Planning at heart of Nebraska Medicine's analytics success

Data

Building the infrastructure to power analytics initiatives requires strategic planning and informed technology choices, according to Brian Lancaster, executive director of information management at Nebraska Medicine.

As an academic medical center and integrated delivery network that specializes in complex tertiary care, Nebraska Medicine is building out a system to more fully harness data to improve operations and clinical care, yet remain flexible to the demands of future regulatory changes.

Its first task was to fully define its vision and strategy for data warehousing and analytics, Lancaster told HealthITAnalytics.com.  He wanted to ensure every decision along the way was backed by reliable data.

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Part of the effort has been to break down silos and more seamlessly incorporate existing data-driven applications to provide a more system-wide view of the organization, Lancaster said.

However, data governance soon became an issue, with various departments using their own applications with no enterprise-wide governance. That had to change, according to Lancaster.

“It’s not just about delivering a report and saying that we sent it out. It’s about helping our business and clinical staff use data to make decisions that drive us forward. That starts with accurate and curated information, which requires a strong governance plan,” he said.

Nebraska Medicine created a multi-stage process to translate raw data into a standardized form that could be used for larger-scale reporting. The organization also stores the raw data, should it need to be analyzed a different way, or if something goes wrong in the process, Lancaster added.

In addition, the hospital created a five-year plan in deciding between traditional and newer semantic database technologies, ultimately choosing a hybrid approach to address both existing and future needs, such as incorporating natural language processing, the article noted.