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Scaling Up Infrastructure for the Analytics to Support Care Management: Molina Healthcare’s View

March 5, 2017
by Mark Hagland
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Molina Healthcare’s Ben Gordon shares his perspectives on infrastructure and data capabilities

What the IT leaders at managed healthcare plans are doing in terms of optimizing their organizations’ IT reliability, scalability, and flexibility is an area that IT leaders at patient care organizations would be wise to keep an eye on. While there are some IT fundamentals that are different at provider organizations and health plans, there are a surprising number of areas of similarity and overlap. One of these has to do with the struggles on the parts of both health plan and provider leaders to create greater usability, reliability, and scale to support their efforts at population health management, including both population health risk assessment and care management; as well as the acceleration in the ingress of massive amounts of raw data these days, with data coming from everywhere and needing to be managed intelligently.

It is in that context that the executives at the Long Beach, California-based Molina Healthcare—whose main areas of coverage and focus are Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage plans, and the coverage of dual-eligibles (those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid coverage), made a major infrastructure-related announcement last month. On Feb. 21, during the annual HIMSS Conference, executives at Molina Healthcare, which covers 4.2 million individuals and families across the United States and Puerto Rico, announced that they were working with the San Francisco-based Splunk, to improve their capabilities. As the Feb. 21 press release stated, “Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK), provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, today announced Molina Healthcare Inc. uses Splunk® IT Service Intelligence (Splunk ITSI) to help provide faster, more reliable healthcare services for its customers. The analytics capabilities and visualizations in Splunk ITSI enable Molina to streamline stakeholder communication across the organization. Molina’s leadership team uses the insights provided by ITSI to make data-driven decisions about its IT services infrastructure, ensuring prioritization of innovative solution delivery and resulting in a reduction of IT incidents by 500 percent and mean time to resolution by 150 percent.”

The press release quoted Ben Gordon, Molina Healthcare’s vice president of enterprise infrastructure services, as stating that, “With Splunk ITSI, our IT team now effortlessly helps our members receive access to more customized services to better meet their health care needs. We can do this by quickly troubleshooting and collaborating to analyze actionable data that is easily visualized, classified and applied back to our members. The health care industry has experienced an explosion of data,” Gordon emphasized. “With the powerful analytics built into Splunk ITSI, we have more insight than ever before into our members’ preferences. Splunk ITSI helps simplify the way we run the organization.”

The press release went on to note that “Service outages and performance issues in health care have a significant negative impact on customer experience, service delivery and patient satisfaction. Molina Healthcare’s legacy monitoring tools lacked the capabilities to effectively monitor and troubleshoot its critical services, resulting in the team having to spend valuable time and resources dealing with issues. Molina Healthcare uses the innovative Glass Table feature in Splunk ITSI to visualize the flow of key business processes including user interactions as well as the real-time performance and health of critical systems. The Glass Table visualizations provide a custom view of Molina Healthcare’s business processes and IT infrastructure mapped to enterprise critical KPIs, enabling employees around the company to share the same view and use the same vocabulary for IT management and troubleshooting.”

Ben Gordon

Last month, Gordon, who leads a team of about 250 IT professionals, spoke with Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland about this set of innovations, and its implications for healthcare IT more broadly. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Tell me a bit about what led you and your colleagues to purchase a commercial solution in order to help you ramp up on your core infrastructure and analytics capabilities going forward?

We’ve been growing rapidly for the last four or five years, and with that rapid growth, we’ve been trying to keep up with the business, and part of the strategy is to modernize our infrastructure, and put the right tools and strategy in place that allows us to scale. So we’ve built a metrics aggregation platform, where we’re talking all the tools we use to monitor all our technologies, and aggregate it into a central repository, and we use that repository to monitor how things are behaving and performing. Splunk was chosen to be that aggregator: it pulls in tools, and we’re building in end-to-end views of our services, such as member claims. It really helps with our operations center in terms of those resources understanding what’s important, and cuts down on the mean times to resolving the issues that pop up, as they pop up. Since Splunk has come in, they’re reduced dramatically the number of IT incidents.

How do you define IT “incidents”?

An IT incident is something that is either not behaving properly or has an issue. It’s alerting or alarming that something that needs to be addressed.


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