Data analytics takes BMC from loss to $2.5 million profit

The use of data analytics helped Boston Medical Center recover from a $34 million operating loss in 2010 and report a $2.5 million operating profit two years later, according to president and CEO Kathleen Walsh.

In a recent interview with Becker's Hospital Review, Walsh said an analytics framework allowed the hospital to analyze each aspect of the its operations, then benchmark BMC's performance against standardized best practices.

"That form of rigorous analysis worked well in our academic medical center culture and allowed us to create a model that was sustainable," she said.

The analytics program helped BMC improve on its staffing and resource allocations, boosting patient care and keeping costs down. It also helped the hospital earn a reputation that it not only cared for much of the low-income population in its community, but did so more efficiently.

In addition, the analytics program improved communication within the C-suite and gave everyone a set of data with which they could come to conclusions.

Though BMC partnered with a consulting firm on the project, Walsh said she would advise other hospital leaders to ensure the program belongs to the hospital.

"I think at first we did what a lot of places do, we hid behind the firm a little bit, like it was a shadow government," Walsh said. "But if you're going to undertake an exercise like this, you need to own it."

Added Walsh: "The analytics alone aren't enough. It needs to be an effort spread throughout the organization, and you need to stick to it."

In August, then-Ochsner Health System CIO Chris Belmont told FierceHealthIT in an exclusive interview that big data is "going viral" at the New Orleans-based system.

Belmont, who now serves as CIO at Houston based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said that big data is helping identify which doctors are struggling with EMR adoption, helping doctors work more efficiently, monitoring patients after discharge, responding to change with agility and helping the health system to understand its business better with operational metrics for scheduling.

"We're having so much fun ... it's a blast," Belmont said. "The results are there, so it's good. I don't see it slowing down by any means."

To learn more:
- read the interview at Becker's Hospital Review

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