How Texas Children's transformed care through analytics

Texas Children's Hospital has transformed its quality improvement efforts through data warehousing and analytics, according to a case study from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

Reports that used to take three months now can be done in 30 minutes and real-time data displayed visually for meetings. The hospital estimates that analysis from its data warehouse costs 70 percent less than analysis directly from its electronic health record because it no longer requires IT staff to compile data from disparate systems.

Texas Children's executives estimate they have achieved about $4.5 million of direct benefits from four of its data warehousing projects.

The hospital has set up quality improvement teams whose success they tout because they're not IT-led.

"We all see that healthcare is changing and that we need to do a better job, but in the past, we didn't have any idea what kind of job we were doing," Robert Moore, a pediatric pulmonologist who has been a member of several care process improvement teams, says in the report. "But is what we're doing effective? Is it the best way? We never asked those questions.

Moore says that learning how to sift through the database took a lot of time. "We speak very different languages, and often, we weren't asking the same thing at all," he says.

One of the hospital's first initiatives to take advantage of the analytics applications' drill-down capabilities involved asthma. It found that providers were ordering a higher-than-normal volume of chest X-rays. The IT team traced the anomaly to an order set within the EHR that lacked decision support and a gap in provider education. After rewriting the order set to reflect best practices, the number of chest X-rays ordered for asthma patients has declined 35 percent.

It since has begun using a similar investigative approach to care for appendectomy, pneumonia and other common cases.

Texas Health Resources SVP and CIO Edward Marx recently told FierceHealthIT that he thinks big data use by health systems and providers is still in its infancy, though plenty of organizations made news about their analytics efforts in 2013. Marx will be part of an executive breakfast panel discussion at HIMSS14 in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 26, focusing on the use of technology and data to enable accountable care.

Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst has stressed, though, that big data isn't just about an appliance or an enterprise data warehouse, but about using data as evidence to improve care.

To learn more:
- find the case study (.pdf)

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