With the emergence of accountable care, analytics is becoming an integral part of creating a new paradigm for improving the quality of patient care, according to Stanley Huff, M.D., chief medical informatics officer for Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare.      

The not-for-profit healthcare provider with 22 hospitals and more than 1,000 physicians strives to provide the highest quality care to patients at the lowest sustainable cost. The organization’s quality improvement initiative is based on nine clinical programs focused on “domains of care” such as cardiovascular, neo-natal, neuromuscular and psychiatric medicine, among others.  

“A big part of that is our data analytics,” said Huff, a July 14 keynote speaker at Health Data Management’s Healthcare Analytics Symposium in Chicago. He told the conference that the use of data--clinical, financial, and quality--is integral to the provider’s process for improving quality of care. “It generates a lot of different kinds of data,” he said. “We have 1.5 terabytes in an Oracle data warehouse.”  

Intermountain Healthcare gathers data from its clinical and financial systems that “gets massaged” to create “data marts” centered on specific areas of analysis that correspond to the organization’s nine clinical programs, and then the processed information is made available to clinicians who are able to query an enterprise data warehouse.

“We place that data into our enterprise data warehouse and then we do analytic processes on that, learning and gaining insights. And, from that, we create actions for interventions to improve the quality of care,” said Huff. “Anytime we look at the data we find out things we didn’t know. It always pays to look at the data.”

Leveraging its data, Intermountain Healthcare has been able to dramatically reduce elective induction for pregnant women, resulting in fewer babies admitted to the ICU and put on ventilators, ultimately improving quality of care. In addition, the provider realized savings of $1 million to $2 million per facility.

“All of this is governed by data and by what we can measure,” added Huff. Intermountain Healthcare has 40 dedicated full-time employees dedicated to analytics, including 29 data architects and 11 business intelligence developers, who are experts in statistical processes and the visualization of data.   

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