POSTED : October 10, 2016
BY : ProKarma

We see them by the side of the road all of the time; those poor souls whose automobile battery has come to its inevitable mortal demise. Some chose to keep driving; somehow thinking that not making eye contact will make that desperate person disappear.  Others will come to a stop beside the disabled vehicle, turn on their hazard lights, pop the hood open, and take on the role of the Good Samaritan!  I guess if you know how you would react to this scenario; it speaks volumes to who you are as a member of the humanity pool.  I suppose that is a topic for quite a different type of blog!

The same analogy can be extended to the Healthcare Information Highway. Many of us start of in perfectly good “IT Cars.”  Over time, newer models come into the showroom; but we prefer to keep driving “old reliable!”  Eventually, they add new lanes to that highway and the speed limit is increased.

Suddenly, our trustworthy IT vehicle no longer functions as well, in spite of the preventive maintenance investment we might have made. Eventually the car will no longer even start up and we find ourselves on the side of the highway; jumper cables in hand!  The problem is that all of the other IT cars are barely chugging along themselves, so they are unlikely to stop to lend a hand.  Every now and them, a high performance IT car will come by whizzing by; but they rarely see your distressed situation or have not yet figured out where the brakes are.

Analytics and business intelligence has quickly become the high-powered sports car on the Healthcare Information Highway. The overarching problem is that there are a lot of dealerships selling their own brand of analytics.  The body style is nice; but usually the engine is underpowered.  In some cases, the battery under the hood has never been charged and you are left holding the jumper cables once again!

In order to jump start the battery for your healthcare analytics, it is essential that you have a set of predefined measures in place that are built upon trusted data sources. The gas for your engine is that data; but that is the topic of many other posts in this blog.  For now we will focus on jump starting the engine.  Gas is essential, but it is worthless if the motor will not turn over!

There is a plethora of standard measures, created by recognized and respected national bodies, that will measure quality (clinical) and administrative (claims) measures. We are inundated with well-meaning measures from NQF, HEDIS, HRSA, USPTF, HDC, and many others.  Some of these measures are relatively easy to compute; while others read like Cold War-era rocket science and require rooms of analysts and programmers to code.  For the most part, all of the answers that you seek from your data reside within these established measures.

Most analytics vendors (the car dealers) will sell you a framework wherein you can create your analytic measures (the car with the dead battery). They leave it to you to do all of the work (charge your own battery).  If the measures do not work or are not to be trusted; that is your problem (you charged the car, not them).  Even if you are able to build your measures; are you just getting numerators and denominators of who is in compliance?  If so, your car battery just became an AAA power cell.  It will power most toys, but it does not help a car engine start!

If you are looking for the maximum cranking power and cold amps for your analytics engine to fire up; your battery has to be so much more than what most vendors provide. A true analytics partner (the reputable car dealer) will give you a solution for you battery and engine needs.  Yes, you will get numerators and denominator; but you will see both who is compliant and who is not.  The latter surely will have gaps in care.  Beyond the top and bottom number; the best battery will also give you drill-down capability to the individual patient and provider.  Now you have actionable intelligence to fill those gaps in care!

If you choose the right IT car, with the right analytics engine under the hood, ready to fire up with a predefined set of measures; I assure you that you will be the master of the Health Information Highway. In fact, you may find yourself as the only vehicle in the passing lane.  To get the best performance you will need high octane fuel (cleansed, normalized, validated, trusted data); but we can talk about that the next time you visit.  In the meantime, feel free to sell those jumper cables!