Big Data and data analytics just may be the defining concepts of the 2010s. As today’s modern businesses attempt to become more data-driven, they adopt business intelligence (BI) software to make sense of all the data they collect. You’ll find businesses of all kinds, from financial institutions to manufacturing companies, using BI software to optimize their various processes. But what about other, more niche industries? For example, what about BI software for healthcare organizations?
Healthcare organizations that apply Big Data and business intelligence could collectively save between $300 and $450 billion annually in the US alone, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study. The healthcare industry uses business intelligence software to save that money in many of the same ways that other industries do. For example, healthcare providers use BI software to gain insight into customer (or in this case, patient) satisfaction. Despite these commonalities, there are also plenty of other uses that are specific to the healthcare industry.
Common Uses of BI Software for Healthcare
The most common use of BI software for healthcare organizations is actually common among all industries. To the surprise of nobody, healthcare providers, like other organizations, are constantly searching for ways to cut costs. There are always patterns in the finances, it just takes business intelligence software to find them.
One of the biggest revelations is finding out which services are the most profitable and, more importantly, which are underused. Many healthcare organizations find that some of their most profitable services are ones that they took for granted, or didn’t market very heavily. After discovering this information, they can make the necessary changes to get as much out of those services as possible.
BI solutions can also reveal the most profitable times of the day, week, month and year, so you can market and plan accordingly in order to maximize your profits. Additionally, this helps you with scheduling, as you can ensure that your busiest days are well-staffed so everything runs smoothly.
Facilitate Quality Performance
Improving overall organizational quality is key to making sure that processes outside of finance run as smoothly and as profitably as possible. More importantly, improving quality leads to consistently improved patient outcomes. One of the most enlightening studies was conducted by the Institute of Medicine, titled To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. The study found that patient safety errors are far more likely to be caused by a bad system than by bad people.
So how, then, does BI software help improve your system? For one, it can ensure that you’re well-staffed when you need it most. Aside from busy times being profitable, they’re also notorious for overworking nurses and doctors, as they’re spread thin among a sea of patients. BI solutions can reveal the times that you’re busiest so you can schedule extra staff to help with the increased patient volume.
The goal of any healthcare organization is to increase the population health of their patient base. Although all humans are biologically the same, every doctor and nurse can attest to the fact that even the most basic treatments aren’t always one-size-fits-all. Therefore, individualized treatment needs to occur. However, without the use of BI software, it’s difficult to do at scale.
After an EHR performs the data collection of all of your patient’s medical histories, BI solutions can use those histories to perform analysis on data such as genetic markers. This analysis allows physicians to be more proactive in disease prevention, at the very least reducing the impact those diseases have on their patients. For example, you wouldn’t want to prescribe a medication where shortness of breath is a common side effect to a patient that has a history of respiratory issues.
Aid in Triage
One of the more difficult processes for healthcare organizations, and hospitals in particular, is triaging incoming patients. And it’s made that much harder when those patients are breathing down your neck every five minutes demanding to be seen RIGHT NOW. Although you can certainly triage effectively between someone who’s a step away from death and someone who broke their pinkie, BI software helps you triage where there’s more of a gray area.
The best business intelligence software can perform ad hoc analysis. As such, you can input data on what each incoming patient is suffering from, and it can automatically triage them for you. This means that you don’t have to wait hours for a triage report that’s ultimately useless. Instead, you can do it in real time, which satisfies your patients and, more importantly, takes care of the most urgent cases first.
Challenges of Using BI Software for Healthcare
The benefits of using BI software for healthcare more than make up for any challenges that these organizations face. But that doesn’t mean that those challenges should be ignored.
The biggest challenge facing healthcare providers lies in the management of unstructured data. Unstructured data makes data analysis tricky, as it can lead to inaccurate analysis, if it can be analyzed at all.
Much of the unstructured data that healthcare providers deal with in their day-to-day comes in the form of images, such as radiology and imaging scans. This kind of unstructured data requires data warehouses in order to store, share and make sense of it. A workaround to make use of this kind of unstructured data involves the manual data entry of the scans. This certainly isn’t efficient, but healthcare organizations and BI vendors are working on ways to make the analysis of unstructured data faster and easier. In time, every healthcare organization will be able to work efficiently with all of their data without issue.
Top BI Software for Healthcare Organizations
If you’re organization hasn’t yet adopted BI software, or if your current system is underperforming, it’s time to start a searching for BI. We compiled a shortlist of five of the best BI software for healthcare organizations to help you start your search:
Domo connects to all of your various systems so you can access all of your incoming data in real time. As a mobile friendly solution, it makes collaboration with other users easy. For healthcare specifically, Domo provides real-time healthcare dashboards that help you track some of your most advanced analytics. Some of the metrics you can track in those dashboards include tracking the quality of care, the cost per outcome and the effectiveness of new treatments.
Sisense is built mostly for mid-sized businesses and large enterprises. This means that it provides great BI software for healthcare organizations that either have a single, large location (e.g. an independent hospital) or those that have several branches (e.g. chains of hospitals or medical practices). One of the biggest advantages of Sisense is that the healthcare analytics module is built specifically to analyze unstructured healthcare data.
Sisense is also one of the best solutions available for integration. Whether you’re connecting to data sources or other software like ERP and billing software, integration is not only possible, but straightforward.
For those organizations that want to embed their BI software, Looker may be your ideal solution. You can embed Looker analytics in a website, portal or app, so you can display your real-time data either to patients or to your staff. Similarly to Domo, you can set up healthcare dashboards that analyze various types of data. Some of the analysis that Looker focuses on (though they’re by no means the only analysis the solution performs) include comparing reimbursement for various specialties, analyzing average user spend for different locations and analyzing spend by provider.
MicroStrategy is a popular BI software for healthcare organizations that prefer self-service BI tools. Drag-and-drop tools and one-click sharing make working with the system intuitive and easy to pick up. The system also allows you to connect to multiple data sources, including large Hadoop databases.
When it comes to healthcare-specific features, MicroStrategy has no shortage of options. Some of the most powerful include revenue cycle intelligence, care management, hospital/physician quality scoring and features that help achieve meaningful use.
Qlik is one of the industry leaders in self-service business intelligence. Qlik provides BI software for healthcare organizations of all types, as it offers several different solutions and pricing tiers. What separates Qlik from the rest of the vendors on this list is that it’s equally viable for use by BI pros and your average joe alike.
Qlik offers several healthcare-specific apps to track important performance metrics. For example, one app creates a cost profile for each physician, with which you can look at the resources that were used to treat each of their patients. Another app monitors the number of patient readmissions and its effect on the quality of patient care.