How a hospital's analytics department helps clinical staff build data skills

The homegrown data analytics department at Medical Center Health System (MCHS) in Odessa, Texas, aims to help clinicians drill down into data and answer the question of "why," according to an article at HealthData Management.

"Our goal is to supply them with the tools so they can answer those questions themselves," says Alan Snider, senior decision support data analyst in the department.

In setting up the department nearly three years ago, leaders at the 402-bed regional medical center combined decision support and analytics into one department because they believed implementing an electronic medical record and leaving analytics at the department level would have little effect on outcomes and wouldn't allow the organization to tie process metrics to outcomes.

Initially, analytics capabilities were spread throughout the organization, data wasn't always trusted and analytics skills were lacking. MCHS focused on tools to address these issues and an infrastructure to build up analytics capabilities within the organization.

Hospital leaders began with a business intelligence steering committee made up of members from finance, quality, care delivery and IT, which continues to look for ways to use data to improve care. MCHS also wanted to make data the basis for decision support for clinical areas.

The department takes on tasks such as finding relevant information to enable analysis, normalizing the information to permit comparisons and presenting the findings in the most understandable format. One of the keys to success was making it clear early on that it was not an extension of IT, but a separate department on a different floor, according to Snider.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital physically located data support experts with hospital analytics staff to help each side better understand each other's needs, especially when working with "difficult data."

Meanwhile, Corpus Christi, Texas-based CHRISTUS Spohn Health System set up separate IT and healthcare informatics departments by focusing on what each does best and setting up strong governance between the two.

To learn more:
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