Leveraging real-time analytics requires healthcare organizations to undergo massive cultural and workflow changes, but the modifications could yield drastic improvements in operational efficiency.
During a panel discussion at the Becker's 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference, Sept. 21 in Chicago, three healthcare technology leaders discussed using real-time analytics to improve operational efficiency and clinical care.
- Cindy Welsh, RN, vice president of adult critical care and medical professional affairs, electronic intensive care unit/CPI for Chicago-based Advocate Health Care
- Todd Stewart, MD, vice president of clinical integrated solutions and clinical informatics for St. Louis-based Mercy Technology Services
- Sham Sokka, PhD, vice president and general manager of radiology and performance solutions for Philips Healthcare
Here's what the experts had to say:
Note: Responses have been edited for length, clarity and style.
Dr. Stewart on what it takes to implement real-time analytics across large organizations: "Any kind of data at scale is a huge challenge. Healthcare data sucks. It's not clean, it's non-standard, it's free text. Data standardization is one of the most difficult things to do. You will not solve it — I promise — so don’t try. Our bigger successes have come from narrowing the scope of what we're trying to do.
"We are an Epic shop, and [doing] real-time projects out of Epic, that's an enormous challenge. We've had to adapt ourselves and do very different approaches as it relates to the use cases we identified. The other [step] is identifying strategic partners. You do not have to do this alone. There are a lot of good strategic partners out there. Philips is actually one of our strategic partners. But at the same time, we've had to pivot away from some of our partners as time has gone forward."
Dr. Sokka on how hospitals and health systems are using real-time analytics: "There's the clinical area, revenue cycle areas [and] operational areas. We try and use real-time data in areas where we can get clean data and do things in a proactive way. In things like operations, it's trying to reduce turnaround times [and] understand where things are really getting stuck in the order [from] schedule to exam to completion because these have long-term effects on the overall pipeline. So, initially focusing a lot on operational pieces in the real-time domain and then moving into clinical, where there's outcome- and quality-driven impact.
"We always joke about this: if you want to do anything in data analytics, it's 85 percent data cleanliness and 85 percent people. You can do it with the data, but if you don't transform your workforce to be able to handle the data, why even bother? A lot of emphasis is on the people, change management piece."
Ms. Welsh on using real-time data to remotely monitor about 700 ICU beds remotely: "The tele-ICU is remote monitoring of hospitals all over Illinois and Wisconsin from a central location. One challenge we found 15 years ago when we started our [electronic intensive care unit] was that we had a lot of ventilator-associated pneumonias across the system. We had a physician that would take a clipboard as he was doing and rounds and [check for VAP bundle compliance]. That was where we figured out we can help in real-time from the EICU perspective and started collecting these data. It is a way to, as a clinician, provide information to someone that's standing right there at time and can have an impact and prevent that pneumonia."