The Children's Hospital Association, with offices in Overland Park, Kan., and Washington, D.C., is about to embark on an analytics pilot program the organization's CIO says should help its 220 members work toward Triple Aim goals.

"What we are trying to do here, and what this pilot will position us to do, is take clinical, administrative, and operational data in and do what we are referring to as intentional connections between those," Richard Stepanek told Health Data Management. "In that you can start to see support for the Triple Aim types of pieces of data, cost, and quality equations our hospitals will need to analyze. That's one of the objectives we think this will help us get to."

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The organization has contracted with Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst to use its Late-Binding Enterprise Data Warehouse to host the pilot; and data for the project will come from two CHA members that are current Health Catalyst customers, Milwaukee-based Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. CHA executives say the pilot will give CHA the ability to draw data directly from the two hospitals’ source systems, such as electronic health records, and house the information in the data warehouse for analysis.

Stepanek says the pilot is an effort to help unify the CHA's data infrastructure: the organization was formed by the merger of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (the organization's lobbying arm), and the Child Health Corporation of America (CHCA), which Stepanek said has roots as a group purchasing organization.

According to Stepanek, NACHRI and CHCA had each developed analytics capabilities, but with different datasets, resulting in some critical gaps between them. In addition, the organization wanted to add clinical data to its quiver, and Stepanek said Health Catalyst's late-binding model, which draws on the principle that allows data object binding at run time instead of at compile time, seemed like a good fit.

"We have been collecting the administrative data for quite some time," he said. "We have a really good solid capability in that and have pretty good uptake from the member hospitals."

Stepanek says that system, the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS, pronounced "fizz") is relatively mature and highly used across a number of research areas.

"What we're trying to do is add the clinical results to that," he said. Feedback from member hospitals indicated that lab, microbiology, and radiology data would be particularly useful to add to the mix. Stepanek said the initial focus will be on lab, microbiology, and pharmacy data – "in radiology, the difficulty right now is most the intelligence is in the narratives and we have some trouble pulling the discrete data out of the narratives."

He hopes to emerge from pilot phase with some core capabilities by year's end, with some "thought out and refined" capabilities in 2016. Some of the new analytics capabilities will be offered as part of CHA membership, but most the organization's analytics products are "pay to play."

"We try to do that at much better than normal market rate," Stepanek said. "It enables participating members to come to us to see how each other is doing. They can look for ways among their peers to improve what they're doing and how they're doing it. And, they're not comparing themselves to the acute care adult care environment, which most of the metrics are targeted toward. That's what makes us unique."

Charles Macias, M.D., chief clinical systems integration officer at Texas Children's, said that while specifics of the pilot are still in the planning stage, he is eager to get underway.

"I think it's a great opportunity for us," Macias said. "I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised by how much granularity and data we can collect. Benchmarking data in the pediatric world is almost non-existent. What has existed in the CHA is probably the best there is, and it's delayed and doesn't have common standards at a very granular level because of where informatics was at different organizations.

"I see this pilot work with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin as demonstrating such refinement in whatever data goes in that whatever answer we get to any question we pose will have so much clarity and precision that it won't matter whether the answer is good or bad. It's just going to be a right answer."

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