Technology has entirely revolutionized the way we work by making diverse processes more streamlined and highly integrated. One of these transformations is happening in the healthcare industry. If we consider the most important necessities of every nation, healthcare comes top of the list.
This is why it’s important to improve its quality, efficiency, and safety values. According to the Commonwealth Fund, administrative spending in the healthcare sector remains a big obstacle in many countries. It’s particularly a problem in the United States hospitals, where it makes up 25% of the total hospital budget. To help ease the escalating costs, professionals have begun to explore the role that big data and business intelligence solutions could play in trimming inefficiencies and improving patient outcomes.
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Here are some ways healthcare organizations can use business intelligence to improve patient care processes and other business operations. But before we get to that, let’s begin by defining business intelligence in healthcare.
What is business intelligence?
Business intelligence (BI) is a technological process that leverages business analytics, data visualization, and data mining to derive actionable insights from big data and fuel an organization’s tactical and strategic business decisions. Business intelligence tools can access and analyze huge sets of data and present the findings in summaries, reports, graphs, dashboards, and maps. This provides users with detailed intelligence about the state of their business.
You only know that you have modern business intelligence when you can comprehensively view your organization’s data and use it to eliminate inefficiencies, drive change, and adapt to the ever-evolving business landscape.
Business intelligence has evolved over the years to include more activities and processes that help improve performance. These processes include:
• Reporting: This is the process of sharing big data analysis results with stakeholders so that they can gain insights and make investment decisions.
• Data mining: It’s the process of uncovering trends in large data sets by the use of machine learning, databases, and statistics.
• Descriptive analysis: It uses preliminary data analysis to find out what happened in a given case study.
• Querying: It involves requesting data information from a database. Today’s BI systems enable users to easily connect to and query a wide range of data sources.
• Statistical analysis: It’s the process of consolidating and analyzing data sets to divulge patterns and anticipate future outcomes.
• Performance metrics and benchmarking: It uses customized dashboards to compare current data to historical data, and track performance against goals.
• Data Preparation: It compiles various data sources, identifies the measurements and dimensions, and prepares them for data analysis.
• Data Visualization: It uses sophisticated processes and tools to analyze big data sets and present them in visual representations such as graphs, charts, and maps.
• Visual analysis: It’s the exploration of data through visual storytelling to communicate insights and stay in the flow of analysis.
It might be interesting for you: The transition from Business Intelligence to Data Science
The role of business intelligence in healthcare
BETTER AND FASTER DECISION MAKING
In a healthcare setup, professionals from different departments might often need to put their heads together to think of possible solutions in critical cases. However, their collaboration and decision-making processes are sometimes slowed down by the unavailability of resources and complicated system operations.
A centralized business intelligence portal can facilitate fast and better decision-making processes by making patient insights available across various departments. This makes it easier to derive value from a patient’s historical data and provide elevated care.
The use of BI for decision-making in healthcare goes beyond patient care. It’s also used for the identification and analysis of healthcare complexities and flaws. Business intelligence software allows organizations to stay ahead of the competition by unmasking trends that can be used to address four main foundational questions:
• What is happening?
• Why is it happening? How should we fix it?
• What does the future look like?
By answering these questions, organizations can come up with a framework to help them track operational standards and fiscal performance while giving decision-makers a clear picture of what the future holds.
PATIENT CARE AND SATISFACTION
The primary responsibility of every healthcare organization is to diagnose and treat patients effectively. While medicinal services have been reliant on digital technology for years, business intelligence in healthcare is still a new concept.
Acting on insights generated from BI tools can help healthcare organizations improve patient outcomes in the following ways:
TRACKING PATIENT CONDITIONS
It’s hard for healthcare organizations to maintain a balance between keeping patients in-house for as long as medically required and making the most of the limited space available. Keeping patients in for too long is a sign of organizational inefficiency. And releasing them too soon may cause medical complications. So how do they find a middle ground?
By using BI tools, managers can obtain big data on the average stay time for every condition. This allows them to estimate the admission time for every patient based on their ailment.
IMPROVE PATIENT SAFETY
Patient safety is an important KPI that every healthcare organization should track. The last thing that a facility wants is to have patients launching complaints about exacerbated conditions after treatment. To prevent this from happening, managers can use BI tools to track and resolve safety issues.
BI tools, for example, can track historical data and produce visual displays of all complications that have occurred over the past years. This gives organizations insights into the areas that need improvement. Therefore, to combat problems such as medication errors, they can adopt electronic prescribing tools that send prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.
TRACK PATIENT OUTCOMES
Healthcare organizations need to track patient performance to know whether their treatments are effective and provide follow-up care where necessary. However, it can be challenging to obtain accurate data on patient outcomes. This is because many patients recover at home and may not update the healthcare facility about their recovery process.
Healthcare organizations can launch surveys and make follow-up calls to gather big data and determine overall treatment success. They can then use insights from BI reporting to evaluate drug efficacy, improve treatment practices, and inform staffing decisions.
REDUCING THE NEED FOR READMISSIONS
Readmissions are costly and unpleasant for patients. This is why healthcare institutions need to provide high-risk patients with proper treatment and care so that they do not come back for additional treatment after they’re released.
BI tools can be used to reduce readmission in several ways. For instance, if hospital administrators track and analyze historical data on medical conditions and patient demographics, they can be able to identify problems that lead to readmissions and solve them in real-time.
Medical professionals can also combine electronic medical records (EMR) with socioeconomic data in BI software to create individual profiles that will give insights into how long a patient is likely to require admission. Such analytics can help doctors avoid readmissions by providing patients with proper initial care.
