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It's about time we start talking CI instead of BI

April 4, 2012
by Pete Rivera
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The foundation of Healthcare is the clinical work performed by our providers. Yet when I recently tried to get some solid clinical reports from an EMR, it was like trying to generate dashboards financials from a Practice Management system. It just was not there.

 I don’t understand why application vendors place little importance on reporting requirements. I get the fact that customers like to customize their reports, but why not make that an inherent feature? Maybe that is why the market is constantly creating so many 3rd party Business Intelligence (BI) vendors. But what about Clinical Intelligence (CI) requirements? 

 It seems like it is always about the ROI when it comes to developing tools. The first reports from an Ambulatory EHR are centered on Meaningful Use (MU). Yet even with these “required” features, many EHR products fall short. It’s great to see how your organization is doing with a MU scorecard, but what about changing physician behavior? Many reporting tools fall short in drilling down to the clinician level and allowing you to find out who has been naughty and who has been nice. We also have PQRS reports that have disease specific criteria. Good luck finding a canned report in your ambulatory EHR that can do this. Some of the basic search criteria that physician require like recall notices for age specific diagnostic testing is just not there.

 So CIO’s have to go look for a good BI tool for all your billing and financial needs and then find a tool that will slice and dice clinical information. But our Business is Clinical, so what about a tool that will pull everything into one repository and generate any type of report? Of course I am talking about something most Ambulatory Providers could afford, not something reserved for the mega healthcare systems. From a data base architecture stand point, data is data. It really does not matter what it is, just as long as you develop the right queries.

 So how about it BI vendors? Why not develop something that can be paid for by the ROI from improved financials, but include CI that would improve patient outcomes? Maybe I am missing something. You tell me.



Very well said.
I've been choking on the "BI" term for some time now.
The truth is that those of us whose primary "business" is healthcare need to concern ourselves with Business Intelligence AND Clinical Intelligence.
I've been trying to think through the best way to describe that dynamic as I look for a name for the new department that will be responsible for that function within our newly merged organization. Right now I'm toying with the "Department of Strategy, Intelligence, and Decision Support."

Mark Harvey

Pete - Totally agree with you. Financial management is important, but the ultimate goal should be focused on better clinical outcomes.

I can certainly appreciate and sympathise with Pete's comment on reporting solutions that focus on driving improvements in patient outcomes. With all the regulatory drivers absorbing so much of the C-Suite time on reporting around the ROI of their facilities, somewhere along the way the interest in patient outcomes has been lost.

Couple this with the fact that EMRs themselves are struggling to tackle the problems with workflow and infrastructure to support the increasing need around ROI reporting, it is not surprise why the reporting that is critical to Clinical Intelligence is taking a backburner. This is one of the key reasons why we are looking at ways to enhance the EMRs with our surveillance product at Pharmacy OneSource by adding on reporting capabilities that will support Clinical Intelligence reporting - especially where this drives improvements in patient outcomes.

However, the task is not an insignificant one. The healthcare industry is plagued by a lack of consistent data standardization that is essential to support better reporting and analytics. Couple this with a need to support technical platforms that are adept at handling large volumes of data to ensure you are able to identify the discrete data points that help deliver meaningful value and you are then just starting to scratch the surface of the challenges we face.

The good news is the fact that companies are seeing there is opportunity in this type of reporting. We are making investments in technology that will help us deliver on the promise of leveraging Big Data to deliver Clinical Intelligence around patient care; and we want to do this to support real-time analytics in the future as we truly believe that speed in this area will save lives. We also know we can do this in conjunction with the EMR, so that we ehance their value without sacrificing the investments that hospitals have already made in these platforms.