Hospitals must align incentives with goals in big data use

Computer data numbers

Hospitals can use data to improve care, but it also involves cultural change and the right incentives, Butler Health System’s CIO A. Thomas McGill, M.D., says in an interview at Healthcare Informatics.

Looking at the numbers, Butler found blood clots were costing $9,000 per case, so the health system sought to determine whether the drug Lovenox, at that time still a name-brand medication that cost $25 a day, could be used to save costs. The health system used Lovenox and worked to reduce cases down to nine or 10 from about 50 to 60. That effort was able to save the organization a quarter-million dollars, McGill says.

Butler also used data as part of its efforts to reduce the spread of hospital-acquired MRSA, the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacterium.

“You certainly need the data, and someone has to turn it into information or understanding; and then this ability to make change, to change your institutional and your individual behavior. … But in the absence of incentives, you sort of hit a certain ceiling,” McGill says.

Incentives have to be aligned with goals or they won’t be sustainable, he says. And change requires buy-in from every department.

“So what we really want it to be is part of how people function and manage,” he says.

To learn more:
 - here's the interview