The announcement on Monday of this week that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system was investing $100 million over the next five years on a comprehensive enterprise analytics initiative was a big one, to say the least. Try to name another, similar initiative on this scale, and one would be very hard-pressed to do so, with the notable exception of the years-long Kaiser Permanente KP HealthConnect/general IT initiative.
In fact, one could look at the UPMC announcement this week as something of a watershed development in U.S. healthcare more broadly, as it speaks to a truth that even the leaders of some of the most pioneering healthcare organizations in this country are just starting to digest these days. And that is that healthcare leaders need to develop very broad strategies, comprehensive strategies, that bring everything together—the EHRs, the eMARs, the data warehouses and report-writing systems, the vendor-neutral diagnostic image archives, the clinical decision support-based alert systems, the population health tools, the care management and care coordination support systems, the health information exchanges, and on and on—everything—in order to make the next leap in overall care delivery and effectiveness performance.
In other words, the tip-of-the-spear vanguard in healthcare are moving beyond looking at the individual instruments of performance improvement and beginning to contemplate the symphony orchestra of instruments at their disposal. And that means investing heavily not only in implementing specific elements of that ensemble of tools, but really thinking and acting strategically in deploying their combined forces.
Of course, the leaders of UPMC are well aware that very few organizations have the financial and human resources they have at their disposal. But they also have a broad enough perspective to see that a burning platform is emerging for all patient care organizations in the U.S., and beyond. As Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., UPMC’s chief medical and scientific officer, told me, speaking of organizations with fewer resources, “While they might not be in a perfect position to improve quality and lower costs, in some ways, we’re all being driven towards that [imperative.] So they need to understand the power of analytics, and structure and use data to learn about their business, to save money, and to move forward into the future. So,” Dr. Shapiro said, when I asked him what the leaders of less richly resourced organizations should do, “I would tell them they have to highly prioritize their data and learn from it, because that will really help them survive and thrive.”
In short, strategically deployed analytics will be such an important part of the future of healthcare that it should come as no surprise that leading-edge patient care organizations are beginning to invest heavily in the entire ensemble of analytics tools, for population health, patient safety and care quality improvement, improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and, really, every type of performance improvement possible. We here at Healthcare Informatics will continue to bring you, our readers, all the latest in industry leader insights, case studies, and news and developments in this area; indeed, the focus of our 2013 Executive Summit will be a dual one, with emphasis on both analytics and population health—subject areas with, inevitably, tremendous overlap (and please keep checking back for more detailed information on the Executive Summit, as it becomes available).
In the meantime, don’t be surprised to find that more leading patient care organizations will be embarking on major analytics-driven performance improvement initiatives in the near future. Very few of them will likely carry $100 million price tags; but the smart ones will all be as vision- and mission-driven as UPMC’s seems to be. So stay tuned; and continue to keep a sharp lookout on the horizon.