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For Clinical and Business Intelligence Adoption, Best of Breed Makes Inroads

June 9, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The clinical and business intelligence market continues to grow as more healthcare organizations take on population health initiatives.

This was one of the main findings of a recent report from HIMSS Analytics, the analytics arm of the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). HIMSS Analytics survey of healthcare organizations revealed a six percent uptick in C/BI adoption since 2013. According to Burlington, Vt.-based Brendan Fitzgerald, research director at HIMSS Analytics, more healthcare organizations are taking on best-of-breed C/BI solutions as they shift from volume to value. Predominantly though, a majority of organizations (54 percent) still rely on electronic health record (EHR) embedded analytics solutions.

Fitzgerald talked with Healthcare Informatics Senior Editor Gabriel Perna about the report. Below are excerpts from the interview.

What were the core findings of the clinical and business intelligence (C/BI) report? 

For the C/BI report, we saw a couple of things. It was a revamp of a study we did in 2013. About a year has gone by since we looked at this market. We saw probably a roughly six percent uptick in adoption, according to respondents. That is people who are utilizing a C/BI solution in their organization. That was somewhere between 48-52 percent.

Additionally, there was a slight uptick in adoption of best of breed solutions. We found most of the folks we surveyed are using embedded tools within their HIS or EHR solution for analytics, but there could be a growing shift in terms of adopting a best of breed solution that could integrate with the EHR. As more data comes in and gets more complex and organizations become more mature as to what they want to do with that data, we could see increase in of best of breed adoption. There is still some uncertainty there. A lot of organizations are using the tools at their fingertips, which are embedded in the EHR.

The shift from volume to value-based care is really a hot topic. Using the analytics and data available is key to that. Going forward, organizations are going to be using analytical tools from a clinical and business perspective in terms of shaping predictive modeling. There is a growing need for that all-encompassing tool out there.

What is driving C/BI investment?

 At a 10,000-foot level, it’s that move from volume to value-based care. How can organizations care for their patients better? Reimbursements are decreasing; organizations need to care for their patients in a better way. Secondarily to that, obviously we’ve heard of accountable care but organizations have learned that you cannot necessarily create an accountable care organization in terms of sharing the cost of healthcare services if you do not have population health or a focus on population health, i.e. caring for the specific needs of cohorts of people depending on demographic information. This shift towards analytics goes hand-in-hand with that volume to value-based care shift, as well as the need for organizations to focus on population health as a way to accomplish that.

Why are integrated solutions within the EHR more popular than best of breed? 

We’ve gone through a high level of adoption because of the HITECH Act in the last 4-6 years. Their ability or need from a regulation standpoint to meet meaningful use criteria has allowed the EHR vendors to get an upper hand on those dedicated analytics solutions vendors. Everyone has an EHR in place. They’ve got an enterprise system in place. It’s easy to add modules in place and a little tougher to get those best of breed solutions in place. The EHR vendors have a head start because they are there and they have been there. But we’re slowing seeing a slight shift in that, people are a little more curious about potentially addressing their data needs with a broader, precise solution.

What are the most important elements of a C/BI product according to IT leaders?

What it comes down from a very high level to a very minute level is being able to improve clinical outcomes. There are different facets to that. Obviously, improving efficiencies around patient care and meeting meaningful use requirements are part of that. But really the overlying theme of analytics within the organization is to improve those clinical outcomes. For years, there has been data upon data. Having that data become actionable in the context of how they serve their communities and patients is what they are striving towards.

Where do you see this market headed in the next two years?