How to Choose the Right Healthcare BI Tools for Your Organization

By April 28, 2016Blog

As the healthcare market grows more competitive than ever, healthcare organizations are seeing the value of investing in a strong business intelligence system to help them improve performance, evaluate risks and forecast trends. There are a myriad of BI tools on the market capable of analyzing and gleaning valuable insights from clinical, operational, financial and quality control data.

Providers have more options than ever, according to a recent report by research firm KLAS. In a survey of more than 100 healthcare organizations, providers listed up to 87 vendors they were considering for BI and clinical analytics. Offerings come from mainstream software vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP as well as developers of health IT systems like McKesson and Cerner and vendors producing specialty software.

No matter which vendor they choose, most organizations are looking for a tool that will provide functionality across many departments, from analyzing emergency, surgical and pharmacy operations to offering insights on physician quality, hospital performance and patient outcomes. Executives are also looking to BI tools to help them navigate the changing healthcare landscape and new accountability measures that come with it.

In a vendor-saturated market, how do you choose the best healthcare BI tool for your organization? Here are some key factors to consider:

Know your biggest needs and obstacles.

Get clear about what problems you need to solve and what you hope to accomplish using BI. Take stock of what isn’t working and what could improve. Are analytics lacking or difficult to interpret? Are you trying to gain a bigger picture view of clinical, financial and supply chain operations? Are you looking to cut inventory costs or find a reporting tool to help your organization better comply with accountable care regulations?

Many organizations look for a silver bullet that will solve all of their challenges instead of identifying the most critical ones to tackle. Where will BI make the most sense for your organization and have the biggest impact? Top needs mentioned by most organizations include enterprise, predictive and ACO analytics, along with healthcare data integration, data warehousing and population health.

Consider your capabilities as an organization. What infrastructure do you have, and how will this tool work with it? Will it require additional hardware? Do you have the skill set in-house to develop BI solutions from this tool? Whenever possible, it also helps to get buy-in from employees or teams who will be using it. Will it meet their needs—and how easy will it be for them to use?

Look for easy integration and flexibility.

BI tools today offer an array of features to help organizations visualize and analyze relevant data in real time, including dashboards, scoreboards, alerts, predictive models, trend trackers, interactive reports and streaming query forms. It’s easy to get dazzled by these features without considering how well they will mesh with the legacy systems already in place in your organization.

Make sure the tools you choose integrate seamlessly, not only with electronic health records, but also with other systems, applications and devices used to exchange and interpret data throughout your organization. Look for tools that can aggregate and analyze data from internal and external sources or embed within enterprise portals and mobile applications. Find tools that will work with your data and user security policies or allow users to easily remove or revise incomplete, redundant or incorrect data.

Flexibility is also important. How easily can you adapt the tool to meet the needs of your organization as it grows? Search for a tool that will allow you to scale down to serve department-level needs or scale up for a system-wide perspective. Consider tools that work with new data sources or allow users to customize reports based on specific environments and circumstances.

Consulting with an experienced IT health vendor can save time and money at the beginning of the search by helping you identify and prioritize your needs for business intelligence and guiding you toward the best tool set. Learn more about how to build an effective healthcare BI system in our white paper.

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