BETTER COST MANAGEMENT
Hospital costs continue to rise each year. A study by Peter G. Peterson Foundation pointed out the following factors as the major drivers of rising medical costs:
• Population ageing
• Population growth
• Service price and intensity
Another research study by Roger I. Schreck cites new technologies and drugs as the leading factors affecting healthcare costs.
Healthcare providers are now turning to big data analytics in an attempt to drive down these costs. For example, a healthcare enterprise data warehouse (EDW) can organize the entire health system’s financial, clinical, and administrative data into one source of reliable information. When all valuable data is pooled together in one place, it becomes easy to perform tasks like billing and costing while avoiding errors.
Besides EDW, other BI tools can analyze population data to help healthcare providers understand the likelihood of infection and illness in specific areas. This allows them to allocate funds where there is a greater need.
IMPROVED RISK MANAGEMENT
Risk management in healthcare comprises the processes and systems put in place to mitigate, uncover, and prevent risks. Healthcare facilities can now pre-empt medical complications that patients are likely to face by using big data analytics. So, this helps them put precautionary measures in place to mitigate the impact.
Healthcare systems are also expanding their risk management programs beyond patient safety and the reduction of medical errors. With increased cyber security concerns, the expanding role of technology, and the ever-changing regulatory measures in the industry, risk management in healthcare has become more complex over time.
Data science through predictive algorithms can be used to analyze big data and obtain insights that can be used to safeguard the organization’s assets, accreditation, brand value, market share, and community standing.
Healthcare is a business. It organizes patients and doctors into a system and exploits their symbiotic relationship to make money. One of the prospects of business is providing quality services to customers. And within the healthcare setup, those customers are patients that engage with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Patients are always concerned with how they are treated. And just like customers in restaurants or retail stores, they are allowed to give reviews about healthcare professionals. Moreover, business intelligence software can be used to gather and evaluate information on caregivers and use it to improve the service they offer to patients.
SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Healthcare professionals use a myriad of supplies such as prescription drugs, gloves, pens, papers, syringes, and computers to attend to patients—employees who are responsible for the supply chain management stock up these supplies and manage inventory as well.
However, supply chain management is not as easy as making sure that the facility has enough syringes or gloves. The challenge lies in aligning the supply chain to the model of care delivery that the facility uses. According to a recent poll conducted by Cardinal Health and SERMO, a majority of hospital staff use manual inventory management processes. This may leave loopholes in the information required to reduce waste and streamline the entire process.
But with the use of BI tools, healthcare organizations are able to harmonize data across different departments into a single platform. This helps key decision-makers to track internal inefficiencies and take appropriate actions to overcome these challenges.
A successful claims management process is characterized by short wait times between billing and reimbursement and high efficiency. BI tools can be used to facilitate speedy and effective claims handling by optimizing the billing process. This improves reaction time on claims and minimizes losses.
Healthcare Insurance agencies can also use BI tools to safeguard themselves against fraud. In addition, these tools can identify patterns that point to fraud, such as extra billing, overconsumption of false prescriptions, and substitution or identity theft.
Popular business intelligence tools used in the healthcare industry
Sisense is a business intelligence software that allows organizations to derive data from different sources and merge it into a single database. It’s mostly used in healthcare institutions because it features a healthcare analytics module that’s specifically built for healthcare data and information.
The software has dashboards, extract, transform and load (ETL), data warehousing, report writer, and query functionalities, making it efficient to use under different settings. It provides customized dashboards that project data through KIPs, charts, trends, and maps, depending on your industry. Sisense enables users to:
• Securely connect and load big data into cloud data warehouses
• Build beautiful visualizations using a library of certified add-ons and integrated widgets.
• Mashup data from multiple sources for a wider view of business operations.
• Share analysis with users within and outside the company
Tableau is one of the fastest and most powerful tools in the business intelligence marketplace. It helps organizations create and present data in ways that professionals can easily understand at any level. Also, it also allows non-technical employees to create customized dashboards and has pre-installed templates for users in the healthcare sector. Some of the best features that tableau has included:
• Data collaboration
• Data blending
• Real-time analysis
Summary: Business intelligence in healthcare
As you can see, business intelligence in healthcare is a true game-changer. For any organization to succeed, it needs to clearly understand what data can do for it and what it can’t. In the healthcare industry, patients expect nothing short of personalized care, treatment plans based on their history, and healthcare providers who understand their records. And that’s what business intelligence in healthcare is all about.
Without comprehensive business intelligence tools, it would be an uphill task capitalizing on huge piles of patient and operational data to make informed decisions. However, it’s still not easy. And this is where Addepto steps into play. With our help, you can make the most of business intelligence in healthcare. This industry is one of our areas of expertise. Check our business intelligence services to find out more.
 Commonwealthfund.org. Comparison of Hospital Administrative Costs in Eight Nations. URL: https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/journal-article/2014/sep/comparison-hospital-administrative-costs-eight-nations-us. Accessed Nov 4, 2021.
 Pgpf.org. Why are Americans Paying More for Healthcare. URL: https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2020/04/why-are-americans-paying-more-for-healthcare. Accessed Nov 4, 2021.
 Merckmanuals.com. Causes of High Healthcare Costs. URL: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/health-care-financing/causes-of-high-health-care-costs. Accessed Nov 4, 2021.
 Multivu.com. Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain. URL: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8041151-cardinal-health-hospital-supply-chain-management-survey/. Accessed Nov 4, 2021.