step.

Hospitals encounter large volumes of raw clinical, financial, and operations data from numerous sources and its value varies. Data acquisition is considerably different from hospital to hospital, both in what data is available, to what degree it reflects practice operations, and how it needs to be collected.

The value of an organization’s data increases as progress is made along the data value chain, and it’s improved in terms of:

  • Data Integrity
  • Its fitness for a specific purpose
  • The range of analytic use cases that are supported
  • The ease with which new analytics may be created without the need for special programming or new data tasks
  • How often the data is used
  • How it enables quality and process improvement

But First, There’s Planning

The planning phase determines the course for all the other steps. During this initial step, it is important to acquire input from all key stakeholders — including physicians — when identifying desired outcomes and defining key performance indicators (KPIs). Physician leaders possess the skills and knowledge necessary to drive a data strategy that balances key goals such as reducing costs, improving access to care, and clinical outcomes.

A meaningful data strategy improves the hospital’s ability to measure how well processes meet desired results. These KPIs lead to improvements and better outcomes across the system. Each KPI must be evaluated to determine what data is needed to calculate it, and where that data comes from. One KPI may require data from multiple data sources and several KPIs may be required to evaluate one process and to identify the most actionable opportunities for improvement.

Planning ahead with use cases and end goals in mind leads to a more focused strategy and increases the value of an organization’s data. With a solid plan in place, the organization is ready to begin the more technical acquisition stage.

Overcoming Data Acquisition Challenges

Selecting the right partner along the journey to data maturity saves organizations time and money by anticipating and fixing errors early. At d2i, we recognize the challenges that organizations face with data acquisition and have solutions that accelerate implementation.

Hospitals may have trouble acquiring uniform data inputs, especially in complex organizations with departments staffed by providers who are not all hospital employees. IT departments must approve each provider and grant needed EHR access. This IT process can be laborious and difficult to keep current.

When d2i partners with a hospital, we bring auditable pre-built data extract scripts, specialized expertise in each EHR system, and a proven automated process that makes the job smoother through an efficient use of IT resources.

As health care tech solutions rapidly advance, organizations are challenged with the addition of even more data sources. Most large hospitals have dozens of sources of digital data outside of their EHR system, including personal fitness trackers, patient monitoring devices, and one day, genomic information. Most of this technology was not available when many EHR systems were developed. As new healthcare imperatives emerge, HCOs must constantly evaluate new data sources to support their strategic initiatives and consider how they fit into their data acquisition strategy.

Another challenge is acquiring data in a format that can ultimately be curated for a broad range of analytics and strategic initiatives. Some EHR data straightforward, for instance, discrete values like lab results or vital signs. However, clinicians may also enter notes in free-text form, creating data that is less structured.

One method to assess this issue is by setting up a secure data-exchange process (i.e. SFTP) to discover what structured data is available in EHR data tables and what data is only available in text. Various interface methods are made available to the organization to integrate data, and include simple flat-file data pulls, HL7, FHIR, as well as unstructured text.

Finding Value in Your Data

d2i’s pre-built data extracts prepare structured and unstructured data for KPI measurement. All data can then be available to generate a comprehensive set of measures and KPIs with the ability to drill down to clinical event-level detail. Once the data has been evaluated as to what is available in a usable format, more planning may be needed to establish structured data inputs that will set the stage for increasing value.

For more than 10 years, we have been helping organizations along their path to improvement. Today’s intensely competitive health care environment demands new solutions like our data acquisition as a service (DAaaS) solution. The DAaaS suite of data integration solutions has helped more than 300 hospitals demonstrate value and gain a competitive advantage.