Is Data Management Strategy Coming to Healthcare’s Rescue?

Megan Williams

A few days ago (thanks to a friend who just couldn’t wait any longer), I found myself in Japan watching Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame.” On the 11-hour flight home, I slogged through DC’s “Aquaman.” The difference between the success of two cinematic universes holds a lesson in building a healthcare data management strategy that complements overall business strategy.

However you feel about Marvel’s work on the big (and small) screen, their work across 10 years and 22 films has been an impressive example of strategic planning and smart responses to viewer expectations and industry trends. The same cannot be said for DC, who still seems to be stuck in a loop of reactionary choices, leadership challenges and an over-reliance on past successes.

Healthcare is DC and, unfortunately, the stakes are a lot higher than a few box office records.

As the Dust Settles

Healthcare has endured an onslaught of industry-defining changes over the last few years, putting organizations in a difficult position. Healthcare IT leaders are staring down the barrels of consumerism, cybersecurity challenges, tightening budgets, an increasingly complex technology landscape, shifting policies, rising costs and pressures from value-based care initiatives — challenges that are even more complex than Marvel’s unprecedented attempt at building out a true, cinematic universe.

It’s a lot, but other industries have faced similar problems and responded successfully with forward-thinking data management strategies. Healthcare, unfortunately, is lagging behind. While Forbes notes that almost 70% of tech and communication companies claim “first-rate analytics abilities,” healthcare is lagging behind at only 40%.

That’s a huge opportunity for improvement, and data-first businesses, even in healthcare, are responding to new and fast-evolving challenges with refreshed data management strategies. They’re seeing improvements including:

  • increased operational efficiencies that are critical in value-based and patient-centered initiatives

  • easier identification of revenue leakage, patient behavior changes and workflow problems

  • regulatory agility that keeps up with strict industry standards

  • increased revenues that dampen the blow of increasing costs

  • better decision-making needed to adapt to future changes and demands

Still, in an age of big data, this is only the beginning of what a proactive data management strategy can mean for healthcare organizations.

Creating Solutions for Today’s Healthcare Challenges

Healthcare consumerism, in particular, demands new approaches to patient service that keep up with expectations established by industries like retail, hospitality and food service. Forward-thinking healthcare organizations are stepping forward.

For example, St. Luke’s University Health Network has built successful self-service options for their patients. As a result, they’ve seen staff call volumes decreasing, payment plan adoption increasing and a huge jump in patient adoption of self-service payments. These results aren’t a fluke. Healthcare organizations that invest in data management strategies that allow them to build on relationships between disparate health information systems can realistically expect to see benefits including improved care results and additional financial growth.

All that, though, isn’t possible without a data management strategy that prioritizes smart storage, reporting and a strategic approach to overall governance.

Best Practices for the Future of Healthcare

Healthcare IT leaders who are excited to take a data-first posture have a world of opportunities in front of them, especially if they’re willing to step away from an ad hoc approach to their systems, enterprise applications and repositories. A critical first step is understanding and applying best practices at their home organizations.

Information Mapping

Focus on identifying key characteristics of your systems and document them in web-based mapping software.

Prioritize smooth integration, visual interpretation tools, identifying high-risk areas, and investing in areas that will maximize ROI and align with your organization’s goals.

Data Storage

Storing your data shouldn’t be an afterthought. Consider the range of sources you’ll be working with, as well as potential future growth in data usage. Since solutions that keep up with today’s healthcare challenges will require the use of multiple forms of data, storage practices that address those varied needs will be critical to success and the long-term health of initiatives.

DC’s lackluster performance in the cinematic world is partially blamed on them not having input from their core entertainment team, Vulture notes. Make sure that your data management strategies involve input from stakeholders across your organization and a partner who understands the role data management strategy plays in healthcare innovation.

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