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What Is the ROI of Investing in a Healthcare Data Analyst

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Making the most of a healthcare data analyst’s knowledge is a key component to getting the best ROI from a hospital improvement project. But all too often, analysts serve merely as data validators — they justify the data that leadership wants validated. Because analysts aren’t decision makers, they don’t have the authority to ask the questions that can save a health system millions. Empowering analysts, however, enables them to ask the right questions — and find the right answers — that will lead to significant savings.

Published in: Healthcare
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What Is the ROI of Investing in a Healthcare Data Analyst

  1. 1. What is the ROI of investing in a healthcare data analyst? — John Wadsworth A real example of saving millions
  2. 2. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Return on Investment - ROI Are you interested in getting a return on investment (ROI) from your healthcare analytics investment? What follows is a real-world example of how that is done.
  3. 3. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. ROI – Real World Example A few years ago, a health system came to us and said… We need to build an observation wing.” But when changes in patient demo- graphics and demand no longer justified the wing, it was ultimately re-purposed to meet growing emergency department (ED) needs.
  4. 4. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. ROI – Real World Example An interesting trend developed. Observation patient volumes steadily rose, while Medicare reimbursements for the ED population continued to decline. As a result of the new trend, the health system’s leaders were looking for ways to optimize clinical resource allocation for their ED observation patients.
  5. 5. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. EDW Driven Decision Making The health system already had a fully functional enterprise data warehouse (EDW) in place. By digging deep into its insights with our help, their leadership expected to make data-informed, strategic decisions about the details of the observation wing.
  6. 6. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. EDW Driven Decision Making We asked what answers they expected to get from their EDW. They needed these three important questions answered: 1. How many observation beds are needed for the wing? 2. What clinical staffing will be needed for the new wing? 3. What will it cost to build the new wing?
  7. 7. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Question One: Beds Needed To answer this question, we would need to leverage clinical data from the EMR source mart to identify trends for patients classified as observation patient types.
  8. 8. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Question Two: Staff Needed Calculating the clinical staffing would require a combination of clinical data as well as HR data to build a staff model based on historical patient volumes.
  9. 9. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Question Three: Cost to build We would need to mine costing data in order to forecast the cost to build the new wing. (Data revealed the cost would be between $0.5 and $1 million per bed - $2.5 to $5.0 million for five beds)
  10. 10. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Evaluation Our evaluation would provide answers that could be used to determine if building the new wing was the right solution. Or, was there an alternate course of action that made more economic sense?
  11. 11. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. A Teaching Moment Our evaluation was also a teaching moment for the health system client. They welcomed further analysis to better inform the decision-making process. We sought clues in the data trying to understand the root cause of increased observa- tion patient volumes.
  12. 12. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Clue #1 Roughly two out of three observation patients had a complaint of some chest pain. This is a very common com- plaint for patients presenting to the ED that end up as observa- tion patients. However, the fact that so many of the observation patients had the same concern was a clue.
  13. 13. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Clue #2 Nearly every patient that presented in observation had been a previous patient. This was revealing because it meant the increased observa- tion volumes did not represent a material increase in new patient volumes.
  14. 14. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Clue #3 Of those patients complaining of chest pain, four out of five had been previously diagnosed with heart failure from the cardiology clinic. This was a BIG clue. It meant these patients were aware that cardiology care was available through the clinic, yet they were presenting at the ED. Why?
  15. 15. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Clue #4 For those chest pain patients, three out of four arrived between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. What was significant about this time frame? Why this five-hour window? One quick phone call to the cardiology clinic answered the lingering question — the clinic closed at 5 p.m.
  16. 16. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Data Analysis Led to Simple Answer Data revealed that because the cardiology clinic closed at 5:00 p.m., patients feeling chest pain went to the next available known care location to get attention: the emergency department.
  17. 17. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Data Driven Decision: Best ROI The analyst leading the data mining effort recommended: 1. Extend the cardiology clinic hours until 10 p.m. 2. Don’t spend the $2.5 million to $5 million for an observation wing. The health system was thrilled. So were we. If the analyst on this project were paid $75,000 a year as a base salary, the value of this decision to avoid unnecessary significant capital spend justified her or her role for 30 to 60 years.
  18. 18. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. More about this topic 4 Ways to Enable Healthcare Data Analysts to Provide Their Full Value Russ Staheli, Technical Director Health Data Stewardship and Its Importance in Healthcare Analytics John Wadsworth, VP of Client Technical Operations The Best Organizational Structure for Healthcare Analytics John Wadsworth, VP of Client Technical Operations 3 Frequent Mistakes in Healthcare Data Analytics John Wadsworth, VP of Client Technical Operations Finding $5.7 Million with a Healthcare Data Warehouse John Wadsworth, VP of Client Technical Operations Link to original article for a more in-depth discussion. What is the ROI of investing in a healthcare data analyst?
  19. 19. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. For more information: Download Healthcare: A Better Way. The New Era of Opportunity “This is a knowledge source for clinical and operational leaders, as well as front-line caregivers, who are involved in improving processes, reducing harm, designing and implementing new care delivery models, and undertaking the difficult task of leading meaningful change on behalf of the patients they serve.” – John Haughom, MD, Senior Advisor, Health Catalyst
  20. 20. © 2014 Health Catalyst www.healthcatalyst.com Proprietary. Feel free to share but we would appreciate a Health Catalyst citation. Other Clinical Quality Improvement Resources Click to read additional information at www.healthcatalyst.com John Wadsworth joined Health Catalyst in September 2011 as a senior data architect. Prior to Catalyst, he worked for Intermountain Healthcare and for ARUP Laboratories as a data architect. John has a Master of Science degree in biomedical informatics from the University of Utah, School of Medicine.

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